DAVID BENEDICT was born on October 10, 1779, in Norwalk, Conn., the eldest child of Thomas and Martha Benedict. He became a member of the Baptist Church at Stanford, Conn., in 1799. Supporting himself as a shoemaker’s apprentice and as a private tutor, he was able to graduate from Brown University in 1806, having early expressed a profound interest in Baptist history. For twenty-five years, he served as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Pawtucket, R.I.
His major publications include: The Watery War, or a Poetical Description of the Controversy on the Subjects and Mode of Baptism, by John of Enon, published anonymously when he was in college” A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World, published in 1813 and revised in 1848; Fifty Years Among the Baptists, published in 1860; and History of the Donatists, published after his death, which occurred on December 5, 1874.
Dr. Benedict was the first American historian to write of the Baptists on a national scale. His research took him into all sections of the United States of the early 19th Century, one of our nation’s most dramatic eras. A careful study of his General History … is essential to a study of the history of Baptists in America.
The value of Fifty Years … lies in its intimate and frank view of one of the most important half centuries in the development of our people in this country. This was a time when Baptists were searching for their true identity. The age of persuasion was past. A great unlimited field of expansion lay ahead on the frontier. Would Baptists maintain their age-old devotion to New Testament distinctives, or would they merge into the ever gro wing American Protestant movement? Dr. Benedict’s work gives to us of today a unique glimpse at the dangers of such an assimilation.
R. P. Baker, Chairman
History and Archives Committee
of the American Baptist Association
[David Benedict, Fifty Years Among the Baptists, 1860; rpt. 1977, -- jrd]
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