National Historical Publications & Records Commission

The Diary of Isaac Backus

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Folk art painting of Isaac Backus


Brown University

Additional information at and

An annotated edition of the diary of Isaac Backus (1724-1806) the 18th-century Baptist clergyman and champion of religious liberty. The diary, covering the sixty-year span from the First to the Second Great Awakening, describes the campaigns he and his colleagues waged for religious liberty and for the propagation of their religious principles.  In 1764, Isaac Backus joined John Brown, Nicholas Brown, and several others as trustees 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. In 1773, Backus wrote a tract, "An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty." This is a key document in the history of the American struggle for freedom in religious worship.

Complete in three volumes.


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