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Lectures and orations
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Henry Ward Beecher was among two or three most conspicuous figures in American life of his time. He stood in the limelight with the President, occasional banker, inventor, author or statesman. He was the most widely heard preacher, lecturer and writer than any other American. He left behind more than forty volumes including, sermons, patriotic addresses, essays, theology, philosophy with studies of travel, nature and art.
He had the most extraordinary gift of language, choosing words with a certain exquisite sense of the inevitable. He had reverence for the truth, justice toward men, love toward God; he had moral earnestness, wit, humour, gentleness, courage. By this combination of gifts he captured the admiration of the American people. He changed the thinking of the people as to their idea of God, the Bible, and the genius of Christianity. He was the first man to take the stink out of the theories of Evolution, and who found in science a real aid to religion. He made a difference in the land.
He played a significant role during the Civil War, pleading the cause of the Republic before the English people when England entered a pact with France to recognize the Southern Confederacy in 1864. He gave a series of five addresses beginning in Manchester and ending in Exeter Hall, London. After reading his speeches President Abraham Lincoln told his cabinet that if the war were ever fought to a successful issue, there would be but one man to lift the flag at Fort Sumter, for without Beecher in England there might have been no flag to raise.
Indeed his contributions to patriotism and education, family life and social reform can be read throughout these pages by those who never had an opportunity to seeing them.
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