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 17 of 28)
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of their number to do it, who did it according to their
promise. I then said to them, " You had better let me
go home, you have no right to detain me ; I have never
injured you." They began to curae and swear, when I
added, " I am in your hands, and you must do with me
whatever God permits you to do." They consulted a few
moments, and then told me I might go home.

Thus you see how the Lord delivered me from those
who rose up to do me hurt. Blessed be his name. During
the whole of this trying scene my mind was as calm as
it is now. I had time when I heard the mob coming, to
lift up my heart to God, and he kept it in perfect peace.

Do write soon. My sheet is full. I am well, and so
are we all but wife and child, and they are better. Love
to all our brothers and sisters. May God bless them and
you, my dearest mother.


That the world may know what were the principles,
for believing which he " forfeited all claims to the pro-
tection of that or any other community," we give here
his sentiments on the subject of Slavery, as contained
in the " Alton Observer" of July 20th, 1837, alluded to
in his answer to the Market House Committee.


" A YOUNG man had become exceedingly angry with an
ancient philosopher, and had raised his cane to strike
him. ' Strike,' said the philosopher — ' strike, but hear
me.' He listened, and was convinced. There is not,
probably, an individual, who reads this, that cannot re-


collect some instance in his life, in whicli Ids strong op-
position to certain measures and principles, he now sees,
was entirely owing lo groundless and unreasonable pre-
judices ; and he is a fortunate man who can recollect
but one such instance.

In respect to the subject now to be discussed, the
writer frankly confesses no one of his readers can pos-
sibly be more prejudiced, or more hostile to anti-slavery
measures or men, than he once was. And his, too, were
honest, though, alas ! how mistaken, prejudices. They
arose partly from the fact that the ' new measures' came
directly in contact with his former habits of thought and
action, and partly, and chiefly, from the strange and as-
tonishingly perverted representations given of leading
men and their principles, in this new movement. We
recollect no instance of parallel misrepresentation, except
the charge brought against Christ of casting out devils
by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. These misrepre-
sentations were started by a few, and honestly believed
by the many. They still prevail to a very great extent.
Very probably some of our readers may be under their
influence more or less. We ask them to be candid Avith
themselves, and if they find this to be the case, to make
an effort to throw them ofl", and come to the perusal of
what follows, ready to embrace the truth wherever it is
found. For truth is eternal, unchanging, though circum-
stances may, and do operate to give a diflerent colour to
it, in our view, at diflerent times. And truth will pre-
vail, and those who do not yield to it must be destroyed
by it. What then are the doctrines of Anti-Slavery men ?


1 . Abolitionists hold that ' all men are born free and
equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable


rights, among which are life, liberty, and. the pursuit
of happiness.' They do not beheve that these rights are
abrogated, or at all modified by the colour of the skin,
but that they extend alike to every individual of the hu-
man family.

2. As the above-mentioned rights are in their nature
inalienable, it is not possible that one man can convert
another into a piece of property, thus at once annihi-
lating all his personal rights, without the most flagrant
injustice and usurpation. But American Slavery does
this — it declares a slave to be a ' thing,' a ' chat-
tel,' an article of personal ' property,' a piece of ' mer-
chandise,' and now actually holds two and a half
millions of our fellow-men in this precise condition.

3. Abolitionists, therefore, hold American Slavery to
be a lorong, a legalized system of inconceivable injus-
tice, and a sin. That it is a sin against God, whose
prerogative as the rightful owner of all human beings is
usurped, and against the slave himself, who is deprived
of the power to dispose of his services as conscience may
dictate, or his Maker require. And as whatever is mo-
rally wrong can never be politically right, and as the
Bible teaches, and as Abolitionists believe, that ' right-
eousness exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to any
people,' they also hold that Slavery is a political evil of
unspeakable magnitude, and one which, if not removed,
will speedily work the downfall of our free institutions,
both civil and religious.

4. As the Bible inculcates upon man but one duty in
respect to sin, and that is, immediate repentance ; Aboli-
tionists believe that all who hold slaves, or who approve
the practice in others, should immediately cease to do so.

5. Lastly, Abolitionists believe, that as all men are
born free, so all who are now held as slaves in this


country were born free, and that they are slaves now
is the sin, not of those who introduced the race into this
country, but of those, and those alone, who now hold
them, and have held them in Slavery from their birth.
Let it be admitted, for argument's sake, that A or B has
justly forfeited his title to freedom, and that he is now
the rightful slave of C, bought with his money, how does
this give C a claim to the posterity of A down to the
latest generation ? And does not the guilt of enslaving
the successive generations of A's posterity belong to
their respective masters, whoever they be ? No where
are the true principles of freedom and personal rights
better understood than at the South, though their prac-
tice corresponds so wretchedly with their theory. Abo-
litionists adopt, as their own, the following sentiments,
expressed by Mr. Calhoun in a speech on the tariff ques-
tion, delivered in the Senate of the United States, in
1833 : — ' He who earns the money — who digs it out of
the earth with the sweat of his brow, has 3, just title to it
against the Universe. No one has a right to touch it,
without his consent, except his government, and it only
to the extent of its legitimate wants : to take more is
robbery.'' Now, this is precisely what slaveholders do,
and Abolitionists do but echo back their own language,
when they pronounce it ' robbery.''

emancipation WHAT IS MEANT BY IT ?

Simply, that the slaves shall cease to be held as pro-
perty, and shall henceforth be held and treated as hu-
man beings. Simply, that we should take our feet from
off their necks. Perhaps Ave cannot express ourselves
better than to quote the language of another southerner.
In reply to the question what is meant by emancipation,
the answer is :


1. ' It is to reject with indignation the wild and guilty
phantasy, that man can hold property in man. 2. To
pay the labourer his hire, for he is worthy of it. 3. No
longer to deny him the right of marriage, but to ' let every
man have his own wife,' as saith the apostle. 4. To let
parents have their own children, for they are th^ gift of
the Lord to them, and no one else has any right to them.
5. No longer to withhold the advantages of education,
and the privilege of reading the Bible. 6. To put the
slave under the protection of law, instead of throwing
him beyond its salutary influence.'

Now, who is there that is opposed to Slavery at all,
and believes it to be wrong and a sin, but will agree to
all this ?


To this question the answer is, by the masters them-
selves, and by no others. No others can effect it, nor is
it desirable that they should, even if they could. Eman-
cipation, to be of any value to the slave, must be the free,
voluntary act of the master, performed from a conviction
of its propriety. This avowal may sound very strange
to those who have been in the habit of taking the prin-
ciples of the Abolitionists from the misrepresentations of
their opponents. Yet this is, and always has been, the
cardinal principle of Abolitionists. If it be asked,
then, why they intermeddle in a matter where they can
confessedly do nothing themselves, in achieving the de-
sired result? their reply is, that this is the very reason
why they do and ought to intermeddle. It is because
they cannot emancipate the slaves, that they call upon
those who can to do it. Could they themselves do it,
there would be no need of discussion — instead of dis-


cussing they would act, and with their present views,
the work would soon be accomplished.

Who are they that hold Temperance meetings, form
Temperance Societies, sustain and edit, and circulate
Temperance ' Intelligencers' and ' H eralds'? Are they
the men who own distilleries, or who sell or drink ardent
spirits by the wholesale or retail ? Directly the reverse.
They are men who have been convinced of the evil and
the sin of such practices, and having quit them, them-
selves, are now endeavouring to persuade their neigh-
bours to do the same thing. For what purpose are the
very efficient Executive Committee of the Illinois State
Temperance Society now publishing their ' Herald,' and
endeavouring to send it into every family of the state ?
Avowedly for the purpose of shutting up every distillery
and dram shop in the state. The object is a noble one,
and we bid them God speed ; but how do they purpose
to accomplish it ? By doing violence, or exciting an
angry community to do violence, to the persons or pro-
perty of their fellow citizens ? By no manner of means.
They would not, if they could, shut up a single grog-
shop belonging to their neighbours — and in this thing, all
the inhabitants of the state, yea, of the world, are their
neighbours — but they wish, and are determined, if light,
and love, and argument, and fact, and demonstration can
effect it, to persuade all to abandon a business so detri-
mental to all concerned in it, and to the community at
large. Now this is precisely the ground occupied by
Abolitionists in relation to Slavery. x\nd let it be re-
membered that the objection of interfering in the busi-
ness of others applies with equal force to the one as to
the other. Should the friends of Temperance succeed,
they will deprive many a man of what is now a very
profitable business, and so will the Abolitionists. But in


both cases the result will be achieved with the hearty
and glad acquiescence of those more immediately con-
cerned, and a great common good will be effected, infi-
nitely over-balancing the partial evil, if evil it may be
called, to deprive a man of the profits arising from rum
selling or slave trading.

But, in the second place, as to the •particular mode of
effecting emancipation. This, too, belongs to the master
to decide. When we tell a distiller or a vender of ar-
dent spirits, that duty requires him to forsake his present
business, we go no further. It belongs not to the preacher
of Temperance to dictate to them, what particular use
they shall make of those materials now so improperly
employed. He may do any thing, convert his buildings
and appurtenances to any use, so that it be a lawful one.
Yet advice might, perhaps, be kindly given and profitably
listened to. We can tell the slaveholder what he may
do with his slaves after emancipation, so as to do them
justice, and at the same time, lose nothing himself.
Employ them as free labourers, pay them their stipulated
wages, and the results of the West India emancipation
have afTorded to us the means of assuring him that he
will derive more clear profit from their labour as freemen
than as slaves. Did the Abolitionists propose to remove
the slave population from the country, the free inhabi-
tants of the South might justly complain ; for that would
soon render their country a barren and uncultivated
waste. But they aim at no such thing ; nor yet would
they encourage or allow the emancipated slaves to roam
about the country as idle vagabonds ; they would say to
them, as to others, " They that will not work, neither
shall they eat," and let the regulation be enforced with
all proper sanctions. Only, when they work let them
be paid for it.



No charge has been more perseveringly made, or con-
tributed more to render the cause of emancipation odious,
than that its friends were also advocates of the amalga-
mation of the two races. Now, in answer to this, we
reply :

1. The charge comes with an exceedingly bad grace
from those who are loudest in making it ; since they, that
is many of them — (we speak within bounds when we say
more than half of them) — do not only advocate, but ac-
tually practice amalgamation. The evidence of this is
written in the bleached countenances of the slaves
throughout all the slaveholding region. The law of
slave descent is, that the children follow the condition of
the mother ; and the consequence is, that thousands hold
as slaves their own sons and daughters, and brothers and
sisters, and nephews and neices. We know several
cases of this sort. The Vice President of the United
States has been, if he is not now, the father of slaves.
And thousands have voted to elevate him to his present
condition, who would crucify an Abolitionist on the bare
suspicion of favouring, though only in theory, such an
amalgamation. How shall we account for such incon-
sistency ?

2. But, secondly, the charge is untrue — completely,
and absolutely, and in every sense untrue. Abolitionists
do NOT advocate the doctrine of amalgamation, but the
reverse. And nothing can be more unjust than thus to
charge them, without the least shadow of truth to sustain
the charge. On the contrary, one reason why Abolition-
itsts urge the Abolition of Slavery is, that they fully be-
lieve it v/ill put a stop, in a great, and almost entire mea-
sure, to that wretched, and shameful, and polluted inter-
course between the whites and blacks, now so common,



it may be said so universal, in the slave states. As to
equality of privileges, immunities, &c., the question of
emancipation has nothing to do with these questions at
all. Abolitionists are not so silly as to suppose' that
merely setting the slaves free vi^ill at once make
learned, virtuous, and influential individuals out of the
degraded mass of slaves. They know better, though at
the same time, they believe a process of purification and
elevation would commence, which would gradually be
productive of the most beneficial consequences. The
question of civil rights is one entirely distinct from that
of personal rights. Let the latter be restored and guar-
anteed, and the w^hole object of the Abolitionists, as such,
is accomplished. Political rights are alienable, per-
sonal rights are not. Personal rights are often as se-
cure under the government of a despot — Frederick the
Great, of Prussia, for instance, as they possibly can be
any where ; while at the same time the subject has no
political rights, give him these and you allow him to pursue
his own happiness in his own way, provided he seeks it
not at the expense of others. If in this pursuit he be-
comes the most virtuous, the most learned, the most elo-
quent, the most influential man in the United States, we
see not how it is to be helped, nor who has a right to ob-
struct his course.

The above exposition of anti-slavery principles has
been made at the request of a number of our re-
spectable citizens. In preparing it, we have felt deeply
our responsibility, and have trembled lest through any in-
advertence of language we should make ourselves liable
to be misunderstood, and thus repel the minds of those
whom we wish to gain. In the correctness of these
principles we have the most unshaken confidence, and
that they finally will be properly understood and most


universally adopted by our countrymen, we have no more
doubt than we have, that Washington lived and Warren
died to secure the blessings of civil and religious liberty.
That they have met with such determined opposition,
and brought upon their prominent supporters such ex-
treme manifestations of popular hatred, is partly and
chiefly owing to the fact that they have been strangely
misapprehended, and partly that in their practical appli-
cation in this country, they strike, or are supposed to
srike, at self-interests of great magnitude.

Until the sentiments and principles set forth above
shall prevail over the earth, the world can never be deliv-
ered from the bondage under which it has so long groaned.
They are the sentiments which, though oftentimes dimly
and feebly apprehended, have actuated the minds of the
great and good of every age, who have mourned over the
degradation of human nature, and have sought to elevate
it, by ascertaining and securing those rights of man with
which his Maker has endowed him. They are the prin-
ciples which actuated a Thrasybulus, an Epaminondas, a
Spartacus and a Brutus, of antiquity ; a Doria, a Tell, a
Hampden, a Sidney, a Russell, a Hancock, an Adams, a
Washington, of later days. They brought our pilgrim
fathers from the homes and fire-sides of old England to
this country, then an unknown land, and a waste, howl-
ing wilderness. They sustained them to endure Toils,
and hardships, and privations, until they made the ' wilder-
ness to rejoice and blossom as the rose.' And now shall
their children forsake these principles, and attempt to roll
back the wheels of that reformation on whose banner is
inscribed the liberty and equality of the human
RACE, and which dispenses in its train, alike to all, the
blessings of peace, of harmony, and the unmolested rights
of conscience ? No, they will not, they dare not.


We do not mean to be understood than in the oases
referred to above, the manifestations of these principles
were always proper. Enough, however, appeared to
show that the minds of these patriots and sages were
communing with their Maker, and were receiving from
Him — though owing to the darkness of their minds, im-
perfectly understood and often misapprehended — revela-
tions of the rights, duties, and privileges which he de-
signed for the race.

Did the forms
Of servile custom cramp their gen'rous powers ?
Would sordid policies, the barb'rous growth
Of ignorance and rapine, bow them down
To tame pursuits, to indolence and fear ?
Lo I they appeal to nature, to the winds
And rolling waves, the sun's unwearied course,
The elements and seasons; all declare
For what the eternal Maker has ordain'd
The powers of main, they felt within themselves
His energy divine.

These principles, then, are eternal and immutable, for
they are established by God himself, and whoever would
destroy them, must first reach up to heaven and dethrone
the Almighty. Sin had well nigh banished them from
the earth, when the Son of God came down to re-assert
them, and died to sanction them. They are summed
up, perfectly, in the language by which the angels an-
nounced the object of the Redeemer's mission — ' Glory
TO God in the highest, on earth peace, good will
toward men.' "


Immediately after the destruction of the materials of
the office, the friends in Alton had a meeting, at which
there was but one voice, and that was, that the " Obser-
ver" must be re-estahlished and go on. A gentleman, one
of the most wealthy in the place, said, that although he
could not at that time advance the money to purchase
new materials, yet rather than that the paper should not
be again started he would mortgage every cent of his
private property. ^

Thus encouraged, the Editor sent forth the following
appeal on an extra sheet of the " Observer."


August 2ith, 1837.

After mentioning the demolition of his office, he
continues :

I now appeal to you, and all the friends of law and
order, to come up to the rescue. If you will sustain me,
by the help of God, the press shall be again established
at this place, and shall be sustained, come what will.
Let the experiment be fairly tried, whether the liberty of
speech and of the press is to be enjoyed in Illinois or

We need your help, and we must have it or sink. Let
every man who ever means to do any thing in the cause


of civil and religious liberty, do it now. Let new sub-
scribers send in their names, let former subscribers pay
up their dues, and let every one send in their contribu-
tions, as it will require not less than fifteen hundred dol-
lars to re-establish the " Observer." Every thing depends
on you. If you take hold like men, like freemen, like
Christians, all will be well ; if you do not, mobism will
triumph, but I shall be guiltless.


P. S. Let every man disposed to help, write me im-
mediately, and let me know definitely, what he can do
and what he will do. E. P. L.

The response to this appeal was full, prompt, decided
and encouraging ; and from almost all classes. Espe-
cially was this the case from his ministerial brethren.
The letters before us, and there are many, from every
part of the state, and not a few from other states, are
uniformly expressive of sympathy and condolence to-
wards the Editor, and approval of his course — assurance
of assistance — and an earnest wish and confident expec-
tation that his paper should go on. It is difficult to de-
cide which is greatest, the surprise or indignation ex-
pressed in these letters. Surprise, because Alton had a
name for morality and religion above every other place
in the state ; and indignation that any attempt should be
made to destroy the freedom of the press, and that eight
or ten thousand people should be deprived the opportu-
nity of reading the paper of their choice.

Having, in Alton and Quincy, obtained by subscription
a sufficient sum, he sent to Cincinnati to purchase the
requisite materials for a new office.

Although his hands were thus made strong, and his heart


encouraged, still the latter part of September, and the first
of the next month, was perhaps the gloomiest season of the
year: not from the deadly hatred of his enemies, though that
was continually increasing, but from the waning ardour,
and wavering resolution of many of his friends in Alton.
There were some, however, who never swerved nor hesi-
tated. And it must be acknowledged that there were
many things to discourage them. The pecuniary burden
had to a considerable extent fallen on them, and money
matters were hard. But what contributed principally to
this abatement of zeal, and partial desertion among his
friends, was the pernicious influence of a certain pam-
phlet,* full of gross perversions, gilded over with a smirk-
ing cant of Christian sincerity. This tract with a spe-
cious sophistry well calculated to deceive, endeavours to
prove that the Holy Bible sanctions the system of Ameri-
can Slavery ; and exhorts the conscientious slaveholder
no longer to go with his head bowed down like a bulrush,
oppressed with the feeling that God's " hot displeasure,"
is out against him for his oppression and injustice, but to
go cheerily on in the good old time-honoured path press-
ed by patriarchal feet, and guarded by apostolic injunc-
tions !

Such was the influence of this pamphlet, seconded as
it was by the efforts of a kindred spirit — the Rev. Joel
Parker of New Orleans, that some were deceived and
" went back," others disheartened ; and all who were
opposed, confirmed and strengthened in their hostility.

In consequence there was a want of union among
those who had been supporters of the " Observer." Some
wanted it to be a religious paper — which indeed it al-
ways had been — in other words that it should not med-

* By Rev. Mr. Smylie of Mississippi.


die with the subject of Slavery. We speak now of
those in Alton, with whom it was to decide whether the
paper should start there again or not. Owing to this
state of things, the following letter was written.


Alton, Septejnher llth, 1837.
Dear Brethren,

It is at all times important that the friends of
truth should be united. It is especially so at the pre-

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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 17 of 28)