BACKUS, Isaac (1724–1806), American Baptist clergyman, one of the outstanding advocates of the principle of the separation of church and state, was born on 9 January 1724 in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Backus and Elizabeth Tracy. Backus’s parents were farmers, and he received a rudimentary primary education and worked as a labourer on the family farm in his early life. The death of his father in 1740 led to a close relationship with his mother, from whom Isaac derived many of his religious convictions. Norwich was dramatically affected in 1741 when the revivalist James Davenport arrived and led many to a deeper Christian commitment. The widow Backus and her son Isaac were soon numbered among the New Lights. In 1745 they joined others in the community in forming a Separate Church at Bean Hill. The following year Isaac sensed a call to the ministry, and in the next two years he joined preaching tours in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Larsen, T., Bebbington, D. W., & Noll, M. A. (2003). Biographical dictionary of evangelicals (27). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.