by Debby Applegate
Crowds of people took the ferry to Brooklyn every Sunday to hear Henry Ward Beecher preach at Plymouth Church at the height of his popularity in the 1860s and 70’s. Henry departed from his father Lyman’s fire and brimstone style to deliver a message of God’s love and mercy for sinful man. It is said that he is responsible for the transformation of the Christian church in America.
His famous sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, is more well-known today as her bestselling novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, turned many people to the abolitionist cause. However, Henry Ward Beecher was much more in demand during his lifetime as a public speaker travelling across the nation.
Derailed by scandal, he nevertheless managed to hold on to his pulpit. Newspapers carried stories of the civil trial in which he was accused of seducing one of his parishioners.
This Pulitzer-prize winning biography gives the whole story honestly and is a fascinating and perhaps a cautionary tale. At some point, Beecher got away from God and began twisting the Bible to say what he wanted it to. His fame went to his head and he began to feel people would love and support him no matter what he did.