Henry Beecher

Henry Ward Beecher (1813 - 1887)

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Henry Ward Beecher
Born in Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut, USAmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Sutton, Massachusettsmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USAmap
Profile manager: Brian Stump private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 24 May 2013
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Categories: Abolitionists | Sperry's of Connecticut | Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York | American Notables.


Henry Beecher is Notable.

Henry Ward Beecher was educated at the Boston Latin School and Amherst College. After three years of study at Amherst College, Henry Ward Beecher graduated in 1837. He took his first ministerial position in Lawrenceburg, Indiana from 1837 until 1839. From 1839 until 1847, he served as the pastor for the Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. In 1847, he became the first minister of the new Plymouth Congregational Church located in Brooklyn, New York.

Beecher was very concerned about the spread of slavery into the territories, and used his pulpit as the means of disseminating his abolitionist views.

Henry Ward Beecher, the seventh child of Lyman Beecher and Roxana Foote Beecher, became one of the most famous men in the United States during the 19th century. Among the Beecher family, only sister Harriet bested Henry's life time celebrity and historical legacy.

Henry was only three when his mother Roxanna died. The toddler formed a close reliance on five-year-old Harriet, and their bond remained throughout their lives. As a boy Henry was more attracted to open pastures and wooded fields than schools or books. As an adult, Henry turned this early affinity with nature into visions of a loving deity. Henry was barely 13 when his father Lyman and step-mother Harriet Porter Beecher moved from Litchfield, CT to Boston, MA. The city held only one attraction for Henry – sailing ships. Henry Ward Beecher, like many 19th-century children, associated sailing ships and the sea with travel, adventure, the possibility of fortune, and, freedom from the structure of schooling. Lyman Beecher convinced him to gain the credentials to become an officer. 14-year-old Henry enrolled at Mount Pleasant Institute in Amherst, MA. Henry found Mount Pleasant's military-type discipline difficult, but the school gave him the skills to eventually become a powerful orator. By the time Henry graduated, the boy who had been embarrassed into silence by a childhood speech impediment, presented speeches and performed in plays. This talent coupled with a religious revival led to Henry's determination to become a minister and his admission to Amherst College in 1830. He enjoyed classes in debating, speech, and English literature, but found no use for Latin, mathematics or science. While at Amherst, Henry met Eunice White Bullard, the sister of a schoolmate and daughter of a physician. The two became engaged to marry, but it would be years before they wed.

After graduating from Amherst College in 1832, Henry joined his family in Cincinnati, OH and enrolled in Lane Seminary where his father, Lyman, presided. After completing his studies, Henry married Eunice in 1837 and the newlyweds moved to Lawrenceburg, IN. Henry and Eunice eventually had 11 children, but only four lived to maturity. After two years Henry accepted a new job in Indianapolis, IN. Neither parish could afford to pay well, and the young family struggled. In 1847, Henry and Eunice's poverty ended when Henry was recruited by Henry C. Bowen, a wealthy merchant, newspaper editor, and anti-slavery advocate in Brooklyn, NY. Henry shaped Plymouth Church into one of the most influential pulpits in the United States. By 1850, the crowds coming to hear Beecher's sermons on temperance and the wrongs of slavery often could not fit inside the building.

Henry Ward Beecher actively used the Plymouth Church to fight slavery. Staging elaborate mock auctions, Henry led his congregation to redeem enslaved individuals by purchasing their liberty. Following the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the passage of the Kansas Nebraska Act, the Plymouth Church paid to ship rifles to anti-slavery settlers in Kansas and Nebraska in crates marked "Bibles." Sharp's rifles became known as "Beecher's Bibles."

President Abraham Lincoln sent Henry to London during the Civil War to persuade Great Britain to remain neutral. And at the close of the Civil War, Henry Ward Beecher was given the symbolic prize of presenting a sermon at Fort Sumter, when the U.S. flag was once again raised there. In 1872, Victoria Woodhull, a controversial woman's rights advocate, accused Henry of committing adultery with Elizabeth Tilton, the wife of Theodore Tilton. The Tiltons were members of the Plymouth Church, and Theodore was co-editor with Henry of The Independent, as well as a close friend. In 1875, Theodore Tilton sued his former friend for "alienation of affection." The resulting trial lasted more than six months and became the most notorious scandal of the 19th century. Dissenting opinions over Henry's guilt caused rifts in society, Plymouth Church, and the Beecher family itself. Sisters Harriet and Isabella were temporarily estranged. Harriet remained her brother's supporter and advocate while Isabella believed Victoria Woodhull. Ultimately a civil jury was unable to reach a conclusion, and a mistrial was declared. Henry continued to work at the Plymouth Church, and despite the controversy, remained a popular figure. When he died of a stroke in 1887 Brooklyn held a day of mourning, the New York legislature adjourned its session, and the funeral procession was led by national figures. [1] He was laid to rest in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York on 14 October 1887. [2]



  1. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.
  2. The Green-Wood Historic Fund. Burial Search, Section 140, Lot 25911.

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No known carriers of Henry's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Henry Beecher
Henry Beecher


On 9 Feb 2015 at 23:29 GMT Cathryn (Hallett) Hondros wrote:

Henry is 19 degrees from Walter Morrison, 26 degrees from Alison Wilkins and 16 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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