Abbott, Lyman, 1835-1922

Alternative names
Birth 1835-12-18
Death 1922-10-22

Biographical notes:

American clergyman, author, and editor who worked with Henry Ward Beecher as co-editor of the "Christian Union."

From the description of Autograph, 1897. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 367554802

American author.

From the description of Letter : Cornwall on Hudson, [N.Y.] to Mr. Bok, 1908 Oct. (University of California, San Diego). WorldCat record id: 33376379

Lyman Abbott was an influential American pastor and author. Born in Massachusetts and educated in New York, he apprenticed in his brothers' law firm, but became a protege of Henry Ward Beecher and trained to be a minister instead. After several jobs as pastor, Abbott resigned to care for his wife, and began writing book reviews and monographs on Bible study. Throughout his long and productive career, he wrote prolifically and influentially on diverse subjects, chiefly popular works on religion and social issues; he was also the editor of Outlook, and succeeded Beecher as pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church.

From the description of Lyman Abbott letter to Mr. Lowell, 1892 Jan. 27. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 62589875


From the description of Lyman Abbott letter, 1877. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70979935

Brooklyn's Plymouth Church was founded in the Congregationalist tradition in 1847 in the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. Its first building was erected on Cranberry Street between Hicks and Henry Streets in that same year. The Church's first pastor, the charismatic orator Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), quickly catapulted the church to a position of national prominence and regularly filled the pews to overflowing. When the church's building was destroyed by fire in 1849, a new red brick building, known as the Sanctuary, was quickly constructed directly behind the church's original site, facing Orange Street, and opened for worship in 1850. Designed by English architect J.C. Wells, the Sanctuary was built to seat 2,800 parishioners and was distinctive for its open design, cast iron columns, and balconies, providing the feel of an auditorium more than a traditional church. The church's original building on Cranberry Street was rebuilt in 1862 to house offices, parlors, and Sunday school rooms.

During the mid-19th century, Plymouth Church was famous not only for Beecher's magnetic oratorical style and widely published sermons, but also for its role as a vehicle for the anti-slavery movement. Beecher held mock slave auctions at the Church through which parishioners could actually purchase the freedom of slaves, and invited some of the most distinguished abolitionists of the period, including Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Sojourner Truth, to speak at the Church. Documentary evidence suggests that the Church was also a major site of activity for the Underground Railroad, the abolitionist network that secretly transported slaves to freedom in the North and Canada. In the early 1870s, Plymouth Church's prestige was briefly shattered when Beecher was accused of adultery, a charge that led to what would become the most widely publicized court trial in 19th-century America. Beecher was eventually acquitted in 1875, and despite the damage done to his reputation, he was able to overcome the scandal and continued to lead Plymouth Church until his death in 1887. He was succeeded by former lawyer Lyman Abbott, who resigned as pastor in 1899.

Plymouth Church continued to merit distinction throughout the 20th century as well. In 1934, it united with the neighboring Church of the Pilgrims (the former congregation of famed pastor Richard Salter Storrs) and was known afterwards as the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. During the 1950s, when Congregational churches across America were compelled to join either one of two national denominations, the liberal United Church of Christ or the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims decided to remain independent. It then aligned itself with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, an organization comprised of autonomous Congregational churches. In 1961, the National Register of Historic Places deemed Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims a National Historic Landmark in recognition of its significant place in American history. As of 2010, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims continues to serve the Brooklyn community, and its campus has grown to include five buildings: Hillis Hall (occupying the site of the Church's original edifice), the Sanctuary, a Church House, a Gymnasium, and an Arcade.

Sources: Kenny, Kevin. "Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims," in The Encyclopedia of New York City, ed. Kenneth T. Jackson. New Haven: Yale University Press; New York: New-York Historical Society, 1995, 908. Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. "Architecture and Art." Accessed November 9, 2010. Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. "Our History." Accessed November 9, 2010.

From the guide to the Plymouth Church publications and ephemera, 1850-1963, (Brooklyn Historical Society)


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  • Congregational churches--New York (State)--Kings County--Clergy
  • Congregational churches--New York (State)--Kings County--Doctrines
  • Editors--Autographs
  • Clergy--Autographs
  • Arbitration (International law)--Congresses
  • Clergy--Correspondence
  • Congregationalists--New York (State)--Kings County
  • Church management--New York (State)--Kings County
  • Composers
  • Church controversies--New York (State)--Kings County
  • Authors, American--Autographs
  • Male authors, American--Correspondence
  • Congregational churches--New York (State)--Kings County--Government
  • Church membership--New York (State)--Kings County
  • Clergy--New York (State)--Kings County
  • Congregational churches--New York (State)--Kings County
  • Congregational churches--Clergy


  • Editors


  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Church history (as recorded)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Brooklyn Heights (New York, N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)