Beecher. I. Lyman, D. D., an American clergyman, born in New Haven, Conn., Oct. 12, 1775, died in Brooklyn, N. Y., Jan. 10, 1863. His ancestor in the fifth ascent was among the earliest emigrants to New England, having settled at New Haven in 1638. His mother dying shortly after his birth, he was committed to the care of his uncle Lot Benton, by whom he was adopted as a son. He entered Yale college, where, besides the usual collegiate course, he studied theology, and graduated in 1797. During his collegiate course he had given a foretaste of the zeal and eloquence for which he was afterward noted. In 1798 he was ordained pastor of the Congregational church at East Hampton, near the E. extremity of Long Island, and shortly afterward married his first wife, Roxana Foote. His salary was only $300, after five years increased to $400, besides the occupancy of a dilapidated parsonage. To eke out this scanty income his wife opened a private school, in which the husband gave instruction. Mr. Beecher soon became one of the foremost preachers of his day. A sermon which he preached in 1804, upon occasion of the death of Alexander Hamilton in a duel with Aaron Burr, excited great attention.
Finding his salary wholly inadequate to support his increasing family, he resigned the charge, and in 1810 was installed pastor of the Congregational church at Litchfield, Conn. Here he remained for 16 years, during which he took rank as the foremost clergyman of his denomination. The vice of intemperance had become a common one in New England, even the formal meetings of the clergy being not unfrequently accompanied by gross excesses. Mr. Beecher resolved to take a stand against this vice, and about 1814 preached and published his famous six sermons on intemperance, which contain passages the eloquence of which is hardly exceeded by anything in the English language. During his residence at Litchfield arose the Unitarian controversy in New England, in which he took a prominent part. Litchfield was at this time an educational centre, being the seat of a famous law school and of several other institutions of learning. Mr. Beecher (now a doctor of divinity) and his wife undertook to supervise the training of a number of young women, who were received into his family. Here too he found in time his salary, $800 a year, inadequate to the necessities of his large family.
In 1826 he received a call to become pastor of the Hanover street church in Boston, where he remained for six years, which were the most active and laborious of his life. The religious public had become impressed with the growing importance of the great west; a theological seminary was founded at Walnut Hills, near Cincinnati, Ohio, and named Lane seminary, after one of its principal benefactors. In 1832 Dr. Beecher accepted the presidency of this institution, which he retained for 20 years, being at the same time for 10 years pastor of the second Presbyterian church in Cincinnati. In 1833, during the absence of Dr. Beecher, the trustees of the seminary prohibited the open discussion of slavery by the students, a large majority of whom withdrew. In 1835 Dr. Beecher, who has been styled "a moderate Calvinist," was arraigned before his presbytery on charges of hypocrisy and teaching false doctrine; he was acquitted, and an appeal was taken to the synod, which decided that there was no foundation for the charge. When the disruption took place in the Presbyterian church, he adhered to the New School branch.
In 1852 he resigned the presidency of Lane seminary, and returned to Boston, proposing to devote himself mainly to the revisal and publication of his works, though not unfrequently preaching, and for a time with much of his former eloquence. But his intellectual powers began to decline, while his physical strength remained unabated. Memory first failed, then the capacity for expression. The last ten years of his life were passed in Brooklyn, N. Y., the residence of his son Henry Ward Beecher. Dr. Beecher was a man of great intellectual power, though not a profound scholar. His sermons were usually extempore as far as form was concerned, but were carefully thought out, often while engaged in active physical exercise; but his writings were elaborated with the utmost care. He had some striking personal peculiarities. He was proverbially absent-minded, and after having been wrought up by the excitement of preaching was accustomed to let himself down by playing "Auld Lang Syne" on the fiddle, or dancing the "double shuffle" in his parlor. His autobiography and life has been prepared by some of his children, the autobiographical part occupying only a subordinate place.
Three volumes of his collected works, revised by himself, were published in 1852. He was three times married, in 1799, 1817, and 1836, and was father of 13 children, of whom 11 are living (1872). One died in infancy, and another, George, a promising clergyman, died in 1843 from the accidental discharge of his own gun. Of the remainder, the following have attained distinction. II. Catherine Esther, born at East Hampton, Long Island, Sept. 6, 1800. When quite young she was betrothed to Prof. Fisher of Yale college, who perished by shipwreck off the coast of Ireland while on a voyage to Europe, and she has remained unmarried. In 1822 she opened a school in Hartford, Conn., which she continued for ten years, during which she prepared some elementary books in arithmetic and mental and moral philosophy. In 1832 she accompanied her father to Cincinnati, where she opened a female seminary, which she was obliged to discontinue after two years on account of ill health. She thenceforth devoted herself to the development of an extended plan for female education, physical, social, intellectual, and moral.
In this she has labored more than 30 years, organizing societies for training teachers and sending them to the new states and territories, and for other related objects, writing much for periodicals, and publishing the following books: "Domestic Service," "Duty of American Women to their Country," "Domestic Receipt Book," "The True Remedy for the Wrongs of Woman," "Domestic Economy," "Letters to the People on Health and Happiness," "Physiology and Calisthenics," "Religious Training of Children," "The American Woman's Home," "Common Sense applied to Religion," and "Appeal to the People, as the authorized Interpreters of the Bible." Apart from the books relating to her special educational purpose, she has written memoirs of her brother George Beecher, and "Truth Stranger than Fiction," an account of an infelicitous domestic affair in which some of her friends were involved. III. Edward, D. D., born at East Hampton, L. L, in 1804. He graduated at Yale college in 1822, studied theology at Andover and New Haven, and was pastor of the Park street Congregational church, Boston, from 1626 to 1831. In the latter year he was elected president of Illinois college, Jacksonville, where he remained till 1844, when he returned to Boston as pastor of the Salem street church; and since 1856 he has been pastor of the Congregational church at Galesbarg, Illinois. His works are: "Baptism, its Import and Mode" (New York, 1850); "The Conflict of Ages"(Boston, 1854); "The Papal Conspiracy" (New York, 1855); and "The Concord of Ages " (New York, 1860). Few works in speculative theology have attracted more attention than the two on the "Ages." The central idea presented in them is that man's present life upon earth is the outgrowth of a former, as well as a prelude to a future one; that during the ages a conflict has been going on between good and evil, which will not be terminated in this life; but that sooner or later all the long conflicts of ages will become harmonized into an everlasting concord.
IV. Henry Ward, born at Litchfield, Conn., June 24, 1813. He graduated at Amherst college in 1834, and studied theology at Lane seminary. In 1837 he became pastor of a Presbyterian church at Lawrenceburg, and in 183S) at Indianapolis, Ind. In 1847 he received a call from the Plymouth church, a new Con-grcgationalist organization in Brooklyn, N. Y. Here almost from the outset he becran to ac-quire that reputation as a pulpit orator which has been maintained and increased during a quarter of a century. The church and congregation under his charge are probably the largest in America. He has always discarded the mere conventionalities of the clerical profession. In his view humor has a place in a sermon as well as argument and exhortation. He is fond of illustration, drawing his material from every sphere of human life and thought; and his manner is highly dramatic. Though his keen sense of humor continually manifests itself, the prevailing impression given by his discourses is one of intense earnestness. The cardinal idea of his creed is that Christianity is not a series of philosophical or metaphysical dogmas, but a rule of life in every phase.
Hence he has never hesitated to discuss from the pulpit the great social and political questions of the day, such as slavery, intemperance, licentiousness, the lust for power, and the greed for gain. He is an enthusiast in music, a connoisseur in art, a lover of flowers and animals. Apart from his purely professional labors, he is a popular lecturer in lyceums, and orator at public meetings. Before beginning to preach he edited for a year (1886) a newspaper, " The Cincinnati Journal," and while pastor at Indianapolis an agricultural journal, his contributions to which were afterward published under the title, "Fruits, Flowers, and Farming." For nearly 20 years he was an editorial contributor to " The Independent." a weekly journal published in New York, and from 1861 to 1863 its editor; his contributions to this were signed with a * and many of them were collected and published as "The Star Papers." Since 1870 he has been editor of "The Christian Union," a weekly newspaper published in New York. His regular weekly sermons, as taken down by stenographers, have been printed since 1850, and now (1872) form 10 volumes under the title of "The Plymouth Pulpit." Besides these he has published "Lectures to Young Men;" "Industry and Idleness;" "Life Thoughts," two series edited by Edna Dean Proctor and Augusta Moore; "Sermons on Liberty and War;" "The Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes;" "Norwood," a novel, originally published in the "New York Ledger," to which he is a constant contributor; "Sermons, from Published and Unpublished Discourses" (2 vols., 1870); "Life of Christ" (2 vols., 1871 - '2); and "Yale Lectures on Preaching" (1872). In 1863 he visited Great Britain, with a special view to disabuse the public in regard to the issues of our civil war.
His speeches exerted a wide influence in changing popular sentiment, which had been strongly in favor of the southern confederacy. They were published in London, but have not been reprinted in America. v Haunt Elizabeth (Stowe), born at Litchfield, Conn., June 14, 1812. During several years she was a teacher in the school of her sister at Hartford, Conn. In 1832 she went with her family to Cincinnati, and in 1836 was married to Prof. Calvin E. Stowe of Lane seminary. In 1849 she published "Mayflower, or Sketches of the Descendants of the Pilgrims," several times republished, with additions. In June, 1851, she commenced in the "National Era," an anti-slavery newspaper published in Washington, a serial story, which was continued till the following April. In 1852 this was issued in two volumes, under the title of " Uncle Tom's Cabin," and achieved an unparalleled success. In four years there had been printed in the United States 313,000 copies, and probably still more in Great Britain. As early as 1862 it had been translated into French (two or three versions), German (13 or 14), Dutch (two), Danish, Swedish, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Welsh (two), Russian (two), Polish, Hungarian, (three), Wendish, Wallachian (two), Armenian, Arabic, and Romaic; and it is said that there are also translations into the Chinese and Japanese. The truthfulness of the representations in "Uncle Tom" having been questioned, Mrs. Stowe in 1853 published a "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," presenting the "original facts upon which the story was founded, together with corroborative statements verifying the truth of the work." In 1853, accompanied by her husband and her brother Charles, she visited Europe, and gave the results of their observations in "Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands" (1854). Since that time Mrs. Stowe has written much, mainly in periodicals, the papers being subsequently collected into volumes.
Among these volumes are: "Dred, a Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp" (1856; republished in 1866 under the title of "Nina Gordon"); "The Minister's Wooing" (1859); "The Pearl of Orr's Island" (1862); "Agnes of Sorrento" (1863); "Old Town Folks " (1869); "My Wife and I" (1872), and several others. In 1868 the countess Guiccioli put forth her "Recollections of Lord Byron." Mrs. Stowe thereupon, in September, 1869, published in the "Atlantic Monthly" a paper, "The True Story of Lady Byron's Life," in which she undertook to show that Byron had formed an incestuous intimacy with his half-sister, Mrs. Leigh. This paper elicited much comment and many replies. She extended her magazine article into a volume, "Lady Byron Vindicated" (1869), in which she reiterated her original statement, and replied to the animadversions which it had occasioned. In 1868-70 she was one of the editors of "Hearth and Home," a weekly literary journal of New York. Her home is in Hartford, Conn., but she passes much of her time at her winter residence in Mandarin, Florida. VI. Charles, born at Litchfield, Conn., in 1815. In 1844 he Was ordained as a clergyman, and became successively pastor at Newark, N. J., and Georgetown, Mass. He has written "The Incarnation" (1849); "Review of the Spiritual Manifestations " (1853); and " Pen Pictures of the Bible" (1855). He aided his brother, Henry Ward Beecher, in the compilation of the "Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes," was joint author with his sister, Mrs. Stowe, of the "Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands," and acted as editor of the life of his father, Lyman Beecher. VII. Thomas Kennicntt, born at Litchfield, Conn., Feb. 10, 1824. He graduated in 1843 at Illinois college, of which his brother Edward was president, and engaged in teaching.
He afterward became pastor of the New England Congregational church in Williamsburgh, now a part of Brooklyn, N. Y., and about 1857 removed to Elmira, N. Y., where he is now pastor of a church (1872). He has published a volume entitled "Our Seven Churches" (New York, 1870).