I really enjoyed Henry Ward Beecher: An American Portrait by Paxton Hibben, which I’ve been reading for many months, a little bit at a time. It’s hard to take in, at one sitting, how loathsome one human being can be.
Hibben has lots of interesting facts about Beecher’s upbringing in Connecticut under his blue-nosed father Rev. Lyman Beecher: he never owned a toy or celebrated Christmas or went to a birthday party.
His only friend was a black servant named Charles Smith, who read him the Gospel.
Beecher was the pastor of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, and was known in his time as the greatest preacher in America, yet he was a craven coward, an admitted adulterer and a blowhard of cataclysmic proportion.
When Beecher was a young preacher in Indianapolis and an elderly black man, who had purchased his freedom, was murdered by a mob for no good reason, and an abolitionist printer was pursued by the same mob, Beecher said to the abolitionist printer:
“Get out! Run! You have no friends here.”
You can see how hypocritical it was for Henry Ward Beecher, later on, to style himself an opponent of slavery and racism. He was happy to hold forth against slavery as long as he was safe.
Henry Ward Beecher came around to the cause much later when, inspired by Salmon P. Chase, he found how popular it was to auction off nearly white women who were being sold into slavery because they had a single black grandparent. His congregations would buy their freedom to save them from depravity, but what of the women who weren’t nearly white?
When he became the pastor of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, Beecher bilked this device for all the titillation value he could muster, but when it came to granting blacks the right to vote or other less glamorous subjects, he was mute.
Now you might have read that Beecher was accused and tried on charges of adultery, and that this was a famous “he said, she said” situation.
Don’t believe it. He was as guilty as can be. He himself confessed on numerous occasions to adultery with the wives of his closest and most trusted friends.
The man who founded Plymouth Church, who paid Beecher’s expenses in moving there, heard his own wife confess, on her deathbed, that Beecher had had relations with her.
Later Elizabeth Tilton, the wife of another close friend, confessed the same thing. Beecher took advantage of her just after she had a miscarriage, at a time when her husband was on a lecture tour.
But don’t take my word for it. Ask her best friend, Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Tilton was friends with all the leaders of the suffragist movement.
Victoria Woodhull, who had ten times more class than Henry Ward Beecher could ever muster, the first woman stock broker on Wall Street and the first woman to run for president, spent a month in jail for exposing the truth about this vile hypocrite.
That Beecher was exonerated at his trial, and that his congregation at Plymouth Church stood by him, was evidence that they believed these women should never have accused him in the first place. Not one of his parishoners could possibly have believed he was innocent.
They all believed that this kind of thing was his right because he was such a superstar and his wife Eunice was such a bitchy sourpuss.
If you want to gauge how low a human being can sink and still be extolled as a preacher of the gospel, this book is for you.
I myself am interested in finding out where Henry Ward Beecher is buried so I can go piss on his grave.
Henry Ward Beecher, with the full support of his gullible sister Harriet Beecher Stowe (who was nearly bankrupted by his legal expenses) did more to destroy the power of religion in America than any atheist subversive could possibly have hoped to do, and Paxton Hibben does a great job explaining how he did it.
And speaking of atheist subversives, I have to admit here that Paxton Hibben was a friend of the Bolsheviks, who were famous for being unable to distinguish between right and wrong, and for slaughtering the Romanov princesses, and many millions of other innocent people.
But Hibben, along with Herbert Hoover, saved more than five million people during the great famine in Russia, and it’s hardly fair to tar him with all the crimes of Bolshevism when clearly, his heart was in the right place.
This famous famine, and the role of Hibben and Hoover, is clearly a subject for another entry.