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 15 of 28)
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lips to declare that Slavery is condemned by it. If they
do not mean this, we should be glad to know what it is
they mean, by their constantly repeating ' the gospel is
the remedy, the gospel is the remedy ;' while yet they
are as constantly condemning the conduct of those who
seek to make it the remedy indeed, by proclaiming it to
be, in all its principles and precepts, opposed to Slavery.

The Rev, James Douglass, whom we have known, and
whom we highly respect as a devoted servant of 'Christ —
in a communication to the Boston Recorder, Avhich other
eastern papers are copying, has much of this indefinite'
ness of view about the gospel proving a remedy for
Slavery. He would have anti-slavery men, instead of
persisting in their present efforts to abolish Slavery, send
ministers to the south, to ' preach the gospel,' to both
masters and slaves. For, says he, ' where religion
flourishes, slaves are well treated.' Aye, there's the
very point. And this, then, is all the gospel as- preached
at the south, is able or expected to effect — \he good treat-
ment of the slave. Now we wish to aid in the preach-


ino-of no 'gospel whose ultimate aim, as it respects the
slaves, goes no farther than this. The ' gospel of the
Son of God,' requires not the ' good treatment of the
black man as a slave, but as a man, and a moral and ac-
countable being ; and the very first step in this good
treatment is to set him free. Take an illustration of our

When the apostle Paul, went out into the Gentile
world to ' preach the gospel,' he found his hearers all
idolaters. He moreover found that in the practice of
this idolatry, the most shameful rites abounded. The
Heathen of both sexes were accustomed to spend their
nights in the temples of their idols, in promiscuous, and
most disgusting licentiousness. Now suppose he had
commenced preaching the gospel to these polluted idola-
ters in this way : — ' I will not. Oh men of Athens and
Corinth, require too much of you at once. I \\i\\ say
nothing of the divine honours you pay to Jupiter, and
Mars, and Mercury, and Venus, and your other innu-
merable gods and goddesses ; but I do require in the
name of my Master, that, when you worship these
deities, and especially the latter, you should do it in a
little more respectable and decent manner. If you will
cease these, your midnight orgies in the temples of your
gods, and prosecute their worship no farther than to offer
them daily libations, and to prostrate yourselves before
their images, it is, I think, all the gospel requires of you
at present. And for the rest, if indeed this be not suffi-
cient, I leave you to learn it from my successor, Timo-
thy.' And thus had the apostle Paul understood the
' preaching of the gospel,' as many of his modern suc-
cessors seem to do, Christ would have died, not to abolish
idolatry, but to ' remedy its evils,' and thus make it re-
spectable ! At least, this could have been the only result


for two or three centuries after his departure from the
world. If it be said that because we cannot abolish
Slavery at once, that is no good reason why we should
not rejoice to see, and as far as in us lies, endeavour to
eflect, the amelioration of the condition of slaves as
slaves, we admit the correctness of the remark. When
Paul was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, he would
undoubtedly be glad to see the Heathen quitting their li-
centious practices, even though they did not go so far as
to abandon their idols. This was so much good effect-
ed ; and so we are glad to see slave-holders treating
their slaves with kindness, teaching them to read the
Bible, (which however, they hardly ever do,) sending
them to the Sabbath school and the church. But what
we are protesting against, is the idea that the gospel is
satisfied and its precepts fulfilled, when these things, and
only these, are done. If you rob a man of ten dollars,
it is better you should spend the money in disseminating
copies of the Bible, than of Tom Paine's Age of Reason ;
but doing the former will no more justify the original
theft than the latter. The gospel has no method of teach-
ing the robber how to dispose of the avails of his vio-
lence, so that he may retain them without sin. It has,
and can have, but one precept in the case — ' Restore
what thou hast wickedly taken.' So if the gospel is to
be preached to the masters of slaves, all it can say is,
' Restore the slave to himself ; give him back those
rights which belong to him, as he is man, and which
cannot be taken away, without robbing both him and his
God.' "



August 17, 1837.

" There is a large class of such men in this world.
They are exceedingly sagacious in detecting errors in
other men, but here all their sagacity ends. They never
attempt any thing themselves, but spend all their ener-
gies in thwarting the well-meant endeavours of others.
You never find one of these men harnessed in to assist
in pulling the ark of the Lord up the hill ; no — they have
as much as they can do to stand one side, and find fault
with the way such an one takes hold to pull. He does
not work to advantage — or else the traces are not made
of the right material — they will be sure to break before
you get half way up the hill ; or yonder teamster speaks
too loud, or uses too sharp a goad — or something else is
wrong, no matter what. Sometimes you will find them
hanging on to the wheels at the very steepest places of
ascent, for no other reason than that they fear (considerate
souls !) that the machine may possibly move too fast after
you have got up the hill in going down on the other side !
If you happen to ask any of these fault-finders, what they
would have done, they never can tell you ; all they can
say is, ' Do differently from what you are now doing.'
They can discern the wrong, but not the right. So there
are certain animals whose instinct can direct them uner-
ringly to putrid wells, while they can nehher discern
nor love the fountains of pure water that flow near their

There is nothing on which these fault-finders pride
themselves more than on the superior equanimity of
their tempers. They are never provoked to angry, harsh,
or even inconsiderate expressions — not they ; and hence


they argue their own superiority in judgment, over those
whom they are blaming. Now granting this assumption
(of gentler speech) to be correct, (as to some extent it
doubtless is,) yet what does it prove ? Any thing but
what will be found creditable to these self-complacent
gentlemen. Look at the relative condition of the par-
ties. The one at their ease, walking backward and for-
ward at gentle pace, doing nothing but finding fauk ; the
other hard at work, with their heads bare, their
' shoulders peeled,' and every nerve excited to the ut-
most, in their efforts to ' accomplish as an hireling their
day.' Is it wonderful, that under such circumstances, the
working-men should occasionally manifest some impa-
tience at the ill-timed (to say the least) reproofs and cor-
rections of these idlers ? We admit, that they ought to
labour on, and always ' possess their souls in patience ;'
yet who that knows human nature can wonder that they
sometimes rebuke these ill-omened idlers in no very
courteous terms ? And if haply they use a manifestly
indiscreet term, or make an unwise movement, there is
food enough for the fault-finders to chew upon for a long
time, which they do with evident gust, and rather than it
should fail them, not content with one masticating pro-
cess, they ruminate its broken morsels.

There are two remarkable cases, which may be cited,
illustrating the above remarks ; and both have occurred
within the memory of the present generation. The first
is the Temperance Reformation. So soon as good men
began to take hold of this work in earnest, just so soon
the croakers began. Temperance societies were formed,
sermons were preached, addresses delivered, books and
tracts written, all for the purpose of arousing the nation
to a sense of its danger and its guilt, in the matter of
drunkenness. The fault-finders, many of them excellent


men, and embracing in their number most of the dignita-
ries both of chm-ch and state, (for when was it known
that men of this character commenced a work of self-de-
nying reform ?) immediately began to cry, ' innovation,'
* fanaticism,' ' ultraism,' &:c., &c. They found fault
(doubtless often with reason) with the temper, the spirit,
the phraseology of the temperance reformers. They and
all else who made any pretensions to decency w^ere op-
posed to intemperance, but — and there they hung.
Well, the friends of temperance, notwithstanding all
their imperfections, (which were many and manifest,)
triumphed. And now, no man of common understand-
ing presumes to call himself the friend of total abstinence,
who does not unite his name and influence with the
Temperance Societies.

The other case to which we have referred, is that of
Anti-Slavery. We are now in the midst of the develop-
ments of this great movement. It commenced, like the
other, not with men in high places, so that in this, as in
the temperance movement, when the glorious result aim-
ed at shall be accomplished, it will then be seen that it
was achieved ' not by might, nor by power, but by my
Spirit, saith the Lord.' And as then, so now, we have
the wise, the prudent, the cautious, in short, the conserva-
tives of church and state, to contend with. They are
at ease, and they do not like to be disturbed ; or they
have acquired a valuable reputation in former conflicts,
and they do not like to put it to hazard in this. All such
would gladly stand neuter in the present great conflict,
and they cannot bear the idea of being disturbed, and
compelled to take sides in the contest. Hence, their
complacency towards slaveholders, and their anger to-
wards those who are determined, God helping, that there
shall be no neutrals in this moral warfare. And hence


it is that when such men have been effectually roused,
the first expression of their feeling is, not of hatred and
abhorrence to Slavery, but of anger and resentment to-
ward those who are opposed to this giant sin. This
continues awhile, till conscience having been awakened
and commenced doing its work, we soon begin to hear,
' I am opposed to Slavery as much as any man, but — .'
But what ? Why, but Garrison is opposed to the observ-
ance of the Sabbath, and Wright delivers lectures to
children, and the Misses Grimke have no business to
lecture in public, (we agree to this,) and Dr. Wardlaw
hates the Americans, and George Thompson is employed
by a society of ladies in Glasgow, and the American
Anti-Slavery Society has seventy agents in the field, &c.
&c. They have now got to a point M'here they must
acknowledge their error, or continue to find fault. Hence
it is just here that we often see the fault-finders re-
doubling their zeal and ingenuity, magnifying trifles, and
converting mistakes into crimes.

The result, however, cannot be doubtful. All good
men will come over — those who possess the greatest
simplicity of Christian character will come first, and the
rest will follow, as the truth reaches the heart. In the
case of Anti-Slavery as of Temperance, the ' but' will
be removed ; and all will see that if the work of redeem-
ing our beloved country from the sin and curse of Slave-
ry, is not now well-managed, the greater the need why
they should give their counsels, their prayers, and their
aid, instead of holding themselves, as now, aloof for the
purpose of fault-finding."


During the winter and spring of 1836 — 7 no open hos-
tility was manifested towards the " Observer" or its Edi-
tor. There were indeed some suppressed murmurings,
which foreboded the coming storm. There were, too, a
thousand false reports, calculated to injure his character
and reputation, industriously circulated. But so accus-
tomed was he, in common with others of like sentiments,
to be abused, slandered, and reviled, that it was looked
for as a matter of course. As a specimen of these reports,
he was represented as declaring from the pulpit in Upper
Alton, which he supplied during the summer — that if his
wife should die that day, he would marry a black woman
before Saturday night. And he was once asked by one,
who could not be charged with extreme ignorance, if he
had really made that declaration. And many such like
things said they of him falsely.

In the " Observer" of June 29th appeared the subjoined
editorial article.


" We have received from the Secretary of the Ameri-
can Anti-Slavery Society, a communication requesting that
we would endeavour to forward to them, as soon as possi-
ble, the names of two individuals in every county of the
state, who will be disposed to receive and circulate peti-
tions to Congress, for the Abolition of Slavery in the


District of Columbia. We shall send on such names as
we are able to designate by our own knowledge, imme-
diately ; but as there are many counties in the state .
where we have no acquaintance, we take this method of
asking the attention of all the friends of humanity to the
subject. We suggest the following,

1. Let all such individuals as are willing to undertake
this work, forward their names to us, immediately, free
of postage, stating particularly their county, and post of-
fice address.

2. Where the individual so writing is unknown to us,
let him name some respectable individual in this place to
whom we can refer, or if he cannot do this, in some other
way forward to us satisfactory credentials. This is ab-
solutely necessary to guard against imposition.

3. Let every individual who volunteers to engage in
this work of circulating petitions, do it with the full un-
derstanding, that it will cost him some time, some trouble,
and the good will of every advocate of Slavery. And if
he is not willing to undertake the business at this ex-
pense, he had better not attempt it at all. And, moreover,
let each one sending his name, send also the names of
such other individuals in his own or adjoining counties,
as he may think willing and qualified to circulate these
petitions with zeal and success.

We need not add a word touching the vast importance
of this subject. With Slavery in the several states we
have nothing to do, except in the way of argument and
persuasion ; but let every freeman in this republic re-
member, that so long as Slavery exists in the District of
Columbia, he is himself a slaveholder, and a licenser of
the horrid traffic in slaves, carried on under the very
shadow of the Capitol's walls. We have a right to inter-
fere there, and that right brings with it a solemn duty,


which we may not innocently neglect. John Quincy
Adams presented the petitions of more than one hundred
thousand freemen last year, he must have a million this.
With proper effort we can furnish thirty thousand from
this state."

To this, public attention was directed by its being
copied into the Alton Spectator and Missouri Republican,
and commented upon in a manner calculated to excite
public indignation, July 6th, the " Observer" contained
the folio wins.


Juli/ 6th, 1837.

"Is it not time that such a society should be formed ?
There are many, very many friends of the cause in this
state, and their number is daily increasing. Ought not
measures to be taken to embody their influence so as to
make it tell with the greatest possible efTect upon the
holy cause of emancipation ?

We would do nothing rashly, but it does seem to us
that the time to form such a society has fully come.
There are a number of local societies already existing in
the state, and it would be every way better that their in-
fluence should be concentrated.

If it be decided that such a society ought to be formed,
when and where shall the convention meet to form it?
Shall it be in this place, or at Jacksonville, or Springfield,
or elsewhere 1

We take the liberty to throw out these questions for
the consideration of our friends, and we suggest the pro-
priety of their giving to them a speedy and candid con-
sideration. Let as many as are in favour of the measure


here proposed, send us their names for the purpose of
having them attached to the call of the proposed conven-
tion, and let each one indicate the time and place of his
preference for the meeting of the convention, with the
express understanding that that place shall be selected
which has the most votes in its favour.

We shall hope to have a response from the friends of
the slave without delay. Every day do we feel more
and more the necessity of action, decided and effective
action, on this subject. With many we are already a
* fanatic' and an ' incendiary,' as it regards this matter, and
we feel that we must become more and more vile in their
eyes. We have never felt enough, nor prayed enough,
nor done enough in behalf of the perishing slave.

This day (the 4th) reproaches our sloth and inactivity.
It is the day of our nation's birth. Even as we write,
crowds are hurrying past our window, in eager anticipa-
tion, to the appointed bower, to listen to the declaration
that ' all men are born free and equal' — to hear the eloquent
orator denounce, in strains of manly indignation, the at-
tempt of England to lay a yoke upon the shoulders of
our fathers, which neither they nor their children could
bear. Alas ! what bitter mockery is this. We assemble
to thank God for our own freedom, and to eat and drink
with joy and gladness of heart, while our feet are upon
the necks of nearly three millions of our fellow men !
Not all our shouts of self-congratulation can drown their
groans — even that very flag of freedom that waves over
our heads is formed from materials cultivated by slaves,
on a soil moistened with their blood drawn from them by
the whip of a republican task-master !

Brethren and friends, this must not be — it cannot be —
for God will not endure it much longer. Come, then, to
the rescue. The voice of three millions of slaves calls


upon you to come and ' unloose the heavy burdens, and
LET THE OPPRESSED GO FREE !' And on this day when
every freeman's heart is glad, let us remember that —

' Wearily eveiy bosom pineth,
Wearily oh ! wearily oh I
Where the chain of Slaver>" twineth,
Wearily oh 1 wearily oh !
There the warrior's dart

Hath no fleetness,
There the maiden's heart
Hath no sweetness.
Every flower of life declineth,

Wearily oh ! wearily oh !
Wearily — wearily — wearily —
Wearily— wearily — wearily oh !
Wearily oh ! wearily oh I' "

As far as is known, these were the most obnoxious
articles which appeared in the " Observer," and which
by its enemies were thought worthy of special notice.

On Monday morning, the 8th of July, appeared an
anonymous handbill, requesting those friends of the "Ob-
server" dissatisfied with its course, together with the com-
munity generally, to meet at the Market House on the
next Thursday. The doings of this meeting, as far as is
necessary, are here given as reported by the secretary
and published at the time. It was declared by the per-
son stating the object of the meeting, that it was " to sup-
press Abolitionism in our town."


" Pursuant to public notice, a large and respectable
concourse of the citizens of Alton, assembled at the
Market House, early yesterday evening, in order to take
into consideration the course pursued by the Rev. Ex P.
Lovejoy, in the publication and dissemination of the


highly odious doctrines of modern Abolitionism, and the
more to allay the spirit of an insulted people, which
seemed brewing like a cloud, and darkening our social
atmosphere. Although the combination of wealth, inter-
est, and moral power were assiduously brought to bear
upon the community in order to deter them from such a
course ; in boldly expressing their free and unbiased
opinions on a subject of so delicate a nature, yet like men
born to live and die, untrammeled by party, unseduced
by mercenary motives, they met as freemen, determined
to oppose, in a manly manner, and by a spirited resist-
ance, the odious doctrine of modern misrule, which has
stole on this community in direct violation of a sacred

The meeting was organized by calling to the chair,
Dr. Halderman, and appointing J. P. Jordan, secretary.

The object of the meeting then being stated, on motion a
committee of three was appointed to draw up resolutions —

Whereupon J. A. Townsend, Dr. H. Beall, and S. L.
Miller, were appointed.

The committee, after retiring for a short time, returned
and recommended to the meeting the following preamble,
&c., which were unanimously adopted : —

Whereas, The citizens of Alton are called upon a
second time to express their disapprobation of the course
pursued by the Rev. E. P. Lovejoy, Editor of the ' Al-
ton Observer,' in publishing and promulgating the doc-
trines of Abolitionism, and that, too, in violation of a
solemn pledge, voluntarily given by him at a former
meeting of the citizens of Alton, when an exile he sought
their protection, that he would not interfere with the
question of Abolitionism, in any way whatever, and that
his intention alone was to publish a religious journal :

And ivhereas, On the strength of that pledge, and in


full confidence that he would, as a clergyman of his pro-
fession, hold it sacred, we welcomed him as an acquisi-
tion to our place. But now finding, much to our mortifi-
cation, that he has wantonly violated his pledge, and in-
troduced into the columns of his paper, x\bolition doctrines
of a most inflammatory character, and continued without
regard to his solemn assertion to do so, which we as citi-
zens of a state imtrammeled with Slavery, deem it to be
improper as well as impolitic, to agitate among us as we
can have no benefit from it whatever, but on the con-
trary, much injury and damage, by eliciting from our
sister states, a feeling towards us highly injurious to our

1. Resolved, That the Rev. E. P. Lovejoy has again
taken up and advocated the principles of Abolitionism
through his paper, the ' Observer,' contrary to the dispo-
sition and will of a majority of the citizens of Alton, and
in direct violation of a sacred pledge and assurance, that
this paper when established in Alton should not be de-
voted to Abolitionism.

2. Resolved, That we disapprove of the course of the
' Observer,' in publishing any articles favourable to Abo-
litionism, and that we censure Mr. Lovejoy in permitting
such publications to appear in his paper, when a pledge
or assurance has been given to this community, by him,
that such doctrines should not be advocated.

3. Resolved, That a committee of five citizens be ap-
pointed by this meeting to wait upon and confer with
Mr. Lovejoy, and ascertain from him, whether he in-
tends in future to disseminate through the columns of the
' Observer,' the doctrines of Abolitionism, and report the
result of their conference to the public.

After the committee had read the preparatory preamble


and resolutions, they were submitted to the meeting, and
warmly welcomed — upon which

. It was moved that the President appoint the committee
' — when- the following persons were designated :

B. K. Hart, L. J. Clawson, Col. N. Buckmaster, B. I.
Oilman, Col. A. Olney, and Dr. J. A. Halderman, by re-

After which Col. A. Botkin arose, and making some
pertinent preliminary remarks, offered the following reso-
lution, which was cordially adopted :

Resolved, That we, as citizens of Alton, are aware
that the Rev. E. P. Lovejoy still persists to publish an
Abolition paper, to the injury of the community at large,
and as we deprecate all violence of mobs, we now call
on him, by our committee, and politely request a discon-
tinuance of the publication of his incendiary doctrines,
which alone have a tendency to disturb the quiet of our
citizens and neighbours.

Dr. Halderman offering the four following resolutions,
said briefly, he was glad to see such a spirit of inde-
pendence in Alton — he was cheered to know he was not

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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 15 of 28)