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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing, 1815-1850
The Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing
Topic: Culture of the Common ManTopic: Cult of DomesticityTopic: ReligionTopic: ExpansionTopic: America in 1850
Topic: Expansion
Overview of Triumph of Nationalism
Resource Menu: Expansion
Text 1. Charles Sellers
Text 2. Hezekiah Niles
Text 3. Elias Boudinot
Text 4. Lewis Cass
Text 5. James Glover Baldwin
Text 6. George Fitzhugh
Text 7. Henry David Thoreau
Text 8. Harriet Beecher Stowe
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Reading Guide
8.  Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852
Ch. 1: "In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity"


The market economy commodifies virtually everything, and Stowe begins Uncle Tom's Cabin with an extreme example of commodification. Mr. Shelby, a Kentucky planter, sits across a dining room table from Mr. Haley, a slave trader, negotiating a sale that will rescue his plantation from debt. Haley wants to buy the pious, hardworking, trustworthy Tom and, to sweeten the deal, the engaging boy Harry and perhaps his comely mother Eliza. Shelby resists, but he "speculated largely and quite loosely . . . and his notes to a large amount had come into the hands of Haley," who now has the advantage on him. Eliza overhears their conversation and takes her anguish over the possible sale of her son to her mistress Shelby's wife, who assures her that Harry will not be sold. Stowe dramatizes the tension in slavery that Fitzhugh overlooks. Could be used with students. 9 pages.


Discussion questions
  ·  Who is the "man of humanity" Stowe refers to in the chapter's title?
  ·  How does the setting critique the action of the chapter?
  ·  What effect does the marketplace have upon the home?
  ·  How does Stowe portray Mrs. Shelby?
  ·  How does Mrs. Shelby play a public role in society?
  ·  What values does Stowe offer to moderate the effects of the market economy? How do they compare with those put forth by Fitzhugh and Thoreau?
  ·  In what way is Fitzhugh's Sociology a response to Uncle Tom's Cabin?


Reading highlights
  ·  Note the chapter's scene shift from the house's public room to the private quarter of the bedroom.


» Link


Topic Framing Questions
  •  How did the various people living in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century respond to the emergence of a national market economy?




Toolbox: The Triumph of Nationalism / The House Dividing
Common Man | Cult of Domesticity | Religion | Expansion | America in 1850

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