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 13 of 28)
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To establish our institutions of civil and religious liberty,
to obtain freedom of opinion and of the press, guaranteed
by constitutional law, cost thousands, yea, tens of thou-
sands of valuable lives. And let them not be parted
with, at least, for less than cost. We covet not the loss
of property nor the honours of martyrdom ; but better,
far better, that the office of the ' Observer' should be
scattered in fragments to the four winds of heaven ; yea,
better that editor, printer, and publishers, should be
chained to the same tree as M'Intosh, and share his fate,
than that the doctrines promulgated by Judge Lawless
from the bench, vshould become prevalent in this commu-
nity. For they are subversive of all law, and at once
open the door for the perpetration, by a congregated mob,
calling themselves the people, of every species of vio-
lence, and that too with perfect impunity. Society is
resolved into its first elements, and every man must hold
his property and his life, at the point of the dagger.

Having travelled somewhat extensively of late, we haA''e


had opportunity of learning the impression made abroad
by recent occurrences in this city. And we know that
the feeling excited by this charge of Judge Lawless, is-
far more unfavourable than that consequent upon the
burning of M'Intosh. For that, say they, was the act of
an excited mob, but here is the Judge on his bench, in
effect sanctioning it ! !

The subject grows upon our hands, but we forbear.
We again repeat that we have had no wish in all we have
said, to injure the reputation of Judge Lawless. The
subject is one altogether too important to allow personal
feelings to enter into the discussion of it, either one way
or the other. For all that part of his charge where an
attempt is made to identify the ' Observer' with Aboli-
tionism, and then charge upon that the M'Intosh tragedy,
we can only say, that we have not the least doubt, that
the Judge is perfectly sincere in the expression of this
opinion. And the ignorance and prejudice which could
lead to such an expression of opinion, however censura-
ble in the Judge is still more pitiable in the man. Of
this part of the charge, Charles Hammond, Esq. of the
Cincinnati Gazette, says — ' It is as fanatical as the
highest state of Abolition fanaticism can be.' "

In the same paper in which these criticisms appeared,
he gave his reasons for removing to Alton.


June 21 St, 1836.
" After much deliberation, and a consultation with a
number of our friends, we have determined hereafter to
issue the ' Observer' from Alton, Illinois.


In taking this step we have not been actuated solely,
nor even mainly, by personal considerations. Doubtless
it will be, under all circumstances, more for our personal
comfort to reside at Alton, but so long as duty seemed to
require our remaining here, w^e were determined to re-
main, at whatever sacrifice of personal comfort, reputa-
tion, or safety.

The way now seems opened, in the Providence of
God, to change the location of the ' Observer,' without
in the least impairing its usefulness. On the contrary,
we believe it" will be much more useful under the present
arrangement than it has been. It will enjoy equal facil-
ities for circulation in the two states, at Alton, as at St.
Louis ; and we hope to maintain the same connection
with our subscribers in both the states as formerly.

The chief reason, (and without which it would not
have been removed,) for removing to Alton, is, that there
is no doubt the paper will be better supported there than
it now is, or is likely to be, remaining in St. Louis. We
hope this reason will be perfectly satisfactory to all our
good friends in Missouri, who might otherwise think its
removal uncalled for."


We now come to his arrival at Alton the scene of his
last sufferings and death. The causes of his removal
have already been given. Speaking of the destruction of
his press on its arrival at Alton, he thus writes in his pa-
per of the 8th of September, that being the first number
issued at that place.

" The real facts of the case, as we have before stated,
are simply these. Contrary to our stipulation with the
officer of the steamboat which brought it, the press was
landed here on Sabbath morning, about daylight. We
declined receiving it on that day. It lay in safety, on
the bank, through the Sabbath, until two or three o'clock
on Monday morning, when it was destroyed by five or six
individuals. And of these much doubt exists, as we
learn, in the minds of many, as to whether they were
citizens of Alton or not. If to this we add that a very full
meeting of the citizens, on the next day after, (July 22d,
1836,) or rather the same day of the outrage, voluntarily
and unanimously pledged themselves to make good the
loss occasioned by the destruction of the press, they
surely must be acquitted of all participation, in thought
or deed, in the disgraceful act."

At this meeting several resolutions were passed, ex-
pressing their disapprobation of Abolition, and, as the


above extract intimates, condemning in severe language,
the doings of the mob, and pledging themselves to make
up for the loss of the press. It was at this meeting that
the pledge, of which so much has been written, is said
to have been given. To this we shall have occasion to
recur hereafter. It should be remembered, that owing to
sickness, and other "providential hindrances," the "Ob-
server" was not issued from the middle of July to the 8th
of September. During this time, the following letters
were written, which, with the remarks above, will ex-
plain themselves.

Alton, (Illinois,) July 30th, 1836.
Dear brother Joseph,

By the Alton Telegraph, which I send you to-
day, you will learn that I have had the honour of being
mobbed at last. I have been expecting the catastrophe
for some time, and now it has come.

The " Observer" will have informed you of the imme-
diate cause of the outrage. Because I dared to comment
upon the charge of Judge Lawless — an article so fraught
with mischief and falsehood ; the mob, which I chose to
call his officials, tore down my office. What a comment
upon the freedom of our institutions !

The act was the more mean and dastardly, inasmuch
as I had previously determined to remove the office of the
" Observer" to this place, and had made all my arrange-
ments accordingly, and had so stated in the number of
the paper issued previous to the act of the mob.

You will also see that on my arrival here, a few mis-
creants undertook to follow the example of St. Louis, and
so demolished what was left of the printing office. How-
ever, they met with but little countenance here. Thus


the whole of the " St. Louis Observer" is destroyed. Not,
however, until by the influence it has exerted, it has paid
for itself, as I think. It has kindled up a fire in Mis-
souri, that \yill never go out, until Popery and Slavery are
extinct. And, moreover, I hope its very death will tell
with effect upon the cause of human rights and religious

Tell my dear mother, that I am no whit discouraged.
I feel myself standing on the broad basis of eternal jus-
tice, and so long as I stand there, full well do I know,
that all the hosts of hell cannot prevail against me. I
have found God a very present help in this my time of
need. He has gloriously fulfilled his promises, and held
me up, so that I have been astonished at the little effect
produced upon my feelings by these outrages. But I
determined when He carried me through last fall, that I
would never again distrust Him.

Though cast down, I am not destroyed, nor in the least
discouraged ; and am now busily engaged in endeavour-
ing to make arrangements for starting the " Observer"
again. I think I shall succeed. I do believe the Lord
has yet a work for me to do in contending with his ene-
mies, and the enemies of humanity. I have got the har-
ness on, and I do not intend to lay it off, except at His

What is said in the resolutions at the public meeting
here about Abolitionism., and all that, is all for effect. I
told them, and told the truth, that I did not come here to
establish an Abolition paper, and that in the sense they
understood it, I was no Abolitionist, but that I was the
uncompromising enemy of Slavery, and so expected to
live, and so to die.

My health is good, and so is John's. My dear wife is
sick with a fever, but I think she is recovering. The


babe is well. Give my love to all. Tell sister Sarah I
wish she would write to me. Tell all to write. I am
so very busy that I can write no more.
Your affectionate brother,


Alton, August ^\st, 1836.
My dearest Mother,

Having a little time now, inasmuch as I am
unable to do any thing else, I have determined to write
you a somewhat detailed account of the scenes through
which I have lately been called to pass. I know you
will be interested in every detail, though some of them
might seem too minute for other eyes than your's.

The account of the mob in St. Louis you have had in
my letter to Joseph, and in my Extra, received I pre-
sume before this time, as also of the second edition of it
enacted at this place.

A few of the brethren here immediately convened
after this last event, and it was determined that a new
printing office should be procured without delay from
Cincinnati. Accordingly I went on to procure it. On
my way I became quite unwell, owing to the excitement,
anxiety, and exposure of the week or two previous. By
the time I reached Cincinnati I was fit only for the bed,
but I could not prevail with myself to give up. I there-
fore kept about, finished my business, and started for
home, with my materials for the office along. On my
arrival at Louisville I found my illness so increasing
upon me, that I was compelled to stop ; and took my bed
with a bilious fever deeply hold of me. I was received
into the house of Rev. Mr. Banks — formerly from Con-
necticut — where I was treated with all the tenderness
and assiduity that could have been bestowed upon a son.


Providentially too 1 fell into tlie hands of a skilful phy-
sician, so that at the end of a week I found myself so
far convalescent, that I ventured to pursue my journey.
I continued to mend till I reached St. Charles. But
riding from that place to this — a distance of twenty miles
— and starting early in the morning, which was raw and
chilly, by the time I arrived I found myself much chilled,
and feared a relapse. However, such was the pressing
need of my attention to the business of starting the
" Observer," that I could not think of giving up. I ac-
cordingly kept about from Monday — the day I arrived —
till Wednesday evening last, when I was again driven to
my bed with a relapse of my fever, attended with cold
sweats, and alternate chills and fever. I am now better,
and with prudence hope to regain my health, though still
very weak.

Thus you see, my dear mother, that my path through
this life is not a flowery one. And to add to my diffi-
culties, both my attacks of illness have come upon me
in the absence of my dear wife. When I had deter-
mined to remove from St. Louis, she went to her
mother's in St. Charles, where she still is. And what
is worse, she too has been severely sick with very much
such an attack as mine. Our dear babe thus far, thanks
to a merciful Providence, remains well.

Why, when my services are so much needed, I shoull
be laid up on a bed of sickness, I cannot tell ; why,
when God has in his wise and holy providence let loose
upon me angry, and wicked men. He should also so
heavily lay his own hand upon me, I cannot see, but he
can, and I desire to submit without a murmur. I can
now feel, as I never felt before, the wdsdom of Paul's
advice not to marry ; and yet I would not be without the
consolations, which my dear wife and child afford me,


for all tlie world. Still I cannot but feel that it is harder
to " fight valiantly" for the truth, when I risk not only
my own comfort, ease, and reputation, and even life, but
also that of another beloved one. But in this I am greatly
favoured. My dear wife is a perfect heroine. Though
of delicate health, she endures affliction more calmly
than I had supposed possible for a woman to do. Never
has she by a single word attempted to turn me from the
scene of warfare and danger — never has she whispered
a feeling of discontent at the hardships to which she has
been subjected in consequence of her marriage to me,
and those have been neither few nor small, and some of
them peculiarly calculated to wound the sensibili'y of a
woman. She has seen me shunned, hated, and reviled,
by those who were once my dearest friends — she has
heard the execrations wide and deep upon my head, and
she has only clung to me the more closely, and more
devotedly. When I told her that the mob had destroyed
a considerable part of our furniture along with their other
depredations, " No matter," said she, " what they have
destroyed since they have not hurt you." Such is woman !
and such is the woman whom God has given me.

And now do you ask, Are you discouraged ? I an-
swer promptly, no. I have opened my mouth for the
dumb, I have plead the cause of the poor and oppressed
— I have maintained the rights of humanity, and of na-
ture outraged in the person of my fellow-men around me,
and I have done it, as is my nature, openly, boldly, and
in the face of day, and for these things I am brought into
these straits. For these things I have seen my family
scattered, my office broken up, my furniture — as I was
moving it to this place — destroyed — 'have been loaded
with execrations, had all manner of evil spoken of me
falsely, and finally had my life threatened, and laid down


at night, weary and sick, with the expectation that I
might be aroused by the stealthy step of the assassin.
This was the case the last night I spent at St. Louis.
Yet none of these things move me from my purpose ; by
the grace of God I will not, I will not forsake my princi-
ples ; and I will maintain, and propagate them with all
the means He puts into my hands. The cry of the op-
pressed has entered not only into my ears, but into my
soul, so that while I live I cannot hold my peace.

Meanwhile, I must confess, that present prospects
look somewhat dark. In the midst of so many enemies
I have, it is true, a good many friends. But the evil is
that Christians in this quarter, even the best of them,
have become a good deal worldly minded, and are
greatly engaged in speculation ; so that the work of the
Lord is left to languish. Insomuch that I find it ex-
tremely difficult to obtain that aid and assistance needed
in my very arduous enterprise. Had I means at my
own command I would not care. I should deem them
well spent even though destroyed by a mob, in main-
taining the cause I have espoused. But as I have them
not, such as I have I give freely — my time, my ener-
gies, the best years of my life, some little ability, and a
good deal of zeal — these I give, and bless God for the
opportunity, to so holy a cause. I may not live to see
its success — I may even die — though most unworthy —
its victim and its martyr, yet, that it will ultimately suc-
ceed, and that too at no distant day, I am as well assured
as I am that there is a God in Heaven, who sits on a
Throne of Righteousness,

Providence permitting, we shall get out a number of
the " Observer" next week. It will be much enlarged,
in hopes by that means to induce more to subscribe.
Tell brother Joseph I wish he and his brother ministers

REV. E. P. LOVE JOY. 187

in Maine would try and do something for me. I think I
ought to get considerable aid from my native state. Mr.
Adams of Brunswick, told me at the General Assembly,
that he thought that I was doing more to put down
Slavery than any other man in the United States. Now
if half that be true, surely my paper ought to be sup-

But I shall weary you with the reading, as I am my-
self exhausted with the effort of writing this long letter.
Give my love to sisters S. and E. Why do they not
write to me ? Surely, surely, they cannot wait for a
letter from me, when I have hardly time, and ability
even to read my Bible. From Owen I have not heard
for a long time. I expect him and sister E. out here
this fall. Are they not coming ? I wish they would
come. Wife wants Lizzy very much, and I want Owen.
John enjoys excellent health and spirits, and is im-
proving very much. Love to brother Joseph, and to all.
Do write me soon.

Your most affectionate son,


After the re-establishment of the Observer at iVlton,
it continued to be issued regularly till the 17th of Au-
gust, 1837, soon after which it again became the object
of mob violence. The character of the paper, as it re-
gards the ability and spirit with which it was conducted,
may be learned from the subjoined editorial articles, that
appeared in it during this time.

It may not be out of place, here to state, that the num-
ber of subscribers to the " Observer" continued to in-
crease from its arrival at Alton, till it rose from less than
one to more than two thousand ; and would doubtless,
within the year, have reached twenty-five hundred.



Alton, May 25th, 1837.

" For the last three or four years the people of this
nation have been pursuing after wealth, as their chief
good, with an eagerness unknown before in our his-
tory. Wealth has been the god after which this nation,
in the language of Scripture, has gone a whoring. And
never was idol more devoutly worshipped. It has been
the supreme object which has occupied our waking
thoughts, and our dreaminor hours. Our ' visions bv
night' have been of rail-roads, canals, bank stock, sec-
tions and quarter sections of land, and town lots. Specu-
lation had become a perfect mania, and we had become
a nation of gamblers. Even the steadiest minds and the
firmest judgments, were carried away by the rush. We
know of nothing like it, except the South sea and Mis-
sissippi schemes of England and France. The former
was called the ' South Sea Bubble,' and we think that an
appropriate nanie for ours would be the ' Town Lot Bub-
ble.' But the bubble has burst — and all our hopes of
universal wealth are dissipated into thin air. We find
ourselves a nation of bankrupts instead of a nation of
Croesuses. And better it should be the former than the

We. say better, not because v/e rejoice over the wide-
spread desolation and ruin that have overtaken our citi-
zens, God forbid that we should do that, but because we
do sincerely believe that this nation cannot be trusted
with riches. In the present difficulties that have come
upon us, we think we see the interposition of a kind
Providence in our behalf : and if the blow has been un-

REV. E. P. LOVE JOY. 189

expected and most severe, may it not have been needed,
in order that we should not, in the season of returning
prosperity, forget our chastisement ? The evil effects of
this seemingly boundless prosperity, which for the last
three or four years has attended us, uninterrupted, are
many and various. We can only enumerate two or three
of the most obvious, and those which alarmed all sober
observers of the times.

1. The moral sense of the nation has become awfully
blunted and obtuse. The love of money is an earth-born,
grovelling propensity, and it debases proverbially all
whom it influences, in the precise proportion as they are
under its sway. How completely callous to all the dic-
tates of conscience and humanity, and how shamelessly
sordid it has rendered this nation, let the history of the
last two years testify. What have we seen 1 That which
unless our eyes beheld, we could not have believed.
We have seen the traffic in human beings pursued by
one portion of our fellow-citizens with an unfeeling and
gloatingly avaricious eagerness, which w^ould have made
the early Spanish men-hunters of Cuba blush. Hus-
bands and wives, and parents and children have been
torn asunder with an utter recklessness of feeling, that
equals, to say the least, any thing of cruelty that the an-
nals of savagedom can furnish, and all to make these
victims toil and sweat unthanked and unrewarded, in or-
der to enrich their plunderers. But worse than this, ten-
fold worse, and a thousand fold more alarming, we have
seen Christians, not only engaging heart and soul in this
horrid business, but christian ministers also, nay, rev-
erend divines, doctors of divinity, whole Presbyteries,
Synods, and Conferences, solemnh^ and officially justi-
fying it, appealing to the Bible — to the gospel of a com-
passionate Redeemer — to prove it all right, and that it had


the sanction of Heaven. Shall a man believe this, even
though it be told him ? Posterity will not credit it, and
yet it is nevertheless the truth, the sad reality. And
scarcely less, if indeed not greater, has been the guilt,
the criminal indifference, and often actual approval, with
which these transactions have been witnessed in the free
states. Men were either too busy in making money
themselves, or too desirous to get a share of that earned
by the forced labour of the poor slave, to hear his groans.
His tears, mingled with his blood drawn by the whip of
the merciless taskmaster, fell unheeded to the ground ;
and what cared they if the soil he tilled were thus en-
riched, so that they were permitted to share in the profits
of the crop ? Nothing — absolutely nothing. Nay, they
not only refused to express disapprobation themselves,
but whoever did it, incurred their hot displeasure. And
when the law could not punish those who dared to feel
for the coloured man, the power of the mob was resorted
to. Elders of the church in Nashville scourged a brother
for this crime, ' gentlemen of property and standing' in
Boston, broke into an assemblage of females, and drove
them from their knees because they were praying for the
slave, Christian editors in New York, set on the mob to
pull down, break up, and destroy the property and mal-
treat the persons of their fellow-citizens, who had made
themselves obnoxious by their efforts in behalf of bleed-
ing humanity. These things are but specimens of what
has been done in this Christian land for the last two or three
years, and all to be traced to the auri sacra fames — the ac-
cursed love of gold, which has grown by what it fed on.
It could not be expected that such things could long
endure ; that the Lord would keep silence forever. He
has spoken. He has come, in his Providence, and taken
from us that for vrhich we had sacrified principle, hu-


manity, duty, and now we find that we have ' filed our
consciences' for nothing, and that our only reward is,
what it deserved to be — remorse.

2. Another result of our worldly prosperity has been
an alarming increase of luxury, licentiousness, and im-
morality of every kind. In our eagerness to grasp the
bubble wealth, we have over-leaped all the restraints of
religion and morality, and in our determination to enjoy
its pleasures, we have disregarded the precepts of the
gospel. The Sabbath, that blessed institution of heaven,
given us purposely to be a barrier against the tide of cor-
ruption, flowing up from the bottomless pit, has been run
over by our rail-road cars, and mail-stages, and steam-
boats, until it is pretty much entirely levelled in the dust,
and the waves of vice and sin are accordingly sweeping
over us with awful and almost resistless force, threaten-
ing to bear away, and indeed, in general having already
done it, whatsoever thing is lovely and of good report
among us. No hand but God's can roll back these bitter
waters of perdition ; and whether he will do it must de-
pend upon the disposition he finds amongst us, to treat
his hitherto despised ordinances with respect and rever-
ence. ' Thou shalt reverence my Sabbaths.'

3. The only other evil to which we will now advert, is
the disastrous influence that has been exerted upon the
church. This has been in part adverted to, in the pre-
vious remarks. But it deserves a distinct mention by
itself. It cannot be denied that the church in this coun-
try, has to an alarming degree, been carried away by the

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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 13 of 28)