Sunday, April 15, 2007

Famous Man

I read the book by Debby Applegate entitled The Most Famous Man in America The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, 527 pages published by Doubleday in 2006.

I am so glad I read this excellent book of a man about whom I previously knew nothing.

I read this book as if preparing for a test in college - that is, slower than normal, concentrating, and marking certain pages with Post-it flags.

Henry Ward Beecher was the brother of Harriett Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Henry and Harriett were two of several children of the famous minister Lyman Beecher.

Henry Ward Beecher was so popular and famous that President Lincoln invited Mr. Beecher to prepare and deliver the ceremonial reunification speech at Fort Sumter, South Carolina when the United States flag was re-raised there after the Civil War in March 1865.

Henry Ward Beecher was famous and influential as a preacher and orator who preached about God's love. This approach of teaching about God was different from his father's preaching and other preachers who emphasized the fear of God's wrath.

Henry was also a leading abolitionist and influenced many people to end slavery. Famous authors like Twain, Whitman, Melville, Dickinson, Emerson, Holmes, Hawthorne and Thoreau were attentive to the preaching and speaking tours of Beecher.

Beecher was born 1813 in Connecticut, graduated Amherst College and Lane Seminary. His first church was in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, "a destitute place indeed", according to Beecher's diary. Next, he served as a minister at a church in Indianapolis before he was recruited to Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York.

I learned much from this wonderfully researched and well-written book. Debby Applegate, Ph.D Yale University, researched Mr. Beecher for twenty years to prepare and write this book.

Have a good week!

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