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 21 of 28)
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the said warehouse to defend the press from threatened destruction by
the mob without. That indictment was tried on Wednesday, the 17th
day of January, which trial resulted in the acquittance of Mr. Gilman,
who was tried separately ; after which the City Attorney dismissed the
prosecution as to the other defendants, jointly indicted with him. This
trial having led to an examination of the whole case, as well of those as-
saulting the warehouse, as of those defending it, the members of the jury
of the regular pannel had formed opinions in relation to the matter, so as
to disqualify themselves. It therefore became necessary to select a new
jury from the by-standers, for the purpose of trying the last case.

On the part of the People, it was proved, that the press had arrived by


they wanted. Their leader, Wilham Carr, replied,
" the press." Mr. Gilman then told them that it would

steamboat a day or two previous to the 7th of November, consigned to
Mr. A. B. RofF; but was landed at Messrs. Godfrey and Gihnan s ware-
house, w here it was stored ; that said warehouse was built by those gen-
tlemen in 1832, and has been since that time owned and occupied by
them, as forwarding and commission mei'chants ; that on the afternoon
of November 7th, one of the defendants had told the witness, (H. H.
West, Esq.) that the boys were going to attack the warehouse, and that it
•would be either blown up or burned, unless the press was given up ; and
that some of the defendants were in a company of about tw'enty-five, that
formed a line from a certain grocery, swearing that they would have the
press at all hazards. It was also proved that two guns or pistols were
fired from the outside of the warehouse at those within ; that showers of
stones were discharged against the front of the building, by which the
windows were demolished ; that during the attack a man named Bishop
was shot from the inside of the warehouse; that some of the defendants
were seen carrying away his bod)^ observing that one of their men had
been wounded ; that Mr. Gilman addressed the crowd from the third story
of the building, requesting them to desist, and stating that he was defend-
ing his property, which he felt it his duty to do at the risk of his life ; that
he was replied to by one of the defendants, as spokesman for the rest,
who observed that they were determined to destroy the press, if it cost
them their lives.

It was also proved by the Mayor, and S. W. Robbins, a Justice of the
Peace, that they identified several of the defendants, with arms in their
hands, declaring that they would have the press ; that a man was seen
going towards the warehouse, with fire in his hands, swearing that he
would burn down the building ; that a ladder was set up against the side,
and the fire actually communicated to thereof; that at this time, Mr.
West went in with the Mayor, to propose a capitulation, by which it was
stipulated that if those inside would leave the warehouse, and give up
the press, they should not be injured, and no other property, except the
press, molested ; that the building was accordingly abandoned by Mr.
Gilman, and its other defenders, as the only means left them to prevent
its destruction, and that of their own lives ; that they were fired upon
by some of the crowd as they retreated; that upon their leaving the
warehouse, it was immediately entered by some of the defendants and
others ; that the press was thrown out, and demolished with a sledge
hammer, &c.

This constitutes the sum of the evidence on the part of the prosecu-
tion. On the part of the defendants, it was proved by Mr. Gilman that

REV. E. P. LOVE JOY. 289

not be given up, and added, " we have no ill feelings to-
wards any of you, and should much regret to do you
any injury ; but we are authorized by the Mayor to
defend our property, and shall do so with our lives."
Carr again replied that they had determined to have it
even at the sacrifice of their lives, and presented a pistol
towards Mr. G., who then retired into the building. The
mob then went round to the opposite end of the ware-
house, and commenced throwing stones, which soon de-
molished several windows. Those in the building had
agreed not to fire unless their lives were endangered.
After throwing stones for some time, the mob fired two
or three guns into the building, without however wound-
ing any one. The fire was then returned from within,
two or three guns discharged upon the rioters, several of
their number wounded, and one by the name of Bishop,
mortally. This checked the efforts of the mob and they
departed, carrying away those that were wounded. The
number is not known as they were concealed by their
friends. After a visit to the rum-shops, they returned
Avith ladders and other materials to set fire to the roof of
the warehouse, shouting with fearful imprecations and
curses, " Burn them out, burn them out " They now
kept themselves on the side of the building where there
were no windows, so that they could not be annoyed or
driven away by those within the building, unless they
came out. This of course would be extremely danger-
ous, as the night was perfectly clear, and the moon at its

he -was not the owner of the press, and had no further interest in it, than
the liability of himself and partner for its safe-keeping. After argument
by counsel, the case was submitted to the jury, who returned a verdict
of Not Guilty. Counsel for the people, F. B. Murdoch, City Attorney,
and Alfred Cowles, Esq'rs ; for the defence, U. F. Linder, Esq., At-
torney General. [See the Mayor's evidence at the end.]



full. The Mayor and Justice Robbins were then depu-
ted by the mob to bear a flag of truce to those within,
proposing as terms of capitulation, that the press should
be given up, and on that condition, they might be per-
mitted to depart unmolested, and that no other property
should be destroyed. The Mayor made known the terms
of surrender to the little band, at the same time informing
them that the mob had determined to fire the building.
They promptly replied, that they came there to defend
their property, and should do it. Mr. Oilman then re-
quested him to call upon certain citizens to prevent the
burning of the store. The Mayor replied, that so nu-
merous were the mob, and so desperate withal, that he
could do nothing but command and persuade, which he
had already tried without effect. He was then asked if
they should defend their property with arms, he replied
as he had repeatedly before, that they had a perfect right
so to do, and that the law justified that course. On re-
turning and reporting the result of his embassy, the mob
set up a shout, and rushed on with cries of " Fire the
building, fire the building," " Burn 'em out, burn 'em

out," " shoot every d d Abolitionist as he leaves."

It was now near midnight. The bells had been rung
and a large concourse of citizens assembled, who stood
inactive spectators of these deeds of arson and murder.
The mob now raised their ladders and placed them on
the north-east corner of the store, and kindled a fire on
the roof, which although of wood, did not burn very
readily. About five individuals now volunteered to go
out and drive them away. They left the building on the
south end, came round to the south-east corner of the
building, turned the angle, and two or three fired upon
the man on the ladder, drove him away and dispersed
the mob. They then returned into the store and re-load-


ed. Our brother and*Mr. Weller, with one or two others
again stepped to the door, and, seeing no one, stood
looking round just without the threshhold, our brother
being a little before the others and more exposed. Sev-
eral of the mob had in the meantime, concealed them-
selves behind a pile of lumber that lay at a short dis-
tance. One of them had a two-barrelled gun and fired.
Our brother received five balls, three in his breast, two
on the left and one on the right side, one in the abdomen,
and one in his left arm. He turned quickly round into
the store, ran hastily up a flight of stairs, with his arms
across his breast, came into the counting-room, and fell,
exclaiming " Oh God, I am shot," " I am shot," and ex-
pired in a few moments. Mr. Weller received a ball in
the calf of his leg, but has since recovered. Some in
the building were for continuing the conflict, but they
finally resolved to yield. One of their number the Rev.
Mr. Harned, then went up to the scuttle, and informed
the mob that Mr. Lovejoy was dead and that they would
give up the press, provided they might be allowed to es-
cape unmolested. When this announcement was made
the mob set up a yell of exultation which rent the very
heavens, and swore that they should all find a grave
where they were. Mr. RofT then determined to go out
at all hazards and to make some terms if possible. As
soon as he had opened the door, and placed one foot
without, he was fired upon and wounded in the ankle.
He too has nearly recovered. A Mr. West then came
to the door on the north end of the store, and cried to
those within, " For God's sake leave the building and let
them in or all the property will be destroyed," stating
also that the roof was already on fire, and that it was
useless to remain. All except two or three then laid
down their arms, left the building at the southern door,


and fled down the river. As tliey 'escaped, they were
fired upon by the mob, and one individual had a ball pass
through his coat near his shoulder. The mob then rush-
ed into the building, — the fire being extinguished — threw
the press out of the window upon the shore, broke it to
pieces, and threw it into the river. They destroyed no
other property except a few guns. They offered no in-
dignity to their murdered victim, who lay on a cot in the
counting-room. Dr. S. M. Hope, one of their number,
insisted on taking the ball from Mr. Weller's leg, but he
refused, saying that he would rather die than receive as-
sistance from one of the mob.

About two o'clock the mob dispersed. On the door of
the building where some of those who had escaped had
taken refuge, figures of coffins were drawn, under which
was written, " Ready made coffins for sale, inquire of
&c.," referring to individuals who had been in the store
that night.

The next morning the bloody remains of our brother,
were removed by a few friends from the warehouse to
his dwelling ; and as the hearse moved slowly along
through the street, it was saluted with jeers and scoffs,
which showed that the hatred of his enemies still raged
in their breasts, unsatisfied even with his blood. One
who had been a principal actor in the horrid tragedy of
the previous night, said "If he had a fife he would play
the dead march for him." He was buried on Thursday
the ninth of November, just thirty-five years from the
day of his birth. There was not a large number who
attended his funeral. He looked perfectly natural, but
little paler than usual, and a smile still resting upon his
lips. He sleeps in a grave-yard a short distance from
his dwelling, between two large oak trees, one standing
at his head and one at his feet.


His wife was not at home at the time of his death,
having gone to Upper Alton, that same day in order to
avoid that state of continual alarm and apprehension,
which attended her while at Alton. When told that her
husband was killed, she sank down senseless, " trem-
bling," says one present, " as though an arrow had
pierced her heart." She remained in this state for sev-
eral days, so that she was not able to attend the burial of
her husband. After her partial recovery she stopped for
a few days at her house. On the day she left Alton for
her mother's at St. Charles, where she now is, she rode
to the grave of her husband. She wept freely but was
not very much agitated. She said on her return, that
she hoped she might live to train up her little son to imi-
tate the example of his father.

She has but one little boy, Edward Payson, who was
born in March, 1836. If she lives she will probably
give birth to another child. Her health is now, Febru-
ary, 1838, comparatively good.

That our brother, for we knew him well, has gone to
a world where hatred cannot disturb, nor Adolence injure,
we cannot doubt. We cannot doubt that those ties which
twined so closely around his heart, and which were so
rudely and wickedly sundered, have been healed in that
place of peace and blessedness dimly shadowed forth in
the following lines from his own pen.


" There is an isle, a lovely isle,
Which ocean depth's embrace,
Nor man's deceit, nor woman's wOe,

Hath ever found the place.
How sweet 'twould be, if I could find
This isle, and leave the world behind.


See from the heaven-bom Pleiades,
Comes the young-, blooming spring ;

Her light car yoked unto a breeze,
With aromatic wing ;

Gaily she drives around its shores.

And scatters all her purple stores.

Ten thousand Naiads sport along,

Her ever joyous train ;
And life and love are poured in song,

And bliss in every strain ;
So soft, so sweet, so bland the while,
That even despair itself would smile.

Eternal calm hangs o'er its plains,

Its skies are ever fair ;
In nectar'd dew descend its rains ;

No fire-charged clouds are there,
To speak in thunder from the path
Of God come down to earth in wrath.

Its silvery streams o'er crystals flow,
Where sparkling diamonds be,

And, sweetly murmuring, gently go.
To meet a stormless sea ;

And in their clear, reflective tide.

In golden scales the fishes glide.

Melodious songsters fill its groves.

To harmony attuned ;
Where saints and seraphs tell their loves,

Their golden harps around.
In strains as soft as charmed the hours.
When man was blest in Eden's bowers.

No birds of blood, nor beasts of prey.
Can in its woodlands breathe ;

Peace spreads her wing o'er ev'ry spray,
And beauty sleeps beneath ;


Or wakes to joy her varying note,
From ev'ry golden-feather'd throat.

No gloomy morning ever gleams

Upon this isle so fair ;
No tainted breeze from guilty climes

Infects the evening air ;
For in the light of ev'ry star
Are angels watching from afar.

Oh ! I w^ould leave this wretched world,

Where hope can hardly smile ;
And go on wings by faith unfurled,

To reach this happy isle ;
But that some ties still bind me here,
Which while tliey fetter, still endear.

And I would not that these should part,

Till He, and He alone.
Who wound them finely round my heart.

Has cut them one by one :
And when the last is severed, then
Upon this isle 'twill heal again."

E. P. L.
Halloioell Gazette, Nov. 1th, 1827.


We now approach the end of our painful task. A
constant attention, for several weeks, to the scenes at
Alton, has drawn largely upon the sympathies of the
heart. By night and by day the image of a murdered
brother has been present to the mind. It has indeed
been both soothing and refreshing to trace the abundant
evidences, in his public and private writings, that he was
" ready to be offered." We have simply narrated the
facts in regard to his life, and presented some portion
of his writings, according to the best of our judgment and
ability. We offer no remark, draw no inferences, make
no appeal, seek no colouring. Of the whole painful
tragedy, it has been justly said, " no language can exag-
gerate the naked atrocity of the facts — no oratory can
deepen the dark colours — the simple statement is the
strongest — the plainest narrative the most condemning."

We had hoped to obtain an engraving which would
give an accurate conception of his person. This how-
ever was found wholly impracticable as no portrait of him
had ever been taken.

He was of middling stature, thick set, his height being
about five feet nine inches. His complexion was dark,
with black piercing eyes and full countenance. His
feelings were naturally ardent. As a man, he was coura-
geous, firm, and independent. As a companion, cheerful
and social. As a Christian, meek and prayerful. Asaminis-
ter, dignified and solemn. As a writer, clear and forcible,


drawing at pleasure, for the illustration of his subject, from
the stores of a well furnished memory. In the social
relations, as husband, son, and brother, he was kind and
sympathizing — greatly beloved.

After his return to the West, in 1833, he acquired and
retained a large share of the confidence and esteem of
his brethren, in the ministry and in the churches. He
was ordained as an evangelist in .Tune, 1834. He was
frequently called to attend protracted meetings, and visit
the destitute churches in the vicinity of St. Louis and
Alton. He felt a lively interest in the various benevo-
lent societies of the West, and was secretary of four or
five of them for several years. At the time he left St.
Louis, he was moderator of the Presbytery there, and
also of the Presbytery at Alton when he died. There is
no evidence that the Christian community were at all
withdrawing their confidence from him. On the other
hand, ther^ is abundant testimony that he had a place
in the warm affections of a great majority of the wise
and good throughout Illinois, and in many other states.
The difficulties which he had to encounter were local —
they all arose from his course upon two subjects. Popery
and Slavery. The only valid accusation that even his
enemies have preferred against him is ; that he too much
he revered the command, " Thou shalt love thy neigh-
bour as thy thyself." We here insert a letter from the
Rev. Dr. Chaplin, who was President of Waterville
College, while our brother was a member of that institu-
tion. Also an extract from the sermon of Mr. McKeen.

Willington, Conn., January 30th, 1838.
Rev. Jos. C. Lovejoy,

Dear Sir : — In compliance with the wish ex-
pressed in your letter of the 15th inst. and repeated in


that of the 23cl, I set down to record some things in re-
lation to the late Rev. E. P. Lovejoy, your unfortunate
and justly lamented brother.

From the commencement of his collegiate course to
the time of his graduation, I was intimately acquainted
with him. During this period, he made no pretensions
to experimental religion. As far, however, as my ac-
quaintance with him enabled me to judge, he was
never chargeable with making light of sacred things, or
with favouring the cause of infidelity.. According to the
best of my recollection, his attendance on the services of
the chapel was regular and respectful. I have besides
the satisfaction of being able to say, that he sustained a
fair moral character, and was exact in his obedience to
the laws of the college. He uniformly treated its officers
in a gentlemanly manner, and seemed desirous of exert-
ing all the influence he possessed over his fellow-stu-
dents in favour of order and good morals. I think his
natural disposition was kind and amiable. His tempera-
ment was, indeed, uncommonly sanguine, as every one
must have perceived who was at all acquainted with him.
And this, we should naturally suppose, must frequently
have led him to the adoption of measures, or at least to
the use of expressions at variance with the dictates of
sound reason. There are, some excellent men who, in
consequence of possessing too much warmth, are fre-
quently betrayed into indiscretions which greatly dimin-
ish both their comfort and usefulness. But this was not
the case with Mr. Lovejoy, at least during his residence
at Waterville. He had such a fund of good sense and good
nature that, although exceedingly ardent, he seldom gave
offence, or had cause to be sorry on account of the
measures which he adopted. A hundred young men
like him might, it seems to me, be more easily governed


than half a dozen of those (falsely called) choice spirits,
who frequently reside in the walls of a college.

In regard to the intellectual powers of your deceased
brother, I do not hesitate to say, that they were of a su-
perior order. He seems to me to have approached very
near to the rank of those distinguished men who have
been honoured with the title of universal geniuses. Du-
ring his collegiate course he appeared to have an almost
equal adaptation of mind to the various branches of sci-
ence and literature, usually studied at our seminaries of
learning ; and, what is more, he took hold of each with
giant strength. It was my lot to hear his class in Greek
and in metaphysics, and I well remember that in both of
these departments of knowledge, he appeared to great
advantage at the daily recitations, and also at the exami-
nation of his class before the board of visitors. I think
he was rather more fond of languages and polite litera-
ture, than of intellectual philosophy and the exact sci-
ences. In the latter, however, he acquitted himself in a
highly creditable manner.

After what I have said respecting his attainments, it
seems almost superfluous to add that he was a close appli-
cant. I mention this as one of his distinguishing excel-
lencies. In the course of my life I have been acquainted
with some individuals of fine talents, who, in consequence
oftheir disrelish of intellectual labour, never attained to a
a very high rank as literary men. And this would, un-
questionably, have been the case with your brother, had
he not been willing to toil in the pursuit of knowledge.
But he was willing to toil by night and by day. And
this enabled him, not only to make rapid progress in sci-
ence and literature himself, but to exert a highly beneficial
influence on the progress of his fellow-students.

In closing this communication, I cannot refrain from


expressing my sympathy with you, my dear sir, and
with your widowed mother and other relations, in view
of the heRvj afflictions which you have all experienced
in the untimely death of one so deservedly dear to your
hearts, and my hope that you will not only be supported
under it, but find it yield in you the peaceable fruit of

With great respect, I am

Your friend and servant,


Extracts from a sermon preached at Oldtown, Maine, December 31st.,
1837, on the occasion of the massacre of the Rev, Mr. Lovejoy, by re-
quest of the mother and other relatives of the deceased in that place, by
the Rev. Silas McKeen, of Belfast, from Psalm Ixxvi. 10, — " Surely
the wrath of man shall praise Thee."

Let us now consider briefly some of the principal ob-
jections which have been made to the course which Mr.
Lovejoy thought it his duty to pursue.

It has been insisted that no one ought to so go before
or run counter to public opinion, as to make himself
odious or create disturbance in the community, and that
as Mr. Lovejoy did this, he acted imprudently, and
virtually forfeited his claim to legal protection. If so,
Galileo deserved to be condemned and punished as he
was, for daring to invade the Romish darkness by teach-
ing that the earth is a sphere, turning on its axis, and
revolving round the sun. William Tindall deserved to
be strangled and burned for offering such an insult to
public sentiment, as to prepare and publish a translation
of the New Testament in English, that his country-
men might have an opportunity of reading for themselves
those holy books. And the apostles merited their fate
by attempting to bring into contempt the established doc-


trines and usages of Heathenism, in order to introduce
and establish Christianity. The sentiment is base and
abominable and ought to be repudiated with scorn.

It has again been said that when Mr. Lovejoy saw that
he had excited public indignation, prudence required that
he should have gone to some other place. That this in
many, perhaps in most cases of persecution, is proper,
when practicable, seems evident from our Lord's direc-
tion to his apostles, " When they persecute you in this
city, flee ye into another." But suppose one to be thrown
into such circumstances that no security will be gained,
or that important principles will be abandoned, and a
dangerous precedent set in, can he flee ; is this general
rule binding then ?

Take the case of Shadrach and his companions who
firmly refused to worship the image which their king had
set up, and yet attempted not to flee from his wrath ; of
Daniel, who in view of the peril of being cast into the

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Online LibraryJoseph C. (Joseph Cammet) LovejoyMemoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 → online text (page 21 of 28)