Harper's Weekly
Unsigned Article
New York: 14 June 1902


  A NEW JERSEY man writes to the newspapers to say that it is a long time since Lee surrendered, and that it is time that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was led off the stage. It need not be said that neither politics nor sectional feeling has had anything to do these many years with the retention and success of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" on the stage. It is a handy spectacular drama, and the notion that it is a good show for children to see has obtained so long as to have acquired the authority of a settled tradition. People take children to see Uncle Tom, just as they have them vaccinated, because they think it is good for them. Why else they should do it does not appear, for in spite of Topsy, and of some very pretty old-time plantation scenes, and of the real dogs and thrilling escapes, the play is extremely lugubrious, and children come away from it tearful and disconsolate. It is much to be desired that some ingenious playwright should devise a new show, which should set forth the cotton-picking and the levee, and Southern scenes of that sort, without lugging in the defunct slavery issue, or having anybody flogged to death in the last act. If the picture is to be of the South before the war, it might advantageously be extracted from later books than Uncle Tom. The most eminent black uncle of our generation is Uncle Remus, and if the plot of the Uncle Remus books is too disjointed for dramatic use, there are the Aaron stories, which might serve the turn. Certainly the ghost of Uncle Tom ought to be laid. Perhaps in due time there will come along a moving drama of the Philippines, which will crowd it off the boards.