Baptists in Boston and vicinity, Philadelphia and Charleston, and a few other communities had from the beginning of the 19th century taken a deep interest in the missionary work of William Carey, the English missionary, and his coadjutors in India, and had contributed liberally to its support. The conversion to Baptist views of Adoniram Judson (q.v.) and Luther Rice (1812), who had just been sent, with others, by the newly-formed American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to open up missionary work in India, marks an epoch in American Baptist history. Judson appealed to his American brethren to support him in missionary work among the heathen, and Rice returned to America to organize missionary societies to awaken interest in Judson's mission. In January 1813 there was formed in Boston "The Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in India and other Foreign Parts." Other societies in the Eastern, Middle and Southern states speedily followed. The desirability of a national organization soon became manifest, and in May 1814 thirty-three delegates, representing eleven states, met in Philadelphia and organized the "General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions." As its meetings were to be held every three years it came to be known as the "Triennial Convention." A Board of Commissioners was appointed with headquarters in Philadelphia (transferred in 1826 to Boston). The need of a larger supply of educated ministers for home and for mission work alike soon came to be profoundly felt, and resulted in the establishment of Columbian College, Washington (now George Washington University), with its theological department (1821), intended to be a national Baptist institution.

Destitution on the frontiers led the Triennial Convention to engage extensively in home mission work (1817 onward), and in 1832 the American Baptist Home Mission Society was constituted for the promotion of this work. The need of an organ for the dissemination of information, and the quickening of interest in the missionary and educational enterprises of the Triennial Convention, led Rice to establish the Latter Day Luminary (1816) and the Columbian Star, a weekly journal (1822). From the first the attempt to rouse the denomination to organized effort for the propagation of the gospel met with much opposition, agents of the Convention being looked upon by the less intelligent pastors and churches as highly-paid and irresponsible collectors of money to be used they knew not how, or for purposes of which they disapproved. The fact that Rice was unduly optimistic and allowed the enterprises of the Convention to become almost hopelessly involved in debt, and was constrained to use some of the fund collected for missions to meet the exigencies of his educational and journalistic work, intensified the hostility of those who had suspected from the beginning the good faith of the agents and denied the scriptural authority of boards, paid agents, paid missionaries, etc.

So virulent became the opposition that in several states, as Tennessee and Kentucky, the work of the Convention was for years excluded, and a large majority in each association refused to receive into their fellowship those who advocated or contributed to its objects. Hyper-Calvinism, ignorance and avarice cooperated in making the very name "missions" odious, ministerial education an impertinent human effort to supplant a spirit-called and spirit-endowed ministry, Sunday-schools and prayer-meetings as human institutions, the aim of which was to interfere with the divine order, and the receiving of salaries for ministerial work as serving God for hire or rather as serving self. To counteract this influence, Baptist State Conventions were formed by the friends of missions and education, only contributing churches, associations, missionary societies and individuals being invited to membership (1821 onward - Massachusetts had effected state organization in 1802). These became highly efficient in promoting foreign and domestic missions, Sunday-school organization, denominational literature and education.

Nearly every state soon had its institutions of learning, which aspired to become universities.

Before 1844 the sessions of the Triennial Convention had occasionally been made unpleasant by harsh anti-slavery utterances by Northern members against their Southern brethren and somewhat acrimonious rejoinders by the latter. The controversy between Francis Wayland and Richard Fuller (1804-1876) on the slavery question ultimately convinced the Southern brethren that separate organization for missionary work was advisable. The Southern Baptist Convention, with its Home and Foreign Missionary Boards, and (later) its Sunday-school Board, was formed in 1845. Since then Northern and Southern Baptists, though in perfect fellowship with each other, have found it best to carry on their home and foreign missionary work through separate boards and to have separate annual meetings. In 1905 a General Baptist Convention for America was formed for the promotion of fellowship, comity and denominational esprit de corps, but this organization is not to interfere with the sectional organizations or to undertake any kind of administrative work.

Since 1845 Northern and Southern Baptists alike have greatly increased in numbers, in missionary work, in educational institutions, in literary activity and in everything that pertains to the equipment and organization of a great religious denomination. Since 1812 they have increased in numbers from less than 200,000 to more than 5,000,000. In 1812 American Baptists had no theological seminary; in 1906 they had 11 with more than 100 instructors, 1300 students, and endowments and equipments valued at about $7,000,000. In 1812 they had only one degree-conferring college with a small faculty, a small student body and almost no endowment; in 1906 they had more than 100 universities and colleges with endowment and equipment valued at about $30,000,000, and an annual income of about $3,000,000. In 1812 the value of church property was small; in 1906 it was estimated at $100,000,000. Then a single monthly magazine, with a circulation of a few hundreds, was all that the denomination possessed in the way of periodical literature; in 1906 its quarterlies, monthlies and weeklies were numbered by hundreds.

The denomination has a single publishing concern (the American Baptist Publication Society) with an annual business of nearly $1,000,000 and assets of $1,750,000.

Baptists in the Dominion of Canada had their rise about the close of the 18th century in migrations from the United States. They have been reinforced by considerable numbers of English, Welsh and Scottish Baptists. They are divided into four sections: - those of the Maritime Provinces, with their Convention, their Home and Foreign Mission Boards, an Education Board and a Publication Board, and with McMaster University (Arts, Theological and Academic departments) as its educational institution; those of Manitoba and the North-west, with Brandon College as its educational institution; and those of British Columbia. Canadian Baptists numbered 120,000 in 1909, and are considered in the above general estimates.

(A. H. N.)

[1] The figures for Russia include only the German-speaking Baptists. It is impossible to ascertain the numbers of properly Russian Baptists. Estimates have been made which vary from 60,000 to 100,000.