Uncle Tom's Cabin (1910)
Drama | Short
Our story opens in winter at the time when Mr. Shelby is forced to sell some of his slaves, owing to business reverses. Up to this time they have lived all their lives with him, and he has been noted for his kindness to them. Unfortunately, the man to whom he is compelled to sell is a slave owner of the other sort, brutal, heartless and a hard master. This man, Simon LeGree, comes to Shelby's home and agrees to buy as many of the slaves as he desires, providing Mr. Shelby gives him his choice. The slaves are passed in review, and LeGree selects Uncle Tom, one of the oldest and most trusted of Shelby's negroes, and the young son of Eliza, also a slave who has been with Shelby many years. Despite the protestations of Mr. Shelby and the entreaties of the poor slaves themselves, these two are heartlessly torn from their homes and families. LeGree refuses to buy any of the others, and as Shelby is in need of immediate money, he is forced to allow him to buy these two. The small boy is torn from his mother's arms and placed in Uncle Tom's care, to be taken with him to LeGree's plantation. But when Eliza entreats him to give her back her child he does so, and aids her to escape with him. For this deed he is cruelly beaten by his new master, LeGree, and forced to join the search with bloodhounds which LeGree institutes to recover the runaway slave. Eliza with her boy in her arms escapes over the Kentucky border to Ohio, a free stat, by making a perilous crossing of the Ohio River, stepping from one block of ice to another. Terribly overcome by the unusual cold and faint from exposure and lack of food, Eliza is carried unconscious into the home of Senator Bird of Ohio. Here she is revived and promised protection. When tracked by the purchaser of her boy, Simon LeGree, to Bird's home, Mr. Bird, out of goodness of his heart, buys the boy, and giving him his freedom, gives him to his mother. Uncle Tom is not fortunate enough to find another purchaser, however, and is taken by LeGree to his plantations on the Mississippi, finding on his trip that his new owner has taken a dislike to him and in consequence treats him with great brutality. During his journey, while waiting for a Mississippi steamboat, Uncle Tom first meet little Eva, who with her father is also taking the boat south. Tom is at once attracted to the beautiful little girl and she, in her turn, talks to the kindly old darkey. While looking at the boats, the little one accidentally falls into the swiftly flowing river and escapes drowning only through the bravery of Uncle Tom. He, of all the crowd, has the courage to jump into the surging waters and rescues the little girl. Eva's father, as a reward to Tom for his bravery, buys him from LeGree, and once more Tom knows what it is to be treated kindly. He lives happily as little Eva's special bodyguard until the little one is seized with a sudden sickness and dies. She had become greatly attached to Uncle Tom and the last act of her life was to present him with a little locket containing her picture. Once more Uncle Tom is sold and again falls into the hands of Simon LeGree. He is taken down the river to LeGree's cotton plantation in Mississippi, and here is so cruelly overworked and ill-treated that he, too, is called by death. Just before he dies he presses to his lips the locket with the picture of his beloved little mistress, and in a vision sees her in the clouds, holding out her arms to him that he, too, may enter with her the pearly gates, inside of which all souls are equal, and all free. The comedy of the story is furnished by little Eva's Aunt Ophelia, a queer old lawyer named Marks, and his stubborn donkey, to say nothing of Topsy, a wicked little colored girl, whom Aunt Ophelia tries hard to convert.