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Azel Backus Edit Profile

Clergyman , College president

Azel Backus was an American educator, born in New London County, Connecticut.


Azel was born to Congregationalistic parents, Jabez Jr. and Deborah Backus on October 13, 1765 in New London County, Connecticut. He lost his father, Jabez, at the age of five which resulted in devolving of his education entirely on his mother, Deborah, for several years.


Graduated from Yale, 1787. Doctor of Divinity, College of New Jersey (now Princeton), 1810.


After having a long preaching career, he was elected as the first President of Hamilton College in New York. He died on December 28, 1816, in Clinton, New York, at the age of 51 and is buried in Hamilton College Cemetery. Azel was fitted to attend College under his instruction.

In 1783, he entered Yale College. He was perplexed after graduation to choose a profession, as his religious opinion preferenced him to the ministry, but he was favoring to join the army. Soon after he left College, he joined as a teacher in a Grammar school at Wethersfield, Connecticut.

After receiving his license to preach from Association of Tolland County, he preached at Ellington, Connecticut to several Sabbaths and soon received multiple invitations to preach and become their pastor. Backus, in 1798, was appointed by Oliver Wolcott, the first governor of Connecticut, to preach before the Legislature, The Annual Election Sermon, as well as Wolcott's funeral. He was chosen General Association of Connecticut's Moderator in June 1808.

Shortly after that, in 1810, the College of New Jersey honored him with Doctor of Divinity degree. After moving to Bethlehem, Connecticut, he founded a select school for preparing students for College admission. Backus was elected as the first president of Hamilton College in September 1812.

In February 1791, Backus married Melicent Demming of Wethersfield. Backus was survived by five of eight children, including F. F. Backus, a practicing physician at Rochester for many years after graduating from Yale College in 1813. Backus fell ill due to typhus fever in December 1817.

Days after his illness, he died on December 9, 1817 at the age of 53.


  • Other Work

    • Author: Absalom’s Conspiracy (Federalist attack on Thomas Jefferson, consequently charged with, but not convicted of, libeling a United States President), 1798.


F. F. Backus was a member of the New York Senate for four years, from 1844 to 1847.


Married Melicent Deming, February 7, 1791.

Jabez Backus

Deborah (Fanning) Backus

Melicent Deming