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A Visit to the Real 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'

Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was inspired by the memoir of a real person: Josiah Henson.

Henson was born into slavery in Maryland in 1787. He eventually escaped to Ontario, where he established a school for former slaves and served as pastor of a church. He returned to the United States many times to guide other slaves to freedom. In 1849 he published his autobiography, one of the first slave narratives.

The cabin where Henson lived in what is now Bethesda, Md., was recently sold to the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. It will become an intepretative park.

Debbie Elliott paid a visit to the "real" Uncle Tom's Cabin with Henson's descendant, Maryland attorney Jim Henson.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.