Beecher, Henry Ward

PRIEST (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
BORN 24 Jun 1813, Litchfield, Connecticut - DIED 8 Mar 1887, New York City, New York: Brooklyn
GRAVE LOCATION New York City, New York: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn (Section 140, Lot 25911)

Son of the Presbyterian preacher Lyman Beecher and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. He was educated at Boston Latin School, Amherst College and the Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. He married Eunice Bullard. They had ten children, but many of them died in infancy.

Beecher worked as a minister in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (1837 to 1839) and was pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis (1839 to 1847). In 1847 he became the minister of the newly built Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn.

Beecher supported women's suffrage and was strongly against slavery. Early during the Civil War he asked Lincoln to free the slaves through a proclamation. He also went to England to explain what the Northern States tried to achieve.

His sermons were very popular and many to many of the young women of the congregation he was an attractive man. In 1870 Elizabeth Tilton confessed to her husband Theodore Tilton that she had conducted an affair with his friend Beecher. Tilton lost his job at the Independent because the editor was afraid of bad publicity. Elizabeth Tilton retracted her confession of the affair in writing but it was too late and an enormous scandal broke out after Victoria Woodhull heard the story. Beecher had publicly spoken against Woodhull's advocacy of free love and she published a story in "Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly" about his practising of free love. She was arrested and imprisoned for a month at Ludlow Street Jail for sending obscene material through the mail.

Plymouth Church held an inquiry and excommunicated Theodore Tilton. Beecher was exonorated. As a result Tilton sued Beecher. The trial took place from January to June, 1875 and attracted national attention. The jury was unable to reach a verdict. Beecher was exonarated again after a second inquiry by Plymouth Church. Elizabeth Tilton confessed to the affair again in 1877 and was excommunicated.

Beecher remained a popular figure, but his sister Isabella Beecher Hooker openly supported his opponents. After he died in 1887 Brooklyn mourned him and President Cleveland sent a condolence telegram. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Eunice died ten years later and was buried beside him.

Related persons
• is brother/sister of Beecher Stowe, Harriet

Sources
The Times
Henry Ward Beecher - Wikipedia

Images

The grave of Henry Ward Beecher at Greenwood Cemetery, New York City.
Picture by Androom (15 Apr 2010)

 


Beerbohm Tree, Herbert

Published: 29 Oct 2010
Last update: 29 Oct 2010