The Liberator
Boston: 4 February 1859




Thursday, Jan. 27, 1859.



  ...Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I saw Mrs. Stowe in this State of Massachusetts. I wished then, and I have been wishing ever since, that I could have given her one hint. I need not say anything in praise of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' but I will tell you where I think its defect is. It is, that there is no heroism about it, until heroism is of no use. I wish we could have an 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' the heroism of which should consist not in resisting the atrocious and diabolical commands of Simon Legree, but the softest and most smiling simper of little Eva herself, if it were made to Uncle Tom as a slave. (Applause.) I honor the heroism that will resist, by some means or other, the command of the tyrant, no matter though it be sung in accents more musical than the voice of Charity herself. I would see an Uncle Tom who should say to Eva and her father, 'Never will I obey one command of yours, until our relations are utterly changed, and you and I stand upon the same platform of humanity.' (Applause.) I would see Uncle Tom leap overboard to rescue even Legree from drowning, as he did Eva; but I would have him see all Mississippi drowned in her own waters, before he would obey one of her edicts, until the last vestige of slavery was swept from her escutcheon. When we have such Uncle Toms as that, we shall have raised men who will understand Liberty as something higher and nobler than the stuff out of which Fourth of July orators manufacture their rhapsodies, which mingle with the rolling of drums and the booming of cannon—the one as senseless as the other. (Applause.)

  But, Mr. Chairman, I have forgotten myself again, and will bring my remarks at once to a close. let us, as I have said, try to make our work an earnest work in view of justice and right. By the grace of God, I will insist that men shall be true in some way to justice and humanity: that they shall, in some way, resist the tyrant; for it is unquestionable true, that, 'resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.' And I do not believe the slave has any more right to be a slave, than the master has to be a tyrant. The one is as guilty as the other, unless the power be too strong; and if the power of the tyrant be too strong for the victim, it is for us to come to the rescue, in the fear and in the love of God. (Applause.)