"This country is inhabited by saints, sinners and Beechers."
Dr. Leonard Bacon, c.1863
Families that have been influential in American life and culture
are often recognizable by their signature names. The Beecher family
is an example of one such family whose deep religious convictions
and social conscience spanned the nineteenth century and made them
prominent historical figures whose impact on religion, education,
abolition, reform movements, literature and public life were exceptional.
Biographer Milton Rugoff claims that in "two generations the Beechers
emerged, along with many other Americans, from a God-centered, theology-ridden
world concerned with the fate of man's eternal soul into a man-centered
society occupied mainly with life on earth." (The Beechers,
Picture of the
Beecher family c.1850. Taken by Mathew Brady, New York. Standing
from the left : Thomas, William. Edward, Charles, Henry. Seated
from the left: Isabella, Catherine, Lyman, Mary, Harriet.
Courtesy of The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, Connecticut.
See larger image.