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 16 of 28)
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alone on this question — that the slaveholding states yet
had friends even in a non-slaveholding state, to feel the
wrongs and avenge the cause — he was moved to say, the
liberty of our forefathers had given us the liberty of
speech— and continuing, he added, it was our duty and
our high privilege to act and speak on all questions
touching this great commonwealth.

Whereupon, the resolutions being read, after some
amendments by Messrs. Howard and Clifford, were
unanimously adopted.

Resolved, That the recommendation in an editorial ar-
ticle of the ' Observer,' of a division in all the religious
denominations on the sole ground of Slavery, is in our


opinion destructive of the best interests of Christianity,
and an unwarrantable assumption of arbitrary preroga-

Resolved, That the immediate emancipation of the en-
tire slave population, with their admittance to all the
privileges, suffrages, offices, immunities, and preferments,
civil, political, and religious, in common with ourselves,
constitutes the doctrine of modern Abolitionism.

Resolved, That while we disapprove the doctrine of
modern Abolitionism, we abhor and deprecate the evil
of Slavery, and are ready and willing at any time, to give
our influence and our money, to promote any system of
emancipation, that will better the condition of that op-
pressed race of the human family, that is agreeable to the
slaveholding states.

Resolved, That all the presses in the West and South,
North and East, friendly to the cause' of colonization or
gradual emancipation, in order to ameliorate the condition
and freedom of the African race, are hereby requested to
publish the foregoing protest and resolutions against the
misrule of modern Abolitionism.

J. A. HALDERMAN, Chairman.

J. P. JoRDON, Secretary^
July llth, 1837.

This meeting, though any thing but respectable, either
as it regards the number, or character of those who com-
posed it, had an important influence in bringing about
the bloody tragedy of the 7th of November. The Editor
thought of denying ever having given a pledge ; but be-
ing otherwise advised by his friends, did not do so. This
was probably unwise, inasmuch as his silence, was, by
many, construed into a tacit acknowledgment of the


truth of the charge, and in consequence it was believed,
to some extent both in AUon and abroad.

As to the facts about this pledge we would give the
following document, merely premising that only four of
the individuals whose names are attached to it are Abo-
litionists, several of them being opposed, and one de-
cidedly hostile to the discussion of Slavery. And it is
proper also to state that the paper was got up by one
not an Abolitionist, and that it was signed, as far as is
known, by all the individuals at the meeting, who were
requested so to do.

" Whereas it has been frequently represented that the
Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, late Editor of the ' Alton Ob-
server,' solemnly pledged himself at a public meeting
called for the purpose of taking measures to bring to
justice, the persons engaged in the destruction of the first
press, brought to Alton by said Lovejoy, not to discuss
the subject of Slavery ; We the undersigned declare the
following to be his language in substance. ' My prin-
cipal object in coming to this place, is to establish a re-
ligious paper. When I was in St. Louis I felt myself
called upon to treat at large upon the subject of Slavery,
as I was in a state where the evil existed, and as a citi-
zen of that state I felt it my duty to devote a part of my
columns to that subject ; but gentlemen, I am not, and
never was in full fellowship with the Abolitionists, but
on the contrary, have had some spirited discussions with
some of the leading Abolitionists of the East, and am not
now considered by them as one of them. And now
having come into a free state where the evil does not
exist, I feel myself less called upon to discuss the sub-
ject than when I was in St. Louis.' The above, as we
have stated, was his language in substance ; the follow-


ing we are willing to testify to be his words, in conclu-

' But gentlemen, as long as I am an American citi-
zen, and as long as American blood runs in these veins,
I shall hold myself at liberty to speak, to write, and to
publish whatever I please on any subject, being amena-
ble to the laws of my country for the same.'


In addition to the testimony of these gentlemen, we
have the following editorial remarks in the first number
of the " Alton Observer."

September 8tli, 1837.
" When the opposition to the ' Observer' commenced,
nearly a year ago, in St. Louis, it was openly declared
by the leader of that opposition, himself an infidel, that
no religious paper should be permitted to be published
in that city. During the absence of the Editor last
spring, in attendance on the General Assembly, a lead-
ing grog-shop keeper in St. Louis was indicted for keep-
ing open his shop on the Sabbath. Soon after his in-
dictment a friend of ours happened into the house, and

* Messrs. C and M. recollect the substance to be as above.


while there two of the grocery man's cronies came in,
when all of them fell to cursing and swearing on the sub-
ject of the indictment. ' It was,' said they, ' all the work

of the d d Sunday School Union, and the Editor of

this paper was at the bottom of the whole of it, and as
soon as he returned they swore, with many oaths, that he
should be mobbed.' A?id they faithfully kept their word.
Of course we had nothing to do with the indictment, be-
ing at the time more than a thousand miles distant, and
did not even know of it until after they had executed
their threat.

When the Popish Cathedral in St. Louis was conse-
crated on the Sabbath day, amidst the pomp of military
array, the roaring of artillery, the trampling of cavalry,
and the sound of fife and drum, we published, from a cor-
respondent, an account of this shameful desecration of
the Lord's day. And scarcely had our paper containing
the article, time to circulate through the city, before
we heard from various quarters that our office was to be
mobbed down for the offence we had given. Because
we have declared- — an opinion which we conscientiously
and solemnly believe, as we shall answer it at the bar of
God — that the system of American negro Slavery is an
awful evil and sin, that God has expressly forbidden us
to separate husband and wife, parent and child, that no
man has a right to traffic in his fellow-man, that it is the
duty of every master to impart religious instruction to his
slaves, and that it is the duty of us all to unite our hearty
and zealous efforts, to effect the speedy and entire emanci-
pation of that portion of our fellow-men in bondage amongst
us ; because we expressed our deep abhorrence of the
act of a mob, by which a human being was sacrificed un-
der circumstances of the most horrid cruelty, and because
we would not submit to the imputation of Judge Lau:less,


that we had, with others, incited M'hitosh to commit the
crime for which he suffered — for these things, and for
no other, has the mob been let loose upon us, and our
printing office, together with considerable of our private
property, been destroyed.

Now we ask every candid man, and especially every
Christian, what sentiment of all those avowed above,
ought to subject the individual advancing it, to the popu-
lar vengeance ? There may be many who differ from
us in some of the opinions here avowed — and they have
a right to differ — but are there not enough who hold
them, to make them, at least, respectable 1 And is it in
this country, and this age of the world, that a man is to
be persecuted, and crucified, for opinion's sake 1 And
especially for such opinions ? Is the Inquisition, ban-
ished even from Spain and Portugal, to be set up on the
prairies of the West 1 Are the American people, with
the Declaration of Independence in their hands, prepared
to engage in a general crusade in favour of the perpetual
Slavery of a portion of the human family ?

' Can these things be,

And not o'ercome us like a summer cloud,
With special wonder?'

For one we distinctly avow it as our settled purpose,
never, while life lasts, to yield to this new system of at-
tempting to destroy, by means of mob-violence, the
rights of conscience, the freedom of opinion, and of the
press. We intend not to deal in harsh denunciation,
we wish to bring about or promote no disorder or disor-
ganization in society, we would provoke no violence
from any portion of the community ; the only weapon we
would use is the Truth, the only sentiment we would
appeal to, the moral sense of the community. If we
cannot be permitted to do this, except at the risk of pro-


perty, reputation, and life, we must even take the risk.
And the point now to be ascertained is, whether with
these sentiments and this determination, we may rely
upon being supported, in our present position, by the
friends of morals and Christianity in the West. And it
is precisely to ascertain this question, that the present
article is written and sent forth to the public. With the
friends of Truth, of Order, of the Rights of Conscience,
and of GoD, we leave the decision."

We now return to the " Market House Meeting,'' as
that held on the 1 1th of July is usually called. And here
it is proper to remark, that although the invitation was
principally given to the " friends of the ' Observer' who
were dissatisfied with its course," yet not one of those
appointed a committee to prepare resolutions for the ac-
tion of the meeting, was a subscriber to the paper. To
give their character does not consist with the design, nor
comport with the dignity of this work.

It w^ill be seen by the third resolution that a committee
was appointed to " wait on Mr. Lovejoy and confer
w^ith him" as to his future course. And here it will be
doing but justice to Mr. B. I. Oilman to say, that his
name was used without his consent — he not being at the
meeting — and that he refused to act, as will be seen by
his name not being attached to the correspondence. No
interview ever took place between this committee and
the Editor of the " Observer." Their letter, together
with the reply is given.


" The correspondence below would have been laid be-
fore the public sooner, but for the difficulty of getting a
meeting of the committee." — Alton Telegraph,


Alto7i, July 24:th, 1837.
To THE Rev. E. P. Lovejoy :

Dear Sir — In the proceedings of a public
meeting of the citizens of AUon, a copy of which is
herewith transmitted to you, you will find the following
resolution :

Resolved, That a committee of five citizens be ap-
pointed by this meeting, to wait upon and confer with
Mr. Lovejoy, and ascertain whether he intends to dis-
seminate through the columns of the ' Observer,' the doc-
trine of Abolitionism, and report the result of their con-
ference to the public.

Whereupon, on motion, B. K. Hart, L. J. Clawson,
Col. N. Buckmaster, B. I. Oilman, Col. A. Olney, and
Dr. J. A. Halderman, were appointed said committee.

The committee have thought it most advisable, to ad-
dress to you the proceedings themselves, instead of any
written statement of their own. The views and feelings
by which the citizens were actuated, and their wishes
and expectations, are set forth with sufficient clearness
in their reported proceedings, to which we respectfully
invite your attention, with the utmost deference to your
feelings as a man, and your rights as a citizen. We re-
spectfully request that you will at your earliest conve-
nience, answer the inquiries embodied in the above reso-
lution, so that we may report the same to the public, in
the discharge of our duty. Nothing but the importance
of the question Avhich the meeting was called to con-
sider, and the dangers which its unwise agitation threat-
ens, not only to the community, but to the whole coun-
try, could have induced us to take the step we have.
With the wish that your answer may be dictated in wis-

REV. E. P. LO\'EJOY. 227

dom, and prove such as will be satisfactory to the com-
munity, we subscribe ourselves with respect,
Your obedient servants,






Alton, July 26th, 1837.
Messrs. B. K. Hart, L. J. Clawsox, N. Buckmas-
TER, A. Olney, and John A. Halderman.

" Gentlemen — I have this day received through the
Post Office, a communication signed by yourselves and
addressed to me, enclosing a printed copy of the pro-
ceedings had at a public meeting held in this place on
the 10th inst., to which proceedings you invite my atten-

Before replying more immediately to your communi-
cation, permit me to express my gratification at the kind
and courteous terms in which it is made. In this respect
it gives me pleasure to say, your letter is all I could de-
sire. Be pleased, gentlemen, to accept my thanks. If
therefore, my answer be not such, in some respects, as
you might perhaps wish, I beg you will not attribute it to
any want of respect to yourselves as individuals or to
your opinions on the principal subject of your communi-

You will, therefore, permit me to say, that with the
most respectful feelings towards you individually, I can-
not consent, in this answer, to recognize you as the offi-
cial organ of a public meeting convened to discuss the
question, whether certain sentiments should, or should
not be discussed in the public newspaper of which I am


the Editor. By doing so, I should virtually admit that
the liberty of the press and freedom of speech, were
rightfully subject to other supervision and control, than
those of the land. But this I cannot admit. On the
contrary, in the language of one of the speakers at the
meeting, I believe that ' the liberty of our forefathers
has given us the liberty of speech,' and that it is ' our
duty and our high privilege, to act and speak on all ques-
tions touching this great commonwealth.' I am happy,
gentlemen, in being able heartily to concur in the above
sentiments, which I perceive were uttered by one of
your own members, and in which I cannot doubt, you
all agree. I would only add, that I consider this ' liberty'
was ascertained, but never originated by our forefathers.
It comes to us, as I conceive, from our Maker, and is in
its nature inalienable, belonging to man as man.

Believing, therefore, that every thing having a tenden-
cy to bring this right into jeopardy, is eminently danger-
ous as a precedent, I cannot admit that it can be called
in question by any man or body of men, or that they can
with any propriety, question me as to my exercise of it.
Gentlemen, I have confidence that you will, upon reflec-
tion, agree with me in this view of the case, and will
consequently appreciate, with justice, my motives in de-
clining to receive your communication, as from the offi-
cial organ of the meeting to which you refer.

But as individuals whom I highly respect, permit me
to say to you, that it is very far from my intention to do
any thing calculated to bring on an ' unwise agitation,'
of the subject of Slavery, in this community. It is a
subject that, as I apprehend, must be discussed, must be
agitated. All virulence and intemperance of language,
I should conceive to be 'unwise agitation.' It shall be
my aim to resort and provoke to neither. I hope to discuss


the ovenvhelmingly important subject of Slavery, with
the freedom of a republican and the meekness of a
Christian. If I fail in either respect, I beg that you
will attribute it, gentlemen, to that imperfection which
attends us all in the performance of our best purposes.

Permit me, respectfully, to refer you to an editorial
article in the ' Alton Observer' of the 20th instant, head-
ed, ' What are the sentiments of Anti-Slavery men V for
the full expression of my views and principles on the
subject of Slavery. If these views can be shown to be
erroneous, I hold myself ready to reject them, and if
you, or either of you, or any of my fellow-citizens, deem
them, and feel able to demonstrate them to be unsound,
or of dangerous tendency, you and they are cordially in-
vited to make use of the columns of the ' Observer' for
that purpose.

With much respect.

Your friend and fellow-citizen,


From this time, threats of destroying the office of the
" Observer" by violence, were openly and frequently
heard. The Missouri Republican, a paper printed at St.
Louis, did what it could, and that was not a little, to fos-
ter this spirit of lawlessness and outrage. Of this, how-
ever, the reader can judge from the following editorial ex-
tracts from that paper. The first was in the number con-
taining the doings of the Market House meeting.


" We give to-day all of the proceedings of the meeting
held in Alton, on Thursday last, that our space will per-
mit. We rejoice to see our neighbours taking this sub-


ject into hand. The proceedings of the meeting speak
for themselves. They are not the intemperate ebullitions
of excitement, or the temporary expression of a high
wrought feeling ; on the contrary, the proceedings through-
out, manifest to us, the deep and settled purpose of men
whose hospitalities have been slighted, and whose friend-
ships have been abused, by one, who was bound by every
moral and political obligation 'to have acted otherwise.
The Editor of the ' Observer' has merited the full mea-
sure of the community's indignation ; and if he will not
learn from experience, they are very likely to teach him
by practice, something of the light in which the honour-
able and respectable portion of the community view his
conduct. He has, by his adhesion to the odious doc-
trines of Abolitionism, of which faction he now avows
himself a member, and by his continued efforts to dis-
seminate these odious doctrines, forfeited all claims to
the protection of that or any other community."

The second was in the paper of the 17th of August, a
few days, as will be seen, before the mob, and headed,

" We perceive that an Anti-Slavery Society has been
formed at Upper Alton, and many others, doubtless, will
shortly spring up in different parts of the state. We
had hoped, that our neighbours would have ejected from
amongst them, that minister of mischief, the ' Observer,'
or at least corrected its course. Something must be done
in this matter, and that speedily ! The good people of
Illinois must either put a stop to the efforts of these
fanatics, or expel them from their community. If this is
not done, the travel of emigrants through their state, and
the trade of the slaveholding states, and particularly Mis-
souri, must stop. Every one who desires the harmony


of the country, and the peace and prosperity of all,
should unite to put them down. They can do no positive
good, and may do much irreparable harm. We would
not desire to see this done at the expense of public or-
der or legal restraint ; but there is a moral indignation
which the virtuous portion of a community may exert,
which is sufficient to crush this faction and forever dis-
grace its fanatic instigators. It is to this we appeal, and
hope that the appeal will not be unheeded."

On the 21st of August, he was taught by " experience
the full measure of the community's indignation which
he had merited," and began to learn by " practice" that
he had not only " lost all claims to the protection of the
community," but that, that protection was actually with-
drawn. On this night, — two unsuccessful attempts hav-
ing been made before — between the hours of ten and
eleven, the office was entered by a band of fifteen or
twenty citizens of that place, and press, type, and every
thing destroyed. Several of the hands were in the office
at the time, together with a few other individuals. The
mob commenced, as usual, with throwing stones into the
building. One man was hit on the head and severely
wounded ; soon after which, the office was left, and the
ruffians entered unopposed, and effected their work of de-

As it was early, a large concourse of citizens were
collected, and witnessed the doings of the mob. Yet
the strongest aroument used to dissuade them from their
felonious work, was, that if they would wait till morning
he, the individual that addressed them, a wholesale mer-
chant, would go in with them, help pack up the materials
of the office, place them on some boat, put the Editor on
top, and send them all down the river together ! The


civil authorities did nothing. The mayor did not even
gain a " respectful" audience by words of persuasion.
Had you on the next morning passed round from store to
store, and from house to house, through the length and
breadth of Alton, the expressions "good enough for him,"
" served him just right," " glad of it," would oftener have
been heard, than any Avords of reprobation or regret, aye,
ten to one.

The very narrow and providential escape of the Edi-
tor from the hands of the same ruthless miscreants that
demolished his office, will best be given in his own words.

Alton, September 5th, 1837.
Dearest Mother,

My press has again been mobbed down. I be-
lieve brother Owen has written to you about it. It was
done the 21st of August, Monday night, about 11 o'clock,
But I have thought perhaps you would like to hear
from me, and I would have written sooner, but that 1 have
been so hurried and worried, and so busy, that I could not
snatch the time.

Do not think, mother, that I am disheartened or dis-
couraged. Neither is true. I never was more convinced
of the righteousness of the cause, and the certainty of its
ultimate triumph. "As thy day is, so shall thy strength
be." The truth of this promise, I have abundantly ex-
perienced. I have been enabled to bear things, easily
to bear them, that I should once have thought would
have crushed me to the earth. The Lord has indeed
been to me a present, a very present help, in time of
trouble. The Sabbath succeeding the mob, I preached
from the text, " Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
I understood that text as I never had before.


Perhaps you would like to have a brief description of
the proceedings of the mob. About 9 o'clock I was re-
turning from a friend's where I had been to marry a
couple. I stepped into the apothecary's as I came
through town, and got some medicine to bring home to
my wife, she being very sick, as were also several other
members of my family. We reside more than half a mile
from town. And just as I was leaving the principal street
I met the mob. They did not at first recognize me, and I
parted their columns for some distance, and had just
reached the rear, when some of them began to suspect
who it was. They immediately wheeled their column
and came after me ; I did not hurry at all, believing it
was not for such a man as I am to flee. They seemed a
little loath to come on me, and I could hear their leaders
swearing at them, and telling them to "push on," &c.
By this time they began to throw clods of dirt at me, and
several hit, without hurting me. And now a fellow
pushed up to my side armed with a club, to ascertain
certainly who it was. He then yelled out, " It's the

d d Abolitionist, give him hell ;" whereat there was

another rush upon me. But when they got close up,
they seemed again to fall back. At length a number of
them, linked arm in arm, pushed by me and wheeled in
the road before me, thus stopping me completely. I
then spoke to them, asking them why 'they stopped me.

By this time the cry was all around me, " d n him,"

" rail him," " rail him," " tar and feather him," " tar and
feather him." 1 had no doubt that such was to be my
fate. I then said to them, I have one request to make of
you, and then you may do with me what you please, — I
then asked them to send one of their number to take the
medicine to my wife, which I beggad they would do
without alarming her. This they promised, and sent one

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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 16 of 28)