Arago: Exhibits

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From Abolition to Civil Rights

The abolitionist movement of the nineteenth century and the civil rights movement of the twentieth century both had a great impact on the lives of women. Three women that played an active role in the fight for racial equality through their works of literature are Harriet Beecher Stowe, Julia Ward Howe, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) is one of the most influential American abolitionist writers. Raised in a Calvinist family, Stowe’s religious beliefs influenced her anti-slavery views. After the Fugitive Slave Act that made assisting an escaped slave a federal offense passed in 1850, Stowe decided to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, told the story of several slaves on a Kentucky plantation. Since its original publication, the novel is still regarded as a prominent work within abolitionist literature.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe stamp was issued in Washington, DC, as part of the Distinguished Americans Series. The stamp was designed by Richard Sheaff and contains a portrait of Stowe by Mark Summers. The portrait was based on a stipple engraving by Francis Holl that was made in 1855.

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), is a nineteenth century American poet, most known for her work “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” written in 1861."The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was largely sung by northern troops on the move. In addition to poetry, Howe was also very involved in the abolitionism and suffragist movements within the United States. The Julia Ward Howe stamp was issued in Boston, Massachusetts. The stamp was designed by Ward Brackett for the Great Americans Series.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) largely contributed to African American and feminist literature throughout the Harlem Renaissance. Although not regarded as valuable during her lifetime, her novels and anthropological works are now essential to the study of African American culture. In 1937 she wrote her most acclaimed novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

The Zora Neale Hurston stamp is the nineteenth stamp in the Literary Arts Series. The ceremony was held in Eatonville, Florida, during the fourteenth Zora Neale Hurston Street Festival. It was designed by Howard E. Paine and contains Drew Struzan’s portrait of Zora Neale Hurston with a Florida background that represents the setting from her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

14c Julia Ward Howe single

This 14-cent stamp was issued February 12, 1987.