Letter to Gamaliel Bailey
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Transcribed from Typescript, Boston Public Library

Brunswick, Maine, March 9 [1851]

Mr. Bailey,


  I am at present occupied upon a story which will be a much longer one than any I have ever written, embracing a series of sketches which give the lights and shadows of the "patriarchal institution," written either from observation, incidents which have occurred in the sphere of my personal knowledge, or in the knowledge of my friends. I shall show the best side of the thing, and something faintly approaching the worst.

  Up to this year I have always felt that I had no particular call to meddle with this subject, and I dreaded to expose even my own mind to the full force of its exciting power. But I feel now that the time has come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak. The Carthagenian women in the last peril of their state cut off their hair for bow strings to give to the defenders of their country, and such peril and shame as now hangs over this country is worse than Roman slavery, and I hope every woman who can write will not be silent. I have admired and sympathized with the free spirit of Grace Greenwood, and her letters have done my heart good. My vocation is simply that of a painter, and my object will be to hold up in the most lifelike and graphic manner possible slavery, its reverses, changes, and the negro character, which I have had ample opportunities for studying. There is no arguing with pictures, and everybody is impressed by them, whether they mean to be or not.

  I wrote beforehand because I know that you have much matter to arrange, and thought it might not be amiss to give you a hint. The thing may extend through three or four numbers. It will be ready in two or three weeks.

  A week or two ago I sent to Mrs. Bailey a story from one of my friends for her paper, requesting also to have my name put down as a subscriber. I have since heard nothing from it. Should the story not prove suitable for her purposes, she will oblige me by redirecting it to me. [Ms. illegible]