Stowe provides further details about her story, based on actual events in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin
In A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe tells the stories of actual men who fit the description of her main character, Tom. For instance, there was the story of Josiah Henson. Henson was an enslaved man, living in Kentucky. Similar to Stowe’s character Tom, Henson was valued and trusted by his master. He saved up money to purchase his own freedom for $350, but found out that the amount he would owe rose to $1000. As property, he was later transferred to his master’s brother. Henson was taken down to New Orleans, where his master intended on selling him. This is similar to the fate Tom will experience later in the story. Henson’s master became ill which prohibited any sale from being made. Upon returning home to Kentucky, Henson planned his escape to Canada. His escape attempt was successful as he reached freedom in Canada in 1830.
The full story of this connection can be read in Part 1, Chapter VI “Uncle Tom” in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
On a visit to Kentucky, Harriet Beecher Stowe attended church in a small town. It was here that she the woman who inspired the image of the character Eliza. The girl she saw at the church was a beautiful quadroon girl (one-fourth African and three-fourths Caucasian descent). Following the service, Stowe questioned locals about the girl. The idea that this girl was enslaved troubled Stowe. She was told that the girl was a member of the Church and that her masters thought of her “as much as they thought of their own children.”
The full story of this connection can be read in Part 1, Chapter V “Eliza” in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin