Jesse Lee, " the Apostle of Methodism in New England," born in Prince George co., Va., March 12, 1758, died in Baltimore, Sept. 12, 1816. At the age of 19 he removed to North Carolina, and in 1779 he preached his first sermon. His ministerial career was interrupted in 1780 by being drafted into the militia to repel the invasion of the British into South Carolina. Refusing to do active military duty, during the four months of his impressment he performed the duties of a chaplain. His first appointment was near Edenton, N. C, and in 1783 he was received into the conference on trial. Being appointed to the Salisbury circuit, N. C, in 1784, he also accompanied As-bury on an extended tour of labor extending from Norfolk, Va., to the extreme S. W. portions of North Carolina, and reorganized the various circuits that had been nearly destroyed by the war. After three years spent in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, at the conference of 1789 he was sent to Stamford circuit, Conn. The peculiarities of Lee's preaching awakened general attention. After visiting Norwalk, New Haven, and other towns, and establishing classes, he visited Boston in 1790, and preached his first sermon on the common.
For six years he travelled throughout nearly all New England, penetrating to the remotest N. E. portions, preaching in private houses, in barns, and on the highways, forming new circuits, and directing the labors of his assistants. In 1796 he became an assistant to Asbury in preaching, holding conferences, and superintending the churches. Subsequently to 1800 he spent most of his time in the south, He ever studied the interests of the church, and aimed to perfect her polity. In 1808 he advocated a delegated general conference, a plan that had been suggested by him 14 years before; and this plan was adopted soon after, the general conference thus becoming the supreme authority of the Methodist Episcopal church. In 1807, 1812, and 1813 he was elected chaplain of the house of representatives at Washington, and in 1814 the senate, which office he filled to the time of his death. In 1807 he published a "History of Methodism," which was the first work on that subject, and is a most valuable authority on the early history of this church. - See "Life and Times of Jesse Lee," by Leroy M. Lee (Richmond, 1848).