Born in Massachusetts in 1802, Barnas Sears was a respected theologian and scholar, who served in leadership areas of education and pastoral ministry for more than fifty years. He taught in several universities, and even spent time studying and researching in Europe from 1833 to 1835, including at the University of Halle in Germany. He was honored with a doctorate degree from Harvard in 1841, and one from Yale in 1862. He was a promoter of free schools for the whole people, helping encourage and provide support of public schools through adequate taxation, and served as president of Brown University from 1855 to 1867, as well as editor of the Christian Review from 1838 to 1841. He also was President of the American Baptist Missionary Union from 1874 to 1877. He died in 1880 at the age of 78 in Saratoga, NY.