Henry Ward Beecher

It is amazing how some families count numerous influential members; the American Beecher clan is one of these. Lyman Beecher was one of the best known Calvinist ministers of his age, and among his children are Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887) and Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin).

Henry Ward Beecher was educated at Amherst College and served as a minister. His lectures were very popular, as he used humor, dialect, and slang to forward God’s love above all else. In the years up to the Civil War, Henry Ward Beecher was involved in abolitionist movement, sending rifles – called Beecher’s Bibles – to fighting abolitionists. After the war, he also supported women’s suffrage and temperance.

By now, you’re probably thinking archetypical New England, forward thinking minister. Cue associations to Louise M. Alcott’s Little Women, North and South, and Gone with the Wind, but Henry Ward Beecher was scandalous as well. He was known to be a womanizer, and subject to adultery charges in 1875. The court case ended with a hung jury.

Henry Ward Beecher retained his popularity, lecturing and giving sermons until his death by a stroke in 1887.

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