Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BACKUS, Azel, educator, born in Norwich, Connecticut, 13 October 1765; died 9 December 1817. His parents were Congregationalists, but while at Yale he imbibed deistical opinions. He was graduated in 1787 with a high reputation for scholarship, and taught school for a time at Wethersfield, Connecticut Under the influence of his uncle, the Rev. Charles Back-us, he became a Christian and entered the ministry, although at one time he was on the point of joining the army. He was licensed to preach in 1789, and in 1791 became the successor of Dr. Bellamy at Bethlehem, Connecticut, where he also carried on a successful school. Here he remained until, at the foundation of Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, in 1812, he was chosen its first president, and was inaugurated on 3 December of that year. Princeton gave him the degree of S. T. died in 1810. He took great interest in the political questions of the day, and published a number of sermons (1797-1813), among which are the annual "election sermon," delivered in 1798 before the Connecticut legislature, and one on the death of Governor Wolcott (1797).
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