Beecher, Lyman

Beecher, Lyman,

1775–1863, American Presbyterian clergyman, b. New Haven, Conn., grad. Yale, 1797. In 1799 he became pastor at East Hampton, N.Y. While serving (1810–26) in the Congregational Church at Litchfield, Conn., he published his six sermons on intemperance, which passed through many American and English editions. Beecher helped to found (1816) the American Bible Society. In 1826 he was called to the Hanover St. Church, Boston, where his revival services created excitement. He was president of Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, from 1832 to 1852. His liberal views not infrequently placed him in sharp opposition to the conservative group in the Presbyterian Church. Of his 13 children, Henry, Charles, Edward, Thomas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Catharine Esther Beecher won wide recognition.


See his Collected Works (1852–53) and his Autobiography ed. by B. M. Cross (1864, new ed. 1961); biography by S. C. Henry (1974).

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Beecher, Lyman

(1775–1863) Presbyterian minister, revivalist; born in New Haven, Conn. (father of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe). Son of a blacksmith, he attended Yale and its Divinity School, becoming ordained in 1799. Between 1799–1810, he preached at East Hampton, Long Island, N.Y., and then at Litchfield, Conn. (1810–26); his brand of Calvinism called for constant church services and strong opposition to drinking. Invited to Boston in 1826, for six years he preached a fiery evangelicism that at one point inspired a mob to attack a Catholic convent. In 1832 he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to head the newly founded Lane Theological Seminary and to serve as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church there. His evangelical zeal and arrogance led to years of strife with more conservative Presbyterians, but he stayed until 1850, when he retired to the Brooklyn home of his son Henry Beecher.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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With these convictions of Beecher, Lyman Abbott and Joseph LeConte each agreed.