Harriet Beecher Stowe was best known as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, first published weekly as a serial in The National Era in 1851. Her best-seller infuriated Southerners by focusing on the cruelties of slavery, particularly the separation of families.
Longfellow raved about her book in his journal on February 24, 1853:
Mr. and Mrs. Stowe came to dinner…. How she is shaking the world with her Uncle Tom’s Cabin! At one step she has reached the top of the stair-case up which the rest of us climb on our knees year after year. Never was there such a literary coup-de-main as this. A million copies of a book within the first year of its publication.