Henry Ward Beecher

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Henry Ward Beecher
BirthplaceLitchfield, Connecticut, U.S.
Protestant Clergyman, Abolitionist

Beecher, Henry Ward,

1813–87, American Congregational preacher, orator, and lecturer, b. Litchfield, Conn.; son of Lyman BeecherBeecher, 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.
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 and brother of Harriet Beecher StoweStowe, Harriet Beecher,
1811–96, American novelist and humanitarian, b. Litchfield, Conn. With her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, she stirred the conscience of Americans concerning slavery and thereby influenced the course of American history.
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. He graduated from Amherst in 1834 and attended Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati. After two pastorates in Indiana, he accepted a call in 1847 to the newly organized Plymouth Church (Congregational) in Brooklyn, N.Y. There Beecher became famous for his advocacy of an emotional "gospel of love" Christianity instead of the strict Calvinist doctrine that then characterized much of American Protestantism. Every important issue of the day was discussed from his pulpit and in his lectures. He was a leader in the antislavery movement, a proponent of woman suffrage, and an advocate of the theory of evolution. Beecher became editor of the Independent in 1861 and of the Christian Union in 1870. In 1863 he visited England, where his lectures were influential in gaining a more sympathetic understanding of the Union cause. Enthusiasm, imaginative insight, a strong interest in humanity, ready wit, and an easy command of language produced a convincing eloquence. The sensational lawsuit brought against him by Theodore TiltonTilton, Theodore,
1835–1907, American journalist, b. New York City. After working for the New York Observer he was (1863–71) editor in chief of the Independent, a Congregationalist weekly.
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 for adultery ended after a long trial (1875) with disagreement of the jury. Beecher's friends acclaimed him the victor. Despite the trial, Beecher remained influential for the rest of his life. His published works include The Life of Jesus, the Christ (1871) and Evolution and Religion (1885).


See biographies by L. Abbott (1904, repr. 1969), P. Hibben (1942, repr. 1973), and D. Applegate (2006); study by W. G. McLoughlin (1970); R. Shaplen, Free Love and Heavenly Sinners (1954); R. W. Fox, Trials of Intimacy (1999).

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Beecher, Henry Ward

(1813–87) Protestant clergyman, reformer; born in Litchfield, Conn. One of 13 children of clergyman Lyman Beecher (one of his sisters was author Harriet Beecher Stowe), he graduated from Amherst in 1834 and studied under his father at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1839 he became pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Ind., where he developed a forceful, emotional preaching style. Named the first pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1847, he crusaded from the pulpit for temperance and against slavery and became one of the most influential public figures of his time. He supported Free Soil political candidates and, later, Republicans; on the outbreak of the Civil War his church raised and equipped a volunteer regiment. He edited the religious publications The Independent and The Christian Union (later Outlook) during the 1860s and 1870s. He was acquitted on an adultery charge after a sensational trial in 1874. His many books include Evolution and Religion (1885).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
In prose as vivid as her subject's personality, historian Debby Applegate narrates the life of Henry Ward Beecher (1813-87) in this solidly researched and well-written biography.
As part of a negotiation between Henry Ward Beecher and Henry Bowen, in light of accusations of adultery Tilton was making against Beecher with his wife Elizabeth.
"I NEVER knew how to worship until I knew how to love." (Preacher Henry Ward Beecher in Trumpets of Jubilee; Harcourt, 1927)
She gathered data on six of the slaves, members of the Edmonson family, because the father of the fugitive slaves appealed to her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, for financial help.
Catharine Esther Beecher, a sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, found the principles of Christianity and those of democracy "identical" (256) in A Treatise on Domestic Economy for the Use of Young Ladies at Home and at School.
The instability engendered by economic growth was made far more acute--for the larger community as well as for Brooklyn's African Americans--by the growth of an anti-slavery movement; leading abolitionists such as Arthur and Lewis Tappan and Henry Ward Beecher made Brooklyn their home.
`In a sermon he delivered shortly before the American Civil War began, New England minister Henry Ward Beecher declared that "manhood,--manhood,--MANHOOD,--exercised in the fear of God, has made this nation' (p.
Get the real scoop on Henry Ward Beecher and his 1870s scandal.
For seven months in 1875, America was riveted by a civil trial in Brooklyn in which one of the country's most famous and beloved ministers, the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher (brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe), defended himself against adultery charges brought by his onetime best friend and parishioner, Theodore Tilton.
Although the conventions of nineteenth-century American Protestantism would not permit Stowe to follow her father into the ministry or to ascend a pulpit for the purpose of addressing a religious congregation on matters that were of grave importance to her, it was in this venue--the fiercely engaged and spirited exchange at the dinner table--that she cut her rhetorical teeth.(17) Ultimately, Stowe attained the authority of a public, intellectual voice within the medium of literature, her political and moralistic fiction expressing those very arguments that Lyman Beecher or Henry Ward Beecher would have framed as sermons.(18) James Russell Lowell, the Atlantic Monthly's editor, encouraged her to work in this vein.
James, like his half-siblings Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, ardently condemned slavery.