Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Flower of the South

Philip J. Cozans' children novel "Little Eva. Flower of the South" was published in 1853 as a reaction to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" published on 20 March 1852. In its first year, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" sold around 300.000 copies. Not all reactions were positive. Pro-slavery authors were so enraged that they started writing their own novels with inverse messages. In their "Anti-Tom novels" (or "plantation literature") they described slaves as "the happy, singing, childlike stereotypes" and "a South in which slaves and masters enjoy a mutually supportive, familial bond that is only severed by the ignorant or greedy machinations of abolitionists."  "Little Eva" is plantation literature that addresses children; most of the Anti-Tom literature was written for adults (via and via).

The pro-slavery novel tells the story of Sam, the slave, who does not need freedom and prefers living on the plantation where he is much happier.

Little Eva lived in the bright sunny South, in the State of Alabama. She was the only daughter of a wealthy planter who owned many slaves, and a large plantation. Eva was the joy and pride of her parents, she obeyed them in everything ; she had a smile or a kind word for all; she is ealled the Flower of the South.
Here you see is little Eva teaching the little colored boys and girls the alphabet. See how pleased they are, for they all love Eva, and would do anything to please her ; and Eva takes a great deal of pleasure in teaching them and making them happy. She is teaching them the letters one by one, which she marks on the black-board.

Eva does not forget her friends, for she calls on her old nurse every day, to give her comfort and bring her all the news that is gomg about, for her nurse is very cold and sick. Eva has just brought her some chicken broth; the nurse is always glad to see Eva, and she loves to talk of the time when Eva was a dear little baby.
It is Sabbath morning, and Eva as usual, is reading the Bible to the colored people; she has learned some of them to read, but they would rather hear Eva read than read themselves, for they say her voice is so sweet ; and she always explains all the questions they ask her so pleasantly, that it is a greater pleasure to hear her.

Eva rises early like all good children. Sometimes, when the weather is clear and beautiful, she takes a walk, and gathers a pretty bunch of flowers for her dear mother, who is very fond of them. Eva is riding a pony this morning, she is not afraid of him, for he is a very kind and gentle animal, he sometimes follows her like a dog.
Eva has fallen into the water. See how the poor dog is swimming to save her, but he is too late, for Sam is taking her safely out. Poor Eva, she was reaching to catch hold of some grass which grew in the water, when she lost her balance and fell; but she is safe now. She will remember not to play again near the water.

This is Eva's birth-day. She is just nine years old ; there is double rejoicing, both because Eva was saved from drowning, and because it is her birth-day. See, she is presenting Sam with a beautiful Bible, as a token of her esteem. Eva's parents were so pleased with Sam for saving Eva, that they gave him his freedom; but he never left them, he loved them all too well.

Book via Open Library


  1. This is a weird piece of "literature".

  2. Unbelievably weird, indeed. And quite interesting/disturbing that they targeted such a young audience. Thank you, Derek, Karen, and Erin!