Henry Ward Beecher, 1813 - 1887

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Born: 24 June 1813, Litchfield, Connecticut
Died: 8 March 1887, Brooklyn, New York

Beecher was the son of Lyman Beecher, an outspoken Calvinist clergyman, his mother Roxanna died just two years later. One of his three sisters (he also had four brothers) was Harriet Beecher Stowe. Bashful and prone to mumbling as a child, he learned oratory at Mt Pleasant Institution, a boarding school at Amherst, Massachusetts, before attending Boston Latin School. He graduated from Amherst College in 1834 and received a degree from Lane Theological Seminary at Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father was president. He became a minister at Laurenceburg, Indiana (1837 - 1839) and then was pastor at Second Presbyterian Church at Indianapolis (1839 - 1847). In 1847 he was called as the first minister at Plymouth Congregational Church, a new Congregational church at Brooklyn, New York. His sermons, often in opposition to slavery, soon established that church as a major force for social reform. The nave seated 2,500, there were often 500 to 1,000 standing as well. He was a moderate abolitionist, not wishing to go to war. Several times he called for offerings to buy slaves and set them free. He preached "Romantic Christianity", a gospel of a loving rather than a judgmental God. He was also one of the first major church leaders to comprehend that evolution was God's way of creation, not a refutation of it. He suffered a stroke in March of 1887 and died in his sleep two days later. His funeral procession was led by two men, marching arm in arm in testimony to his message: one was a black commander of the Union Army from Massachusetts, the other a former Confederate general and slaveholder from Virginia.

Biography from Wikipedia and Plymouth Church

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