Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of History

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 475 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ann F Withington

Committee Members

Nadieszda Kizenko


Edwardsean Calvinism, Intellectual History, New Haven Theology, Congregational churches, Calvinism

Subject Categories



Lyman Beecher was born in rural Connecticut in 1775. Although he grew up working on a backwater farm, he rose to prominence in New England as a reformer and Congregationalist revivalist. He pastored four different churches in four different states, served in and create eleven different state and national reform societies. He founded two theological journals in Boston and served as the president of Lane Seminary, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Through a frenetic career of teaching, preaching, and organizing, Beecher maintained a very consistent worldview. Understanding that worldview sheds light on both his teaching and his social activism. It also reveals the fabric of an intellectual framework that, although foreign to modern thinkers, was popular during Beecher’s time. This dissertation seeks to explore Lyman Beecher’s worldview in order to make sense out of his career and the influence he had on American society. He firmly believed that English Enlightenment thought, best expressed by William Paley and Joseph Butler, paired with New England Calvinism, explicated by Jonathan Edwards, best prepared America’s people both for God’s work of conversion and life in a republican society. He combined Calvinism and the Enlightenment to cultivate in people the kind of beliefs that would foster a reliance on God for salvation and the voluntary pursuit of honest, frugal, temperate lifestyles. Since the future of the nation followed from the people’s belief about God and nature, he feared most the proliferation of those ideas that taught people to deny God’s moral government over the universe. By studying Beecher’s lectures, sermons, and publications, this work plans to illuminate the way that he understood his world and help explain his role in America’s development during the Early Republic.

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