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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Lyman Beecher

LYMAN BEECHER (1775-1863), American clergyman, was born at New Haven, Connecticut, on the 12th of October 1775. He was a descendant of one of the founders of the New Haven colony, worked as a boy in an uncle's blacksmith shop and on his farm, and in 1797 graduated from Yale, having studied theology under Timothy Dwight. He preached in the Presbyterian church at East Hampton, Long Island (1798-1810, being ordained in 1 799); in the Congregational church at Litchfield, Connecticut (1810-1826), in the Hanover Street church of Boston (1826-1832), and in the Second Presbyterian church of Cincinnati, Ohio (1833-1843); was president of the newly established Lane Theological Seminary at Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, and was professor of didactic and polemic theology there (1832-1850), being professor emeritus until his death. At Litchfield and in Boston he was a prominent opponent of the $rowing "heresy" of Unitarianism, though as early as 1836 he was accused of being a "moderate Calvinist" and was tried for heresy, but was acquitted. Upon his resignation from Lane Theological Seminary he lived in Boston for a short time, devoting himself to literature; but he broke down, and the last ten years of his life were spent at the home of his son, Henry Ward Beecher, in Brooklyn, New York, where he died on the 10th of January 1863. Magnetic in personality, incisive and powerful in manner of expression, he was in his prime one of the most eloquent of American pulpit orators. In 1806 he preached a widely circulated sermon on duelling, and about 1814 a series of six sermons on intemperance, which were reprinted frequently and greatly aided temperance reform. Thrice married, he had a large family, his seven sons becoming Congregational clergymen, and his daughters, Harriet Beecher Stowe (q.v.) and Catherine Esther Beecher, attaining literary distinction.

Lyman Beecher's published works include: A Plea for the West (1835), Views in Theology (1836), and various sermons; his Collected Works were published at Boston in 1852 in 3 vols. Consult his Autobiography and Correspondence (2 vols., New York, 1863-1864), edited by his son Charles; D. H. Allen, Life and Services of Lyman Beecher (Cincinnati, 1863); and James C. White, Personal Reminiscences of Lyman Beecher (New York, 1882).

His daughter, Catherine Esther Beecher (1800-1878), was born at East Hampton, Long Island, on the 6th of September 1800. She was educated at Litchfield Seminary, and from 1822 to 1832 conducted a school for girls at Hartford, Connecticut, with her sister Harriet's assistance, and from 1832 to 1834 conducted a similar school in Cincinnati. She wrote and lectured on women's education and in behalf of better primary schools, and radically opposed woman suffrage and college education for women, holding woman's sphere to be domestic. The National Board of Popular Education, a charitable society which she founded, sent hundreds of women as teachers into the South and West. She died on the 12th of May 1878 in Elmira, New York. She published An Essay on Slavery and Abolition with Reference to the Duty of American Females (1837), A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1842), The True Remedy for the Wrongs of Women (1851), Letters to the People on Health and Happiness (1855), The Religious Training of Children (1864), and Woman's Profession as Mother and Educator (1871).

His son, Edward Beecher (1803-1895), was born at East Hampton, Long Island, on the 27th of August 1803, graduated at Yale in 1822, studied theology at Andover, and in 1826 became pastor of the Park Street church in Boston. From 1830 to 1844 he was president of Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois, and subsequently filled pastorates at the Salem Street church, Boston (1844-1855), and the Congregational church at Galesburg, Illinois (1855-1871). He was senior editor of the Congregationalist (1849-1855), and an associate editor of the Christian Union from 1870. In 1872 he settled in Brooklyn, New York, where in1885-1889he was pastor of the Parkville church and where he died on the 28th of July 1895. He wrote Addresses on the Kingdom of God (1827), History of the Alton Riots (1837), Statement of Anti-Slavery Principles (1837), Baptism, its Import and Modes (1850), The Conflict of Ages (1853), The Papal Conspiracy Exposed (1855), The Concord of Ages (1860), and History of Opinions on the Scriptural Doctrine of Future Retribution(1 878).

Charles Beecher (1815-1900), another of Lyman's sons, was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, on the 7th of October 1815. He graduated at Bowdoin College in 1834, and subsequently held pastorates at Newark, New Jersey (1851-1857), and Georgetown, Massachusetts; and from 1870 to 1877 lived in Florida, where he was state superintendent of public instruction in 1871-1873. He died at Georgetown, Massachusetts, on the 21st of April 190o. He was an accomplished musician, and assisted in the selection and arrangement of music in the Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes. He wrote David and His Throne (1855), Pen Pictures of the Bible (1855), Redeemer and Redeemed (1864), and Spiritual Manifestations (1879).

Thomas Kinnicutt Beecher (1824-1900), another son, born at Litchfield, Connecticut, on the 10th of February 1824, was pastor of the Independent Congregational church (now the Park church), at Elmira, New York, one of the first institutional churches in the country, from 1854 until his death at Elmira on the 14th of March 1900. He wrote Our Seven Churches (1870).


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Lyman Beecher'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. http://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/view.cgi?number=20926. 1910.

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