Thriller Thursday The Murder of Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy "Yours in the cause of the slave, till death or victory"
Date: Tuesday, October 17, 1837 Paper: Philanthropist (Cincinnati, OH) Volume: II Issue: 36 Page: 3
"We call attention to the following letter from our much persecuted brother, Rev. E. P. Lovejoy Alton, Oct 7 1837
To the Editor of the Philanthropist.
My dear brother, - I should perhaps before now, have sent you an account of the second destruction of my press in this city, and I would have done it but that I have been from home most of the time, and otherwise had my time completely engrossed.
I was not myself in the city at the time. But the following is a brief history of the affair. My brother landed with the press from your city on Thursday the 21st day of September, about sundown. It had been openly given out here by several individuals, that they would meet the press on the landing and throw it into the river. Induced by these threats, a number of our friends were ready to protect it. Accordingly, it was immediately taken guarded by a number of individuals, into the store of Messrs. Gerry & Weller, on Second street. About 11 o'clock the store was assailed by twenty or thirty individuals, masked and disguised, the doors broken open, the press taken out, broken up and thrown into river. The Mayor of the city was on the ground, soon after the work of destruction commenced. He entreated them to desist; they told him they would as soon as they had finished their work. He left them to procure a constable, and on his return they had completed their work and quietly disperseed! Thus you see that mob law reigns triumphant in Alton. Our municipal court is now in session, but I venture to predict that there will not be a single conviction for either of the outrages upon my press. Public sentiment protects, nay, applauds, the perpetrators. But the Lord reigns, this I know; and I know, too, that the people of alton cannot dethrone Him; and therfore I know further, that the cause they are so exceedingly mad against will yet triumph. They do but "imagine a vain thing"
I send you herewith enclosed, a short account of the outrage to which I was subjected in st Charles, on Sabbath evening last. I have written a more detailed account to the "Empancipator" I would only add, that in additions to the particulars herewith sent, the mob toreout the bosom of my shirt and nearly destroyed my pantaloons in their efforts to drag me from the room. One of them struck me with his fist several times.
Our convention assembles on the last Thursday in the month. We should be exceedingly glad to see some of our Ohio friends here. I have full confidence that Illinois in less than two years, will not be whit behind a single sister state, in her zeal for the cause of humanity and of our common country.
Yours in the cause of the slave, till death or victory,
Elijah P. Lovejoy
The following is the account of the assault on Mr. Lovejoy's person, at St. Charles. After reading it, let any candid man say, of how much value is the "Union" to abolitionists-to those who have the courage to defend to doctrines of the Declaration of Independence. En-Phil.
Mob at St Charles, MO
To the publisher of the Telegraph
Gentleman - As I know by experience that a thousand rumors and exaggerations will immediately set afloat in the community respecting the recent outrage at St. Charles, I must ask of you the favor to insert in your columns a brief narrative of the particulars of the case. I will confine myself entirely to a simple statement of the facts, leaving every reader to make his own comments and reflections.
On Wednesday last (the 27th ult) I went over to St Charles for the purpose of bringing home my wife, who, in ill health, and with a sick child, had been spending a few weeks at her mother's who resides in St. Charles. It was my intention to have returned the next day, in the stage, but finding my wife's health unable to endure the journey, I concluded to wait till the next stage (Monday) Accordingly I did so. On Sabbath, at the request of the Rev. Mr. Cambell, the Presbyterian minister of St. Charles, I preached for him in the forenoon and at night, he himself preaching in the afternoon. --Just previous to my leaving the Church, after the service were over at night, the following note was sliped into my hand: "Mr Lovejoy, Be watchful as you come from Church to night. A Friend"
I showed the note to Rev. Mr. Campbell, who asked me to go home with him; I declined, however, and walked to my mother-in-law's in company with Mr. Campbell, and Mr. Copes, a deacon of the church. It was but a short distance, and nothing occurred to excite any alarm. Mr. Campbell went in with me. This was about nine o'clock. Brother Cambell and myself sat conversing together till near ten o'clock, when a knocking was heard at the foot of the stairs - the room in which the family lived being in the second story. I took a candle and went to the door at the head of the stairs, to ascertain who was there; when the inquiry was made, "Is Mr. Lovejoy in?" I answered "Yes" "We want to see him, was the rejoinder; and immediately a man by the name of Little and another from Mississippi, whose name I did not learn, rushed through the door where I stood, and seized me, each by the coat collar, while the platform at the head of the stairs was filled by the mobites.
The only individuals in the house were the Rev. Mr. Cambell, my wife, her mother and sister, and myself. They doubtless expected to find only myself and the three females in the house. My wife, ho was lying down in another room, hearing the knocking, came also to the head of the stairs, just as it was filled by assailants. She had to rush thruogh them to get into the room where I was, which she did, and succeeded in reaching me, not, however, until the fellow from Mississippi had drawn his dirk upon her. Her only reply was to strike him in the face with her hand - a blow which more than one of the mobites received in their attempts to force me from the room - she meanwhile clinging to me, or throwing herself before me, among the infuriated assailants, with a self-abandoning fortitude and devotion which a woman and a wife only can feel. Induced, principally, by her efforts, the mob let me go and left the room. As soon as the door was shut upon them, Mrs. L. fainted. I carried her immediately into another room and laid her on the bed. She recovered only to relapse into alarming hysteric fits, and while in this condition, I was endeavoring to soothe her fears, the mob returned with augmented numbers and fury. Regardless of her heart-rendering shricks, they laid hold of me to drag me from the room, and would have done so had not W.M. Campbell Esq. come to my rescue, and assistetd me in freeing myself again from their grasp.
This state of things continued nearly two hours, the mob retired for a few moments to the grog shop, and then returning to the assault, with redoublled fury. It was their expressed determination to take my life, or as one of them, with horrid oaths, expressed it, they "wanted my blood, and would have it." At length one of them, David Knott, came up into the room, with a written demand that I should leave town by ten o'clock next morning. I sent them a reply that I should leave in the morning before nine. This pacified them for a time. But having received their potations of whiskey, they again returned. By this time, their drunken madness had reached such a height, that my friends despaired of defending me. Yielding, therefore, to their soliciatations, and especially to the entreaties of my wife, though much against my own inclinations, I left the house, at a moment when the vigilance of the watching mob was relaxed, and thanks to a Guardian Providence, escaped unharmed. Elijah P. Lovejoy.
A few short weeks later ... an account of his murder is published....
An American Citizen Murdered the Pres Destroyed the Spirit of Slavery Triumphant
Date: Saturday, November 25, 1837 Paper: Colored American (New York, NY) Volume: I Issue: 47 Page: 2
"An American Citizen murdered!! The Press destroyed!!! The Spirit of Slavery triumphant!!!
Elijah P. Lovejoy that fearless advocate of the press, has fallen a victim to the fury of a mob, thirsting for his blood, because he dared to lift up his voice against the oppression of the poor slave.
The facts are briefly these; Mr Lovejoy first established his press at St. Louis, but owing to the fierce opposition of those opposed to his abolition sentiments, he moved his press to Alton, Ill judging in a free state, boasting of her loyalty to the Constitution, that he might securely advocate the principals of American Liberty. But, alas her boasts proved hollow mockery; she pro-trated herself before the genius of slavery, and trampled law and order under foot. Twice did a reckless mob seize upon and destroy the press - and not satiated with this wanton destruction of property, they hunted him down like blood hounds!
But the hon heart of Lovejoy quailed not before the brutal force that met him. He saw that here the battle must be fought; to abandon this post was equivalent to saying to the mob, "only foam out your shame and blasphemy, and we will retire and leave you to take care of those fundamental principals, the support and protection of which can alone secure good order." With a deep sense of the responsibilities resting upon him, owing to the situation that circumstances had placed him in, he declared, "I will never abandon the enterprise so long as I live, and until success has crowned it. If I am to die, it cannot be in a better cause!"
Arrangements were made, and a new press was obtained and brought to the city of Alton. On Monday night, the 8th instant, in the dead of the night, that every thing consistent with the requirements of duty might be done to avoid the sensitiveness of the "baser sort" the press was landed and conveyed to the warehouse of Messrs. Godfrey, Gilman & Co. But unwearied watchfulness of the sentinels of slavery soon gave the alarm, and forth rushed the myrmedous of hell.
Lovejoy and his friends believed it hustifiable to defend by physical force their rights, and consequently prepared to do so. Fifteen or twenty citizens, among whom (according to the Mayor's account) were some of the most worthy and enterprising, with about 36 stand of arms, besides small arms, shut themselves up in the building with the press.
At about 10 o'clock at night, the mob made their onset demanding the press. They were told by those who had it in care that it would not by given up, that it would be defended, and to avoid serious consequences they had better desist. The mob then commemenced an attack by throwing stones, and soon began to fire balls; after this a gun was fired, by consent of all within, from the building, and one among the rabble fell. The mob gave way for a moment, but soon returned with an increase in numbers, and resolved to burn the building without permitting those inside to escape. When this was known a deputation was sent out to prevent it, if possible, and at the head was the devoted Lovejoy. Upon his arrival in the street, he was deliberately singled out, fired upon, and fell a corpse in a few seconds; two others were wounded, one of whom (Mr. Roff) has since died.
The doors then were thrown open, and while those within retreated, they were fired upon by this hellish crew. The press was then taken possession of by the mob and destroyed.
Such is a brief history of the Alton outrage. How horrible to contemplate, and how fearfully pregnant with danger to the safety of every institution in our country.
Whither shall we turn our aching eyes? Where shall we look for a redeeming spirit? To the Press? Gracious Heaven! how has it spoken? Read the New York Gazette, the Courier & Enquirer, the Star and the Sun, and then let us hang our hearts in shame. To the pulpit? It is recreant to its trust. With a few noble and splendid exceptions the Pulpit and the Press have virnally by their silence and actual committal, esponsed the side of the oppressor. Truly, "on the side of the oppressor there is power."
Who are guilty in this matter? Is it the poor ignorant, sunken, and abandoned wretches who consumate the work planned out by "gentlemen of property and standing?" No! They know not what they do. But the Press which from the commencement of the Anti-Slavery controversy has kept alive by base misrepresentation. the worst passions of the human heart, and pointed at abolitionists as fit subjects for assassin's dagger - the press- Political and Religions, by baptising itself in all manner of abominations, in order to oppose the progress of pure principles, is guilty of this crime."
Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born November 5, 1802 the oldest of nine children born to Rev. David Lovejoy & Elizabeth Pattee. He was the grandson of Hezekiah Lovejoy & Hannah Austin, my 7th great grandparents. He married Celia Ann French & had two chiildren.
He was well educated and attended a couple private academies before attending what is now known as Colby College. While attending Colby, he was headmaster of a local high school. Lovejoy developed a plan to move west to preach after first residing, working & saving money in Boston, but after having a difficult time finding work, he set off on foot to Illinois. He stopped along the way in New York where he worked as a peddler for the Saturday Evening Gazette. Desperate for help Lovejoy wrote to Rev Jeremiah Chaplin the President of Colby who financially assisted him in getting to Illinois, but he found that it didn't call to him & he headed to St. Louis.
He became editor of the St Louis Observer, as well as being employed as a headmaster of a private school.
Inspired by abolitionist David Nelson, he decided to attend Princeton & become a preacher & abolitionist himself. He briefly preached & was ordained in Philadelphia and later returned to St Louis where he set up a Presbyterian Church and returned to the St Louis Observer.
Missouri was a slave state and tensions over the anti-slavery movement & Lovejoy's desire to speak out and make a difference were being heightened on a regular basis. Lovejoy found himself & his press as a target on numerous occassions; the above being just the last two times out of several attacks against him. He no doubt thought perhaps a move to a free slave state would be a better choice for him & his family. He removed his family to Alton, IL and founded the Alton Observer. As we have seen, safety eluded him there as well. Reverend Elijah Parish Lovejoy was buried in Alton, Il in an unmarked grave.
The district attorney of Alton attempted to prosecute for Lovejoy's murder but in the end no one was held responsible. Thankfully his work would continue on by his brother Owen became the leader of the Illinois abolitionist movement, and many other brave souls, both before and after, ensuring the eventual freedom of all slaves.
Amylynne (Baker) Murphy
Use your browsers"FIND"
option to locate the name you are