from Chapter XIV. Seeing Slavery and Emancipation
Harriet Beecher Stowe's graphic delineation of slavery as it was, in the story of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," was at the time of its writing much discussed and bitterly denounced both North and South. But when slavery had become the occasion of a war which united all the North, that story was dramatized and became popular in the theaters of New York. The "stage," which never attempts to lead public sentiment in an unpopular direction, can always be depended on to follow at a paying distance behind the average public sentiment in a question of morals; and so that story became familiar to many who now wanted to believe the worst that it told of a representative institution of the South.
After the war many Southerners who came North went to see that play of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," although they had never read the book. Two of my acquaintances, the one from Missouri and the other from South Carolina, went together, in this way, to see it performed in a popular New York theater. As they left the theater at the close of the evening, as my Missouri friend informed me, the South-Carolinian walked along for some time without saying a word, and then laconically expressed himself:
"Will, that's what licked us."
And it was not strange that he thought so.