Lorenzo Dow, an eccentric American preacher, born in Coventry, Conn., Oct. 16, 1777, died in Washington, D. C, Feb. 2, 1834. At an early age he was greatly distressed by religious speculations, until his acceptance of Methodist doctrines and his determination to become a preacher-of that denomination, though his education was very limited. In 1796 he made an unsuccessful application for admission into the Connecticut conference; but two years later he was received, and in 1799 was appointed to the Cambridge circuit, New York. During the year he was transferred to Pitts-field, Mass., and afterward to Essex, Vt., but remained there only a brief time, as he believed he had a divine call to preach to the Catholics of Ireland. He made two visits to Ireland and England, in 1799 and 1805, and by his eccentric manners and attractive eloquence drew after him immense crowds, who sometimes indulged in a spirit of bitter persecution. He introduced camp meetings into England, and the controversy about them resulted in the organization of the Primitive Methodists. In 1802 he was preaching in the Albany district, N. Y., "against atheism, deism, Calvinism, and Universalism." He passed the years 1803 and 1804 in Alabama, delivering the first Protestant sermon within the bounds of that state.
In 1807 he extended his labors into Louisiana, following the settlers to the extreme borders of civilization, and preaching to half-civilized throngs in the forest. After 1799 he had no official relation to the ministry of the Methodist church, but continued to adhere to and to preach the prominent doctrines of that communion till his death. During his latter years his efforts were more specially directed against the Jesuits, whom he regarded as dangerous enemies to pure religion and to republican government. 4 Among his numerous writings are: "Polemical Works" (12mo, New York, 1814); "The Stranger in Charleston, or the Trial and Confession of Lorenzo Dow" (Philadelphia, 1822); "A short Account of a long Travel, with Beauties of Wesley " (8vo, Philadelphia, 1823); and "History of a Cosmopolite, or the Writings of the Rev. Lorenzo Dow, containing his Experience and Travels in Europe and America up to near his fiftieth Year; also his Polemic Writings " (often reprinted).