A Key to Chapters 38 & 39

Stowe provides further details about her story based on actual events in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Chapter 38:

In A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe in this “Illustrative Drama of Tom v. Legree, under the Law of South Carolina.— Separation of Parent and Child” discusses this mock court case, comparing it to the Louisiana Law, which  considers the care and separation of slave families. Stowe then refers to her Eliza and Cassy characters [in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Chapter 38, Cassy and Emmeline are a surrogate mother-child team to be redeemed into a new, free, and deserved life, representing the hope of the elimination of the institution of slavery]:

“It is claimed, by the author of certain paragraphs quoted at the commencement of Part II., that there exist in Louisiana ample protective Acts to prevent the separation of young children from their mothers. This writer appears to be in the enjoyment of an amiable ignorance and unsophisticated innocence with regard to the workings of human society generally, which is, on the whole, rather refreshing. For, on a certain incident in ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ which represented Cassy’s little daughter as having been sold from her, he makes the following naïve remark:—

Now, the reader will perhaps be surprised to know that such an incident as the sale of Cassy apart from Eliza, upon which the whole interest of the foregoing narrative hinges, never could have taken place in Louisiana, and that the bill of sale for Eliza would not have been worth the paper it was written on. Observe, George Shelby states that Eliza was eight or nine years old at the time his father purchased her in New Orleans. Let us again look at the statute-book of Louisiana.”

Stowe goes on the say that even though there is a statute in Louisiana that a child under the age of 10 cannot be sold, her character Cassy would have still lost her child due to deceit, threats, and any number of roadblocks constructed by slave holders and Eliza is another example that the age of the child did not make a difference.

The full story of this connection can be read in Chapter VI, Part II, “Protective Acts with Regard to Food and Raiment, Labour, ETC”, of A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Chapter 39:

In A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe addresses the form of Christianity taught to slaves to justify their enslavement, treatment and relevancy as property. This is the her Christian practice. Whose is the real one?:

“He is told that his master is God’s overseer; that he owes him a blind, unconditional, unlimited submission; that he must not allow himself to grumble, or fret, or murmur, at anything in his conduct; and, in case he does so, that his murmuring is not against his master, but against God. He is taught that it is God’s will that he should have nothing but labour and poverty in this world; and that, if he frets and grumbles at this, he will get nothing by it in this life, and be sent to hell for ever in the next. Most vivid descriptions of hell, with its torments, its worms ever feeding and never dying, are held up before him; and he is told that this eternity of torture will be the result of insubordination here. It is no wonder that a slaveholder once said to Dr. Brisbane, of Cincinnati, that religion had been worth more to him, on his plantation, than a waggon-load of cowskins.

Furthermore, the slave is taught that to endeavour to evade his master by running away, or to shelter or harbour a slave who has run away, are sins which will expose him to the wrath of that omniscient Being whose eyes are in every place.

As the slave is a moveable and merchantable being, liable, as Mr. Jones calmly remarks, to “all the vicissitudes of property,” this system of instruction, one would think, would be in something of a dilemma, when it comes to inculcate the Christian duties of the family state.”

The full story of this connection can be read in Part IV, Chapter IX, “Is the System of Religion Which is Taught the Slave the Gospel?” of A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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