Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, he was the son of Lyman Beecher. Educated at Amherst College, Massachusetts, he preached at Indianapolis, and in 1847 became the first pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, in Brooklyn, New York City, where he preached temperance and denounced slavery. He favoured the free-soil party in 1852, and the Republican candidates in 1856 and 1860, and on the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 his church raised and equipped a volunteer regiment. At the end of the war in 1865 he became an earnest advocate of reconciliation. For many years he wrote for The Independent, and after 1870 edited The Christian Union (later Outlook). His many writings included Seven Lectures to Young Men (1844), Summer in the Soul (1858), Yale Lectures on Preaching (1874) and Evolution and Religion (1885). He was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe.