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Uncle Tom

Subject: Literature

Although Harriet Beecher Stowe's extremely succssful 1852 abolitionist novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was the original source for the Uncle Tom idiom, its meaning is best understood through an ...

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom   Reference library

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2002
Subject:
Literature
Length:
340 words

...As a result, the Uncle Tom label is assigned to individuals who sabotage other blacks in order to further their own advancement. Known popularly as Tom shows, stage productions of Uncle Tom's Cabin were a mainstay of American theater well into the twentieth century. Uncle Tom became a trope, a figure of speech used to refer to fawning, selfish black men. Thus Uncle Tom's ubiquitousness had a definitive impact on mainstream society's assumptions about actual black men. By the turn of the century, a curious battle developed between the purveyors of popular...

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom ([Lit.])   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Reference and Allusion (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
117 words

... Tom [Lit.] A loyal and ever-patient black slave, the main character of Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin ( 1852 ). > A black man whose behaviour to white people is regarded as submissively servile; anyone regarded as betraying his or her cultural or social allegiance ‘Mary Lou's being modest. She had them rolling in the aisles with her tour de force called “Black Studies as a Floating Signifier”.’ Amiss seized the claret. ‘What's the female equivalent of an Uncle Tom?’ Ruth Dudley Edwards Matricide at St Martha's 1994 I...

Uncle Tom's Children

Uncle Tom's Children   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to American Literature (6 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Literature
Length:
7 words

... Tom's Children , stories by Richard Wright...

Cobley, Uncle Tom

Cobley, Uncle Tom ([Mus.])   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Reference and Allusion (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
85 words

...Uncle Tom ( Uncle Tom Cobbleigh ) [Mus.] A phrase from a traditional British folk song ‘Widecombe Fair’ which lists all the people who are going to the fair, including, finally, ‘Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all’. > Used when suggesting that a list contains a very large number of people There are few people who deliberately set themselves up for the public mauling he received at the hands of politicians, business leaders, broadcasters, journalists, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Scotland on Sunday ...

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to English Literature (7 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
Literature
Length:
76 words

... Tom's Cabin   or Life among the Lowly Novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe , published in 1852 , which was triggered by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 . It mounted a powerful attack on slavery, which led President Lincoln to attribute the American Civil War partly to its effectiveness. It became a best-seller and was followed in 1853 by A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin , where Stowe assembled much of her source...

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin   Quick reference

The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Literature
Length:
67 words

... Tom's Cabin , or Life among the Lowly Best-selling 1852 novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe , which was triggered by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 . It mounted a powerful attack on slavery, which led President Lincoln to attribute the American Civil War partly to its effectiveness. In A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin ( 1853 ) Stowe assembled much of her source...

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin   Reference library

Wendy Wagner

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013

...the reality of slavery, Stowe in A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin ( 1853 ) collected historical and legal records documenting events similar to those in her novel. The power and interest of Uncle Tom's Cabin endured long after the Civil War ended and the slavery issue was resolved. Uncle Tom, Simon Legree, Little Eva, and Eliza Harris, the courageous slave mother who escapes the slave catchers by jumping across ice floes on the Ohio River, became familiar archetypes. Dramatizations of Uncle Tom's Cabin were frequently staged and immensely popular...

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin   Reference library

Wendy Wagner

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
451 words

...the reality of slavery, Stowe in A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin ( 1853 ) collected historical and legal records documenting events similar to those in her novel. The power and interest of Uncle Tom's Cabin endured long after the Civil War ended and the slavery issue was resolved. Uncle Tom, Simon Legree, Little Eva, and Eliza Harris, the courageous slave mother who escapes the slave catchers by jumping across ice floes on the Ohio River, became familiar archetypes. Dramatizations of Uncle Tom's Cabin were frequently staged and immensely popular...

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin   Reference library

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
1,165 words
Illustration(s):
1

...the end of Tom's life, his owner, Simon Legree, who specializes in cruelty, beats Tom severely because he knows that Tom has outwitted him in a matter relating to two runaway women. When the son of Tom's former master finally rescues him, Tom manages to travel only a few miles beyond the door of Legree's plantation before dying. In 1851 , after Stowe finished the first five installments of Uncle Tom's Cabin , she consulted with Frederick Douglass about true stories relating to slavery that she could weave into her story. When Uncle Tom's Cabin ...

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853)   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to American Theatre (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
623 words

... Tom's Cabin ( 1853 ) , a melodrama by George L. Aiken . [Purdy's National Theatre, 325 perf.] The slave George Harris ( J. J. Prior ) tells Eliza ( Mrs. J. J. Prior ) he is fleeing to Canada. Eliza then learns that she and her young son are to be put up for sale, so she informs Uncle Tom ( J. Lingard ) that she, too, must run away. She escapes by crossing an icy river. St. Clare ( J. B. Howe ) has bought Uncle Tom, who had saved the life of Little Eva (Cordelia Howard ). Eva is brought up with a small black girl, Topsy ( Mrs. G. C. Howard ), who has no...

Uncle Tom's Children

Uncle Tom's Children   Reference library

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2002
Subject:
Literature
Length:
537 words

...Uncle Tom's Children , a collection published in 1938 of four of Richard Wright 's short stories (two of which had appeared previously) and the earliest of Wright's major publications. The book we know as Uncle Tom's Children is a somewhat different book from the original because two extraordinarily important additions were made in 1940 in a new edition. These two additions, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” a preface to the collection, and “Bright and Morning Star,” a new story, changed the shape of the book, giving it a different form and focus. ...

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)   Quick reference

The Oxford Dictionary of Plays (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015

...the lovable Uncle Tom. Uncle Tom is bought by a plantation owner St Clare, whose daughter Eva Tom had saved. Eva is brought up with a little black girl called Topsy, who, knowing nothing of her background, thinks she just ‘growed’. St Clare is a benevolent master, who welcomes the reunited George and Eliza, and promises to free his slaves. However, his heavy drinking, which Uncle Tom gently warns him about, leads St Clare into trouble. He is stabbed to death by the ruthless Simon Legree, before St Clare has signed the papers giving Tom and the others their...

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to the Book

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
History, Social sciences
Length:
436 words
Illustration(s):
1

...proliferated in the antebellum period. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was viciously attacked by antebellum Southerners, but praised by many professional and non-professional Northern readers in reviews, letters, and diaries. The book drew mixed responses from African-Americans. Although influential black readers such as Frederick Douglass asserted the novel’s importance for the abolitionist cause, others were outraged by Stowe ’s representation of black characters. Douglass himself recast the figure of the loyal, religious Uncle Tom in a story, ‘The Heroic Slave’. Many...

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Children's literature studies
Length:
323 words

...Uncle Tom’s Cabin , or, Life Among the Lowly A novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe , first published in serial form between June 1851 and April 1852 , in the National Era (Washington, DC). The plantation-owning Shelby family, though kindly by nature, are obliged from financial pressure to put their slaves up for sale. Eliza, one of the slaves, runs away before she can be sold, taking her little boy; but Uncle Tom is bought by a slave trader and separated from his wife, Aunt Chloe. Travelling on a boat up the Mississippi, he saves the life of Eva St Clair,...

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Or, Life among the Lowly

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Or, Life among the Lowly   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to American Literature (6 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Literature
Length:
341 words

... Tom's Cabin, Or, Life among the Lowly , novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe , published serially in the National Era ( 1851–52 ) and in book form in 1852 . During its first year after publication, more than 300,000 copies were sold, and it became the most popular American novel, having a powerful antislavery influence. Attacks upon its truth caused Mrs. Stowe to publish A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin ( 1853 ), defending the accuracy of its facts. The story was frequently translated and republished and was successfully dramatized by George Aiken ( 1852 ),...

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom noun (derog, orig US.)   Quick reference

The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
79 words

... Tom derog, orig US. noun 1 A black man considered to be servile, cringing, etc. 1922 –. New Yorker Pryor goes through his part pop-eyed, playing Uncle Tom for Uncle Toms ( 1977 ). verb intr . 2 To act like an Uncle Tom. 1947 –. Punch An obligation…applies constantly to all underdog groups, constantly tempted by rewards to uncle-tom, to pull the forelock ( 1967 ). [From the name of the hero of the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin ( 1851–2 ), by Harriet Beecher Stowe...

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom adj.   Reference library

Green's Dictionary of Slang

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
299 words

... Tom adj. ( also Tom , uncle , Uncle Tomish ) [ Uncle Tom n. ] ( orig. US black ) outwardly subservient, in the context of black/white relations; sometimes extended to any relationship between unequals. 1905 C. Chesnutt Colonel's Dream 67: I thought, suh, that you looked like a No'the'n man. That bein' so, doubtless you'd like somethin' on the Uncle Tom order. 1944 C. Himes ‘Let Me at the Enemy’ in Coll. Stories ( 1990 ) 38: Here come a big Uncle Tomish lookin' cat in starched overalls. 1958 C. Himes Real Cool Killers ( 1969 )...

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom v.   Reference library

Green's Dictionary of Slang

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
222 words

... Tom v. ( also uncle ) [ Uncle Tom n. (1)] ( US black ) to act in a subservient, obsequious manner to whites; thus Uncle Tomming n. 1942 Z.N. Hurston Dust Tracks On a Road ( 1995 ) 775: He can't even Uncle Tom. Not that I complain of ‘Tomming’ if it's done right. 1947 S. Lewis Kingsblood Royal ( 2001 ) 164: Ain't but one way to handle a white man: uncle-tom him. 1954 (con. 1920s–30s) J.O. Killens Youngblood ( 1956 ) 304: You think it's alright uncle-tomming for white folks? 1969 ‘ Iceberg Slim ’ Pimp 49: It was a wise thing...

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom n.   Reference library

Green's Dictionary of Slang

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
841 words

... Tom n. ( also Doctor Tom , Dr Thomas , Mr Thomas , Tom , Uncle George , Uncle Thomas ) [ Uncle Tom , the hero of Harriet Beecher Stowe's ( 1811–96 ) anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin ( 1852 )] ( orig. US black ) 1 a subservient black person, fitting willingly into the stereotyped and inferior image refined by generations of white supremacy; a middle-class black who wishes to distance themselves from the ghetto; an affected or pretentious black person. 1853 in J. Blassingame Slave Testimony ( 1977 ) 294: The condition of this colored...

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom noun   Quick reference

New Oxford American Dictionary (3 ed.)

Reference type:
English Dictionary
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
English Dictionaries and Thesauri
Length:
61 words

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