Rev. Isaac Backus

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Rev. Isaac Backus's Geni Profile

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Isaac Backus

Birthdate: (82)
Birthplace: Norwich, New London Co, Connecticut
Death: November 20, 1806 (82)
Middleboro, Plymouth Co, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Backus, I and Elizabeth Tracy
Husband of Susannah Backus
Father of Hannah Nelson; Nathan Backus; Isaac Backus; Eunice Dean; Susannah Backus and 4 others
Brother of Samuel Backus, II; Ann Abell; Elizabeth Tracy Huntington; Captain Elijah Backus; Simon Backus and 5 others

Occupation: Reverend
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Rev. Isaac Backus

Isaac Backus (January 9, 1724 – November 20, 1806) was a leading Baptist preacher during the era of the American Revolution who campaigned against state-established churches in New England.

Born in the village of Yantic, near the town of Norwich, Connecticut, Backus was influenced by the Great Awakening and the works of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. He was converted in 1741. For five years, he was a member of a Separatist Congregationalist church. In 1746, he became a preacher. He was ordained in 1748. Backus became a Baptist in 1751 when he became pastor of the Middleborough Baptist Church in Middleborough, Massachusetts.

In 1764, Isaac Backus joined John Brown, Nicholas Brown, William Ellery, Stephen Hopkins, the Reverend James Manning, the Reverend Ezra Stiles, the Reverend Samuel Stillman, the Reverend Morgan Edwards and several others as an original fellow or trustee for the chartering of the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the original name for Brown University), the first Baptist school of higher learning.

American Revolutionary Period

Considered a leading orator of the "pulpit of the American Revolution", Backus published a sermon in 1773 that articulated his desire for religious liberty and a separation of church and state. Called An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, Against the Oppressions of the Present Day, in it Backus stated: "Now who can hear Christ declare, that his kingdom is, not of this world, and yet believe that this blending of church and state together can be pleasing to him?"

In 1778, he authored a historically important work entitled Government and Liberty Described and Ecclesiastical Tyranny Exposed of which a copy is held by the John Carter Brown Library at Brown.

Backus served as a delegate from Middleborough to the Massachusetts ratifying convention, which ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. He voted in favor of ratification.


  • Kaminski, John P. et. al. (2009). The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution Digital Edition. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press.
  • Allison, William Henry. "Isaac Backus." Dictionary of American Biography. Vol I., p. 471. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928, 1943.
  • Backus, Isaac. A History of New England with Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists. 2nd ed, with notes by David Weston. 2 vols. Newton, Massachusetts: Backus Historical Society, 1871.
  • The Diary of Isaac Backus. William G. McLoughlin, ed. 3 vol. Providence: Brown University Press, 1979.
  • Grenz, Stanley J. "Church and State: The Legacy of Isaac Backus." Center Journal 2 (Spring 1983): 73-94.
  • "Isaac Backus: Eighteenth Century Light on the Contemporary School Prayer Issue." Perspectives in Religious Studies 13 (Winter, 1986): 35-45.
  • "Isaac Backus and Religious Liberty." Foundations 22 (October/December 1979): 352-360.
  • Isaac Backus, Puritan and Baptist: His Place in History, His Thought, and Their Implications for Modern Baptist Theology. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983.
  • Hovey, Alvah. A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Rev. Isaac Backus, A.M. Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1859.
  • Little, David. "American Civil Religion and the Rise of Pluralism." Union Seminary Quarterly Review 38 (3-4, 1984): 401-413.
  • Maston, T.B. Isaac Backus: Pioneer of Religious Liberty. London: James Clarke & Co. Ltd., 1962.
  • McLoughlin, William G. "Isaac Backus and the Separation of Church and State in America." American Historical Review 73 (June, 1968): 1392-1413.
  • The Papers of Isaac Backus, 1630-1806. Leigh Johnsen, ed. 15 microfilm reels. Ann Arbor, Mich.: ProQuest Information and Learning, 2003.
  • Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism: Pamphlets, 1754-1789. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1968.
  • Isaac Backus and the American Pietistic Tradition. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967.
  • Furman University's Special Collection on Baptists
  • Baptist Identity and Christian Higher Education, monograph by Donald D. Schmeltekopf and Dianna M. Vitanza
  • Isaac Backus at the Baptist Page
  • Isaac Backus biography at Acton Institute
  • An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty Against the Oppressions of the Present Day
  • First Baptist Church of North Middleboro The church Isaac Backus started
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Rev. Isaac Backus's Timeline

January 9, 1724
Norwich, New London Co, Connecticut
November 8, 1750
Age 26
Bridgewater, Plymouth Co, MA
June 18, 1752
Age 28
Middleborough, Plymouth County, Province of Massachusetts
February 21, 1754
Age 30
Middleborough, Plymouth Co, MA
October 23, 1755
Age 31
Middleboro, Plymouth, MA, USA
October 13, 1758
Age 34
August 3, 1760
Age 36
April 13, 1763
Age 39
Middleboro, MA, USA
March 7, 1766
Age 42