Today, January 21, many Americans are celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama for his second term. The official swearing in actually took place yesterday, on January 20, by law, but the public speeches, ceremonies and balls are all today. It just so happens that the public inauguration of Obama, the first black President of the United States, is perfectly aligned with MLK Jr. Day. The double celebration of King’s mark on civil rights and advancement of African-Americans in America and Obama’s “We Have Been made For This Moment” inaugural speech both help Americans reflect on the historical evolution of our country. The path to today was trail blazed by so many before, and those influences certainly included one of significance in Connecticut.
Towards the beginning of the US Civil War, on Tuesday, November 25, 1862, a peculiar meeting occurred between a 51 year-old female writer from Connecticut, whose stature was a mere 4’11”, and the 6’4” President of the United States. It is said that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he remarked, "so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war." The book he referred to, of course, was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel published in 1851 and written by Stowe, a teacher and active abolitionist.
While that meeting happened in Washington DC, Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut and spent her last 23 years residing in a Victorian Gothic cottage-style house next to Samuel Clemens (aka “Mark Twain”) in the prestigious (at the time) “Nook Farm” area of Hartford, Connecticut. Today the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is open to the public for touring and continues to use Stowe's life and works to inspire and encourage people to be committed to social justice and make a positive change in the world.
Without the events that occurred during those times, and perhaps even directly related to the writing of Stowe, the inauguration of America’s first black President may have never happened.
Plan a visit and listen to the calling of a simple woman who used her talents to change the world.
On Twitter: @HBStoweCenter