Uncle tom cabin

American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

Uncle Tom's Cabin definition


(1852) A novel, first published serially, by Harriet Beecher Stowe; it paints a grim picture of life under slavery. The title character is a pious, passive slave, who is eventually beaten to death by the overseer Simon Legree.

Note: Published shortly before the Civil War, Uncle Tom's Cabin won support for the antislavery cause.
Note: Although Stowe presents Uncle Tom as a virtuous man, the expression “Uncle Tom” is often used as a term of reproach for a subservient black person who tolerates discrimination.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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