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Abstract

Between July 1874 and July 1875, the most important subject of discussion in America was New York author and editor Theodore Tilton's charge that Henry Ward Beecher had committed adultery with Tilton's wife, Elizabeth. Beecher, the nation's foremost preacher, was a national symbol of morality, idealism, and self-realization. His Sunday sermons attracted thousands weekly and were read across the country by many thousands more. His writings included not only weekly sermons and essays, but popular volumes of advice to young men, a life of Jesus, and a best-selling novel, Norwood. Son of an important New England minister, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Beecher, Henry Ward Beecher and his family were considered embodiments of the American spirit: democratic, religious, energetically moral.

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