Log Cabin by Becky Brown
For Abraham Lincoln's
202nd birthday anniversary
February 12, 2011
The Log Cabin pattern can also remind us of the book Uncle Tom's Cabin. There's a story---probably not true but like many of our myths important to our American identity---that President Abraham Lincoln greeted its author Harriet Beecher Stowe with the words, "So you're the little lady who made this great war."
Harriet Beecher Stowe
About the time she wrote Life Among the Lowly
Stowe first published the book Uncle Tom's Cabin as a serial in the newspaper the National Era in 1851. Originally called Life Among the Lowly, the story ran throughout the year, mesmerizing readers with a glimpse of life in slavery, something many had never considered. Among the readers were Sophia Soule, her husband Amasa and her four children.
An 1852 edition of the serial as a novel
Sophia's daughter Annie recalled the serial novel years later:
"As the drama of Uncle Tom's Cabin unrolled in its pages the family would gather in the parlor each Sunday afternoon, and mother would read that week's installment aloud....What a sensation that story made! No one today can even imagine it. At first mother started to read it to us on Sunday afternoon, so father could be there to hear, but the paper came on Wednesday, and soon we became too eager for it to wait until Sundays...it was the reading of Uncle Tom's Cabin that really made my father hate slavery so bitterly. I can see father yet, striding up and down the room, his hands clenched in fury."
An 1859 poster
Stowe's novel made complacent Northerners realize that slaves were human beings with human emotions. Published as a book, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in its first year and eventually was translated into sixty languages. It was confiscated, banned and burned in many areas of the South.
Book-burners fear of the written word was well-justified. Many, like the Soule family, remembered that the book changed their lives. The Soules decided to leave Massachusetts and go to the Kansas Territory to take a stand in the antislavery struggle there.
A log cabin pieced of wool/cotton combination prints, about 1875
The Log Cabin pattern with it's dark and light logs around a square center (often a red center) dates to the 1860s when it was often pieced of the printed wools known as delaines.
Wool Log Cabin, end of the 19th century
The light/dark shading pattern in each block is known today as Sunshine and Shadow; this set is called the Zig Zag.
Cutting Instructions for an 8" Block
(All the strips are 1-7/8" wide)
A - Cut 1 light strip 1-7/8" x 8-1/2"
B - Cut 1 light and 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 5-7/8"
C - Cut 1 light and 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 7-1/8"
D - Cut 1 light and 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 4-1/2"
E - Cut 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 3-1/8"
F - Cut 1 square 3-1/8"
Piece the block by adding strips in clockwise fashion. Begin with the red center F and strip E.
An early 20th-century cotton log cabin.
The set is a variation known today as Barn Raising.
Campaign songbook in Lincoln's 1860 Presidential campaign.
He was called The Rail Splitter, a symbol of his humble birth.
The log cabin was a powerful political image, so closely connected with Abraham Lincoln that a cabin was featured on the reverse side of the Lincoln penny issued in 2009, the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.
A late 19th-century log cabin of wool, silk and cotton
The patchwork pattern became quite popular in the 1870s, associated with Lincoln and possibly with memories of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The Log Cabin block will symbolize both Harriet Beecher Stowe and Lincoln.
An unusual version of the diagonal set known today as Straight Furrow.
The quilt looks to be late 19th-century.
Read the 1852 version of Stowe's book here at the site of the University of Virginia Libraries:
And click on the images at this site to see illustrations from various editions of Uncle Tom's Cabin.