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 10 of 28)
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St. Louis, October 22d, 1835.
IJ3^ " The Editor being still absent, we again issue
our paper without much editorial matter. We hope it
will not be the case another week."


" The Proprietors of the St. Louis ' Observer' having
heretofore expressed their determination that nothing
should be advanced in the columns of that paper, calcu-
lated to keep up the excitement on the Slavery question ;
and being one and all opposed to the mad schemes of the
Abolitionists, have heard with astonishment and regret,
that certain evil disposed persons have threatened vio-
lence to the ' Observer Office.' We call upon all prudent
men to pause and reflect upon the probable consequences
of such a step — there is nothing to justify it. x\nd it is
asking too much of any set of men to stand patiently by
and see their property destroyed.

We believe this to be a momentary excitement, arising
out of the apprehension of the white men who stole
Major Dougherty's negroes, and who having been dealt
with according to the new code by several of our most
respectable citizens, and that they will see that no evil
arises out of that excitement.

i The Proprietors of the
< St. Louis Observer."

October 2lst, 1835.

Whether the last sentence of the above paper, does
not give full sanction to the " new code," which means
nothing less than mob law, the reader will judge. The
acts done by this " new code" " of most respectable citi-
zens," were, " two men had been taken up on suspicion of


having decoyed away some negroes, had been brought
by illegal violence from Illinois ; taken about two miles
back of the city, and there whipped between one and two
two hundred lashes, by about sixty of our most wealthy
and influential citizens. They whipped by taking turns,
so many lashes a piece. Before whipping, it was put to
the vote, whether they should whip or hang them, and
about twenty out of the sixty were given for hanging,
and among them were some members of the Church."

St. Louis, October 5th, 1835.
To THE Rev. E. P. Lovejoy, Editor of the Observer.
Sir : The undersigned, friends and supporters
of the " Observer," beg leave to suggest, that the present
temper of the times require a change in the manner of
conducting that print in relation to the subject of domes-
tic Slavery.

The public mind is greatly excited, and owing to the
unjustifiable interference of our northern brethren with
our social relations, the community are, perhaps, not in
a situation to endure sound doctrine in relation to this
subject. Indeed, we have reason to believe, that violence
is even now meditated against the "Observer Office," and
we do believe that true policy and the interests of reli-
gion, require that the discussion of this exciting question
should be at least postponed in this state.

Although we do not claim the right to prescribe your
course as an Editor, we hope that the concurring opinions
of so many persons, having the interests of your paper,
and of religion both at heart, may induce you to distrust
your own judgment, and so far change the character of
the "Observer," as to pass over in silence every thing con-
nected with the subject of Slavery ; we would like that
you announce in your paper, your intention so to do-


We shall be glad to be informed of your determination
in relation to this matter.

Respectfully, your obedient servants,


I concur in the object intended by this communication.

I concur in the foregoing.


The manner in which this communication was disposed
of, will appear in his address to the public. That some
parts of that appeal may be understood, it will be proper
to insert two or three resolutions passed at a meeting of
the citizens of St. Louis. The first deprecates the inter-
ference of foreign emissaries on the subject of Slavery.

2. Resolved, That the right of free discussion and
freedom of speech exists under the constitution, but that
being a conventional reservation made by the people in,
their sovereign capacity, does not imply a moral right,
on the part of the Abolitionists, to freely discuss the

* We find this document endorsed as follows ;

"I did not yield to the wishes here expressed, and in consequence
have been persecuted ever since. But I have kept a good conscience in
the matter, and that more than repays me for all I have suffered, or can
suffer. I have sworn eternal opposition to Slavery, and, by the blessing
of God, I will never go back. Amen,"

October 24lh, 1837. E. P. L.


question of Slavery, either orally or through the medium
of the press, It is the agitation of a question too nearly
allied to the vital interests of the slave-holding states to
admit of public disputation ; and so far from the fact, that
the movements of the Abolitionists are constitutional,
they are in the greatest degree seditious, and calculated
to incite insurrection and anarchy, and, ultimately, a
disseverment of our prosperous Union.

3. Resolved, That we consider the course pursued by
the Abolitionists, as one calculated to paralize every so-
cial tie by which we are now united to our fellow man,
and that, if persisted in, it must eventually be the cause
of the disseverment of these United States ; and that the
doctrine of amalgamation is peculiarly baneful to the in-
terests and happiness of society. The union of black
and white, in a moral point of view, we consider as the
most preposterous and impudent doctrine advanced by
the infatuated Abolitionists — as repugnant to judgment
and science, as it is degrading to the feelings of all sen-
sitive minds — as destructive to the intellect of after gene-
rations, as the advance of science and literature has con-
tributed to the improvement of our own. In short, its
practice would reduce the high intellectual standard of
the American mind to a level with the Hottentot, and the
United States, now second to no nation on earth, would
in a few years, be what Europe was in the darkest ages.
4. Resolved, That the sacred writings furnish abun-
dant evidence of the existence of Slavery from the earliest
periods. The Patriarchs and Prophets possessed slaves
— our Saviour recognised the relation between master
and slave, and deprecated it not : hence, we know that
he did not condemn that relation ; on the contrary, his
disciples, in all countries, designated their respective du-
ties to each other ;


Therefore, Resolved, That we consider Slavery as it
now exists in the United States, as sanctioned by the
sacred Scriptures.''

In the same number of his paper which contained
these resolutions, and also the doings of another meeting,
appointing committees of vigilance to look up all persons
suspected of Abolitionism, appeared the following appeal.


November 5th, 1835.
" Recent well-known occurrences in this city, and
elsewhere have, in the opinion of some of my friends, as
well as my own, made it my duty to address myself to
you personally. And, in so doing, I hope to be pardoned
for that apparent egotism which, in such an address, is
more or less unavoidable. I hope also to write in that
spirit of meekness and humility that becomes a follower
of the Lamb, and, at the same time, with all that bold-
ness and sincerity of speech, which should mark the lan-
guage of a freeman and a Christian minister. It is not
my design or wish to offend any one, but simply to
maintain my rights as a republican citizen, free-born, of
these United States, and to defend, fearlessly, the cause


[Here followed a statement in relation to the *' Eman-
cipators" and " Human Rights," sent to JefTerson City,
also his sentiments on the subject of Slavery. These
have been sufficiently indicated.]

" Let this statement, fellow-citizens, show you the im-
propriety and the danger of putting the administration of
justice into the hands of a mob. I am assured that had


I been in the city, at the time when the charge here re-
ferred to, was first circulated, I should surely have suf-
fered the penalty of the whipping-post or the tar-barrel,
if not both! I understand that a Christian brother was
one of those who brought the report here from Jetferson
City, and was among the most active in circulating it,
and declaring his belief in my criminality. If this meets
his eye, he is assured that I forgive him with all my

And now, fellow-citizens, having made the above ex-
planation, for the purpose of undeceiving such of you as
have honestly supposed me in error ; truth and candor
require me to add that had I desired to send a copy of
the ' Emancipator' or of any other newspaper to .Tefferson
City, I should not have taken the pains to box it up. I
am not aware that any law of my country forbids my
sending what document I please to a friend or citizen. I
know, indeed, that mob law has decided otherwise, and
that it has become fashionable in certain parts of this
country, to break open the Post Office, and take from it
such documents as the mob should decide, ought not to
pass unhurned. But I had never imagined there was a
sufficiency of respectability attached to the proceeding,
to recommend it for adoption to the good citizens of my
own state. And grievously and sadly shall I be disap-
pointed to find it otherwise.

In fine, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I have
never, knowingly, to the best of my recollection, sent a
single copy of the ' Emancipator' or any other Abolition
publication to a single individual in Missouri, or else-
where ; while yet I claim the right to send ten thousand
of them if I choose, to as many of my fellow-citizens.
Whether I will exercise that right or not, is for me, and
not for the moh, to decide. The right to send publica-


cations of any sort to slaves, or in any way to communi-
cate with them, without the express permission of their
masters, I freely acknowledge that I have not. Nor do
I wish to have it. It is with the master alone, that I
would have to do, as one freeman with another ; and who
shall say me nay ?

I come now to the proceedings had at the late meet-
ings of our citizens. And in discussing them I hope not
to say a single word that shall wound the feelings of a
single individual concerned. It is with principles I have
to do, and not with men. And in canvassing them, freely,
openly, I do but exercise a right secured by the solemn
sanction of the Constitution, to the humblest citizen of
this republic — a right that, so long as life lasts, I do not
expect to relinquish.

I freely acknowledge the respectability of the citizens
who composed the meetings referred to. And were the
questions under consideration, to be decided as mere mat-
ters of opinion, it would become me, however much I
might differ from them, to bow in humble silence to the
decisions of such a body of my fellow-citizens. But I
cannot surrender my principles, though the whole world
besides should vote them down — I can make no compro-
mise between truth and error, even though my life be the

Of the first resolution passed at the meeting of the
24th Oct., I have nothing to say, except that I perfectly
agree with the sentiment, that the citizens of the non-
slaveholding states have no right to interfere with the
domestic relations between master and slave. i-

The second resolution, strictly speaking, neither af-
firms nor denies any thing in reference to the matter in
hand. No man has a moral right to do any thing im-
proper. Whether, therefore, he has the moral right to


discuss the question of Slavery, is a point with which
human legislation or resolutions have nothing to do.
The true issue to be decided is, whether he has the civil,
the political right, to discuss it, or not. And this is a
mere question of fact. In Russia, in Turkey, in Austria,
nay, even in France, this right most certainly does not
exist. But does it exist in Missouri 1 We decide this
question by turning to the Constitution of the State.
The sixteenth section, article thirteenth, of the Constitu-
tion of Missouri, reads as follows :

' That the free communication of thoughts and opinions
is one of the invaluable rights of man, and that every
person may freely speak, write, and print on any sub-
ject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.'

Here, then, I find my warrant for using, as Paul did,
all freedom of speech. If I abuse that right I freely
acknowledge myself amenable to the laws. But it is
said that the right to hold slaves is a constitutional one,
and therefore not to be called in question. I admit the
premise, but deny the conclusion. To put a strong case
by way of illustration. The Constitution declares that
this shall be a perpetual republic, but has not any citizen
the right to discuss, under that Constitution, the compa-
rative merits of despotism and liberty ? And if he has
eloquence and force of argument sufficient, may he not
persuade us all to crown him our king ? Robert Dale
Owen came to this city, and Fanny Wright followed him,
openly proclaiming the doctrine that the institution of
marriage was a curse to any community, and ought to
be abolished. It was, undoubtedly, an abominable doc-
trine, and one which, if acted out, would speedily reduce
society to the level of barbarism and the brutes ; yet who
thought of denying Mr. Owen and his disciple, the per-


feet right of avowing such doctrines, or who thought of
mobbing them for the exercise of this right ? And yet,
most surely, the institutions of Slavery are not more in-
terwoven with the structure of our society, than those of

See the danger, and the natural and inevitable result
to which the first step here will lead. To-day a public
meeting declares that you shall not discuss the subject of
Slavery, in any of its bearings, civil or religious. Right
or wrong, the press must be silent. To-morrow, another
meeting decides that it is against the peace of society,
that the principles of Popery shall be discussed, and the
edict goes forth to muzzle the press. The next day, it
is in a similar manner, declared that not a word must be
said against distilleries, dram shops, or drunkenness.
And so on to the end of the chapter. The truth is, my
fellow-citizens, if you give ground a single inch, there is
no stopping place. I deem it, therefore, my duty to take
my stand upon the Constitution. Here is firm ground —
I feel it to be such. And I do most respectfully, yet de-
cidedly, declare to you my fixed determination to main-
tain this ground. We have slaves, it is true, but I am
not one. I am a citizen of these United States, a citizen
of Missouri, free-born ; and having never forfeited the
inestimable privileges attached to such a condition, I can-
not consent to surrender them. But while I maintain
them, I hope to do it with all that meekness and humility
that become a Christian, and especially a Christian min-
ister. I am ready, not to fight, but to suffer, and if need
be, to die for them. Kindred blood to that which flows
in my veins, flowed freely to water the tree of Christian
liberty, planted by the Puritans on the rugged soil of New
England. It flowed as freely on the plains of Lexing-
ton, the heights of Bunker Hill, and fields of Saratoga.

- REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 145

And freely, too, shall mine flow, yea, as freely as if it
were so much water, ere I surrender my right to plead
the cause of truth and righteousness, before my fellow-
citizens, and in the face of all their opposers.

Of the 3d resolution I must be allowed to say, that I
have never seen the least evidence, whatever, that the
Abolitionists, with all their errors, have ever desired to
effect an amalgamation of the two races, black and white.
I respectfully ask of the individuals composing the meet-
ing that adopted this resolution, if they have ever seen
any such evidence ? They have formally, solemnly and
officially denied it. It is certainly an abhorrent thing
even in theory, and a thousand times more so in practice.
And yet, unless my^eyes deceive me as 1 walk the streets
of our city, there are some among us who venture to
put it into practice. And in the appointment of the nu-
merous committees of vigilance, superintendence, &c.,
methinks that not one of them all was more needed than a
Committee whose business it should be to ferret out from
their secret ' chambers of iniquity,' these practical amal-
gamatio?iists. If He who said to the woman taken in
adultery, ' Go and sin no more,' had stood in the midst
of the meeting at our Court House, I will not say that
he would there have detected a single amalgamator ; but
I am sure that if a poor Abolitionist were to be stoned
in St. Louis for holding this preposterous notion, and the
same rule were to be applied that our Saviour used in
the case referred to, there are at least some amongst us
who could not cast a pebble at the sinner's head.

What shall I, what can I, say of the 4th resolution ?
It was adopted, in a large assemblage of my fellow-citi-
zens, with but a few dissenting voices. Many of our
most respectable citizens voted for it — Presbyterians,
Methodists, -Baptists, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics;


those who believe the Bible is the Word of God and
those who do not, all united in voting for the resolution
that the Bible sanctions Slavery as it now exists in the
United States. If the sentiment had been that the Bible
sanctions the continuance of the system until proper
measures can be taken to remove it, I too could adopt it.
If I hav^e taken my neighbour's property and spent it,
and afterwards repent of ray sin, and wish to restore
what I had unjustly taken, but have not the means, the
Bible no longer holds me as a thief, but sanctions my
withholding the money from my neighbour, until I can,
by the use of the best means in my power, obtain it and
restore it. And although, meanwhile, my neighbour in
consequence of my original crime, may be deprived of
his rights, and his family made to suffer all the evils of
poverty and shame, the Bible would still enjoin it upon
him to let me alone, nay, to forgive me, and even to be
content in the abject condition to which I had reduced
him. Even so the Bible now says to our slaves, as it
said in the days of the Apostles, ' Servants, (or slaves)
obey in all things your masters according to the flesh ;
not with eye-service, as men-pleasers ; but in singleness
of heart, fearing God.' But then it also adds, ' Masters,
give unto your servants that which is just and equal.'
"What is meant by ' just and equal' we may learn from
the Saviour himself — ' All things whatsoever ye would
that men should do to you, do ye even so to them : for
this is the law and the prophets.' Thus far the Bible.
And it will be seen, that in no case does it sanction, but
the rather, absolutely forbids, all insurrectionary, all se-
ditious, all rebellious acts on the part of the slaves. But
be it remembered, that, with equal decision and authori-
ty, it says to the master, ' Undo the heavy burden, and
let the oppressed go free.' If either disobey these in-


junctions, then it bids us leave the whole matter with
that God who declares ' Vengeance is mine, I will re-
pay, saith the Lord.'

But I am not at liberty so to understand the resolution.
From the preamble, and from conversation with several
who voted for it, I am compelled to understand the meet-
inor as voting that the Bible — the blessed Saviour, and
his holy Apostles — sanctions the principle of Slavery —
the system itself, as such, as it now exists amongst us.
Fellow-citizens ! I mean not to be disrespectful to you,
but I declare before you all, I have not words to express
my utter abhorrence of such a sentiment. My soul de-
tests it, my heart sickens over it ; my judgment, my un-
derstanding, my conscience, reject it, with loathing and
horror. What is the system of Slavery ' as it now ex-
ists in the United States V It is a system of buying and
selling immortal beings for the sake of gain ; a system
which forbids to man and woman the rights of husband
and wife, sanctioning the dissolution of this tie at the
mere caprice of another ; a system which tolerates the
existence of a class of men whose professed business it
is to go about from house to house, tearing husband and
wife, parent and child asunder, chaining their victims to-
gether, and then driving them with a whip, like so many
mules, to a distant market, there to be disposed of to the
highest bidder. And then the nameless pollutions, the
unspeakable abominations, that attend this unfortunate
class in their cabins. But I spare the details. And this
is the system sanctioned by the Prince of Mercy and
Love, by the God of Holiness and Purity ! Oh God ! —
In the language of one of the Patriarchs to whom the
meeting in their resolution refer, I say, ' Oh my soul,
come not thou into their secret, unto their assembly mine
honour be not thou united !'


The fifth resolution appoints a Committee of Vigilance
consisting of seven for each ward, twenty for the sub-
urbs, and seven for each township in the county— in all
EIGHTY THREE persons — wliose duty it shall be to report
to the Mayor or the other civil authorities, all persons
suspected of preaching abolition doctrines, &.c.,and should
the civil authorities fail to deal with them, on suspicion^
why then the Committee are to call a meeting of the citi-
zens and execute their decrees— in other words, to lynch
the suspected persons.

Fellow-citizens ; where are we and in what age of the
world do we live ? Is this the land of Freedom or Des-
potism ? Is it the ninth or nineteenth century ? Have the
principles of the Lettres de Cachet, driven from Europe,
crossed the Atlantic and taken up their abode in Mis-
souri 1 Lewis the XIV. sent men to the Bastile on sus-
picion ; we, more humane, do but whip them to death,
or nearly so. But these things cannot last long. A few
may be made the innocent victims of lawless violence,
yet be assured there is a moral sense in the Christendom
of the nineteenth century, that will not long endure such
odious transactions. A tremendous re-action will take
place. And remember, I pray you, that as Phalaris was
the first man roasted in the brazen bull he had construct-
ed for the tyrant of Sicily, so the inventor of the guillo-
tin was by no means the last, whose neck had practical
experience of the keenness of its edge.

I turn, for a moment, to my fellow-Christians, of all
Protestant denominations.

Respected and beloved fathers and brethren. As I
address myself to you, my heart is full, well-nigh to
bursting, and my eyes overflow. It is indeed a time of
trial and rebuke. The enemies of the cross are nume-
rous and bold, and malianant. in the extreme. From the


situation in which the Providence of God has placed me,
a large portion of their hatred, in this quarter, has con-
centrated itself on me. You know that, now for nearly
two years, a constant stream of calumnies and personal
abuse of the most viperous kind, has been poured upon
me, simply because I have been your organ through
which — I refer now more especially to my Presbyterian
brethren — you have declared your sentiments. You
know, also, that I have never, in a single instance, re-
plied to, or otherwise noticed these attacks. And now
not only is a fresh attack, of ten-fold virulence, made
upon my character, but violence is threatened to my per-
son. Think not that it is because I am an Abolitionist
that I am so persecuted. They who first started this
report knew and still know better. In the progress of
events Slavery has doubtless contributed its share, though
a very small one, to the bitterness of hatred with which
the ' Observer,' and I as connected with it, are regarded.
But the true cause is the open and decided stand which
the paper has taken against the encroachments of Popery.
This is not only my own opinion, but that of others, and
indeed of nearly or quite all with whom I have conversed
on the subject, and among the rest, as I learn, of a
French Catholic.

I repeat it, then, the real origin of the cry, ' Down
with the Observer,' is to be looked for in its opposition

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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 10 of 28)