As his fame as a dramatic preacher spread, Beecher in the 1850s also gained a reputation as an abolitionist. An early critic of the expansion of slavery into the western territories, he protested the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law (1850), supported his sister Harriet Beecher Stowe in her publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852, and became an early campaigner for the Republican party. Guns sent to Kansas in 1855 during the dispute over the new territory became known as "Beecher's Bibles," an ironic reference to them as a force for moral suasion. By 1861 he had become a power within the Republican party. As editor of The Independent between 1861 and 1864, he campaigned for the party, supported the war effort, urged Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and undertook a popular speaking tour of England that helped keep that country from joining the side of the Confederates. Beecher's political speeches, published as Freedom and War (1863) and Patriotic Addresses (1887), identified the northern war effort with God's mission: moral duty would support national destiny.
Clifford E. Clark, "Beecher, Henry Ward," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/08/08-00112.html.