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The School: Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin in Russia

By       Message Mark Sashine     Permalink
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Teacher: Very good. Any   such   stories in our literature?


Olya: Not that I know of. We do   have   novels and stories about the serfdom.


Kolya: Yes, like Radishev's   " Traveling from   St. Petersburg to Moscow". That one though   is different.


Teacher: How?


Kolya:   Radishev's   story   is from much more earlier times.   Also,   in Russia    it was feudalism and   serfs, peasants came with the landownership   when land belonged to the   nobility. Nobility was a   relatively small group of people with   significant privileges, the ruling elite. Russia was an Empire.   But even they   had   to abolish the  serfdom in 1861 because   it   became unsustainable. Meanwhile,   US was a democracy; they proclaimed   themselves being enlightened and   had slaves at the same time, bought and sold.    Sounds like an anomaly.


Natasha: That's true.   In the book   Eliza, George and   other members of the family seek refuge in Canada.   Canada   was   an English colony and it did not have slavery.


Teacher:   Well, that means some kind of a specific arrangement for black people.   Apparently, they were brought to the US as   slaves and   remained that way after the US Revolution. They were excluded from the citizenship, so to speak.   Why?


Kolya:   In the book   a slave- owner St. Clare   tells about it.   He   defines slavery as    some kind of a convenient arrangement for everyone   interested: for   white planters who owned   the Negroes and could use them as   cotton   harvesters and servants, for   the   commerce system which benefited   from   buy- sell   roundabout, for the Northern companies and banks   which could use   the Negroes as   commodities- they were rather expensive    for that time.   Owning people was a symbol of prosperity; in the US   prosperous people were defined by their wealth.


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The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.

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