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 growing 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; reprint, 1977. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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