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 12 of 28)
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would be a base desertion of duty. I was alone in St. Louis,
with none but God of whom to ask counsel. But thrice
blessed be his name ; he did not forsake me. I was ena-
bled, deliberately and unreservedly, to surrender myself to
him — thought of mother, of brothers and sisters, and above
all, of my dearest wife, and felt that I could give them
all up for Jesus' sake. I think I could have gone to the
stake and not a nerve have trembled, nor a lip quivered.
Under the influence of these feelings, I wrote and sent


forth my appeal. The effect was tremendous. I was
immediately waited upon by the original proprietors, and
requested to retire from the editorship of the " Obser-
ver." Even those most friendly, feared, lest in the tem-
per of the public mind, the step was too bold. It was
alike unexpected to friend and foe. For two days the
result seemed altogether doubtful. But then the tide
begun to turn. Friends began to rally and to increase.
Men who had never taken the " Observer," even some
infidels, said the stand taken must be maintained, or our
liberties were gone. The pressure, which seemed as
though it would crush me to the earth, began to lighten.
Light began to break in upon the gloomiest day I have
ever seen. I cannot think or write about it without my eyes
filling with tears, to think of the deliverance which God
wrought by so weak and unworthy an instrument as I am.
The manner of it was as follows :

In compliance with the request of the proprietors,
(they could not compel me to do it ; for I had an absolute
legal control of the ofhce and materials, for the purpose
of publishing a religious paper ; yet I felt it my duty not
to keep them contrary to their wishes,) I gave up, and
thought my work done in St. Louis. But mark the se-
quel. I had given my note in the bank for five hundred
dollars to procure money to pay the workmen. To the
endorsers of this, I had mortgaged the office to secure
them. The note had been due, and renewed, and was
about coming due again. Of course when they took the
ofhce, they had to take the note with it. The proprie-
tors met, and requested Mr. Moore, (the name on the
note,) giving him a written request to that effect, to take
possession of the office, break it up, and pay himself and
the other endorsers, and they would be satisfied. He at
once utterly refused to sell it at auction, whereupon they


authorized him to take it and pay himself the five hun-
dred dollars any way he chose. Upon this he took his
departure, came to the office, and took possession of it ;
and immediately turned round to me, and offered it to me
again, saying, that rather than the " Observer" should
stop, he would pay the note himself. Nothing could
have been more unexpected to me. It was as life from
the dead, as light out of thickest darkness.

He, however, required that I should remove the paper
to Alton, in the other state — thinking, that such was the
excitement against me, that I could not possibly stay. I
started the next day for Alton, — found the brethren there
ready to receive me with open arms. But while I was
making my arrangements, a letter arrived from St. Louis,
from Mr. Moore and others, adjuring me by all means to
come back.

Thus far the letter. He did accordingly return, and
went on publishing the " Observer." In closing the ac-
count of this important period in his history, it will be
proper to insert a letter addressed to one of the proprie-
tors, at the time of the excitement and difficulties in No-


St. Louis, November 27th, 1835.
Dear Brother,

In taking a course to v>'hich I was impelled by
a sense of duty, I was fully aware that I was making
myself liable to suffer the pains and penalties of much
misrepresentation and abuse. And I had fully made up
my mind to make no reply, whatever, to all that might
be said of this nature, so long as it did not affect my
character for veracity as a man and a Christian minister.


But an article in the last " Missouri Argus," signed
" A Presbyterian," does both. I therefore take the
liberty of enclosing it to you, and of respectfully asking
your reply to the following questions :

1. When I became the Editor of the " St Louis Ob-
server," did not the original proprietors, (youself being
one,) execute to me a legal instrument, whereby I be-
came possessed of the whole, as completely, as though I
had bought the materials with my own money, with the
single proviso that I was not to alienate them from the
business of publishing a religious newspaper, (but for
this purpose I had the power of mortgaging them,) as
also that when the nett profits of the office should amount
to five hundred dollars, per annum, then I was to pay the
surplus, (if any,) to the original purchasers, until they
had received the original purchase money back, when
the office was to be wholly mine ?

2. Was there in this original agreement any right
whatever reserved to the original proprietors, (one of
whom drew up the article,) of controlling the editorial
course of the " Observer ?" And on the contrary, is
there not, in the article an express disclaimer, on the
part of the original proprietors, of all responsibilities or
liabilities, as connected with the " Observer Office ?"

3. Did not an article appear in the " Observer," in the
absence of the Editor, signed " The Proprietors," ex-
pressly saying that nothing more on the subject of
Slavery should appear in the columns of the " Observer ?"

4. After the publication of my appeal to my fellow-
citizens, when called upon by yourself and brother Hez-
ekiah King, in behalf of the original proprietors, and re-
quested, (it gives me pleasure to say in the kindest man-
ner,) to retire from the Editorial duties of the " Observer,"
did I not unhesitatingly reply, that, though I certainly

REV. E. P. LOVE JOY. 167

could with legal, and perhaps moral justice, hold the
" Observer Office," yet I would not do it, a single day,^
against the wishes of the original proprietors ; and did I
not promptly surrender into your hands, (where it now
is,) the legal instrument by which I held the Office ?

5. When a proposition was made to me by yourself
and brother King, that the materials of the " Observ^er
Office" should be sold me, for a certain sum, provided I
would obligate myself not to publish a paper in St. Louis
county, did I not unhesitatingly, and at once, reject the
proposition, saying I certainly would bind myself by no
such pledge ?

In fine, will you please to state, if in any of the trans-
actions between yourself and brother King, as a com-
mittee of the original proprietors, and myself, I said or
did any thing that you considered reprehensible ? As
to any transactions between the two gentlemen, mortga-
gees of the Office, I of course, know nothing. I am
sure, however, they will state that I never authorized
them to make any stipulations with the original proprie-
tors, founded on any promise of mine, that I would re-
move the " Observer" from St. Louis.
Your Christian brother,


On the back of this letter is found the following en-

The within letter was addressed to Mr. G. that to-
gether with his answer, it might be published. He re-
fused to answer it, though by so doing, he might have
freed me from every unkind imputation under which I
was then labouring. In the end, however, all proved
for the best, and I received from a covenant God, that


protection which I vainly sought from some of my breth-

I have forgiven brother G. from my heart, and I doubt
not he has, ere this, sincerely repented of his whole
course on that eventful occasion.


February 13^/i, 1836.

In July, 1836, as the prospect was, that the paper
would be better supported at Alton he determined to re-
move it there. The same paper that announced this de-
termination, contained also his remarks upon the famous
charge of Judge Lawless to the Grand Jury.

The crime of which the Judge speaks in his charge,
was thus recorded and noticed in the " Observer."


St. Louis, May 5th, 1835.

The transactions we are about to relate, took place on
Thursday, a week ago, and even yet we have not re-
covered from the shock they gave us. Our hand trembles
as we record the story. The following are the particu-
lars, as nearly as we have been able to ascertain them
from the city papers, and from the relation of those, who
were eye and ear witnesses of the termination of the
awful scene.

On the afternoon of Thursday, the 28th ult., an affray be-
tween two sailors or boatmen took place on the steamboat
landing. Mr. George Hammond, Deputy Sheriff, and
Mr. William Mull, Deputy Constable, in the discharge
of their official duty, attempted to arrest the boatmen, for
a breach of the peace. In so doing they were set upon


by a mulatto fellow, by the name of Francis J. M'Intosh,
who had just arrived in the city, as cook, on board the
steamboat Flora, from Pittsburgh. In consequence the
boatmen escaped, and M'Intosh was arrested for his in-
terference with the officers. He was carried before
Patrick Walsh, Esq., a Justice of the Peace, for this
county, and by him committed to jail, and delivered to
the same officers to be taken thither. On his way he
inquired what his punishment would be, and being told
that it would not be less than five years' imprisonment in
the State Prison, he immediately broke loose from the
officers, drew a long knife and made a desperate blow at
Mr. Mull, but fortunately missed him. Unfortunately,
however, a second blow, aimed with the same savage
violence, had belter success, and struck Mr. Mull in the
right side, and wounded him severely. He was then
seized, by the shoulder, by Mr. Hammond, whereat he
turned and stabbed him in the neck. The knife struck
the lower part of the chin and passed deeply into the
neck, cutting the jugular vein and the larger arteries.
Mr. H. turned from his murderer, walked about sixty
steps, fell and expired ! Mr. M. although dangerously
wounded, was able to pursue the murderer who had fled,
until his cries alarmed the people in the vicinity. They
turned out, and without much difficulty secured the blood-
thirsty wretch and lodged him in jail.

The bloody deeds of which M'Intosh had been guilty
soon became known through the city ; and crowds col-
lected at the spot, where the body of Mr. Hammond lay
weltering in its blood. The excitement was intense,
and soon might be heard above the tumult, the voices of a
few, exhorting the multitude to take summary vengeance.
The plan and process of proceeding were soon resolved
on. A mob was immediately organized and went for-


ward to the jail in search of their victim. The Sheriff,
Mr. Brotherton, made some attempts to oppose their
illegal violence. Apprehensive for the fate of his family,
who occupied a portion of the jail building, he then re-
tired taking them along with him to a place of safety.
Another of our fellow-citizens courageously attempted to
reason with the angry mob, and to stay them from their
fearful proceedings. When, however, ' he saw that he
could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made,'
being himself threatened with violence, he was compel-
led to retire from the place and leave the enraged multi-
tude to do their work. All was done with the utmost
deliberation and system, and an awful stillness pervaded
the scene, broken only by the sound of the implements
employed in demolishing the prison doors. Those who
have read Scott's description of the Porteus' mob,, as
given in the Heart of Mid Lothian, will have an accurate
idea of the manner of proceeding at the jail, on Thursday
night. All was still ; men spoke to each other in whis-
pers, but it was a whisper which made the blood curdle
to hear it, and indicated the awful energy of purpose, with
which they were bent upon sacrificing the life of their
intended victim. Armed persons were stationed as guards
to protect those engaged in breaking down the doors.

At length between eight and nine o'clock at night, the
cell of the wretch was reached. Loud shouts of exe-
cration and triumph rent the air, as he was dragged forth,
and hurried away to the scene of the burnt-sacrifice !
Some seized him by the hair, some by the arms and legs,
and in this way he was carried to a large locust tree, in
the rear of the town, not far from the jail. He was then
chained to the tree with his back against its trunk, and
facing to the south. The wood, consisting of rails, plank,
&c., was then piled up before him, about as high as his


knees, shavings and a brand were brought, and the fire
kindled !

Up to this time, as we have been informed, M'Intosh
uttered not a word ; but when the fire had seized upon
its victim, he begged that some one in the crowd would
shoot him. He then commenced singing a hymn and
trying to pray. Afterwards he hung his head and suffer-
ed in silence, until roused by some one saying, that he
must be already out of his misery. Upon this, though
-wrapped in flames, and though the fire had obliterated
the features of humanity, he raised his head, and spoke
out distinctly, saying, ' No, no ; I feel as much as any
of you, I hear you all ; shoot me, shoot me.' He was
burning about twenty minutes, before life became ex-

But the tale of depravity and wo is not yet all told.
After the crowd had somewhat dispersed, a rabble of boys
who had attended to witness the horrid rites, commenced
amusing themselves by throwing stones at the black and
disfigured corpse, as it stood chained to the tree. The
object was to see who should first succeed in breaking
the skull !

Such, according to the best information we have been
able to obtain, is a faithful description of the scene, that
has been transacted in our midst. It has given us pain
to record it ; but in doing so, we feel, deeply feel, that
we are fulfilling a solemn duty, which as one of its mem-
bers we owe to this community, and as an American
citizen to our country at large. Let no one suppose that
we would lightly say a word, in derogation of the charac-
ter of the city in which we live : on the contrary we
have, as is natural, a strong desire to sustain and vindi-
cate its reputation. But when constitutional law and or-
der are at stake, when the question lies between justice


regularly administered or the wild vengeance of a mob,
then there is but one side on which the patriot and the
Christian can rally ; but one course for them to pursue.

We have drawn the above gloomy and hideous picture,
not for the purpose of holding it up as a fair representa-
tion of the moral condition of St. Louis — for we loudly
protest against any such conclusion, and we call upon
our fellow-citizens to join us in such protest — but that the
immediate actors in the horrid tragedy, may see the work
of their hands, and shrink in horror from a repetition of
it, and in humble penitence seek forgiveness of that
community, whose laws they have so outraged, and of
that God whose image they have, without his permis-
sion, wickedly defaced ; and that we may all see, (and
be warned in time,) the legitimate result of the spirit of
mohism^ and Avhither, unless arrested in its first out-
breakings, it is sure to carr)^ us. In Charlestown it burns
a Convent over the head of defenceless women ; in
Baltimore it desecrates the Sabbath, and works all that
day in demolishing a private citizen's house ; in Vicks-
burg it hangs up gamblers, three or four in a row ; and
in St. Louis it forces a man — a hardened wretch cer-
tainly, and one that deserved to die, but not thus to die —
it forces him from beneath the segis of our constitution
and laws, hurries him to the stake and burns him alive !

It is not yet five years since the first mob, within the
memory of man, (for the French settlers of this city were
a peaceable people, and their descendants continue so.)
w^as organized in St. Louis. They commenced opera-
tions, by tearing down the brothels of the city ; and the
good citizens of the place, not aware of the danger, and
in consideration of the good done, aside from the manner
of doing it, rather sanctioned the proceeding, at least
they did not condemn it. The next thing was to burn


our Governor in effigy, because in the discharge of one
of the most solemn functions belonging to his official
character, he had not acted in accordance with the pub-
lic sentiment, of a part, of this community. The next
achievement was to tear down a gambling-house ; and
this was done last winter. The next and last we need
not again repeat.

And now we make our appeal to the citizens of this
community, and wherever else our voice can be heard,
and ask, and ask with the most heart-felt anxiety, is it
not time to stop ? We know that in a case like the pre-
sent, it is difficult to withdraw our thoughts and feelings
from the great provocation to violence, to be found in the
murderous atrocity of the wretch who has so fearfully
atoned for his crime. But we do say, and insist, that
these considerations must not be permitted to enter at all,
into our reasoning and practice on this point. We must
stand by the constitution and laws, or all is gone !

For ourselves, we do not hesitate to say, that we
have awful forebodings on this subject. Not of St. Louis
in particular, for the experience of the past year has
shown, that we are * not sinners above other' cities — but
for our whole country. We have, as a nation, violated
God's Holy Sabbath, profaned his Holy Name, and
given ourseh^es up to covetousness, licentiousness, and
every evil work ; and He in return seems evidently to be
withdrawing the influences of His Spirit from the land,
and leaving us to be ' filled with our own devices.' And
the consequences are plainly to be seen. Men and com-
munities, hitherto peaceable and orderly, are breaking
over all restraints of law and shame, and deeds are done
amongst us which show that man is yet a fiend at heart.

We visited the scene of the burning, on the day fol-
lowing, about noon. We stood and gazed for a moment


or two, upon the blackened and mutilated trunk — for that
was all which remained — of M'Intosh before us, and as
we turned away, in bitterness of heart, we prayed that
we might not live. The prayer, and perhaps the feeling
which dictated it, might be wrong, yet still, after a week's
reflection, our heart will still repeat it. For so fearful
are our anticipations of the calamities that are to come
upon this nation, (and which unless averted by a speedy
and thorough repentance, we have no more doubt will
fall upon us, than we have that a God of Holiness and
Justice is our Supreme Governor,) that were our work
done, and were it His will, we would gladly be ' taken
away from the evil to come.' Meantime, let every Chris-
tian, and especially every Minister of the sanctuary, flee
to a Throne of Grace, and standing between the porch
and the altar, weeping, pray — ' Spare thy people. Oh
Lord, and give not thy heritage to reproach.' "

In the No. dated July 21st, 1836, is found the fol-
lowing article.


" The horrid transaction which called forth the doc-
ument to which we now refer, is fresh in the minds of
all our readers. A fellow-creature was torn from prison,
by an infuriated mob, and burned alive in the city of St.
Louis. This deed it became the duty of Judge Lawless
to bring before the constituted authorities of the land, and
he has done it in the charge to the Grand Jury, now lying
before us. In this charge the ground is openly taken
that a crime, which if committed, by one or two, would
be punishable with death, may be perpetrated by the
multitude with impunity ! ! ! Says the Judge :


' If, on the other hand, the destruction of the murderer
of Hammond was the act, as I have said, of the many —
of the multitude, in the ordinary sense of these words —
not the act of numerable and ascertainable malefactors ;
but of congregated thousands, seized upon and impelled
by that mysterious, metaphysical, and almost electric
frenzy, which, in all ages and nations, has hurried on
the infuriated multitude to deeds of death and destruc-
tion — then, I say, act not at all in the matter ; the case
then transcends your jurisdiction — it is beyond the reach
of human law !!!!!!!!!!!! '

1. In this charge of Judge Lawless we see exemplified
and illustrated the truth of the doctrine we have, for
j'-ears, been endeavouring to impress on the minds of our
countrymen, viz. that foreigners educated in the old
world, never can come to have a proper understanding
of American constitutional law. Judge Lawless is a
foreigner — a naturalized one it is true, but still to all in-
tents and purposes a foreigner — he was educated and
received his notions of government amidst the turbulent
agitations of Ireland, and at a period too, when anarchy
and illegal violence prevailed to a degree unprecedented
even in the annals of that wretched, and most unhappy
land. Amidst the lawless and violent proceedings of
those times Mr. Lawless grew up. He is next found in
arms, in the service of France, fighting against the coun-
try to whom his allegiance was due. His third appear-
ance in a public capacity, is as Judge in one of the re-
publican states of America, where he delivers such a
charge to our Grand Jury, as the one now under our

We disclaim all wish or intention to wound the feel-
ings, or injure the personal reputation of Judge Lawless ;
but we do wish to disarm the inonstrous doctrines he has


promulgated from the bench, of their power either as a
present rule, or a future precedent : and we apprehend
that when the school in which the Judge was educated,
is known and candidly considered, his notions of practi-
cal justice, at once so novel to Americans, so absurd and
so wicked, will have little influence with our sound
hearted, home educated republicans.

2. Judge Lawless is a Papist ; and in his Charge we
see the cloven foot of Jesuitism, peeping out from under
the veil of almost every paragraph in the Charge. What
is Jesuitism but another name for the doctrine that princi-
ples ought to change according to circumstances ? And
this is the very identical doctrine of the Charge. A hor-
rid crime must not be • punished because, forsooth, it
would be difficult perhaps to do it. The principles of
Justice and of constitutional law, must yield to a doubtful
question of present expediency. Doubtless the Judge is
not aware whence he derived these notions ; and yet it
cannot be doubted that they came originally from St.
Omers, where so many Irish priests are educated. So
true is it, that Popery in its very essential principles is
incompatible with regulated, civil or religious liberty.
Our v/arning voice on this subject is lifted up in vain ;
but some of those who now hear it, will live to mourn
over their present incredulity and indifference.

3. In his answer to the remarks of the New York
American, Judge Lawless intimates that the safety of this
office is owing to the course he took in this matter. We
do not believe him ; but if he says true, then what a dis-
graceful truth to St. Louis ! What had the ' Observer'
done ? It had told the story of the horrid tragedy
enacted here in plain, unvarnished terms, just as the af-
fair occurred. No one pretends that our version of the
affair was incorrect, and we added nothing more than in


the spirit of earnest and solemn warning, to entreat our
fellow-citizens to stay such proceedings, or their all was
lost. And for this the Judge says, but for his interposi-
tion, our office would have been destroyed. That is, a
mob in St. Louis burns a man up, and then citizens tear
down the office of the press, that dares to reprobate such
an act. This assertion of the Judge is a gross libel upon
the city, as we verily believe. We have never heard
of any threats to pull down our office, which did not origi-
nate with his countrymen — mark that.

But even supposing it true, and that our office was en-
dangered by M^hat we wrote concerning the MTntosh
tragedy, we desire no such volunteers as Judge Lawless,
with such principles, to come to our rescue. We reject
all such. We desire not to be saved at such an expense.

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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 12 of 28)