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Harry Hosier (c.1750-1806)

Harry Hosier was born into slavery near Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was freed and converted under Methodist influence and became the first African-American local preacher.

Hosier was a frequent companion of Francis Asbury and other Methodist leaders and in 1784 was chosen to accompany Thomas Coke on his journey through Delaware and Maryland. In later years Hosier travelled on preaching tours through New England, Pennsylvania and New York.

Hosier was illiterate but possessed an exceptional memory and considerable communication skills. He was often greeted with hostility, but was able to win many converts with his preaching, which many contemporaries including Thomas Coke, regarded as the finest they had ever heard. Dr Benjamin Rush described Hosier as the greatest orator in America.

Hosier had a drink problem in later life, and lived rough for a while on the streets of Philadelphia. He regained his spiritual vigour after an all-night vigil but remained in poor physical health until his death, which occurred in Philadelphia in May 1806.

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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