Baptists Publish the Word
1824 – THE FIRST BAPTIST PUBLISHING HOUSE IN AMERICA WAS FORMED IN THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY – On February 25, 1824, from a meeting in Washington, D.C., the “Baptist General Tract Society” was begun. Luther Rice was elected Treasurer. He was a partner of Adoniram and Ann Judson and had returned from the mission field to raise money to keep them on the mission field. Early on Christian people had united in the effort to evangelize through Christian literature. “The Evangelical Tract Society” was formed in Boston in 1811; the Philadelphia Sunday School and Adult School Union were organized in 1817, and the Baptists joined with other denominations in organizing the American Sunday School Union. However Baptist leaders were not satisfied until they had their own publishing house to formulate Baptist ideas and doctrine which culminated in the organization mentioned above. On April 30, 1840, in N.Y. City, representatives from 15 states voted to change the complexion and name to “The American Baptist Publication and Sunday School Society.” From that time Baptists have been able to obtain distinctive Baptist literature to train their members. The “Baptist Manual” was published consisting of a Doctrinal, Historical and Biographical series.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 77.
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Publishing Glad Tidings
On this date in 1824, Reverend Noah Davis sent a tremendously important message to a former classmate, the Reverend James D. Knowles of Washington, D.C., urging that consideration be given for the establishing of a publishing house for Bible literature among the rapidly growing ministry of the Baptists in America.
This is what he wrote: “I have been thinking for some time, how a Tract Society can be gotten up; in Washington, which shall hold the same place among Baptists that the American Tract Society does among the Congregationalists. I now feel very much, the necessity of having tracts to scatter in the waste places. It is a plan of doing good scarcely thought of among Baptists.” In February 25, 1824, a company of twenty-five Baptists met at the house of Mr. George Wood in Washington D.C. to consider the appropriateness of the formation of a Baptist General Tract Society. What brought them together was the letter sent by the Reverend Noah Davis of Maryland. Mr. Knowles gave this tribute to Reverend Davis: “His heart was in the work; a qualification, without which, no man ever accomplished much. He possessed unusual talents for business. He was active, affable, and prompt. He spoke with fluency, and when excited, with much power and eloquence. His full, loud, and sonorous voice, his manly person, his simple, direct, and forcible diction, gave him great advantages in preaching.” In 1826 the Tract Society was moved to Philadelphia which afforded more publishing opportunities. And the with the establishment of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 their name was changed to the American Baptist Publication Society. All of this because of the vision of one man.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) pp. 91-92