Joseph C. (Joseph Cammet) Lovejoy.

Memoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 online

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Online LibraryJoseph C. (Joseph Cammet) LovejoyMemoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 → online text (page 1 of 28)
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Comer of Park Row and Spruce Street.

18 38.


According to an Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by


In the Clerk's office of the District Court for the Southern Disfrict of

New York.


Astor, Lefiox and






In the biographical narratives of the Founder of the
Christian religion, and of his primitive disciples, there is
an internal evidence of truth, not less conclusive than
that of the miracles which they performed. The mira-
cles were the evidence necessary to prove the authen-
ticity of his mission to his cotemporaries, to whom he
was accredited, to whom he revealed the hidden mys-
tery of their own immortality, and to whom he proclaimed
the laws of their own nature, the obligations of mutual
benevolence and charity : — love upon earth — andZ^/e here-
after, were the everlasting pillars of his system of reli-
gion and of morals. So congenial to the nature of man
are this precept, and this promise, that on presenting
them in their simplicity to the mind, it would seem as if
they must meet the universal acquiescence and assent
of every intelligent human being. But before the pre-
cept of brotherly love, as the universal law of human
kind, carried out to its logical conclusions, empires and
kingdoms, principalities and powers. War and Slavery,


were destined to fall prostrate, to crumble into dust, and
to be extinguished on the surface of the globe.

The first extensive operation of the Christian system
of religion and morals, was to demolish the religion of
Rome, the mistress of the world, and at the same time,
to abolish the ritual portion of the Jewish religion — sys-
tems of government as well as systems of religion, were
to be overthrown, subdued, annihilated by this simple
ray of supernatural light, and with those systems were to
be overcome and vanquished all the selfish and sordid
passions of man's nature, and all the aggregations of
physical human power.

In the progressive revolutions effected by the Chris-
tian system of religion and morals, it was in the order of
Providence that its operations should be slow and gradual,
embracing a period of many thousand years.

Its first converts were among the humble and the
lowly — the diseased who had no physician ; and the
vicious who had no friend. Its first apostles were fish-
ermen, publicans, and tent-makers. The earthly con-
dition of the Messiah was to be the son of a carpenter,
and the first of his disciples above the rank of a centu-
rion, is known only as having offered a sepulchre for his

For the propagation of his doctrines he disclaimed
once and again, with undeviating perseverance all re-
course to an arm of flesh. He declared that his king-
dom was not of this world. He declared that he came
not to destroy, but to fulfil. He commanded his disci-


pies to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's^
and he paid for his own person the tribute to Rome.

Yet no sooner was his system of morals disclosed than
the Scribes and Pharisees, the Priests and the Rulers
of the Synagogue, discovered in it the inevitable down-
fall of the Levitical Law. They accordingly seized,
condemned, and executed him as a malefactor. ^

That the religion of the Roman empire was also to be
exterminated by this kingdomof Heaven, the denomination
given by the Saviour to his new system of doctrines,
was not so soon discovered, but could not long be con-
cealed. The ignominious death of the teacher was in
the ways of Providence, the most effective means of
spreading abroad his faith. The apostles, to whom he
had left the charge of preaching the gospel to all nations,
encountered wherever they went, the persecution of the
multitude, and of their rulers, and as the Baptist's head
had fallen at the mandate of a king to satiate the ven-
geance of a rebuked adulteress, his accomplice Stephen
became the victim of a lawless rabble, for proclaiming to
them the doctrines of universal love and eternal life.

In those doctrines, however, there was a principle of
vitality, destined to survive all persecution, and to tri-
umph over all human power. The moral precepts of
the Levitical Law, purified and refined, shone with un-
dying lustre in the new dispensation — its rites and cere-
monies, its Priests and Levites, its sacrifices of blood, its
visions, and its dreams, gave way to a simple and spi-
ritual form of worship, the working of miracles, no longer
necessary for the authentication of faith, was withdrawn


from the disciples of the c^oss, and the new system of
religion and morals was left to make its way in the world
by the perpetual miracle of its celestial origin, self-evi-
dent by the internal demonstration of its irresistible
power, and its superhuman perfection.

In the space of three hundred years it accomplished
the annihilation of Rome's three hundred thousand gods.
The beautiful and stupendous system of the Heathen My-
thology, melted before its effulgence into air. The
Caesars of imperial Rome bowed the knee to the name
of Jesus, and Constantine, the master of the world, was
taught by better proof than the visions of the night, that
the cross of Christ was the sign by which he was to

It was not only over the false gods of paganism, that
the religious and moral system of Christ was to prevail
— nor was it only the cumbrous and sanguinary ritual of
the Jewish dispensation that it was to supersede. The
Christian system, meddles not directly with the organi-
zation of human government. It commands obedience
to the laws. It enjoins reverence to the powers that be
— but it lays down first principles, before which, carried
to their unavoidable conclusions, all oppression, tyranny
and wrong must vanish from the face of the earth.

That all mankind are of one blood, and that the rela-
tion between them is that of brothers. That the rule of
social intercourse between them is that each should do
to all, as he would that all should do to him. This is
Christianity — and this is the whole duty of man to man.

The conflict of Christianity is with all the evil pas-


sions, aided by all the physical and all the intellectual
powers of, man. The physical and intellectual powers
are indeed instruments adapted equally to the use of
Christianity and of its adversaries. It is by the unalter-
able and eternal truth of its principles, that the ultimate
triumph of the kingdom of Christ must be extended
throughout the habitable earth.

Its first great victory was over false religions. In the
progress of ages, its slow, gradual, and progressive ad-
vancement has been over tyrannical governments. It
has weaned the human mind from the toleration of gov-
ernments founded only upon conquests, and acting only
by arbitrary will and physical force. It has prompted
the heart, and armed the hand of the Christian man to
resist and overthrow them. It has taught him that the
duty of obedience to government is founded upon a cove-
nant of mutual respect for the unalienable natural rights
of man : and that however this covenant may be violated
by power, the rights can never be extinguished, and may
always hy power be resumed.

It is the pride and glory of the confederated North
American Republic, that in the instrument of their first
association they solemnly declared and proclaimed these
truths, derived by clear unequivocal deduction, from the
first principles of the Christian faith, to be self-evident —
and announced them as the first principles both of their
Union and of their Independence.

The second great victory of the Christian system of
morals was over oppressive governments — and that vic-
tory has not yet been consummated. The absolute des-


potisms of antiquity, under which the lives, persons, and
property of the subject were utterly unprotected from the
will of the despot,- vanished very early by the adoption
of the Christian faith as the religion of the Roman em-
pire. But that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness
were inextinguishable rights of all mankind, had never
been proclaimed as the only rightful foundation of human
association and government, until the Declaration of In-
dependence, laid it down, as the corner stone of the
North American Union.

It was a discovery in the combined science of morals
and politics. It was an electrical spark which passed
invisibly through the whole chain of the Christian na-
tions, seen only at the instant of its emission — felt at
once, though unseen by all — and from that day through-
out the whole circle of the Christian nations, a simulta-
neous struggle has been in constant operation, though in
forms infinitely diversified, to new model their govern-
ments and political institutions, to approximate the prac-
tical realization of those self-evident elementary princi-

But Government, whether civil, ecclesiastical, or mili-
tary, is not the only nor the most pernicious agent of
tyranny and oppression. The laws of war, and the insti-
tutions of domestic Slavery, have been far more effective
instruments for converting the bounties of the Creator to
the race of man into a curse, than all the tyrannies of em-
perors and kings that ever existed upon earth. War is a
perpetual violation of the right of human beings to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and Slavery is no


more than the base-born progeny of war. The Chris-
tian system of morals, as delivered by its Founder, pro-
hibits war not in direct, but in implied, unqualified terms.-
This prohibition has not yet had its full development,
among the nations which profess the Christian faith.
They receive the law, and acknowledge its obligations,
without yielding obedience to its precepts. But the
Christian nations, in their practice among themselves,
have in many important respects, mitigated, and in
others, wholly abolished the most cruel usages and es-
tablished laws of ancient war, among which hereditary
Slavery was by far the most oppressive. In the wars
of Christian nations between themselves, it has long
since been totally abolished. The Mahometan and
Heathen nations still continue to make slaves of their
prisoners of war, and Christians, after discarding forever
the practice of enslaving one another, have but recently
begun to reflect upon the necessary consequence in the
reasoning of moral principle, that the same precept which
forbids them from holding as a slave their Christian
brother, equally interdicts them from defiling themselves
with the pollution of Heathen or Mahometan bondage.

The first cries of conscience against the engraftment
of African Slavery, upon the Christian communities of
the European colonies in America, were heard precisely
at the time when the contest of liberty began between
Great Britain and her own colonists in North America.
They were raised by Anthony Benezet, a native of
France, who had become an inhabitant of Pennsylvania.
From him they passed to Granville Sharpe in England.


The labours of these two humble, obscure, powerless
Christian philanthropists, fir^ awakened the civilized
world to the atrocious immorality of Slavery and the
slave trade. Little less than a century has elapsed since
this struggle of right against oppression commenced, and
it has resulted in a conventi-onal agreement of all the
Christian nations, identifying the African slave trade
with the crime of piracy.

But if the African Slavery be piracy, human reason
cannot resist, nor can human sophistry refute the con-
clusion, that the essence of the crime consists not in the
trade, but in the Slavery. Trade has nothing in itself
criminal by the law of nature, or that can be made so by
any law or compact of nations. It is one of the natural
rights flowing from the condition of man ; from recipro-
cal wants and reciprocal good will. Trade, therefore,
oan be made criminal only by the nature of the article in
which it is carried on. It is the Slavery, and not the
purchase and sale, or the transportation of the slave,
which constitutes the iniquity of the African slave trade.
The moral principle then, which dictated the interdict of
the African slave trade, pronounced at once the sentence
of condemnation upon Slavery.

Slavery had from an early period been introduced into
the colonies of all the European powers of the western
hemisphere. It existed in all the English colonies,
though by one of those unaccountable inconsistencies
which mark the imperfection of all human institutions,
the mother country spurned from her own soil the
Slavery which she established and supported in her


colonies. It was even during the progress of the war
for American Independence, solemnly settled by the de-
cision of England's highest judicial court, that the slave
of an English West Indian, if brought by his master to
England, no sooner set his foot on English ground than
he became a freeman. The same decision was made
by the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Massa-
chusetts, as a necessary consequence from the principles
of the Declaration of Independence, repeated in the
Declaration of Rights forming part of her State Consti-

The subject of the ensuing memoir, the Rev. Elijah
P. Lovejoy, was a native of the Commonwealth of Mas-
sachusetts — born in a state where the abjuration of the
authority of Great Britain, and of the institution of
Slavery, had been universally held to have been con-
summated by one and the same act, he had like all the
citizens of that State, born since the Declaration of Inde-
pendence, been bred and nurtured in the belief that
Slavery was an institution, politically incompatible with
a free Constitution, and religiously incompatible with the
laws of God. Led by his destiny, in the pursuit of hap-
piness, and in the fulfilment of his religious and moral
duties, to the western region of his country, the funda-
mental condition of whose political existence was the
exclusion of all Slavery and involuntary servitude, he
there fell a victim to the fury of a band of ruffians, stung
to madness, and driven to despair, for the fate of their
darling Slavery, by the terrors of a printing press.

That an American citizen, in a state whose Constitu


tion repudiates all Slavery, sliould die a martyr in defence
of the freedom of the press, is a phenomenon in the his-
tory of this Union. It forms an sera, in the progress of
mankind towards universal emancipation. Martyrdom
was said by Dr. Johnson to be the only test of sincerity
in religious belief. It is also the ordeal through which
all great improvements in the condition of men, are
doomed to pass. The incidents which preceded and ac-
companied, and followed the catastrophe of Mr. Love-
joy's death, point it out as an epocha in the annals of
human liberty. They have given a shock as of an
earthquake throughout this continent, which will be felt
in the most distant regions of the earth. They have in-
spired an interest in the public mind, which extends
already to the life and character of the sufferer, and which
it is believed will abide while ages pass away. To re-
cord and preserve for posterity the most interesting oc-
currences of his life has been considered an obligation
of duty, specially incumbent upon the surviving members
of his family, and in the effusions of his own mind, and
the characteristic features of his familiar correspondence,
the reader will find the most effective portraiture of the
first American Martyr to the freedom of the press,




When the prophet Elijah was taken up beyond the
gaze of his companions, it was but natural that the heir
of his mantle should cherish his memory, and record the
more important incidents of his life. So would we now
trace the history of our brother Elijah Parish Lovejoy,
dear indeed in life, but more beloved in death.

In the year 1790, our grandfather, Francis Lovejoy,
removed from Amherst, N. H., to the town of Albion,
Kennebec County, Maine. This region was then an
uncultivated, indeed an almost unbroken wilderness.
Only here and there, at great intervals, could the eye
catch the lonely column of smoke curling up through the
thick and rich foliage. With all this extended forest
before him, in which to choose a home, our ancestor
selected a beautiful eastern slope, terminating by the
shore of a small lake, about five miles in circumference.
Around its shores he set his traps, and over its surface
dragged his lines. For these were favourite amusements,
even at that season when desire fails. He died October
11th, 1818, aged eighty-five.

In the severe labours incident to an early settlement,
among the dense forests of Maine, our father, the late
Rev. Daniel Lovejoy, passed his early years. His mo-
ther was a truly devout woman, whose memory he ever


cherished with lively and grateful recollections. Guided
solely by her instructions, and assisted by her prayers,
at the age of seventeen, after a season of deep mental
distress, he gave himself to the covenant God of his
mother. Two years after this, relying upon his own re-
sources, and the never-failing energy of his character, he
left the cleared spot of his father's farm, in order to obtain
an education preparatory to the work of the ministry.
He became a resident in the family of the late Rev.
Elijah Parish, of Byfield, Mass. In the academy at that
place he received a respectable education, and in the
person of his benefactor, acquired a warm friend, faithful
unto death.

He commenced the work of the ministry in 1805, and
continued to labour in this, to him, delightful employment,
with zeal and general acceptance until his death, August
11th, 1833, aged fifty-eight. His character is briefly,
but correctly given in the following extract from a ser-
mon preached at his funeral by the Rev. Thomas Adams,
of Waterville, Maine.

" It will be interesting to dwell for a moment on the
character of our departed friend, though this can hardly
be necessary, speaking as I do to those who knew him
well. I regret that my memory has not more faithfully
retained the circumstances I have heard him relate, con-
cerning his early religious history. The impression of
deep interest it excited remains, though the detail has
escaped me. He was not brought into, the kingdom of
Christ, borne, as it were, on the tide of excitement, but
it was when all was dark and cold around him, when
professing Christians of any denomination were exceed-
ingly rare, when there was almost every influence, but
that of the word and the spirit of God to oppose, it was
in circumstances like these, that he came forth, and took,


it may almost be said, a solitary stand as a disciple of
Christ, and, as is generally the case, with those who, in
such circumstances, espouse the cause of Christ, he
firmly maintained his stand. To this, I cannot doubt,
you will all bear witness. Whatever imperfections you
may have discovered in his character, and there are none
without imperfections, — you never, I will venture to say,
you never suspected that he was ashamed of Christ, or that
he was unwilling, in any circumstances or in any society,
to be known as a follower of Jesus. Never was he
moved either by the sneers or frowns of an unbelieving
world. His principles he was ever ready to avow with-
out palliation or concealment. As he was ardent and
decided in his feelings, he did not always, perhaps, exert
that conciliating influence which one of a diflerent tem-
perament would have done. Peter had not all the soft-
ness and tenderness of John, but he was, nevertheless, a
disciple, and perhaps the peculiar energy of his character,
might render him the more extensively useful. As a
minister of Christ he was highly valued. The native
vigour of his mind, and the ardor of his feelings, over-
came, in a great degree, the want of that early culture,
which he ever considered important and desirable, as a
preparation for the sacred office, and threw entirely inta
the shade those minor deficiences which the more critical
hearer might, perhaps, generally discover. The character
of his ('evotional services showed that he had much inter-
course with heaven. His mind was evidently habitually
imbued with the spirit of devotion. As he was subject to an
unnatural elevation and depression of spirits, this would
of course occasion an inequality in the character of his
public performances ; but they were generally such as
those of cultivated minds, would listen to with interest
and profit, and he often rose to a high degree of excel-


lence. To his brethren in the ministry he has ever been
an interesting, as well as highly valued and profitable
associate. His labours as a minister have been much
with our feeble and destitute churches, and to them his
services have been uniformly and highly acceptable.
To the people of God throughout our land, he has ever-
been a Vv'elcome guest, and the number is great of those
to whom his memory will be precious."

Our mother, who survives the tragical death of her
son, was born at Winslovv, Maine, February 1772.
Her father, the late Ebenezer Pattee, Esq. of Unity, and
her mother, Mary Stinson, were both from Georgetown,
Maine. Their ancestors originated in Scotland. And
here we cannot forbear to give this public testimony to
the faithful instruction, and pious example of both our
beloved and honoured parents. They not only dedicated
their children to God, but with great diligence laboured
to train them up in the fear of the Lord. And if any of
them have done, or shall do any thing worthy and good,
it is but the reflection of that excellence which always
shone bright before them, in the example of their parents.


Our eldest brother, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, was born at
Albion, November 9th, 1802, just thirty-five years previ-
ous to the day of his burial. Three brothers preceded him
to the grave ; three yetlive and two sisters. In childhood
and youth he manifested the elements of character,
which were fully developed in the trials of his last
years. He was courageous, firm, and persevering.

When he had once taken a stand, he was sure to
maintain it to the utmost of his power. Less than four
years were numbered, when he began to exhibit his
ruling passion, — an ardent desire for knowledge. At
this age he read with fluency in his Bible. His letters
were all learned, by his own solicitation, from his mo-
ther. He would take his book, go to her, and ask the
name of a letter, and then retire to his seat, until he had
marked its form, and indelibly fixed it in his memory ;
and then again to his mother for the name of a new let-
ter. In the same way, he not only learned to read, but
acquired much, and varied knowledge. Throughout his
youth, the ends of the day saved from the axe, the
plough, and the scythe, were all employed in the dili-
gent use of books. When the small theological library
of his father was exhausted, he had recourse to a public
one, of a more varied character, in the vicinity. The
stores of this also by weekly visits, were very sooil
transferred to his own mind. His memory was uncom-
monly retentive. While at the sabbath school, his
teacher one day remarked to the class, that they might


increase their lessons for the next Sabbath. In the
leisure hours of the following week, he committed the
119th Psalm, and some twenty or more hymns to go
with it. Poetry he drank in like water. By reading
any piece of one or two pages twice, he could accurately
rehearse it. The writer has heard him repeat one hun-
dred and fifty Hymns from Watts at a single recitation.
In all the exercises of the district school of which he
was a member, he evinced decided superiority. One of

Online LibraryJoseph C. (Joseph Cammet) LovejoyMemoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 → online text (page 1 of 28)