The National Era
Washington, D.C.: 22 April 1852


NEW YORK, April 17, 1852.

To the Editor of the National Era:

  . . . Everybody seems to be talking, writing, or reading, about Mrs. Stowe's admirable table, UNCLE TOM'S CABIN. It was a happy thought of yours to suggest to this talented writer the utility of writing for your paper. And when did it ever occur before, that two volumes, made up from the columns of a weekly paper, had such a rapid sale? I am reminded of a singular passage that I lately read in the Liberator, relating to the Era, that deserves notice just here. Alluding to some remark of Mr. Lewis Tappan respecting the establishment and success of the paper, Mr. Garrison said:

"Now, this hearty approval of the Era shows the milk-and-water quality of his abolitionism; for that journal is so politic, adroit, and careful not to give offence, in its management of the Abolition question, that it has no more claim to be considered anti-slavery than scores of other journals which make no special pretensions on that score. That the Era has seventeen thousand subscribers is demonstrative evidence that it is not a radical sheet. If it were, in spite of its undeniable ability, its subscription list would be a very lean one; if it were, it could not be published three weeks consecutively in the city of Washington."

  Had it not been for the Era, UNCLE TOM'S CABIN might never have been written or published. Does the fact that, in so short a time, twenty thousand copies of this admirable work have been sold, and that orders for it are coming from the slave States, evince that "it is not a radical" work? Does the fact that the eloquent Wendell Phillips draws large audiences demonstrate that he is not a "radical" speaker? According to the logic of the Liberator, a lean subscription list is proof that an anti-slavery paper is a radical sheet, and a large subscription list is proof that it is a milk-and-water concern: Ergo, a slow sale of anti-slavery work shows that it is a radical work, while a rapid sale evinces that it is a milk-and-water affair! I am pleased at the fact that the Era has three hundred exchanges in the slave States. That number of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," then, has been circulated throughout the slave States the past year! Has any other anti-slavery paper accomplished more during the same period? This felicitous story is destined, I doubt not, to be circulated throughout the whole Union, and to achieve a mighty harvest of good. The editor of the Christian Inquirer says: "Having lived seven years in the midst of slavery, we can testify to the perfect and full accuracy of these pictures of the American institution. It is the book of the times, and we trust that it will be everywhere read and circulated."

Yours, truly, MANHATTAN.