Grows up in a large family

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811, in Litchfield, Connecticut. She was the seventh of thirteen children (only eleven of whom survived to adulthood) born to the fiery Puritan minister Lyman Beecher (1775-1863). Her mother, a gentle and well-educated woman named Roxanna Foote Beecher, died of tuberculosis when she was four years old. Harriet—known to her family and friends as Hatty—was a small girl with lots of energy and a playful sense of humor.

"Let the President of the United States proclaim that all men shall hereafter be declared free and equal, and that the [military] service of all shall be accepted, without regard to color."

Harriet Beecher Stowe.

(Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.)

She loved to read and became a very good student. After winning prizes for her essays as a student at Litchfield Academy, she dreamed of becoming a famous writer.

For the most part, Hatty had a happy childhood surrounded by her large family. She was particularly close to her younger brother, Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), who would eventually become a famous preacher like their father. Another important influence was her oldest sister, Catherine Beecher, who helped raise her after their mother died. Catherine held progressive views about the role of women that were unusual for that time. Believing that women should have the same educational opportunities as men, she opened a school for girls in Hartford, Connecticut. Hatty attended the school for a time and also taught there during her teen years.

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