25 February 2011

Uncle Tom's Cabin

I started writing this post (oh my) a long time ago, when the story first ran about the loction of the cabin. I've been moved to update and finish it because the cabin will be open to the public this weekend.

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It's a funny thing but until somewhat recently I assumed that Uncle Tom's Cabin was located in the deep south somewhere. Mississippi or Alabama or something. Although the image of Eliza running across a frozen river in the deep south should have put paid to that.

According to this website, the story begins in Kentucky and the icy river is the Ohio. The eventual destination is Canada. Later Tom is sold "down the river," but I'm not sure where. The one thing I do know is that the cabin of Josiah Henson, the slave whose autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write the book, still exists and is located ...... in upscale Bethesda, Maryland.

Maryland, a border state during the Civil War (and a slave state before it), was put under martial law during the war because of the number of pro-Confederate officials and its proximity to Washington, DC.  My state, however, did remain part of the Union, (whew) due in part to the efforts of her governor, a slaveholder, who negotiated with federal officials.

Quickie geography refresher - the District of Columbia was originally a diamond-shaped territory donated by Maryland and Virginia. It is now a sort-of diamond-shaped territory with a ragged lower left (the Potomac River) because the Virignia section (Arlington - named for Robert E. Lee's home) was returned and is now the site of, among other things, the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.

Several major arteries go from the Maryland suburbs into DC, including Georgia Avenue, which passes in front of my church. And buried in the churchyard are 17 confederate soldiers who fought in General Jubal Early's raid and the Battle of Fort Stevens.  (The deli up the street has a General Jubal Early burger on their menu.)  I will pass the church (and the deli) on my way to the Josiah Henson Special Park.

And if they have copies of the Reverend's autobiography for sale, I shall buy one* and learn more about the history of my state.

*You know, to provide a bit of income to the Special Park.  If they don't, I can read it on-line.

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