Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kentucky Editor Gives Thoughts on Henry Ward Beecher

I thought it might be interesting to see how Kentucky newspapers covered events in "Bleeding Kansas," so I went back to the microfilm machine and found some interesting things that I will share in the couple of posts, but before that...

As so often happens when I do research with microfilmed newspapers I get "sidetracked" when something catches my eye. It could be an advertisement, or more often than not, an article that might not be directly related to what I am researching, but somewhat related. I guess that's what makes it catch my eye.

While scanning through the June 11, 1856 edition of The Lebanon (Kentucky) Post I saw a headline that said, "Rev. Henry Ward Beecher," and that they had reprinted from the Louisville Times. Beecher, of course, was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe and was the very well known minister of Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn, New York. In the mid-1850s he was probably just as well known for his pulpit-pounding vehement condemnation of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and his assistance in raising funds to purchase weapons for free-state Kansas settlers. Naturally he was not a popular personality in the slave states.

The article in its full read:
"We observe that this Rev. gentleman has been making himself exceedingly busy in all the [Charles] Sumner indignation meetings [in the] North. He talks as though it would take a steamboat cable to hold him, he is so anxious to fight a border ruffian or [Preston] Brooks. He has been for years, prostituting the name of religion, and defiling the ministry. He now enters the ring, with his coat off, and his arm a-kimbo, swaggering for a fisty cuff with Mr. Brooks, of South Carolina, when the white-livered coward would run from any cook who happened to assail him with a kitchen fork, or broth ladle. He is very ready to advise people to buy Sharpe's Rifles, and take them to Kansas, but as for using himself or getting within the range of one, why that is altogether another matter. This fellow is a swaggering blackguard, and vulgar coward. He is a traitor to his country, a hypocrite in religion, a scandal to society and, a disgrace to human nature, and it is such as he that are backing the abolitionist Sumner in his outrages in the Senate."

Don't you just love mid-nineteenth century rhetoric?

1 comment:

  1. Great article! It's interesting to see nineteenth century precursors to or variants of words and phrases we use now - "a-kimbo", "fisty cuff" (my favorite) and "white-livered" (vs. "lily-livered", which has the vitue of alliteration). Thanks.