While many living today may not realize it, Harriet Beecher Stowe was the most famous American woman of the mid-nineteenth century. In fact, she was so famous that when she visited President Lincoln at the White House, he is believed to have greeted her with these words: "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war." This statement, of course, refers to the far-reaching impact of Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. For all its faults, this work exposed a horrible truth about slavery: that a slave owner possessed the right to maim or kill a decent and honest person whenever that slave owner chose to do so. The novel's dramatic portrayals of these and other abuses combined to make the idea of slavery unacceptable to people in both the United States and Europe, the majority of whom had never witnessed first-hand this brutal institution. When Debbie Applegate wrote her Pulitzer Prize winning biography about Stowe's brother, Henry Ward Beecher, she noted that Beecher's fame did not match his sister's, as she was "the most famous woman in the English-speaking world."
Foster, Jr., John T.
"Early Tourism and Harriet Beecher Stowe: The Discovery of Stowe's First Published Descriptions of Florida,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 95:
4, Article 2.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol95/iss4/2