Washington Post
Unsigned Article
26 March 1901

Uncle Tom's Cabin

  Judging from the various pictures we have seen, in which some of the more important tableaux in the play are reproduced—presumably with fidelity—we should say that "Uncle Tom's Cabin," as it is now given, is about as silly and preposterous a melodrama as was ever put upon the stage. The grouping in the scene of little Eva's death, which represents fifty or sixty slaves kneeling in a handsome apartment, with the deathbed brought well down toward the footlights, is too hectic for words. The view of the New Orleans river front—the alleged locality of the slave market—with the buildings almost touching the steamboats tied up at the levee, is another picture evolved from a sick imagination. They are both wildly ridiculous, considered in the light of fact or probability, no matter how faithfully they follow Mrs. Stowe's book.

  For our part, we have no sort of objection to the book in question. We know, of course, that it gives an extravagantly false impression of the South of that period—its people, its customs, and its social organization. But it was written by a lady who had no personal knowledge of the South or the practical operation of slavery, and it could not have been expected to portray realities. The book, nevertheless, served a useful purpose, if, as many believe, it hastened the events which led up to the destruction of the system, and the abolitionists of the South—meaning a large majority of the old slave-holding aristocracy—have long since pardoned the libels it contained in view of the welcome consummation it precipitated. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" has always been regarded by enlightened Southerners as a piece of offensive, half-witted claptrap which, by some accident of fate, promoted a good end. Nor do we wish to offer the very smallest protest against this revival of the play. After all, it is not so very much more stupid than the average cheap and nasty melodrama over which the riffraff of our great cities thrill and glow, and it contains nothing of which any former slave owner need trouble himself to think twice. If the rabble—for we assume that the play appeals to no other class—call for this kind of entertainment, why not give it to them? Certainly it is harmless.