The National Era
Gamaliel Bailey
Washington, D.C.: 27 May 1852


  We are gratified to see in the National Intelligencer the following liberal notice of Uncle Tom's Cabin:

"The surprising success of this work, and wishing to know the sort of influence it was spreading over the land, with great reluctance, and almost aversion, we opened this book to read it. The talent of Mrs. H. Beecher Stowe as a writer has been made manifest in agreeable stories, full of humor and human nature—some which we have copied in days past into this paper. It is said that forty thousand copies of this book have been sold, and that the demand is such that it is likely to reach one hundred thousand copies—twenty thousand copies were sold in the first four weeks after its publication! We were disappointed in our expectations. There are the dark aspects of slavery depicted in the book; but these are relieved by delineations of character and scenes of life and frolic which are likely to make Uncle Tom's Cabin a book current everywhere, South and North; for we are informed this book is not confined to the limits of our land. To men whose study is the progress of opinion and the safe guidance of our great national interests, this book, as a new and extensive means of influence, is not to be disregarded. The celebrated saying of Sir Richard Fletcher, uttered two hundred years since, 'Let me make the ballads for the people, and I care not who makes the laws,' may be thus paraphrased in view of this new agency of influence on the vexed question of the day, 'Let me write the fictions of the people, and I care not who makes the speeches.'"

  A week since, the New York Evening Post, on the authority of the publishers of the work, stated that they were then printing the fiftieth thousand copies, making 100,000 volumes issued in eight weeks—a fact without precedent in the history of book publishing in this country. The demand continues without abatement.

  We would here correct an erroneous impression that has gone abroad, probably growing out of the following statement by the Evening Post:

"Dr. Bailey, the faithful editor of that paper, enclosed one hundred dollars in a note to Mrs. Stowe one day, with a request that she should send him as good a story for the Era as she could afford to write for that amount of money.
"After the lapse of some weeks, a few sheets of Uncle Tom's Cabin were forwarded to the Doctor, and in due season appeared in the Era. The following week, more sheets arrived and were published. The story grew on her hands, and expanded as she progressed, and instead of being a tale of ordinary magazine dimensions, as was anticipated, it swelled to the proportions of a two volume novel, and instead of being closed in a month, it has been a most attractive feature for more than a year. Of course, Mrs. Stowe's liberality, as well as her talent, were appreciated by the Doctor, who sent her seasonably two hundred dollars more, besides assuring to her an interest in the sale of the book."

  Subsequently to this, we made another remittance to Mrs. Stowe, the amount being determined by her, to whose judgment we submitted the matter. The statement that in addition we assured "to her an interest in the sale of the book," seems to imply that we bought the copyright, and had the book published. This is a mistake. Authors are not the best paid class in the world, and our rule is, to let those whom we employ, retain the right to their own productions. Mrs. Stowe secured the copyright to herself, and made her own arrangements with Jewett & Co. for the publication of the work, so that whatever profits inure from it, are shared by herself and publishers. We have no part in them, and no interest, save the deep pleasure we take in seeing one of our contributors reaping so bountiful a harvest from her arduous, well-directed labors.

  Since the Era was commenced, a little more than five years ago, six popular literary works have been made up from contributions in its Literary Department, copyrighted by their authors, and issued in book form. We have paid liberally for them, but derived no pecuniary benefit, except so far as they may have aided in the extension of our subscription list. This, with the additional interest and efficiency they have given to the Era, we consider a satisfactory return for the outlay.