Wife of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher
Eunice White Beecher was also author of a novel, From Dawn to Daylight, and several books about housekeeping. Her husband, Henry Ward Beecher of the illustrious Beecher family, became one of the most famous men in the United States during the 19th century.
Eunice White Bullard was born August 26, 1812 in West Sutton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Lucy White Bullard and Dr. Artemas Bullard. Eunice was educated in Hadley, Massachusetts. In the meantime, Henry Ward Beecher, almost a year younger than Eunice, had a stammer and was considered one of the less promising of the brilliant Beecher children.
Fourteen-year-old Henry went to boarding school at Mount Pleasant Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts. Although he found the military-style discipline difficult, he began to acquire the skills that would make him a powerful orator. He then attended Amherst College, and by the time he graduated, he was giving speeches and performing in plays.
While at Amherst, Eunice met Henry Ward Beecher, one of her brother's schoolmates, and they were engaged on January 2, 1832. After graduating from Amherst College, Henry decided to become a minister. He joined his family in Cincinnati, Ohio and enrolled in Lane Theological Seminary where his father Lyman Beecher was president. Eunice remained in Massachusetts. Henry graduated from Lane in 1837.
Marriage and Family
On August 3, 1837, Eunice White Bullard married Henry Ward Beecher, after a five-year engagement. Henry and Eunice eventually had 11 children, but only four lived to adulthood: Harriet, Henry, William and Herbert.
Although Eunice Beecher enjoyed the comforts of her home in New England, she was excited about moving to this unfamiliar territory with her new husband and supporting him in his ministry. Her enthusiasm turned to disappointment when she realized that a minister's wife was not treated with the dignity and respect as they were back home. They called her the boyish Beecher's 'ailing and wailing wife.' Neither parish could afford to pay well, and the young family struggled.
During her years in Indiana, Eunice White Beecher contributed her writing to various periodicals, often on domestic subjects. During a long illness, she wrote a series of stories about a minister's wife, in which she expresses her disappointment with Indiana. She later published these as a novel, From Dawn to Daylight: A Simple Story of a Western Home (1859), a thinly disguised autobiography of her own experiences.
Citizens thought she portrayed themselves and their city in a negative light, but the novel included honest and frank descriptions of the city and the land, but in many respects the opposite was true. Beecher clearly depicted what pioneer Indiana was like for early settlers. In fact, after they moved back East, she referred to their time in Indianapolis as being "a very happy home - for many reasons the happiest we ever knew."
Her book Motherly Talks with Young Housekeepers (1875) is composed of short articles that originally appeared in The Christian Union Magazine. Topics range from house cleaning to recipes to raising children. Originally published in the Household Department of The Christian Union magazine, the articles have become so popular that the author agreed to publish them in book form.
Beecher's notion of woman's sphere is that whatever exceptional women may accomplish, the place of labor for most women and for all married women is Home. And this book is "a kind and motherly way of helping the inexperienced to make agreeable, well-regulated, and happy homes."
Eunice White Beecher also published Letters from Florida (1878), All Around the House; or, How to Make Homes Happy (1878), and Home (1883).
After the heavy expenses of the trial, the Reverend embarked on a lecture tour of the West, and audiences went in droves to his public speeches. The Reverend made more money in the last ten years of his life than ever before.
Beecher continued to be popular at Plymouth Church but never received the widespread adulation that he had before the scandal.
In 1878 Elizabeth Tilton finally admitted to the affair and was dismissed from Plymouth Church. Theodore Tilton complained that he could not earn a living because of the scandal and ultimately moved to Paris.
In 1884, Beecher angered many of his Republican allies when he endorsed Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland for the presidency, arguing that Cleveland should be forgiven for having fathered an illegitimate child.
Henry Ward Beecher suffered a stroke on March 6, 1887 and died two days later. Brooklyn declared a day of mourning; the state legislature recessed; and national figures sent telegrams of condolence.
Eunice White Beecher died in Stamford, Connecticut March 8, 1897.
I'm an amateur historian based in Southwest Florida and I love to research and write about women in American history. I do most of my research on the Internet.