Beecher Family

Back to gallery

Liberty collection point

Beecher Family

  • Values:
  • faith
  • hope
  • love

Activists and Social Reformers

  • Share

Dates: N/A
Quote: This country is inhabited by saints, sinners and Beechers.
Quote credit: Dr. Leonard Bacon, minister and historian, 1863
Image credit: Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT

Meet America’s Beecher Family

Body copy: The Beechers were prominent and influential 19th-century ministers, reformers, writers, and activists. Their work in religion, education, abolition, and women’s and Native American rights changed American history.

Name (optional): Lyman Beecher

Date (optional): 1775–1863

Bubble copy: Presbyterian minister, educator, and social benevolence organizer


Name: Thomas K. Beecher

Date: 1824–1900

Bubble copy: Congregationalist minister, Army chaplain, educator, and abolitionist


Name: William Henry Beecher

Date: 1802–1889

Bubble copy: Congregationalist minister, abolitionist, and social reformer


Name: Edward Beecher

Date: 1803–1895

Bubble copy: Congregationalist minister, theologian, college president, and abolitionist


Name: Charles Beecher

Date: 1815–1900

Bubble copy: Presbyterian minister, church musician, composer, and author


Name: Henry Ward Beecher

Date: 1813–1887

Bubble copy: Congregationalist minister, celebrity preacher, and abolitionist


Name: Isabella Beecher Hooker

Date: 1822–1907

Bubble copy: Women’s rights activist, suffragist, movement organizer


Name: Catharine Esther Beecher

Date: 1800–1878

Bubble copy: Women’s education entrepreneur, teacher, Native American rights advocate


Name: Mary Foote Beecher

Date: 1805–1900

Bubble copy: Wife, mother, and homemaker


Name: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Date: 1896–1911

Bubble copy: Bestselling author, abolitionist, and poet


Name: James Chaplin Beecher

Date: 1828–1886

Bubble copy: Congregationalist minister, army chaplain, missionary


Name: George Beecher

Date: 1809–1843

Bubble copy: Minister and abolitionist


Image credit: Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)

Synopsis copy: Harriet Beecher Stowe was an author, abolitionist, and social reformer. Her anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, inflamed consciences, provoked debate about slavery, and engendered support for the Civil War.

Quote: I did not write it [Uncle Tom’s Cabin], God wrote it. I merely did his dictation.

Quote credit: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Image credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Faith in Action


Body copy: Beecher Stowe’s title character, Uncle Tom, was a noble Christ-like figure who forgave his tormentors and died so that others might live. Tom was likely inspired by Rev. Josiah Henson, a minister who escaped enslavement.

Image caption: Title page from Rev. Josiah Henson’s autobiography, 1849, about his life under slavery

Image credit: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via Internet Archive


Body copy: Beecher Stowe wrote during a period of deep political, economic, and social division, especially with respect to slavery, between the North and South.

Image caption: A United States map, 1857, detailing the free and slaveholding states

Image credit: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division


Body copy: Uncle Tom’s Cabin is rich in biblical content, with some 100 quotes from, or allusions to, the Scriptures. These occur in 38 of the novel’s 45 chapters. Tom is the character who most often cites the Bible.

Image caption: An illustration in the novel depicting the characters Uncle Tom and Eva, a slave owner’s daughter who befriends Tom

Image credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images


Body copy: Lincoln had the novel when he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Upon meeting Beecher Stowe, in 1862, he is reputed to have said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”

Image caption: The artist Bruno Lucchesi unveiled Lincoln Meets Stowe in 2006, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Image credit: Phil Cardamone / Alamy Stock Photo

Uncle Tom’s Cabin


Bubble copy: Published in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was, after the Bible, the bestselling book of the 19th century. The book sold over 300,000 copies within a year, and sales soon numbered in the millions.

Image credit: Smithsonian Libraries


Bubble copy: We will frankly say that we know of no publication which promises to be more effective in the service of a holy, but perilous work than this.

Source: Christian Examiner, 1852

Image credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images


Bubble copy: A book over which 20,000 families are alternately crying and laughing, in spite of philosophy or dignity, within a month after its publication.

Source: Rev. Mr. Huntington, in Unitarian Magazine, 1852

Image credit: Bettmann / Getty


Bubble copy: We look upon the writing of this book as providential, and as the best missionary God has yet sent into the field.

Source: Congregationalist, Boston, 1852

Image credit: Harvard University Library

Catharine Beecher (1800–1878)

Synopsis copy: Catharine Beecher was a women’s advocate and educator. Dissatisfied with women’s limited educational opportunities, she founded schools and authored curricula. Her work especially influenced her younger sister Harriet.

Quote: Oh, that this law of love and charity could find an illustration and advocate in every female in this nation!

Quote credit: Catharine Beecher, 1837

Image credit: Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT

Inspired by Faith

Synopsis copy: Catharine argued that the home is an economic center, believing women should be educated for household management. She worked to extend women’s public influence through moral education within domestic spheres.

Image credit : Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

A Treatise on Domestic Economy


Bubble copy: Catharine wrote essays, books, and curricula. Explore Catharine’s most influential work, a comprehensive textbook she wrote in 1841 addressing subjects from aging to architecture, written for women on how to manage family and home life.

Image credit: Library of Congress


Bubble copy: The democratic institutions of this Country are in reality no other than the principles of Christianity carried into operation … they have secured to American women a lofty and fortunate position.

Source: N/A

Image credit: Library of Congress


Bubble copy: No American woman, then, has any occasion for feeling that hers is an humble or insignificant lot … The builders of a temple are of equal importance, whether they labor on the foundations, or toil upon the dome.

Source: N/A

Image credit: Library of Congress


Bubble copy: Let the women of a country be made virtuous and intelligent, and the men will certainly be the same. The proper education of a man decides the welfare of an individual; but educate a woman, and the interests of a whole family are secured.

Source: N/A

Image credit: Library of Congress Large Image and Quote


Lyman Beecher (1775–1863)

Synopsis copy: Lyman Beecher, the family’s patriarch, was a leading minister of the Second Great Awakening. He cofounded American Bible Society, the American Temperance Society, and other benevolent reform agencies. [210]

Quote: Trust in the Lord and do good.

Quote credit: Psalm 37:3a

Image credit : National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mrs. Fredson Bowers

Inspired by Faith

Synopsis copy: Hope for a better life and economic opportunities coupled with advances in transportation drew settlers westward. Lyman believed the future of America and Christianity lay in the West. He sensed a call to Cincinnati.

Image credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


A Plea for the West, 1835


Bubble copy: Explore Lyman’s most famous address, A Plea for the West, calling for the support of Protestant educational institutions, including the new Lane Theological Seminary, in Cincinnati, in safeguarding America’s “religious and political destiny.”

Image credit: Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection via Internet Archive


Bubble copy: The West is destined to be the great central power of the nation, and under heaven, must affect powerfully the cause of free institutions and the liberty of the world.

Source: N/A

Image credit: Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection via Internet Archive


Bubble copy: The sun and the rain of heaven are not more sure to call forth a bounteous vegetation, than Bibles, and Sabbaths, and schools, and seminaries, are to diffuse intellectual light and warmth for the bounteous fruits of righteousness and peace. [242]


Image credit: Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection via Internet Archive


Bubble copy: We must educate the whole nation while we may. All who would vote must be enlightened, and reached by the restraining and preserving energies of Heaven.

Source [51]:

Image credit: Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection via Internet Archive


Bubble copy: Responsibility to an enlightened public sentiment is the only effectual guarantee of unperverted liberty and political prosperity.

Source: N/A

Image credit: Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection via Internet Archive

Legacy of Liberty

Question/alignment statement: Do you think that the Bible has been a central force for good in American politics and social reforms?

Image credit: Getty Images

Scripture [200]: Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Scripture credit [50]: Psalm 127:2–3
Image credit [270]: Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT Related Changemakers: William McGuffey, Lincoln, Douglass

Continue through the museum