Boston: John P. Jewett & Company, 1852. First edition. A beautiful set finely bound by Riviere & Son, with an Autograph Letter Signed by Stowe tipped into Volume I. Each book the correct first printing with Hobart and Robbins slug on the copyright pages. Full crushed morocco with gilt to spines and boards; top edges brightly gilt. Marbled endpapers. Original cloth bound into rear of each volume. Internally pleasing copies, with very little of the scattered foxing common in imprints of this period.
Perhaps the most influential social novel in American history. In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which mandated that escaped slaves had to be returned to their owners upon capture, even if they were discovered in a free state. Stowe began her book as a protest to this law – and it would go on to become the most popular novel of the 19th century. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin exploded like a bombshell. To those engaged in fighting slavery it appeared as an indictment of all the evils inherent the system they opposed; to the pro-slavery forces it was a slanderous attack on ‘the Southern way of life’… the social impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on the United States was greater than that of any book before or since” (Printing and the Mind of Man). Indeed, the reaction to the book was so widespread, that it would inspire stage shows, plays, and even inspire pro-slavery counter-works, such as Aunt Phillis’s Cabin and The Planter’s Northern Bride. An apocryphal story of the time claimed that upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln said: “So this is the little lady who started this great war.” The present copy includes a two page Autograph Letter Signed by Stowe in 1889, in response to a letter requesting her signature and praising her novel. Near Fine (Item #3098)