Study Guide

Mr. Haley in Uncle Tom's Cabin

By Harriet Beecher Stowe

Mr. Haley

Mr. Haley, the unscrupulous slave trader who buys Tom and Harry from Mr. Shelby, is just out to make a buck as easily as possible. He’s not completely evil, but he’s not particularly good either. He claims to be "humane" man, but what he means by that is simply that he likes to avoid scenes in which he has to see slaves suffering because of his actions. They can suffer – he just doesn’t want to see it.

Haley’s business allows him to perpetuate greater and lesser cruelties every single day, and he is only able to do what he does because he considers black people subhuman. His conscience occasionally pricks him because he realizes that he’s profiting off an immoral business, but the profits outweigh his guilt. Haley associates with genteel southerners who need to buy and sell slaves, but also with cruel trackers like Tom Loker. As such, he represents the interconnection between seemingly "gentlemanly" and truly crass men created by the slave trade.