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A prominent New England family headed by Lyman Beecher, whose 13 children included the well-known Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charles, Edward, Thomas, Catherine, and Henry Ward Beecher.

Lyman, Congregational preacher and first president of Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio; b. New Haven, Conn., Oct. 12, 1775; d. Brooklyn, N.Y., Jan. 10, 1863. He was born just a year before the Declaration of Independence, and he died just after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. During his undergraduate days at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., he was strongly influenced by its Pres. Timothy dwight and became an ardent exponent of revivals, especially during his third pastorate (1826) at the newly organized Hanover Street Church in Boston, Mass. His earlier pastoral experience had been obtained at the Presbyterian Church at Easthampton, N.Y. (1799), and the Congregational Church at Litchfield, Conn. (1810). Beecher, a colorful personality, became famous for his sermons against dueling, intemperance, infidelity, disestablishmentarianism, and slavery. His Six Sermons on Temperance (1825) underwent several editions and translations. In 1832, with Dr. Leonard Bacon, Beecher formed an American Anti-Slavery Society, which focused the interest of churches on the antislavery movement. Although prosecuted for "heresy, slander, and hypocrisy," he was eventually cleared by his Synod, most of whom had "Old School" sympathies. His seven sons entered the ministry, and his two daughters became famous authors. In 1871 Yale University inaugurated the annual Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching in his memory.

Henry Ward, Congregational preacher, journalist; b. Litchfield, Conn., June 24, 1813; d. Brooklyn, N.Y., March 8, 1887. In 1834 he graduated from Amherst College, Mass., and entered Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio. After pastorates near Cincinnati and in Indianapolis, Ind., he was called (1847) to the Plymouth Congregational Church of Brooklyn, N.Y., and preached there with unremitting zeal for 40 years. Accused of dallying with the affections of Elizabeth Tilton, wife of his good friend Theodore Tilton, who had succeeded him as editor of the Independent, he successfully weathered "the great scandal" of the 1870s and retained his position and influence. He was intensely opposed to slavery, favored woman suffrage, and supported the theory of evolution. In 1870 he became editor of the Christian Union. As the most eloquent preacher of his day, he attracted thousands by his dramatic, warm, and Christocentric Gospel message. His published works include The Life of Jesus the Christ (1871) and Evolution and Religion (1885).

Bibliography: l. abbott et al., Henry Ward Beecher (new ed. Hartford 1887). l. beecher, Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., ed. c. beecher, 2 v. (New York 1864). r. shaplen, Free Love and Heavenly Sinners (New York 1954).

[j. r. willis]