Beecher's Bibles

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BEECHER'S BIBLES, the Sharps rifles given to settlers during the Kansas struggle between the free-state and the proslavery elements. In March 1856, in New Haven, Connecticut, Henry Ward Beecher addressed a meeting at which the attendees donated funds to equip a company of free-state emigrants to Kansas. Beecher said that for Kansas slaveholders, a Sharps rifle was a greater moral argument than a Bible. Benjamin Silliman of the Yale College faculty pledged a contribution for the first rifle, and the pastor of the church in which the meeting took place pledged the second. Beecher pledged the last twenty-five for his congregation, the Plymouth Church of Brooklyn.


Fehrenbacher, Don Edward. Sectional Crisis and Southern Constitutionalism. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995.

Sen Gupta, Gunja. For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas, 1854–1860. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996.

James ElliottWalmsley/a. e.

See alsoAntislavery ; Kansas Free-State Party .