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Lyman Beecher (October 12, 1775 – January 10, 1863) was a Presbyterian minister, temperance movement Founder (American Temperance Society) Co-founder and leader, and the father of 13 children, many of whom were noted leaders, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Beecher, Edward Beecher, Isabella Beecher Hooker, and Catharine Beecher, and a leader of the Second Great Awakening of the United Statesmarker.

Early life

Beecher was born in New Haven, Connecticutmarker, to David Beecher, a blacksmith, and Esther Hawley Lyman. He attended Yalemarker, graduating in 1797. He spent 1798 in Yale Divinity School under the tutelage of his mentor Timothy Dwight, and was ordained a year later, in 1799. He began his religious career in Long Islandmarker.


He gained popular recognition in 1806, after giving a sermon concerning the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. He moved to Litchfield, Connecticutmarker, in 1810 and started to preach Calvinism. He was later called to Bostonmarker's Hanover Church, he began preaching against Unitarianism, which was then sweeping the area.

In 1832, Beecher became pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Cincinnatimarker (today, this congregation is Covenant First Presbyterian Churchmarker), and the first president of Lane Theological Seminary where his mission was to train ministers to win the West for Protestantism. Beecher's term at the school came at a time when a number of burning issues, particularly slavery, threatened to divide the Presbyterian Church, the state of Ohiomarker, and the nation. In 1834, students at the school debated the slavery issue for 18 consecutive nights and many of them chose to adopt the cause of abolitionism. When Beecher opposed their "radical" position and refused to offer classes to African-Americans, a group of about 50 students (who became known as the "Lane Rebels") left the Seminary for Oberlin Collegemarker. The events sparked a growing national discussion of abolition that contributed to the beginning of the Civil War.

Beecher was also notorious for his anti-Catholicism and authored the Nativist tract "A Plea for the West." His sermon on this subject at Bostonmarker in 1834 was followed shortly by the burning of the Catholic Ursuline sisters convent there.

Although earlier in his career he had opposed them, Beecher stoked controversy by advocating "new measures" of evangelism that ran counter to traditional Calvinism understanding. These new measures were an outworking of the practice of evangelist Charles Finney, and for the time brought turmoil to churches all across America. Fellow pastor, Joshua Lacy Wilson, pastor of First Presbyterian (now, also a part of Covenant-First Presbyterian in Cincinnati) charged Beecher with heresy. Even though Beecher was exonerated by the Presbyterian church, he eventually resigned his post in Cincinnati and went back East to live with his son Henry in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker in 1850. After spending the last years of his life with his children, he died in Brooklyn and was buried at Grove Street Cemeterymarker, in New Haven, Connecticutmarker.
Lyman Beecher
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Housemarker in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker is the former home of her father Lyman Beecher on the former campus of the Lane Theological Seminary. Harriet lived here until her marriage. It is open to the public and operated as an historical and cultural site, focusing on Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Lane Theological Seminary and the Underground Railroad. The site also presents African-American history. The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is located at 2950 Gilbert Avenue, in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker.

Personal life

In 1799 Beecher married Roxana Foote, the daughter of Eli and Roxana (Ward) Foote. They had nine children: Catharine E., William, Edward, Mary, Harriet, Tommy, George, Harriet Elizabeth, Henry Ward, and Charles. Roxana Beecher died on September 13, 1816. In 1817, he married Harriet Porter and they had four children: Frederick C., Isabella Holmes, Thomas Kinnicut, and James Chaplin. After Harriet Beecher died on July 7, 1835, he married Lydia Beals Johnson (1789-1869) in 1836.

See also


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