Isaac Backus was born at Norwich, Connecticut. Converted at 17, during the Great Awakening, he allied himself with the revivalists who separated from the Congregational Church to form new congregations. He was at first a Separatist minister, but in 1756 he helped establish the First Baptist Church in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and he remained its pastor until his death. Backus was greatly influenced by the evangelistic preaching of George Whitefield and the theology of Jonathan Edwards. He went before the First Continental Congress in 1774 to speak on behalf of liberty of conscience for dissenters. He wrote a history of New England and many other works.