Backus, Isaac [key], 1724–1806, American clergyman, leader among New England Baptists and a champion of religious freedom, b. Norwich, Conn. Converted in the Great Awakening, he joined the separatists or “New Light” faction. He became pastor in 1748 of a Congregational church in Middleboro, Mass.; after his adherence to the Baptist faith, he organized and became minister of a Baptist church there, which he served from 1756 until his death. According to his calculations, Backus traveled over 68,000 mi (109,435 km) on his evangelistic tours, mostly on horseback. His History of New England with Particular Reference to the … Baptists (3 vol., 1777–96) is a major source for the religious history of the region and the period.
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