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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 34

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This is the grave of Lyman Beecher.

2016-05-07 11.39.57

Lyman Beecher was born in New Haven in 1775 and quickly became a rising star in the New England religious world as a young man. He attended Yale and and graduated in 1797, then working under the legendary minister Timothy Dwight to complete his training. He started becoming a famous in 1806 when he gave a fiery sermon against dueling that referred to the death of Alexander Hamilton. He really rose into the public eye by becoming a leader in the nascent movement against alcohol. I love alcohol in most of its non-vodka forms but let’s face it, early Americans were drunks on a scale completely incomprehensible to modern society. In 1814, he published six sermons of temperance that were spread throughout the U.S. and Europe. He slowly began to move away from his earlier doctrinal conservatism and embrace the Great Awakening. He moved to Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati to run that training schools for ministers to win the West for Christianity. This was an engaged student body; the students had an 18-day debate over slavery, leading many to embrace abolitionism. That was too much for Beecher and 50 students withdrew and transferred to Oberlin. He charged with heresy for embracing the new evangelicalism in 1835. He was acquitted but this and the slavery debate undermined Beecher’s position and he left Cincinnati to move in with his famous son Henry Ward, now a famous minister in his own right. Really, Beecher’s biggest contribution was his children, including Henry Ward, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Catharine Beecher, mother of modern housework.

Lyman Beecher is buried in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.

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