Harriet Beecher Stowe Quotes

Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom's Cabin. Getty Images (collage)

Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811-July 1, 1896) is remembered as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book which helped build anti-slavery sentiment in America and abroad. In addition to being a writer, she was also a teacher and reformer. The following are some of her inspiring quotes.

"The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today."

"If women want any rights they had better take them, and say nothing about it."

"Women are the real architects of society."

"So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to the master -- so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil -- so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best regulated administration of slavery."

"I no more thought of style or literary excellence than the mother who rushes into the street and cries for help to save her children from a burning house thinks of the teachings of the rhetorician or the elocutionist."

"I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did his dictation."

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you till it seems you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

"So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why doesn't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?"

"Common sense is seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be."

"The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end."

"Friendships are discovered rather than made."

"Most mothers are instinctive philosophers."

"Although mother's bodily presence disappeared from our circle, I think that her memory and example had more influence in molding her family, in deterring from evil and exciting to good, than the living presence of many mothers. It was a memory that met us everywhere; for every person in the town seemed to have been so impressed by her character and life that they constantly reflected some portion of it back upon us."

"Human nature is above all things -- lazy."

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."

"Perhaps it is impossible for a person who does no good to do no harm."

"Whipping and abuse are like laudanum: you have to double the dose as the sensibilities decline."

"Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good."

"It's a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done."

"To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization."

"What makes saintliness in my view, as distinguished from ordinary goodness, is a certain quality of magnanimity and greatness of soul that brings life within the circle of the heroic."

"One would like to be grand and heroic if one could; but if not, why try at all? One wants to be very something, very great, very heroic; or if not that, then at least very stylish and very fashionable. It is this everlasting mediocrity that bores me."

"I am speaking now of the highest duty we owe our friends, the noblest, the most sacred--that of keeping their own nobleness, goodness, pure and incorrupt. . . . If we let our friend become cold and selfish and exacting without a remonstrance, we are no true lover, no true friend."

"A little reflection will enable any person to detect in himself that setness in trifles which is the result of the unwatched instinct of self-will and to establish over himself a jealous guardianship."

"In all ranks of life, the human heart yearns for the beautiful; and the beautiful things that God makes are his gift to all alike."

"Everyone confesses in the abstract that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us all, but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do."

"A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have been guilty before God, and the Christian Church has a heavy account to answer. Not by combining together, to protest injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved -- but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God."

"Nobody had ever instructed him that a slave-ship, with a procession of expectant sharks in its wake, is a missionary institution, by which closely-packed heathen are brought over to enjoy the light of the Gospel."

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

"If it were admitted that the great object is to read and enjoy a language, and the stress of the teaching were placed on the few things absolutely essential to this result, all might in their own way arrive there and rejoice in its flowers."

"Home is a place not only of strong affections but of entire unreserve; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind us much debris of cast-off and everyday clothing."

"A man builds a house in England with the expectation of living in it and leaving it to his children; we shed our houses in America as easily as a snail does his shell."

"One of the greatest reforms that could be, in these reforming days ... would be to have women architects. The mischief with the houses built to rent is that they are all male contrivances."

"I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place."

"No one is so thoroughly superstitious as the godless man."

"Where painting is weakest, namely, in the expression of the highest moral and spiritual ideas, their music is sublimely strong."

"The longest day must have its close -- the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning. An eternal, inexorable lapse of moments is ever hurrying the day of the evil to an eternal night, and the night of the just to an eternal day."

From Dorothy Parker:
"The pure and worthy Mrs. Stowe
Is one we all are proud to know
As mother, wife, and authoress --
Thank God, I am content with less!"

From the end of Uncle Tom's Cabin:

On the shores of our free states are emerging the poor, shattered, broken remnants of families,--men and women, escaped, by miraculous providences, from the surges of slavery,--feeble in knowledge, and, in many cases, infirm in moral constitution, from a system which confounds and confuses every principle of Christianity and morality. They come to seek a refuge among you; they come to seek education, knowledge, Christianity.
What do you owe to these poor, unfortunates, O Christians? Does not every American Christian owe to the African race some effort at reparation for the wrongs that the American nation has brought upon them? Shall the doors of churches and school-houses be shut down upon them? Shall states arise and shake them out? Shall the Church of Christ hear in silence the taunt that is thrown at them, and shrink away from the helpless hand that they stretch out, and shrink away from the courage the cruelty that would chase them from our borders? If it must be so, it will be a mournful spectacle. If it must be so, the country will have reason to tremble, when it remembers that fate of nations is in the hand of the One who is very pitiful, and of tender compassion.
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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Harriet Beecher Stowe Quotes." ThoughtCo, Oct. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/harriet-beecher-stowe-quotes-3530095. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, October 11). Harriet Beecher Stowe Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/harriet-beecher-stowe-quotes-3530095 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Harriet Beecher Stowe Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/harriet-beecher-stowe-quotes-3530095 (accessed June 10, 2023).