tv Lectures in History CSPAN March 25, 2016 3:48am-5:05am EDT
they talk about the unique challenges female slaves faced and discussed harriet jacob's book incidents in the life of a slave girl. professor sill behr also talks about reasons southern white women would or would not have supported the confederacy. her class is an hour and 15 minutes. >> so last week we started talking about the beginning of the movement for women's rights. as you know we had our little debate. we talked about the seneca falls convention. black women as i was saying at the very end of the class were usually on the margins i would say of the women's rights movement. there were some exceptions. we talked about sojourner truth who played a pretty early role in some of the early women's rights meetings. and harriet jacobs also had a close relationship with a number of women's rights activists. she worked with organizations that were involved in the struggle for women's rights during the civil war, after the civil war. but she was also very critical
of white sufficient rah gists and often made the point they did not recognize the way race had created a distinct set of obstacles for black women. and i think somebody in our debate made exactly that point in our discussion. we're going to talk about that in a couple of weeks. now i want to talk about jacobs herself. the narrative that she composed. i think as you know she wrote that narrative under the name linda brent. she also changed the names of other people that were also in that account. she was born not as linda brent but as harriet jacobs in edenton, north carolina in 1813. her parents were slaves. but they were also, and i think you get a sense of this when she describes her childhood. her parents were skilled workers, which meant that
especially her father had the opportunity to hire out their time and also to live somewhat independently from the slaveholders. her father was a carpenter. his independence meant he could have his children live at home with him, his children being harriet and her brother john, who was referred to as william in the narrative. he also residing close to them was harriet's maternal grandmother. her name was molly hornablow. i think she's aunt martha in the book. but her actual name was molly hornablow. she had a very kind of complicated history. she was freed during the revolution. then she was re-enslaved when she was captured during the revolutionary war. so she was one of those -- i think we talked about how during
the american revolution some opportunities opened up for slaves to escape, to get their freedom. she was captured. she was re-enslaved. eventually, and i think you get this bit of it in the book, she was freed again when somebody bought her in the town and then freed her. most of harriet's experience as a slave she is living in the town. there's a brief period when she's working on a plantation but for the most part she's working on a household and not on a plantation. i don't know how to make this a sharper image. i guess i could try turning off the back lights. does that help? this is harriet jacobs in 1894. i tried to find a picture of harriet obz when she was younger but there does not seem to be one. the other thing too is these a slave in north carolina, which had a somewhat different system from what existed in other parts
of the south at this point. it was never a state that was dominated by large slave plantations. and then once we have this -- what we've called the second middle passage, which was this point after the foreign slave trade has ended and when slaves are being shipped from the seaboard south into the there are toward the mississippi valley, mississippi, louisiana, once you have that second middle passage slaves are being taken precisely from places like north carolina and moved to the west, and for the most part, i mean, not exclusively but i would say there's really a premium placed on moving young men for that second middle passage. and so it meant that in the seaboard south in places like north carolina there was a kind of predominance of women, children, and the elderly in the slave community. the other thing i would say about slavery in north carolina at this point is that even
though there were not large plantations there were ways in which north carolina slaveholders were trying to make the system of slavery pay good dividends for them even though in a sense the kind of whole system of slavery was moving westward. in north carolina they were trying new tactics, letting slaves hire themselves out, sometimes letting slaves buy their own freedom. i think you get a sense of some of the kind of -- some flexibilities perhaps that existed for the slaves who lived around harriet jacobs at this time, at least compared to slaves who were living further to the west. so harriet also points out that she became aware that she was a slave when she was 6 years old. i think this was right after her mother died. when she was 11, after her first slave mistress died, she then became a slave in the household of dr. flint. and dr. flint was the pseudonym for this man, james norcom.
this is james norcom when he was a younger man. this is james norcom when he was -- he looks sort of suitably devilish in this picture, as he should. this is james norcom when he was an older man. and this is the norcom house, where harriet jacobs would have spent most of her time working in edenton, north carolina. so at 16 harriet then began, as you can tell from the account, she began this sexual relationship with the son of dr. norcom's partner. i actually didn't know that nil read more about it. the son of dr. norcom's partner who was a 30-year-old man named samuel sauer. mr. sams in the book. i don't have a picture of him. i looked everywhere. she had by sawyer two children. these are believed to be pictures of harlt jacobs'
children. her daughter luiouis louisa. and then her son joseph. in the book this is benjamin and ellen, those are the names they're given in the narrative. when she was 22 in 1835 jacobs escaped from the norcom plantation. she had been kind of reassigned at that point to the plantation. and at that point she began her stay in the crawlspace in her grandmother's attic. the dimensions of this crawlspace, i don't remember if she gives it in the book but the dimensions of the crawlspace were nine feet long, seven feet wide, and about three feet high at one end. so i think she says, you know, when she's in the crawlspace for the most part she can't stand up straight. after she spends seven years in the crawlspace she managed then a successful escape to the north. so here then is a kind of overview of harriet jacobs' grandmother's house, which you can see is actually a somewhat
substantial house for this time. that's a kind of cutaway of the crawlspace where harriet jacobs would have stayed. then this is -- i think harriet jacobs mentions this. the runaway slave notice that norcom or flint placed after harriet jacobs had escaped from the plantation. she's in the crawlspace at this point. he doesn't know where she is. this is the runaway notice he placed. you can see on the bottom it's signed by james norcom, edenton, north carolina. i think it's 1835 on that. when she got to the north harriet jacobs became very active in abolitionism. she was befriended by several white women who were abolitionists. they gave her aid and support.
they encouraged her to write her story in the form of a narrative. she finished writing it in 1858. it's not a novel. sometimes people call all of these kinds of books novel. it's not a novel. it's non-fiction. she wasn't able to secure a publisher until one of her white abolitionist friends, and that was lidia maria child, wrote the preface for the book and sort of gave it her endorsement. which was kind of typical among slaves. people say oh, you write so well, how could you have been a slave. you speak so well how could you have been a slave? lydia maria child gave then dorisment to say this was a true story about harriet jacobs. it was published v published in 1861 on the eve of the civil war. and it's one of the few, not the only and not even the first but one of the few slave narratives that was written by a woman. most of the ones that we're famt with, that we calm across were narratives written by male slaves.
they wrote about their confrontations with slavemasters, their quest for freedom as a kind of individual activity. have any of you read like frederick douglass or any other slave narratives? i'm seeing one. so we'll talk a little bit about sort of what the difference is between harriet jacobs and the other kinds of slave narratives written by men. anybody have any initial thoughts about this book, any comments they want to make, things that surprised you or sort of stood out for you as you were reading this account? yes. >> i think i was surprised by all the time she sort of apologized by what she was doing. i think like she had her children and she kept trying to explain herself and make us understand why she would do it
when like i didn't really feel like -- >> you didn't think it was necessary to go through all that explaining. why do you think she is doing that? any thoughts? >> i guess because her whole life she was made to apologize to people for what she was doing. maybe that's who she is. >> anybody else have any thoughts on that, why she keeps apologizing? yes. >> one of the primary factors in her writing the book is to appeal to white northerners, that she'll want to make sure there aren't loopholes or places they can pick apart at her story and go, well, why did you do that? so just taking great pains to explain everything. >> right. i think a big part of it has to do with the audience she writes for and what she thinks they're going to think of her if she doesn't make those apologies. anything else that stood yout fr you as you read it, anything
unabout the way she described her situation? >> i like how dr. flint or -- >> you can call him flint. that's what we know him and hate him as. >> he was skird of the grandmother because the grandmother had such a good reputation in the town that other people would look down on him if he yelled at her or anything. >> yes. it is kind of amazing. the way -- and you're right. it's interesting the way flint is afraid of her. she's kind of an amazing woman, that grandmother. you're right. she commands respect. people see her as an important person in the town, they like her baking but she's also developed a relationship with a lot of people. and you're really right about that. one of the most interesting stories i think so when he says he's going to sell her and she says, well, but everybody's -- i've always been promised i'd get my freedom. he says i'm goingyqg to sell don't care what anybody says. she goes to the slave auction and she gets right up there on the auction block and everybody says oh, that's horrible.
who's selling -- that's such a shame. nobody should be selling you, aunt martha. and this woman comes along and buys her and frees her. shee kind of using the fact that people respect her and know her to kind of -- to the extent that it's a power play. it's a little bit of a power play that she does against dr. flint. yeah. that is an interesting part. >> yeah. >> i think it was surprising how the mistresses were the slaves because you would think like since they're free women they wouldn't care about the slaves but how harriet said that she would wake up in the middle of the night to her mistress tapping on her or whispering. i wouldn't want to say sexual things but whispering things that maybe the slavemaster would tell her to see if she would respond to, it to see if she was like having an affair with the master. >> yes. you're right. that relationship between mrs. flint and harriet is really interesting. and you feel like this is a very
sort of angry, frustrated woman who doesn't know what to do. she feels like she's been cheat, she's been betrayed. she doesn't have any power to do anything against her husband. so the only person she thinks that she has power over is harriet jacobs. but it is very interesting. we sort of touched on this already. one of the points i want to kind of pull out here a little bit more is what makes -- from the standpoint of being a woman in slavery, a female slave, what makes harriet jacobs' experiences distinctive? how would you kind of -- what stands out as things that separate her from male slaves? okay. people have to have things to say about this.
yeah. >> i think a large portion of her story is she was constantly torn between wanting her own freedom and wanting to be a good mother for her children. >> okay. so motherhood and the ties that she has to her children are definitely an issue here. what else? what else stands out in her experience specifically as a female slave? ellen. >> i think a lot of the slaves depended on religion like as a comfort. it was very, very important to them. and her religion was sort of threatened in that she was constantly facing the threat of being sexually abused by the master, when she was even forced to go back against her moral and religious principles to avoid being abused by him and she went and had relations with the other man, mr. sands. >> mr. sands, right.
>> so yeah. there was the sexual abuse that really threatened her religious principles. >> so she's trying to kind of balance or deal with this issue of -- there's sort of the whole question of the morality, the christianity that's connected to it, and this constant threat that she's facing in terms of sexual abuse and how she's going to manage that. so she says, just to kind of refer you to a couple of places, she's sort of very conscious that she has particular concerns that confront her as a slave who's a woman. she says on page 58, for example, this is the bottom of that first paragraph. she says the influence of slavery had had the same effect on me that they had on other young girls. they made me prematurely knowing concerning the evil ways of the world. i knew what i did and i did it with deliberate calculation. then she says again on page 85, and this is when she has given
birth to her second child and she finds out it's a girl. she says when they told me my newborn baby was a girl my heart was heavier than it had ever been before. slavery is terrible for men but it is far moore terrible for women. super added to the burden common to all, they have wrongs and sufrgz and mortifications peculiarly their own. so you're right. and i think these are some of the distinctive wrongs and sufferings they encounter in terms of the constant threat of sexual abuse, the question of how to be a mother, and the sort of constant fear as a mother this slave women have for their children. what's going to happen to their children. how do they protect their children? how in fact -- in a very specific way how does motherhood complicate harriet jacobs' plan for escape?
what is her plan for' cape? does she just get on a boat right away and leave? no. what does she do? >> in order to secure her own freedom she wants to secure her children's freedom first to make sure that if she can go up to the north then her children can go up to the north with her. so she has a responsibility of securing three people. >> yes. she's worried not only about her own freedom but shows worried about what's going to happen to her children as well. so what does she do? what does she do to kind of try to manage that problem of her children's freedom as well? >> even if she's on the run she tries to talk to mr. sands to
make sure he will buy the children and free them. >> so she's constantly in negotiation with the children's father to see if she can get some help and support from him. she goes -- the whole seven years in the crawlspace is really all about protecting her children. the seven years in the crawlspace, she calls it, she says it's her loophole. right? doesn't she call it her loophole of retreat or something like that? page 128. right. the title of that chapter. the loophole of retreat, which sort of underscores this dilemma that she has as a female slave, which is she's going to try to exploit a loophole right here. she's going to make it look like she's gone. but in fact she's not really gone. so instead of completely taking yourself out of the community she's going to be in a place where she can watch, where she can sort of have some kind of
supervision, even indirectly over what happens to her children, where she hopes she can intervene in their situation. so can you imagine a male slave pursuing these kinds of strategies? what do men do? like how do they sort of approach the hole -- a slave who is a man, what is their escape plan basically? >> he wouldn't feel to have as many ties as he was. so he would just go up to the north by himself. >> at least that -- yes. you're absolutely right. and i guess the only thing i would add to that is at least that's the way he would portray it, that he doesn't have ties, he's not bound by any other commitments, relationships, and that he's simply going to pursue a strategy on his own. one of the things to me that's
so interesting about frederick douglass's slave narrative. he also goes through this, this was my experience and then i ran away, and he does make it seem like he did the whole thing on his own. in fact, if you know a little bit more about frederick douglass you find out he got help from heflts, from his fiance. there were a lot of people who were instrumental in the process. but there is a way in which men who are slaves sort of portray an experience that says they did it on their own. and women like harriet jacobs emphasizes these relationships. all right. so let me get a little more specific about this. there are three themes that i think are very important in understanding harriet jacobs' slave narrative. the first theme is pretty much what we talked about, which is that her experience is unique. because she writes as a slave
woman and so in that sense she has certain kinds of experiences that are different from the kinds of experience that's men have. she has different experiences in slavery as a woman, in terms of the threats of sexual abuse that she faces. in terms of how to deal with being a mother and protecting her children. and she has unique circumstances in terms of how she's going to pursue her freedom. the second theme that i think is important comes up in terms of how she tells the story. and when it comes to telling the story i think she faces two choices. she kind of does a combination of both. but there are sort of two strategies that are the p predominant writing strategies she could pursue. she could write along the lines avenue male slave narrative, something like what frederick
douglass wrote when he came to the north. or she could write in the tradition of a sentimental no l novel. which we talked a little bit about but we'll come back to. and the third thing i think is important here is that stemming from this second one, one thing i -- one reason i think she feels the need or sflunsed by this model of the sentimental model is she's trying to appeal to a very specific audience. and we talked in fact -- aaron, in fact you made this point. who is that specific audience that she's trying to appeal to? >> i guess white people in the north who may already have abolitionist leanings but she feels aren't doing enough to stop it or trying to create sympathy in people who aren't really address the issue at all. >> right. so she's writing for northern white probably abolitionist
leaning people or kind of vaguely anti-slavery. and even more i think she's writing to northern white women. in fact there's a couple of points in the book where she says very explicitly this is who i'm writing to on page 58. and she's talking about this is right after the other quote that i read to you, about how slave girls have these influence that's can be destructive of their morals and right after that she says on page 58 but oh ye happy women whose purity has been sheltered from childhood, who have been free to choose the objects of your affection, whose homes are protected by law. do not judge the poor desolate slave girl too severely. this is a kind of direct appeal she's making to women, white women in the north. on page 60 she has again a part where she talks about this.
in the middle of the page she says pity me and pardon me oh virtuous reader. you never knew what it was to be a slave, to be entirely unprotected by the law or custom. there's other parts too. but she makes it very clear that is the audience she's interested in and she's appealing to. and i would say even more there's probably a kind of suspicion on her part that these northern white female readers, even if she doesn't say this =m explicitly, are influenced by the idea we talked about about feminine difference. these are women who feel women's moral goodness, women's moral virtue are especially important qualities for women to have and to cultivate. so i think she sort of suspects that these are women who put a very high premium on that, which is why, to get back to the first
point, she's apologizing so much. okay. so just to kind of pursue then -- i think we talked quite a bit about one. but in terms of two, the sort of different options she has in terms of how she's going to write about her experience and whether she's going to follow the male slave narrative or whether she's going to follow the sentimental model. if anybody read anything else about slave narratives by men, erin, this is all going to fall on you but maybe somebody else has also. so for example, like frederick douglass, how you might compare harriet jacobs' account to things that happened to frederick douglass. if you can sort of remember -- >> it was years ago. but i don't think he placed as much emphasis on like the female aspect of it for obvious reasons.
there are a lot of things that stood out to me about what she had to say about white women as well. and the effect it had on them. and he wouldn't have had the same insight. i don't remember. middle school. >> i only frread pieces of frederick douglass's, but i remember he makes it more of an account -- i think hers more reads like a diary where it more pulls out your emotions. ooez his is more like i did this and i did this and i did that this and that's how i bought to this. >> yeah. there's less of a kind of emotional quality to it. right. and if you remember, there's sort of some kind of key moments in frederick douglass's narrative. one really critical moment is when he has a fight with this guy who's trying to break him in. a white slaveholder who's triek to break animal hymn in and make him a more obedient slave. he has a fight with this guy and he wins the fight, he beats him up. and he says this is a moment that i started to feel like i was a man and i could attain my
freedom. there are these kinds of moments i think in male slave narratives. and again, it sort of puts this emphasis on doing it yourself. struggling as an individual. achieving things as an individual. these were important markers in the sale slave narrative. and as a whole the abolitionism emphasized freedom, being free, as kind of a male experience. that in other words, the kind of relationship people understood was once you were free and not a slave anymore you were a man. they wouldn't have said once you're free and not a slave anymore you're a woman. you know what i mean? being a man was critical. for example, this was one of the chief symbols that was used in the abolitionist movement. it was sort of this decal. i think it was made by wedgewood in england, the pottery firm in
england. it was a widely circulated image. in the abolitionist movement. can you read what it says around the -- >> am i not a man and a brother? >> right. so this was the sort of -- the trope really of the abolitionist movement. am i not a man and a brother? sort of the juxtaposition here is either you're a slave or you're a man. which makes it hard if you're a woman. it makes it hard to know how do you write about your experience and how do you write about achieving freedom. and i think harriet jacobs is very aware of this. so there's points in the course of her narrative where she makes some reference to the genre of a male slave narrative, of trying to like, you know, like this juxtaposition of if you're not a slave you're going to be a man. can you think of any parts in the book where she might be saying something sort of referencing this idea of being a man?
yeah. >> at one point she's talking about how her brother is like really prideful and not used to having to respond to a master and he was afflicted by his male energy. >> she uses it to talk about her mother. there's a part where -- can anybody think of any other parts? because there's also a part i think where she's talking about her uncle maybe. let me check. it's wherever chapter 4 begins on page 14. the title of the chapter, "the slave who dared to feel like a man." right. which i think in fact -- right. this is a whole discussion about her uncle benjamin and she sort of talks about his quest for freedom. and she writes it in this kind of form of the male slave narrative, the slave who dared to feel like a man. but i think there's also ways in which harriet jacobs herself takes on some of these kind of
masculine qualities because she knows this is the way the struggle for freedom has been phrased, that this is the way people talk about being a slave who seeks their freedom. you sort of present it as being a man. and so in fact on page 16, also in chapter 4 she says -- right. and this is sort of on the bottom. and again it's sort of in reference to the experience of her uncle. she says -- and then she talks about herself. she az "it was the very knowledge of my shortcomings that urged me to retain if possible" -- this part is about her brother. "to retyne if possible some sparks of my brother's god-given nature." she wants to take on some of those masculine qualities herself because that's what this quest for freedom is about. so the other part of point 2 here is she's sort of torn
between these two ways of presenting her story. one being the male slave narrative. and the other the sentimental novel. we have talked briefly about this idea of the sentimental novel. what have we said about it? anybody remember? i'll help you out here. one of the things we said was it puts a lost emphasis on feelings, on emotions. we've seen that here. that's one of the things harriet jacobs emphasizes quite a bit. the sentiment aal novel, also, e kind of formula for the sentimental novel was it told the story of a virtuous christian heroine who has all these kind of challenges in her life and adverse circumstances but nonetheless through it all it despite the kind of threats that are made against her she manages to retain her virtue
over evil-practicing men. right? and in the end the way the sentimental novel concludes is that she finds a romantic partner and she marries him. obviously harriet jacobs, her story does not lend itself completely to this genre because she doesn't retain her virtue. but i think she tries manage the problem of her virtue and her sexuality because she is in some ways influenced by that genre of the sentimental novel. can you think of ways in which she tries to somehow explain and manage that problem of her virtue? which again gets back to that first point, that she's constantly apologizing. maybe think about the way she's kind of making her apologies or the way she's trying to explain herself.
>> she says if she didn't have children with mr. sands, right? mr. sands. then her other slave owner, dr. flint, wouldn't want to sexually abuse her anymore. so it would take her out of the equation completely. >> so if she does enter this relationship with sands, then she thinks she won't be bothered so much by flint, right? >> right. and she says if dr. sands or mr. sands can buy her children's freed freedom. so it like works as a double-edged sword. >> she's saying yes, i know, i gave myself -- that's where she has that whole long thing about yes, i made this horrible thing, don't judge me, you happy free women, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and that's when she says but i made this choice to go with mr. sands because that would at least be -- it would be a way i could control what happens to my children. she said it gave me a little measure of freedom to make that
choice. and i think she also says -- part of what she also tries to explain at this point and i think there's a part about this on page 58 -- right. in some ways the quote i read to you before when she says "the r5e8 source of the problem, the reason i didn't retain my virtue, the reason i went with sands was because of slavery. it wasn't my fault as a woman. it wasn't that i have some moral failing as a woman. i know precisely what's correct and what's not correct. but the problem was slavery. so she, you know, tries to make it clear that that's the thing that corrupts a young girl's moral situation. she also i think then tries to redefine what it means to be free. she says at one point on page 59 when she makes this decision about picking mr. sands, she says "it seems less degrading to
give one's self than to submit to compulsion. there is something akin to freedom in having a lover who has no control over you except that which he gains by kindness and attachment." so let's actually talk for a minute about this whole business with sands. do you think that was a choice that she had? would you call that a moment of choice for harriet jacobs? >> i think it was a moment of relative choice but it was really picking the lesser two of evils. nothing was really good or free. she had to make a tough decision. >> so it doesn't feel like a wide open choice there. yeah. >> i think choice kind of implies that she's free, but she's not. so i don't think that it was a
choice at all. like -- >> right. >> that's not a choice of freedom. she wasn't freel free when she made that choice. i didn't think it was a choice. >> the decision she made was sort of shaped by the fact that she's a slave, in other words. >> yeah. >> and here's this thing that i read later, which i thought was so interesting. this is actually another historian who's writing about harriet jacobs' situation and sort of had a very interesting insight about it. she says norcom's threats, or dr. flint's threats, and harriet's distress alerted norcom's partner's son, the unmarried young lawyer, samuel treadwell sauer, that is sands, to -- he began courting her through letters and other expressions of sympathy, caught between two older stalkers, harriet gave in to the younger evil. so in other words, this analysis, which seems toe kind of interesting i hadn't really
thought about because she doesn't explain it this way in the book. here's sands or sawyer who knows harriet. it's a small town. everybody knows everybody else. he's actually the son of flint's partner. he knows very well what's going on between flint and harriet and he knows harriet's trying to get away from flint. so he's like, hey, here's an opportunity for me. i'm going to introduce myself to harriet. i'm going to be friends with harriet. so you know, she says he's actually sort of playing this situation, knowing full well the kind of distress that harriet's in at that point. to the extent you might think maybe he's a nice guy. by the time it's over who would think he's a nice guy? because he doesn't give the children their freedom. until he's badgered to death about doing it. so you know, i think it sort of goes to this point, that how much choice really is there for harriet jacobs at this point? okay. so at the very end of the book,
just to kind of conclude this point about these different genres that harriet jacobs writes in response to or tries to figure her narrative into, at the very end she confronts outright the fact that she is not writing a sentimental novel. do you remember what she says at the very end? i'll give you a hint. it's on page 227. [ sneezes ] >> bless you. >> bless us. >> bless us all. exactly. >> my freedom not in the usual way with marriage but like with being free instead of -- >> exactly. my story ends with freedom, not in the usual way with marriage.
in other words, the usual way here is the sentimental novel. the usual way anthony like this might end is the virtuous heroine goes through all these ordeals and in the end she finds the man she truly loves and she marries and settles down. but she says i'm not going to end this way, this book doesn't end this way. but it ends and maybe she's sort of saying maybe it ends in a more important way. it ends with freedom and not with marriage. okay. so i'm going to throw out one other point here. and maybe i'll have time for something else too. which is there are some interpretations that i have read in which people say that in fact harriet jacobs was not successfully able to resist the threats and sexual abuse of dr. flint and that he did in fact rape her but that a sense of propriety compels her to tell the story in a different kind of
way. what do you think about that? like did you read this book and think oh, yeah, i'm sure he did? >> yeah. i did agree with that. it seems really unrealistic to me that he would go through like all of the notes and that mrs. flint would be so upset about it if it never physically escalated to that point. >> mm-hmm. mm-hmm. >> the only thing i could think of is he was so afraid of the grandmother and that's why he wouldn't do it. but besides that it seems like he probably did. >> yeah. >> where she is so apologetic through it i would understand if she did leave that out. because she has all this pressure, especially if she does want to appeal to the most
northern white women where it makes it seem like -- it looks bad on her almost. >> it's totally plausible it could happen but you could see why she would present it differently. i suppose another way of saying this is given what she describes it feels like a pretty escalated version of sexual abuse no, matter what we call this. that he throws her down the stairs, that all the kind of in a sense physical abuse that she actually does endure, you know, almost like -- it's a gray area in terms of what we would actually call it. okay. i'm going to move on to something else. and we're going to sort of switch gears here and talk about the coming of the civil war. as i mentioned, harriet jacobs'
narrative is published right on the eve of the civil war in 1861. so i feel like chronologically at least we sort of got to that point so it makes sense to move on to that next topic. at the time of the civil war i would say most people knew that slavery without question, slavery had something to do with causing the civil war and somehow or other people knew that the war was linked to the struggle for abolition. and in fact, the story was often told that sometime in 1863 in the middle of the civil war abraham lincoln, who was then the president, met the famous woman writer harriet beecher stowe. we've talked about stowe and her novel "uncle tom's cabin" which took the country by storm in the 1850s. and according to this story, which i don't think is actually true but it's a story a lot of people like to tell, lincoln greeted harriet beecher stowe by referring to her as "the little lady who wrote the book that started this great war." i have to say i've always been a
little confused about that. is that a compliment to harriet beecher stowe? like do you feel good if you're harriet beecher stowe? oh, thank you, yes, i did it, it's all my fault. i don't think the way the story is presented -- it's more ton like how influential harriet beecher stowe was. and whether or not lincoln actually said this i think there's a reason why lincoln might have said it. because bhut things like, this here's the lady who wrote the book that started this great war, it implied that the union cause had a standing and moral credibility. and it had that kind of standing and moral credibility because here was a woman like harriet beecher stowe who'd kind of put her stamp on it, who said this is what it's all about. and if we can refer back to this woman's concern then it gives our cause moral credibility. by 1863 lincoln of course was now pursuing a policy of
emancipation to end slavery. he himself was trying to put the war on a higher moral foundation. and so i think it makes sense that he would in some way try to draw on the endorsement of somebody like harriet beecher somebody like harriet beecher stowe. captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008 captioning performed by vitac