Francis Asbury, Methodist
bishop in America, b. England. The Wesleyan
conference in London sent him in 1771 as a
missionary to America, where he promoted the
growth of the circuit rider system that proved
so eminently suited to frontier conditions.
His powerful preaching, his skill in winning
converts, and his mastery of organization
had, by the end of the Revolution, established
Asbury as the leader of American Methodism.
In 1784, John Wesley ordained Dr. Thomas Coke
as superintendent of the societies in America;
Asbury was to be associate superintendent.
At the American conference held that year,
however, Asbury was the dominant figure and
was made superintendent. He then assumed the
title of bishop and took steps to institute
a centralized church government. Although
tormented by ill health, he maintained personal
supervision of the expanding church, traveling
on horseback over 5,000 mi (8,047 km) each
year and strongly entrenching Methodism over
the entire area of the new nation. His journal
is valuable for its account of contemporary
society as well of his personal life.