Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

7. Moral Values: The Rise of Domesticity

07. Moral Values: The Rise of Domesticity

One of the most confounding occurrences in American history was the unusual resilience of the institution of slavery. A peculiarly American phenomenon, slavery as a social institution inexplicably was allowed to exist unimpeded for many decades. It was not until Americans read Harriet Beecher Stowe's best selling 19th-century novel Uncle Tom's Cabin that the American consciousness was raised to the point where slavery was challenged and deemed untenable in an egalitarian society. In this program James Sheehan explains how Stowe's remarkably influential novel served to awaken the American populace to its own hypocrisy. The novel was particularly effective because it addressed the immorality of slavery within the context of family values, during a period in American history when domesticity was on the rise and women in particular were emerging as a viable moral force in the society. As Sheehan demonstrates through several 19th century narrative paintings: an orderly, peaceful, supportive, comforting and private family life, embodied in the term "domesticity," became a cherished cultural asset. But like all sanctuaries, it had to be protected from dangerous intrusions, immoral temptations, and outside influences. It was this ideal of the intrinsic value of domesticity that Stowe was appealing to when, through her exceptional novel, demonstrated the innate evils of slavery in a liberal democratic society. 99/10DE SCA 50 min.

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