Having run up large debts, a Kentucky farmer named
faces the prospect of losing
everything he owns. Though he and his wife,
, have a kindhearted and affectionate
relationship with their slaves, Shelby decides to raise money by selling two of his slaves to
, a coarse slave trader.
slaves in question are
, a middle-aged man with a
wife and children on the farm, and
, the young son of Mrs. Shelby’s maid
Shelby tells his wife about his agreement with Haley, she is appalled because she has promised
Eliza that Shelby would not sell her son.
However, Eliza overhears the conversation between Haley and his wife and, after warning Uncle
Tom and his wife,
, she takes Harry and flees to the North, hoping to find freedom
with her husband
in Canada. Haley pursues her, but two other Shelby slaves alert Eliza to
the danger. She miraculously evades capture by crossing the half-frozen Ohio River, the
boundary separating Kentucky from the North. Haley hires a slave hunter named Loker and his
gang to bring Eliza and Harry back to Kentucky. Eliza and Harry make their way to a Quaker
settlement, where the Quakers agree to help transport them to safety. They are joined at the
, who reunites joyously with his family for the trip to Canada.
Meanwhile, Uncle Tom sadly leaves his family and Mas’r George, Shelby’s young son and
’s friend, as Haley takes him to a boat on the Mississippi to be transported to a slave market.
On the boat, Tom meets an angelic little white girl named
, who quickly befriends him.
When Eva falls into the river, Tom dives in to save her, and her father,
Augustine St. Clare
gratefully agrees to buy Tom from Haley. Tom travels with the St. Clares to their home in New
Orleans, where he grows increasingly invaluable to the St. Clare household and increasingly
close to Eva, with whom he shares a devout Christianity.
Up North, George and Eliza remain in flight from Loker and his men. When Loker attempts to
capture them, George shoots him in the side, and the other slave hunters retreat. Eliza convinces
George and the Quakers to bring Loker to the next settlement, where he can be healed.
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, St. Clare discusses slavery with his cousin Ophelia, who opposes
slavery as an institution but harbors deep prejudices against blacks. St. Clare, by contrast, feels
no hostility against blacks but tolerates slavery because he feels powerless to change it. To help
Ophelia overcome her bigotry, he buys
, a young black girl who was abused by her past
master and arranges for Ophelia to begin educating her.
After Tom has lived with the St. Clares for two years, Eva grows very ill. She slowly weakens,
then dies, with a vision of heaven before her. Her death has a profound effect on everyone who
knew her: Ophelia resolves to love the slaves, Topsy learns to trust and feel attached to others,
and St. Clare decides to set Tom free. However, before he can act on his decision, St. Clare is