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 20 of 28)
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the duty of Mr. Lovejoy, as a Christian and patriot, to
abstain from the exercise of some of his abstract rights
under existing circumstances. In the course of his re-
marks, the former referred to the pledge said to have
been publicly given by the latter, when he first came to
Alton ; and observed, that at that time he most certainly
did understand Mr. L. to say, that, inasmuch as he had
left a slaveholding state, and had come to reside in a free


State, he did not conceive it his duty to advocate the
cause of emancipation, and did not intend doing so.

The Rev. F. W. Graves then rose in explanation ;
and asked Mr. Hogan whether Mr. Lovejoy did not, at
the time referred to, distinctly state that he yielded none
of his rights, to discuss any subject which he saw fit.
Mr. Hogan replying in the affirmative, Mr. G. proceeded
to remark, that when Mr. L. arrived in this city, he en-
tertained the views attributed to him by the gentleman
who had just taken his seat ; that a change had subse-
quently taken place in his opinions ; and that, at a cer-
tain meeting of the friends of the ' Observer,' he (Mr. L.)
had made known this alteration in his sentiments, and
asked advice whether it was best to come out in public
on the subject. That, under the circumstances of the
case, it was deemed most proper to let the paper go on"
— there then being no excitement in the public mind.
Mr. G. next alluded to the present excited state of the
popular feeling ; and said that the friends of the ' Ob-
server' had lately received communications from all parts
of the country, and even from Kentucky, Missouri, and
Mississippi, urging the necessity of re-establishing the

Mr. Linder followed in reply ; and said he now un-
derstood the whole matter. It was a question, whether
the interest and feelings of the citizens of Alton should
be consulted ; or whether we were to be dictated to by
foreigners, who cared nothing but for the gratification of
their own inclinations, and the establishment of certain
abstract principles, which no one, as a general thing,
ever thought of questioning. He concluded his remarks
by offering the following resolution.

Resolved, That the discussion of the doctrines of im-
mediate Abolitionism, as they have been discussed in the


columns of the ' Alton Observer,' would be destructive
of the peace and harmony of the citizens of Alton, and
that, therefore, we cannot recommend the re-establish-
ment of that paper, or any other of a similar character,
and conducted with a like spirit.

The resolution having been read, Mr. Edwards rose,
and expressed the hope that its adoption would not be
pressed at this moment. He dwelt with great earnest-
ness and effect on the importance of calmness in our de-
liberations ; and trusted that the present meeting would
be productive of good to the community. The resolution
was then laid on the table.

Judge Hawley then made a few very eloquent and ap-
propriate remarks, on the subject for which this meeting
had been called : and concluded by offering the follow-
ing preamble and resolution ; which were read, and laid
on the table for the present.

Whereas, great and general excitement has for some
time past prevailed with the people of the city of Alton,
in relation to the publication of the doctrines of Aboli-
tion, as promulgated by Mr. E. P. Lovejoy, in a paper
called the ' Alton Observer ;' and whereas, as a conse-
quence of that excitement, personal violence has been
resorted to in the destruction of said press : Therefore,

Resolved, That whilst we decidedly disapprove of the
doctrines, as put forth by the said Lovejoy, as subversive
of the great principles of our union, and of the prosperity
of our young and growing city, we at the same time as
decidedly disapprove of all unlawful violence.

The question on agreeing to the report of the com-
mittee was then called for ; and, on motion of Mr. Ho-
gan, the resolutions being taken up separately, were seve-
rally disposed of as follows : resolutions 1,2, and 4, were
agreed to unanimously ; and resolutions 3, 5, and 6, were


Stricken out. The report, as amended, was then agreed

The resolution offered by Mr. Linder, and laid on the
table, was then taken up, and agreed to ; as was also
that subsequently introduced by Judge Hawley, after
striking out the preamble from the latter.

Mr. Krum then offered the following resolution ; which
was also agreed to.

Resolved, That as citizens of Alton, and the friends of
order, peace, and constitutional law, we regret that per-
sons and editors from abroad have seen proper to interest
themselves so conspicuously in the discussion and agita-
tion of a question, in which our city is made the princi-
pal theatre."

The meeting then adjourned, sine die.

SAM'L G. BAILEY, Chairman,

W. F. D'WoLF, Secretary.

These proceedings speak for themselves. Some of
the speeches were of a most violent kind, attacking not
only Abolition, but religion and its ministers. It will be
seen that by rejecting the third resolution, they virtually
declared that no religious paper would be tolerated, al-
though under the management of "judicious proprietors
and editors," and started at a " proper time."

The remarks of our brother referred to in the doings
of the meeting, were as follows.

Having obtained the floor, he went to the desk in front
of the assembly, and said :

" Mr. Chairman — it is not true, as has been charged
upon me, that I hold in contempt the feelings and senti-
ments of this community, in reference to the question
which is now agitating it. I respect and appreciate the
feelings and opinions of my fellow-citizens, and it is one


of the most painful and unpleasant duties of my life, that
I am called upon to act in opposition to them. If you
suppose, sir, that I have published sentiments contrary
to those generally held in this community, because I de-
lighted in differing from them, or in occasioning a dis-
turbance, you have entirely misapprehended me. But,
sir, while I value the good opinion of my fellow-citizens,
as highly as any one, I may be permitted to say, that I
am governed by higher considerations than either the
favour or the fear of man. I am impelled to the course
I have taken, because I fear God. As I shall answer it
to my God in the great day, I dare not abandon my sen-
timents, or cease in all proper ways to propagate them.

" I, Mr. Chairman, have not desired, or asked any
compromise. I have asked for nothing but to be pro-
tected in my rights as a citizen — rights which God has
given me, and which are guaranteed to me by the con-
stitution of my country. Have I, sir, been guilty of any
infraction of the laws ? Whose good name have I in-
jured ? When and where have I published any thing
injurious to the reputation of Alton ? Have I not, on the
other hand, laboured, in common, with the rest of my
fellow-citizens, to promote the reputation and interests of
this city 1 What, sir, I ask, has been my offence ? Put
your finger upon it — define it — and I stand ready to an-
swer for it. If I have committed any crime, you can easily
convict me. You have public sentiment in your favour.
You have your juries, and you have your attorney, (look-
ing at the Attorney-General,) and I have no doubt you
can convict me. But if I have been guilty of no viola-
tion of law, why am I hunted up and down continually
like a partridge upon the mountains ? Why am I threat-
ened v/ith the tar-barrel? Why am I waylaid every


day, and from night to night, and my life in jeopardy
every hour ?

" You have, sir, made up, as the lawyers say, a false
issue ; there are not two parties between whom there
can be a compromise. I plant myself, sir, down on my
unquestionable rights, and the question to be decided is,
whether I shall be protected in the exercise, and enjoy-
ment of those rights — that is the question, sir ; — whether
my property shall be protected, whether I shall be suf-
fered to go home to my family at night without being
assailed, and threatened with tar and feathers, and as-
sassination ; whether my afflicted wife, whose life has
been in jeopardy, from continued alarm and excitement,
shall night after night be driven from a sick bed into the
garret to save her life from the brickbats and violence
of the mobs ; that sir, is the qiiestion.^^ Here, much af-
fected and overcome by his feelings, he burst into tears.
Many, not excepting even his enemies, wept — several
sobbed aloud, and the sympathies of the whole meeting
were deeply excited. He continued. " Forgive me,
sir, that I have thus betrayed my weakness. It was the
allusion to my family that overcame my feelings. Not,
sir, I assure you, from any fears on my part. I have no
personal fears. Not that I feel able to contest the mat-
ter with the whole community, I know perfectly well I
am not. I know, sir, that you can tar and feather me,
hang me up, or put me into the Mississippi, without the
least difficulty. But what then ? Where shall I go ? I
have been made to feel that if I am not safe at Alton, I
shall not be safe any where. I recently visited St.
Charles to bring home my family, and was torn from
their frantic embrace by a mob. I have been beset night
and day at Alton. And now if I leave here and go else-
where, violence may overtake me in my retreat, and I


have no more claim upon the protection of any other com-
munity than I have upon this ; and I have concluded, after
consultation with my friends, and earnestly seeking
counsel of God, to remain at Alton, and here to insist on
protection in the exercise of my rights. If the civil au-
thorities refuse to protect me, I must look to God ; and
if I die, I have determined to make my grave in Alton."

A writer who was present, after giving the substance
of these remarks, observes :

" His manner — but I cannot attempt to describe it.' He
was calm and serious, but firm and decided. Not an epi-
thet or unkind allusion escaped his lips, notwithstanding
he knew he was in the midst of those who were seeking
his blood, and notwithstanding he Avas well aware of the
influence that that meeting, if it should not take the right
turn, would have in infuriating the mob to do their work.
He and his friends had prayed earnestly that God would
overrule the deliberations of that meeting for good. He
had been all day communing with God. His counte-
nance, the subdued tones of his voice, and whole ap-
pearance indicated a mind in a peculiarly heavenly frame,
and ready to acquiesce in the will of God, whatever that
might be. I confess to you, sir, that I regarded him at
the time, in view of all the circumstances, as presenting
a spectacle of moral sublimity, such as I had never be-
fore witnessed, and such as the world seldom affords. It
reminded me of Paul before Festus, and of Luther at

The press was now daily expected. Consequently
there was no little excitement and anxiety. As soon as
the puff of a boat was heard, the friends started for the
landing-place to receive and protect it. The mob were
no less vigilant, and had declared that it should be de-
stroyed at the landing. One of their number was sta-


tioned at St. Louis — where all the boats touch on their
way up the river, to ascertain when it arrived. A friend
also remained there for about a week waiting its arrival,
and prepared to act in concert with those at Alton. An
arrangement was at one time made, to have it landed at
a place called Chippewa, about five miles down the
river, and conveyed secretly to Upper Alton. But not
coming the day that it was expected, and the roads be-
coming bad in consequence of heavy rains, that plan
was* abandoned. At length it came into St. Louis on
Sunday night the 5th, and by expresses, an arrangement
M^as made with the Captain to land it at three o'clock
Monday night, or rather Tuesday morning. The exact
lime of its arrival was known to a few only, though that
a press was expected, was known throughout the city.
On Monday Mr. W. S. Gilman and our brother went to
the Mayor, told him of the expected arrival of the press,
and of the threats made of destroying it, which indeed
were notorious ; and requested that special constables
might be appointed to keep the peace. This request
the Mayor communicated to the Common Council, stating
at the same time, that from the confidence placed in the
persons making these representations, as well as from
what he himself knew, he had good reason to believe
that there would be some infraction of the laws, and sub-
mitted to them whether some action would not be neces-
sary. After a few moments silence, Mr. King, one of
the aldermen, moved " that a note be addressed to Mr.
Lovejoy and his friends, requesting them not to persist
in establishing an Abolition press in Alton, and setting
forth the reasons for the same." We have a paper signed
by the Clerk of the Common Council containing the
above, as an extract from the records of the said Coun-
cil. The phrase " setting forth the reasons for the same,"


is obscure. Probably it means setting forth the reasons
to " Mr. Lovejoy and his friends why they shoidd not
establish an Abolition press.*' The Mayor told them
that that vote was not answering the proposition which
he made to them, and that consequently he should not
sign it if passed. It was laid on the table, and the
Council adjourned, and nothing more was done about it.
On Monday evening between forty and fifty citizens met
in the warehouse of Godfrey, Oilman & Co., where the
press was to be stored, in order to form themselves into
a volunteer company, to act under the direction of the
Mayor, in defence of the law. About ten o'clock several
left ; not far from thirty remaining in the building, with
one of the city constables to command them. They
were armed w'ith rifles and muskets, mostly the former,
loaded with buckshot or small balls. The Editor of the
" Observer" was not there. His dwelling had been at-
tacked but a few nights before, and himself and sister
narrowly escaped being hit with a heavy brickbat, suffi-
cient to take life. In consequence of the nightly ex-
pectation of an assault, he made arrangements with a
brother then with him, to w^atch alternately every other
night, at home and at the store. At three o'clock the
boat arrived containing the long looked for press. It
was a light night, and the sentinel of the mob had been
seen, at intervals all night on the shore, who immedi-
ately gave the alarm, and horns were blown throughout
the city. As soon as the boat was heard, the ^Nlayor
was called, and came into the building. He requested
those within to remain there, and keep quiet, till called
upon. He said he shoidd go out and attend the storing
of the press, and if any mob collected should command
them to disperse — if they refused, and offered any vio-
lence, he should command those in the building to fire.


Owing, however, to the lateness of the hour, the mob
were unable to muster their forces, to any considerable
number, and the press was stored without molestation,
except the firing of a few stones. The press thus safely-
deposited in the garret of a firm stone warehouse, was
thought to be secure. The great contest was expected
at the landing, as it would be more difficult to protect it
there, and of course additional advantages would be af-
forded the mob for its destruction.

No very unusual excitement prevailed on Tuesday,
though it was noised through the city that " the Abolition
press" had arrived. On Tuesday night the volunteers
already spoken of again met at the same place. At
nine, all but twelve (one or two dropped in afterwards)
went away. Our brother remained, who with one or
two others, was the only Abolitionist there. They were
there not as Abolitionists but as citizens.

And here it will be proper to describe the building,
so that the reader may have a clear conception of the
scene. The . Mississippi river, whose general course,
as is known, is southerly, at this point runs nearly
east. The building is composed of two stores, with two
separate roofs, communicating with each other within.
The gable ends are north and south — one of them of
course, next the river. All the windows, and also all
the doors, with the exception of one which opens into
the basement story on the east side, are in the two gable
ends. It is three stories high on the north end, and
four on the south, the one next the river. It stands
alone ; a street being on the north end, the river on the
south, and several rods open space on the two sides,
so that it is accessible on all points.

About ten o'clock, the drunkeries and coffee-houses
beoan to belch forth their inmates, and a mob of about


thirty individuals, armed, some with stones, and some
with guns and pistols,* formed themselves into a line on

Fro7n the Alton TelegrapJi^ January 2ith, 1S3S.


Contrary to general expectation, the persons recently indicted for
having participated in the fatal riot of the 7th of November, were brought
to trial on Wednesday and Friday of last vt^eek, and severally acquitted
— the assailants and defendants being tried on different days. Our busi-
ness engagements having put it out of our power to attend in either case,
we are indebted for the following brief notes of both trials to the polite-
ness of two gentlemen present, who have kindly furnished them at our re-

" On Wednesday last, our City Court was occupied from half-past nine
in the morning until ten at night, in the trial of the cause of the People vs.
Enoch Long, T. B. Hurlbut, Wm. Harned, Geo. A. Walworth, A. B, Roff,
Winthrop S. Gilman, James Morss, Jr., George H. Whitney, John S.
Noble, Henry Tanner, Royal Weller, and Reuben Gerry, upon an indict-
ment fora riot on the memorable night of the 7th November last, in defend-
ing a printingpress then in thepo.ssession of Godfrey, Oilman & Co. The
indictment contained two counts ; one of which charged the defendants
with resisting an attack made by certain persons unknown, to destroy a
printing press, the property of Godfrey and Gilman, and then being in
their possession ; the other count charged the defendants with unlawfully
defending a certain warehouse — being the property of Godfrey and Gil-
man, — against an attempt by certain persons to force open and enter the
same. Mr. Davis, one of the counsel for Mr. Gilman, moved for a sepa-
rate trial as to Mr. Gilman ; which, after much argument, was granted,
upon the condition that the other eleven defendants should stipulate to be
tried jointly. At this stage of the cause, a petition signed by some sixty
citizens was presented to the court, praying that the Hon. U. F. Linder,
Attorney Gener.alof the State, might be permitted to assist the City At-
torney in the prosecution of the indictment. The court, in answer to
the petition, remarked, that it was wholly without its pi-ovince to interfere
with the subject matter of the petition ; inasmuch as the City Attorney
alone, could say who should and who should not assist him ; and conse-
quently, the court, in discharge of its duty, and with all respect
for the petitioners, would be compelled to deny the request ; but that the
Attorney General could appear in the cause, if the counsel for the people
and the defendant should so consent. Mr. Davis then arose, and stated
to the court, that neither Mr. Gilman nor his counsel had any objection


the south end of the store next the river, knocked and
hailed the store. Those within were stationed in difFe-

whateverto the Attorney General's appearing on behalf of the People.
The City Attorney consenting, Mr. Linder appeared in aid of the prose-

A jury was without much difficulty impanneled ; and the prosecution
proceeded in the examination of the testimony, which developed most
clearly this whole transaction from its origin down to its lamentable ter-
mination. One of the witnesses on the part of the prosecution, H. H.
West, Esq. stated, that early in the evening, about dark, a person called
upon him, and informed him that a mob was to be gotten up that nighty
with a view of destroying the press then in the warehouse of Godfrey,
Gilman & Co., and that the assailants had determined to obtain the
press, and destroy it, either by burning the warehouse, or blowing it up ;
that the person giving him the information urged him to go and see Mr.
Gilman, and inform him of the fact ; that he, in company with E. Keating,
Esq. did repair to the warehouse of Mr. Gilman, where he found a num-
ber of individuals assembled, all of whom were armed with muskets ; and
that he there stated to Mr. Gilman what he had been told, and the rumour
that was current through the town ; that Mr. Gilman expressed great
astonishment at the information, and could not credit it ; and said he did
not expect any attack would be made that evening. Mr. West also stated
that the attack commenced on the outside, by throwing a volley of stones
at the windows and doors, and that two guns were fired from the outside
previous to any guns being fired from within. Mr. Keating corroborated
in every respect the testimony ol Mr. West, and also testified that the
firing of guns commenced on the outside, and at the time the first attack was
made upon the building. All the witnesses agreed in this particular;
and the Mayor of the city, in his testimony stated that he saw the assail-
ants, when they first went to the warehouse, many of whom were picking
up stones as they proceeded towards it, and that one man had a gun.
There was one other witness, besides the Mayor, called on behalf of the
defendant, who corroborated the statement of the witnesses on the part
of the prosecution, as to the attack first being made on the outside with
stones and fire-arms, and who stated further, that he was one of the in-
dividuals in the building, who had repaired there with a view of defend-
ing it ; that it was well understood and agreed among them, that they
were in no case to act except upon the defensive ; and that a resort to
fire-arms was not to be had unless driven to it in the preservation of their
lives. He further stated that they all supposed they were acting under
the authority of the Mayor.
The above is the substance of the testimony, both on the part of the


rent parts of the building. Mr. Oilman, one of the own-
ers of the store, asked them from the garret door, what

prosecution and the defence, and which will serve to give the public some
idea of the facts developed in the cause, until they shall be enabled to see
a minute statement of the whole trial, which, we are informed, is novt" pre-
paring — a gentlemen having taken full notes for that purpose— and which
will be published in pamphlet form as soon as the circumstances w.ill
admit of it. The counsel for the defendant then proposed to submit the
case without argument to the jury ; which being objected to on the part
of the prosecution, it was summed up by F. B. Murdoch, City Attorney,
Samuel G. Bailey, and U. F. Linder, Attorney General, Esq'rs., on the
part of the prosecution, and Geo. T. M. Davis and Alfred Cowles, Esq'rs.
on the part of the defendant. No instructions being asked for by either
side, the cause was submitted after the argument of counsel without any
instructions from his honour the Judge to the jury ; who, after an absence
of ten minutes, returned into court the verdict of Not Guilty. The next
morning the City Attorney entered a 7iolle prosequi as to the otiier eleven

On Friday, the 19th of January, there came on for trial in the Munici-
pal Court of this city, the case of the People against Frederick Bruchey,
William Carr, James M. Rock, David Butler, Horace Beall, Levi

Palmer, Nutter, Jennings, and others. Two of the defendants

had left the city : the others came in voluntarily, and entered the plea of
Not Guilty. The indictment was for riot, and charged that the defend-
ants, on the 7th of November, with force and arms, riotously and rout-
ously entered the warehouse of Benjamin Godfrey and Winthrop S. Gil-
man, and forcibly broke and destroyed a printing press, then and there
being, the proper goods and chattels of the said Godfrey and Gilman,
contrary to the statute in such case made and provided. An indictment
had been found against Winthrop S. Gilman and others, who had entered

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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 20 of 28)