The New York Times
H. P. B. Jewett
15 November 1868

"The Story of a Story—Uncle Tom's Cabin."


  To the Editors of the Cincinnati Chronicle:

   In your issue of the 4th inst., you publish an extract from Rev. E. P. PARKER'S Eminent Women of the Age in which he gives "A Story of a Story—"Uncle Tom's Cabin."

   His account of this remarkable book is very interesting, and, in the main, correct: but there is one passage in it where he may have been misinformed, but which truth and justice to the original publishers of that book require should be corrected. After speaking of its great and rapid sale, far exceeding the hopes or expectations of either author or publishers, he says:

   "Large as were those fruits and enormous as was the title of the book, for some reasons which do not require to be set forth here, the enterprise was far more remunerative to the publishers than to the author, and Mrs. STOWE was not made rich by her story."

   A few facts in relation to this matter would throw a different light upon it, and do away with the impression sought to be conveyed, that the publishers were sharp in their dealings with Mrs. STOWE, and "got the lion’s share."

  This accusation has been made before, by Mrs. STOWE'S friends, if not by her herself, and fairly met and refused. When the story was nearly finished in Dr. BAILEY'S paper, Mrs. STOWE offered it to Messrs. PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, & CO., and other publishers in Boston and New-York, but not one of them dared incure the odium, and run the risk of injury to his business by publishing a "nigger" book, as it was called—abolitionism then being unpopular, and unprofitable, as supposed.

  MR. JOHN P. JEWETT, head of the house of JEWETT & CO., was an old anti-slavery man, and willingly assumed the risk of injury to the large and growing business of his house. He made a contract with Mrs. STOWE, and beat all his energies and the resources of the house to making the book known and getting up a sale for it, spending large sums of money in advertising, and giving away hundreds of copies to editors all over the country. The times were propitious, the people ready, and the sales were "enormous;" larger than any other miscellaneous book ever published. JEWETT & CO., contracted to pay Mrs. STOWE ten per cent copyright on the retail price, ($1.50,) which was considered by all practices very liberal; and they lived up to their agreement fairly and honorably, not even on the first payment, taking advantage of the contract which allowed them four months’ time on their copyright payments, but paying the cash at settlement, thus losing a handsome sum in the way of interest. Mr. PARKER says Mrs. STOWE did not get rich from her book. How is this? He admits that the first payment was $10,000 for the little more than three month's sales. In the course of eighteen months Mrs. STOWE was paid about $30,000. Nor was this all. Perhaps, in view of the success she has met with since, from the reputation gained by "Uncle Tom," Mr. P. does not think $30,000 entitles her to the apellation of rich. But, reading his account of her previous pecuniary condition, there might be difference of opinion on that point.

   Perhaps the gentleman is slyly giving his publishers a gentle hint on the sinfulness of making too much money on his book; or perhaps he entertains the opinion, so common among authors, that publishers are a set of gready fellows, who want all the profits, and generally manage to get them. They forget that where one book is a success a dozen are failures, where the publishers’ time, money, business facilities and energies are thrown away. JEWETT & CO. paid Mrs. STOWE a percentage that long experience has shown to be a fair compensation, working to the best advantage for both parties, and if they did make more on Uncle Tom than she, they fairly earned it, and were honorably entitled to it. The writer of this communication who at the time, and for several years, a member of that house, drew up the original contract between the two parties, and knows whereof he writes.