The National Era
Unsigned Article
Washington, D.C.: 21 July 1853



  It will be remembered that the editor of the San Francisco Christian Advocate offered Uncle Tom's Cabin as a premium for new subscribers to his paper, for which he was called to account by some of the political guardians of the peculiar institution in California. After he had made the offer, the editor says he feared he had "committed a blunder," but responses, "almost uniformly from Southern men," reassured him. He says:

  "We have heard that those papers which especially attacked us and the work, have been replied to by Southern men. We know nothing of the precise nature of the replies, having never seen one, but they were such that the unprincipled conductors of the sheets, Northern men, too, refused to publish them. From those who are slaves to prejudices, or those who barter away sincerity for gold, neither truth nor justice can be expected.

  "But we are receiving personal assurances now, for which we feel specially grateful. One brother writes us:

  "'Perhaps you did well to state that you were personally responsible for the offer of Uncle Tom's Cabin, though so far as I have read it (to the 13th chapter) I have found nothing of which the General Conference need be ashamed. I never read anything, except the Bible, which seemed to me more truthful; and I think I have lived in Virginia long enough to form an opinion.'

  "The brother is a Virginian.

  "Another brother, from North Carolina, says he has known fifty Uncle Toms, St. Clairs, Shelbys, &c. Another Southern man, who almost stopped the paper because the editor had made this offer, has since read the work, and recommends it highly. He is delighted with it.

  "What amused us most was the positive declaration of a Kentuckian, that he knew those Shelbys. About two hours after, during which time he had been absorbed in the book, he raised his eyes, full of tears. He caught our smile, and said, himself a slaveholder, while he coughed slightly, as if he had a big lump in his throat, 'That the work—ahem—is—ahem—somewhat exaggerated; that is, you know—ahem—dressed up affectingly.'

  "Some who at first cried out a novel, have read the 'Key,' and are so sorry they said anything. As for ourselves, we are a little afraid of the 'Key,' though we have not read it, because of its external character. It may not exhibit the ideal so clearly, and of course may lead to external or mere political excitement. Uncle Tom hits the principle of the Fugitive Slave Law, but it does not tend to political party action. So our offer of Uncle Tom is neither a wrong nor a blunder. 'The second sober thought of the people is always right.'"