digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Lorenzo Dow

Lorenzo Dow (October 16, 1777 – February 2, 1834) was an eccentric itinerant American preacher, said to have preached to more people than any other preacher of his era.[1] He was an important figure in the Second Great Awakening. He was also a successful writer. His autobiography at one time was the second best-selling book in the United States, exceeded only by the Bible.


Born at Coventry, Connecticut, Dow was a sickly child and was much troubled in his youth by "religious speculations," but ultimately joined the Methodist faith. In 1796 he made an unsuccessful application for admission into the Connecticut conference; but two years later he was received, and in 1798—despite the objections of his family—was appointed to be a circuit preacher, on a probationary basis, to the Cambridge circuit in New York. During the year he was transferred to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and afterward to Essex, Vermont, but remained there only a brief time.

Dow made three visits to Ireland and England, in 1799, 1805 and 1818, and by his eccentric manners and attractive eloquence drew after him immense crowds. He took what he believed to be a divine call and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to preach as a missionary to the Catholics of Ireland, and thereafter was never connected officially with the ministry of the Methodist Church, though he remained essentially a Methodist in doctrine. He introduced camp meetings into England, and the controversy about them resulted in the organization of the Primitive Methodist Society.[2]

In 1802 he preached in the Albany region of New York, "against atheism, deism, Calvinism and Universalism." He passed the years 1803 and 1804 in what was then the Mississippi Territory (present day states of Mississippi and Alabama), delivering the first Protestant sermon within the bounds of those future states. Just south of Mansfield, Georgia, on State Route 11, is a large rock on which is a plaque, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It states that on that rock, in 1803, Dow preached the first "Gospel sermon" in Jasper County. In 1807 he extended his labors into Louisiana Territory.

Dow's enthusiasm sustained him through the incessant labors of more than 30 years, during which he preached in almost all parts of the United States. His later efforts were directed chiefly against the Jesuits; indeed he was in general a vigorous opponent of Roman Catholicism.

Everywhere, in America and Britain, he attracted great crowds to hear and see him, and he was often persecuted as well as admired. Because the churches were closed to him, Lorenzo Dow preached in town halls, farmers' barns, and even in open fields. He would preach anyplace where he could assemble a crowd. He preached to Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, Catholics, and atheists alike. He liked to appear unexpectedly at public events, announcing in a loud voice that exactly one year from today, Lorenzo Dow would preach on this spot. He never disappointed his audiences; he always appeared exactly 365 days later at the appointed place, usually met by huge crowds.

Dow's public speaking mannerisms were like nothing ever seen before among the typically conservative church goers of the time. He shouted, he screamed, he cried, he begged, he flattered, he insulted, he challenged people and their beliefs. He told stories and made jokes. It is recorded that Lorenzo Dow often preached before open-air assemblies of 10,000 people or more and held the audiences spellbound.

Dow's fame spread, and so did his travels. He traveled on foot and occasionally on horseback (when someone would donate a horse) throughout what was then the United States. He also traveled extensively in Canada, England and Ireland, and once to the West Indies. He was usually well-received although there were exceptions. A fierce abolitionist, Dow's sermons were often unpopular in the southern United States, and he frequently was threatened with personal violence. He sometimes was forcibly ejected from towns, pelted with stones, eggs, and rotten vegetables. That never stopped him; he simply walked to the next town and gave the same sermon again.

Lorenzo Dow was personally unkempt. He did not practice personal hygiene and his long hair and beard were described as "never having met a comb." He usually owned one set of clothes: those that were on his back. When those clothes became so badly worn and full of holes that they were no longer capable of covering him, some person in the audience usually would donate a replacement. The donated clothes often were not the correct size for his skinny body. When he traveled, he carried no luggage other than a box of Bibles to be given away. Throughout most of his life, what little money he ever collected was either given away to the poor or used to purchase Bibles. In his later years, he did accumulate a bit of money from the sales of his autobiography and religious writings. His singularities of manner and of dress excited prejudices against him, and counteracted the effect of his eloquence. Nevertheless he is said to have preached to more persons than any man of his time.[citation needed]

He died in Georgetown, District of Columbia in 1834, and was buried at Holmead's Burying Ground.[3] In 1887, with much pomp, he was disinterred and moved to Oak Hill Cemetery, near Georgetown.[4]

His influence and popularity led to many U.S. children of the early 19th century to be named after him. The 1850 U.S. Census counts Lorenzo as one of the most popular first names in America.[citation needed]

His wife, Peggy Dow (1780–1820), was almost as eccentric as her husband.[citation needed] She published her journal, entitled Vicissitudes in the Wilderness (fifth edition, 1833).[5]

Selected works[edit]

  • Polemical Works (1814)
  • The Stranger in Charleston, or the Trial and Confession of Lorenzo Dow (1822)
  • A Short Account of a Long Travel; with Beauties of Wesley (1823)
  • History of a Cosmopolite; or the Four Volumes of the Rev. Lorenzo Dow's Journal, concentrated in One, containing his Experience and Travels from Childhood to 1814 (1814; many later editions); this volume also contains "All the Polemical Works of Lorenzo." The edition of 1854 was entitled The Dealings of God, Man, and the Devil as exemplified in the Life, Experience and Travels of Lorenzo Dow. online: 1814 1st edn., 1848 5th edn., 1858 edn.




  1. ^ PD-icon.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1888). "DOW, Lorenzo". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography 2. New York: D. Appleton. p. 218. 
  2. ^ Farndale, W.E. The Secret of Mow Cop: A New appraisal of the Origins of Primitive Methodism. Epworth Press, London. 1950. Page 28: "Lorenzo Dow ... in 1807 ... preached at Hariseahead, Burslem, and Tunstall (Aug 16, 1818), where he met Hugh Bourne [one of the founders of the English Priimitive Methodists]".
  3. ^ Ridgely 1908, p. 259.
  4. ^ Chapin 1887, p. 259.
  5. ^ New International Encyclopedia

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenzo_Dow — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

280 news items

Longview Daily News

Longview Daily News
Tue, 08 Sep 2015 05:32:10 -0700

Lorenzo Dow (LD) Mahoney, 84, of Cathlamet, WA, passed away at Baylor Medical Center in Irving, TX, with family by his side, on Friday, 28thof August 2015 from West Nile Virus. He was in Irving doing what he loved, being a caregiver to his only living ...

Cape Cod Today

Cape Cod Today
Sat, 06 Feb 2016 08:02:47 -0800

Lorenzo Dow Baker of Cape Cod brought a few bunches of bananas from Jamaica to New York in 1870, and although this was not the first time the fruit had found its way to the United States shores, still he became the father of the banana business, for ...
Sun, 07 Feb 2016 08:07:30 -0800

It wasn't until 1949 when African-American linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner's magisterially game-changing book titled Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect that the world learned of the enormous phonemic, lexical, and syntactic similarities between Gullah and ...

Island Packet (blog)

Island Packet (blog)
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:32:12 -0800

Often, it is a combination of all these." As for the etymology of juke joints, "Jukin' It Out" turns to Lorenzo Dow Turner. He was an African American linguist who immersed himself in Sea Island Gullah communities in 1932 to become the "father of ...


Mon, 25 Jan 2016 19:03:52 -0800

Originally called the Household Arts Building after its initial construction in 1916, the building was renamed in 1952 after Lorenzo Dow Harvey who was Stout's president from 1908 to 1922. Over the years Harvey Hall has housed the schools of Home ...
Washington Post
Thu, 05 Aug 2010 18:20:47 -0700

"Word, Shout and Song" opens at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum on Aug. 9. The exhibit displays the work of linguist and scholar Lorenzo Dow Turner, who discovered that the people of the Gullah/Geechee communities in South Carolina ...

A Tarde On Line

A Tarde On Line
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 02:18:45 -0800

A exposição documenta parte da pesquisa desenvolvida por Lorenzo Dow Turner, primeiro linguista afro-estadunidense. O evento contará com a curadoria de Alcione Meira Amos, além da presença do cônsul dos EUA no Rio de Janeiro, James Story.

Wicked Local Provincetown

Wicked Local Provincetown
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 15:15:00 -0800

This last item is a bit ironic, as the ostensible reason for building the Chequessett Road dike and draining the Herring River salt marshes in 1909 — a project pushed by local banana tycoon Lorenzo Dow Baker — was to reduce the mosquito population ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight