Henry Ward Beecher

Family Influence

        Henry Ward Beecher did not come from a typical family. He came from a very long line of religious thinkers and leaders. His grandmother was Hannah Beecher from England. She was the first member of the Beecher family to come to America. She came to America in 1637. Her reason for leaving England was that her minister, Mr. John Davenport, was coming to America. She had planned to live in the Massachusetts Bay Colony but she liked the ideas of Anne Hutchinson and decided instead to settle in New Haven. It was on her land  that Mr. John Davenport delivered his first sermon in New Haven.11     

        Henry's father was Lyman Beecher. He was one of the leading ministers of the Second Great Awakening. He was a very devoted minister. He was often seen as being a moderate minister yet sometimes he could be controversial in his ideas and views. He would also play the fiddle, sing, and dance at community or family gatherings.12

        All of Henry's brothers became ministers and three of his sisters enjoyed careers as popular authors. One of his sisters was Harriet Beecher Stowe author of  Uncle Tom's Cabin. Some could argue that one of the reasons that Henry Beecher was a supporter of women's suffrage was because he came from a family of very strong-willed and determined women. These women had been raised by  a strong-willed women, Roxanna Beecher. Thomas Knox said that Roxanna was a very odd women, one who worked "[math] problems... because she enjoyed that kind of mental effort."13 His mother greatly influenced her daughters and in turn the girls influenced Henry. He was a proponent of women's suffrage, a movement that was not very well-liked by many of his male counter-parts.  Henry supported the movement and still managed to become one of most famous ministers of the 19th century. 

    

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Created by N. Hewitt                Contact Me                       Return to History 338 Page                     Last Edited  03/30/01

 

        11. Knox, Life., 26. All the information for Hannah Beecher comes from this source and this page.              

        12. Ibid., 21.

        13. Ibid., 36.