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Overview

Issac Backus (1724-1806) was one of the most significant clergymen in the British North American colonies during the last part of the eighteenth century.  Born in Connecticut, he experienced conversion at the height of the Great Awakening, became involved in the Separate movement, and ended up being a leader in the Separate-Baptist movement, the fastest-growing denomination in America at that time.

Not only was he instrumental in organizational matters, he was also a major theologian for the movement and the first Baptist historian in North America.  The notes he gathered--many of which can be found in this collection--range from the early 1600s to the early 1800s and encompass religious, political, legal, personal, and social phenomena ranging from New England, in the north, to the Carolinas, in the south, to England and Ireland, to the east.  Furthermore, Backus corresponded with a wide range of people throughout this territory and published numerous books of a theological nature and a variety of newspaper articles.

His most notable accomplishment, however, was the role he played in formulating a religious rationale for and agitating for separation of church and state, not only in New England, but also in the South and throughout the new Republic.

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