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A Review of Uncle Tom's Cabin or, An Essay on Slavery   By:

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, BY A. WOODWARD, M.D., In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the District of Indiana.


For the last two years a "still small voice" has constantly whispered to me, in private and in public, at home and abroad, saying, write! It was in vain that I strove to quiet this inward monitor by pleading incapacity, poverty, want of time, &c.; he heeded not my excuses. I inquired what would become of my dependant family, should I relinquish the practice of my profession and engage in other pursuits? He answered, "Put thy trust in the Lord, and write! " I yielded not to his monitions, but continued with unabated ardor the practice of my profession, until the latter part of autumn, 1852, when I was suddenly prostrated by disease, and forced to desist from the practice of medicine. I then commenced as soon as I was able, the preparation of a work, which I contemplated bringing before the public at some future period, provided I should live. In accordance with the plan of the proposed work, an essay on African slavery was to close the volume. After I had finished about a hundred pages manuscript, in order, the question of African slavery in the United States suddenly thrust itself upon my mind with such force, that I found it somewhat difficult to investigate any other subject. My mind at the time was enervated by disease, and by no means well disciplined. Hence I could not control it. For this reason, I at once concluded to draw up a skeleton or outline of my essay on slavery; after which I contemplated resuming my work in regular order. It was about this time that my health rapidly declined, and I became so feeble that I could not sit at my table more than one or two hours in twenty four. In this condition, by a slow process, I finished from chapter i, to the close of chapter xiii. The Introduction was written afterwards, to supply some obvious defects in that portion of the work alluded to.

None need tell me that there are defects and imperfections in the work. I am well aware of the fact, but could not remedy them without re writing the whole, and that was impracticable under the circumstances. Critics need not trouble themselves about its defects as a literary production, as I lay no claim to merit on that ground. Having been actively engaged in the practice of an arduous and perplexing profession for the last twenty five years, I am aware that my qualifications for authorship must be somewhat defective. I was moreover forced to write, when my corporeal system was exhausted, and my mental powers oppressed by a complication of diseases. There are not many, I conceive, who will find any difficulty in clearly comprehending the ideas I intended to convey; if so, my object is accomplished.

The work was written under disadvantageous circumstances; but such as it is, I cast it out on the great sea of public opinion to abide its fate. If good is accomplished thereby, I shall rejoice; but if it is destined to sink into oblivion, I shall console myself with the reflection that I had no other object in writing, but the correction of error and the welfare of my fellow creatures. I may err, but I appeal to "the searcher of all hearts" for the purity of my motives and intentions. Whatever may be the effects of this work on the public mind; light and truth were my aim, and the best interests of my fellow beings, my sole object.

I appear before the public with reluctance, and am exceedingly mortified that it has fallen to my lot to treat any portion of my fellow citizens with severity; but I am nevertheless prepared to meet the sneers and frowns of those implicated. I shall offer no apology for the harsh language which will be occasionally found in this volume; as a desperate disease requires an active remedy. If I could, however, have re written the work, I would have changed, in some places, the phraseology... Continue reading book >>

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