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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 24 of 28)
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embalmed. The blood of that innocent man will not
sink into the ground. It will be required at the hands
of all those who have raised this infernal spirit of mob-
ism against free discussion and a free press. The blood
of a murdered Lovejoy is on the heads of those men,



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 329

who, on the 17th of August, 1836, assembled in Faneuil
Hall, to vote down free discussion, and whose hands af-
terwards were' barely stayed from being reeked in the
blood of Garrison. Free discussion has now her martyr,
and it will rouse men who have souls, to the defence of
that dearest right, as did the murder of Morgan, to the
defence of the rights of free citizens against a secret
despotism. — Boston Daily Advocate.

Vicksburgh has for some time enjoyed a pre-eminence
of murderous notoriety; but Alton, Illinois, has lately
stepped forward to dispute this unenviable station, and
has far outrun Vicksburgh in the career of blood and in-
famy. The people of Vicksburgh acted under a sudden
impulse ; the people of Alton are responsible for a de-
liberate and long plotted murder. They have not only
violated the law, they have trampled also upon the
rights of hospitality — in every honourable mind, more
sacred, if possible, even than the laws themselves. —
Boston Atlas.

The Moloch of America, (Slavery,) demands the sac-
rifice of a citizen, a Christian, a philanthropist, a min-
ister of the gospel, a noble defender of the rights of man,
and straightway it is given by his devotees, to gratify his
ire, which burns against the philanthropists of the age.
This is only the commencement. The spirit of Slavery
demands the sacrifice, not only of the rights and dearest
privileges of American citizens, but their lives and their
blood also. Silence or death is the mandate of the evil
genius of Slavery. Lovejoy is dead ! May his mantle
fall upon a kindred spirit, who shall accomplish the work
which he began. We trust that the Abolitionists of
America will never cease their efforts till a free press is
established at Alton, which shall pour forth a flood of
light, that will scatter the midnight darkness now hover-
28*



330 MEMOIR OF THE

ing over that devoted city. From thence, may a light
shine out and blaze upon the naked conscience of every
oppressor and mobocrat in the land. There may the
spirit of Lovejoy live, and still, by his example, his suf-
ferings, aad blood, continue to speak in tones of thunder
to this nation, till every heart is made to quail before the
omnipotent truth in the defence of which he died. —
Boston Christian.

Do you ask why these men hated Mr. Lovejoy so ?
It was not so much because they hated him, as because
they wished to please the slaveholders, that they killed
him. He believed it was wicked to hold slaves, and he
tried to convince all the readers of the " Observer" that
the slaves had a right to their liberty. This was the
truth ; but those who love Slavery were not willing to
have the truth told. They therefore destroyed the
presses, and murdered the man who dared to use them,
to publish such truths.

We see by this that the spirit of slave-holding is the
spirit of murder. The tyrants of Europe and Asia are
not willing to have men print what they please, for fear
their subjects should become wise enough to know that
they have a right to be free. But in this case, the peo-
ple in a state called free, unite in killing a man for
publishing facts about Slavery in another state. — Boston
Cabinet.

Another noble heart is added to the angel choir above,
who lean eagerly from their high sphere to watch our
course and cheer us onward, in the deliverance of the
slave. We have been too tame and too slow. Oh!
shall the blood of this first martyr sink into the earth for
nought? No. Let the anti-slavery presses thunder
anew, and louder than ever ! Let all those who have
hung back from prudential motives now come up to the



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 331

lielp of the Lord and show what, side they are on — let
them boldly assert their principles, in the pulpit, in the
domestic circle, and in the public streets, until the whole
country is agitated from Maine to New Orleans, until the
bloody south reels and trembles beneath the shock as if
an earthquake rent her unhallowed borders. Let us in-
sist strenuously and more strenuously than ever that our
captive brethren shall be free. The manacled hands of
those dusky millions are raised to Heaven in earnest
prayer for one breath of that sweet liberty about which
our native orators are howling in the public halls, as if
in mockery of their fettered countrymen. Let not the
widow's tears be dry before those chains are riven — let
not the moans of the fatherless be hushed before this
high-handed and damning enormity is swept from our
land. The disenthralled spirit of Lovejoy is hovering
around us as we write, and a voice from his tomb cries,
Onward ! the time is come ! — Boston Wanderer.

What freeman — who but a savage, or cold-hearted
murderer would now go to Alton ? Meanness, infamy,
and guilt are attached to the very name. Hereafter,
when a criminal is considered too base for any known
punishment, it will be said of him — " he ought to be ban-
ished to Alton ;" or, " he ought to be banished to a place
as vile and infamous as Alton'^ — a place where freedom
is disowned — where the defenders of freedom are mur-
dered by the consent of the inhabitants — where the in-
habitants themselves are land pirates — where the Attor-*
ney-General, the representative of the state, instead of
bringing criminals to judgment, encourages — spurs them
on, to the perpetration of the foulest crimes, the basest
murder; and the Mayor of the city sits as a judge advo-
cate for the mob. — Massachusetts Lynn Record.

The press throughout the country, ought to raise its



332 MEMOIR OF THE

voice against the conduct of the Mayor of Alton, during
the late riot at that place. Taking his own account of
the transaction, he is an accessary before the fact, as
well as at the very time of its perpetration to the horrid
crimes of arson and murder. Not only did he neglect
to exert his authority, and the authority of the law to quell
the riot — but he identified himself with the mob, by be-
coming their messenger, to ask of Lovejoy and his asso-
ciates the surrendering of their property and their rights,
and to threaten them with the consequences which
ensued, if they failed to comply. Is he not, then, as
guilty as the worst incendiary present on that fearful
occasion. — Worcester Republican.

Mr. Lovejoy was a clear and vigorous writer ; open,
manly, and fearless in the declaration of his sentiments,
active and industrious in editorial labours. He was
guilty of few errors, except such as arose from the too
great haste of a benevolent heart, intent on. doing good,
and ready to sacrifice self for its accomplishment. The
St. Louis Observer, which he established and conducted
to its close, was a paper of more than usual interest. He
engaged warmly in the controversy with the Roman
Catholics. He stated that the true cause of the hostility
against him was, his opposition to Popery ; and that the
charge of Abolitionism was fabricated as an excuse for
the attack, and as a means of exciting odium against him.
— New York Observer.

Where were the civil energies of xilton ? Where was
their regard for American character ? Where their
regard for the cause of the slav'e, the liberty of the north,
the rights of man, and the laws of God ? Where was
the Mayor in this hour of peril ? iVccording to his own
self-condemning evidence, waiting with imbecility or
connivance to behold the sacrifice, siding with the



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 333

assailants, and meanly asking the property to be given
up as the only price of peace. But where was the vic-
tim — where the devoted Lovejoy ? In his place, ready
to be offered. He stood forth an American citizen, and
in the assertion and exercise of all the great rights of
man, he fell a martyr to the liberty of the press, and to
the cause of the slave, in the land of the free ! Was it
for this that Washington, Hancock, Franklin, Jefferson,
Adams, Henry, and Lafayette (peace to the ashes of the
Frenchman ! he died in season) toiled and bled ? Was
it for this that the Declaration of Independence was
signed, and a government organized which guarantees to
every citizen the inalienable rights of life, liberty,
AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ? — Neiu York EvangcUst.

It now remains to be seen, whether the perpetrators of
this atrocious crime will be made to pay the penalty of
life, or whether they will be suffered to go unpunished.
If the latter, then we may truly say that the rights of
American citizens are but a name ; that our laws are in-
adequate to the protection of life and property, or even
to the vindication of their own majesty against trans-
gressors.

Mr. Lovejoy we understand, was a man of excellent
character and moral worth ; and the only fault, it is pre-
sumed, which his murderers could allege against him,
was, that he was an Abolitionist, and was determined to
publish an Abolition paper at Alton. It ought to be re-
collected, however, that he had once changed his place
of publication in consequence of popular excitement,
having established his paper originally at St. Louis.

The enemies of Abolition must be very stupid indeed,
if they expect to put it down,, in this free country, by m.ob
violence, and especially by assassination and murder.
The old maxim, that " the blood of the martyrs is the



334 me:,ioir of the

seed of the cliurch," is just as true in the case of Aboli-
tion, and for similar reasons. — i^^ew York Journal of
Commerce.

For our own part, we approve, we applaud, we would
consecrate, if we could, to universal honour, the conduct
of those who bled in this gallant defence of the freedom
of the press. Whether they erred or not in their opinion,
they did not err in the conviction of their rights as citi-
zens of a democratic government, to express them ; nor
did they err in defending this right with an obstinacy
which yielded only to death and the utmost violence. —
Evening Post.

We loathe and abhor the miserable cant of those that
talk of Mr. Lovejoy as guilty of " resisting public opi-
nion." Public opinion, forsooth ! What right have five
hundred or five thousand to interfere with the lawful ex-
pression of a free man's sentiments because they happen
to number more than those who think with him ? We
spurn the base tyranny — this utter denial of all rights,
save as the tender mercies of a mob shall vouchsafe
them. If Mr. Lovejoy's views were erroneous, let them
be refuted ; if his motives were corrupt, (but this is not
pretended,) let them be exposed and contemned ; if his
actions were unlawful, let them be lawfully punished.
But, right or wrong, none of these were better or worse
for the fact that they were unacceptable to the majority.
He had as perfect and absolute a right to proclaim and
defend his sentiments in Illinois, where nine-tenths may
be opposed to them, as though all were enthusiastic in
their favour ; and he who would deny or in the least de-
gree abridge this right, is an enemy to freedom, and a
hypocrite if he dare pretend to republicanism. — New
Yorker.

The blow by v/hich Mr. Lovejoy fell, was aimed not



RET. E. P. LOVEJOY, 335

at "him only. His body was cut down merely because
it stood between the press and the weapon raised for its
destruction. But that blow has fallen upon erery press
in this nation. And the death of that man calls

WITH a thousand TONGUES, IN TRUMPET TONES UPON

THE PRESS for redress. Surely no one can doubt for a
moment, but a corrupted, time-serving press, has created
that state of feeling which has resulted in this tragical
event, especially when it is seen how such papers as the
Courier and Enquirer, the New York Gazette, and some
others, speak of this horrid outrage, calling it an Aboli-
tion mob, and throwing the whole blame upon the mur-
dered Lovejoy. — N^ew York Zioii^s Watchman.

A Great Man has Fallen. — The martyrdom of the
Rev. E. P. Lovejoy has excited among our brethren a
spirit of holy ambition and action, calculated to emanci-
pate a world. The combined powers of all the emhodied
and disembodied tyrants in the universe, cannot withstand
it. The enlightened abhorrence of our people, to op-
pression of every kind, will be a powerful engine in ex-
pelling Slavery and caste, from our otherwise favoured
land.

Coloured men cannot be enslaved nor oppressed much
longer in America. Slavery and oppression are exotics,
which can never become indigenous in an American
climate, nor soil. They may be forced for a while, but
the time must of necessity be short. — New York Coloured
American.

The issue is now fairly made up, whether the laws or
the mob is to prevail — whether the press, so long the
boasted palladium of our liberties, is to be the sport of
popular passion, or whether it shall be protected and
secured by the laws.

Mr. Lovejoy is said to have been a man of high



336 MEMOIR OF THE

character and worth. As an Abolitionist he had the same
right to print and publish, as the advocates of Slavery.
We trust this horrid transaction will not be allowed to
sleep without some more general and formidable expres-
sions of public feeling than mere newspaper notices,
important as they certainly are. The innocent blood
shed at Alton, unavenged, must remain an indelible na-
tional stain.

The whole country will be held responsible for it
abroad, and who that has the spirit of a man, but must
hang his head and blush, when he reflects that in this
vaunted land a ferocious mob may violate with impunity
all the private and personal rights of a peaceable citi-
zen—shoot him down as they would a wild beast — fire
his house, and save his family and friends from indis-
criminate slaughter only on condition of private obe-
dience to its demands ! Shame be to us, if we let this
thing pass ! — Newark Daily Advertiser.

Alton Massacre. — The thrill of sensibility which
seems to have been produced by the murder of Rev. E.
P. Lovejoy, at Alton, has called forth from every part of
the land, a burst of indignation which has not had its
parallel in this country since the battle of Lexington,
1775. One thing which appears from looking over our
exchange papers, has struck us with amazement, and that
is, that the most decided expressions of disapprobation
and abhorrence of the dead are from the slaveholding
states. With a large list of southern papers before us,
we find not one attempt at an apology for the murderous
outrage. The only apologists for it are found in our
northern cities, and among editors who have a circula-
tion at the south, and some others who have a pecuniary
interest in retaining the favour of southern customers.

The question, whether law or mobs shall rule, must be



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 337

decided. And if the blood of Warren flowed not guiltily
forth on Bunker's Hill, in resisting the despotism of
England, the very angels of freedom must have hovered
around Lovejoy as the warm current of his heart ebbed
away, in resistance to the infinitely worse despotism of
lawlessness and mobs. The right of discussing the
subject of Slavery is now the very Thermopylae of Ameri-
can freedom. Let this right be surrendered, and what
comes next ? Why, the Whig or the Tory press must
be silenced by the voice of the ruling party, or torn down
by riotous mobs ; and the politician must count the
people before he can dare to attack or defend the bank ;
and then Unitarian churches must blaze before orthodox
mobs, or evangelical piety flee away before the success-
ful riots of infidelity. Our liberties hinge upon the de-
cision of this question. We ought to be ready to sacri-
fice every thing that is dear in life, rather than in such
an hour as this to shrink from duty. Life without liberty
is of little worth ; and if we cannot enjoy the privilege
of speaking freely and of writing freely, we ought like
Lovejoy, freely to die. — Boston Recorder.
29



CHAPTER XVI.



TO THE CITIZENS OF ALTON.

Years have elapsed since I enjoyed the hospitality of
your then infant settlement. Since then I have never
ceased to feel a lively interest in your prosperity. Most
gratifying have been the reports of your growing wealth
and commerce, and, especially, of your liberality, correct
morals, and enlightened public sentiment. Should the
domestic institutions of bordering states ever enfeeble in
them the spirit of freedom, among you, it was hoped, she
would still be found vigorous and hardy as your own
giant youth. Against the invasion of servile sentiment,
here, it was presumed, would be an impregnable barrier
— here, the rights of man were to find a sanctuary, the
persecuted of any name, or of however delusive a creed,
were to obtain constitutional protection. Should the
lights of American liberty elsewhere grow dim, amid
your wild cliffs her torch was still to burn, as brightly as
on Bunker's heights, or the Plymouth Rock. These an-
ticipations, in sorrow, not in anger I say it, are no more.
They have been most cruelly swept away. The asso-
ciations connected with you, in the public mind, I need
not tell you, are sadly, fearfully changed ; the bright
colours have faded, and dark, and dismal, and bloody
hues are on them. A tumultuary, lawless, fanatic power,
overmastering or overawing the civil authority, enslaving
pubHc sentiment — paralyzing the public conscience —
freezing with fear the sympathies of even the generous,



MEMOIR OF THE REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 339

the intelligent, and the good, and, with a few noble ex-
ceptions, making the mind of your whole city hold its
breath, and crouch in silence before it — ferocity victorious
over right, brute force over free opinion — a gang of ruf-
fians claiming to be regulators of speech and the press,
usurping the name of the people, and grasping in the
same polluted clutch, the functions of accuser, judge,
and executioner — " making night hideous" with their
loathsome triumph — in the presence of unresisting mul-
titudes, demolishing buildings, firing your city, publicly
murdering an American citizen for the crime of exercis-
ing rights, most sacredly guaranteed to him by the Con-
stitution of the United States, and the state of Illinois —
and finally, v/ith fiendish malignity, and a meanness more
than fiendish, in" violation of their express stipulations,
firing upon the unarmed and unresisting. Such are the
images that now start at the name of ALTO>r. Are they
mere horrid phantoms ? Would to God they were
SO. Oh, no ! they have left enduring memorials in
broken hearts, bereaved infancy, and untimely graves —
they have left a community disgraced, freedom of speech
awed into silence, and the majesty of law trampled under
foot. In the dishonour of the American name, in the
wound given to the cause of universal liberty, and the
outraged feeling of mankind, they have left abiding mon-
uments. The muse of history turns aside her head,
and weeps, as she chronicles in crimson the record.

I doubt not, you generally regret, as sincerely as I do,
the guilty acts that have been perpetrated among you,
and it is far from my wish, in thus addressing you, by
exaggerated statement, or high-wrought colouring, to
swell that tide of'reprobation and abhorrence, that is set-
ting in upon you from the wise and good in all parts of
our land, and which, I doubt not, will be increased by



340 MEMOIR OF THE

the indignant sentiment of all liberal Europe. Such an
attempt would be most idle. No language can exagger-
ate the naked atrocity of the facts — no oratory can deepen
the dark colours of the truth. Amplification would
enfeeble — the simple statement is the strongest — the
plainest narrative the most condemning. But to inflame
public odium is as far from my wish, as from my power.
For you as a people, I have ever cherished sentiments
of kindness and well wishing. And vindictive, indeed,
must be the temper that would add to the griefs or dis-
grace of your position. Other towns can often look back
with pride to their early history, and relumine, in the
associations of the past, the waning love of liberty and
truth. Boston has her Faneuil Hall, Charleston her Fort
Moultrie ; but Alton must wear it upon her escutcheon,
in characters imperishable as the rocky bluffs around
her — that in her early youth she crouched, before not
one, but an hundred masters, that in her, freedom of
speech found its first American martyr — that she did all,
than in her immaturity and feebleness she could do, to
bury freedom of the press, and with it, the American Con-
stitution, in a bloody grave. The sacrifices of life may
have been small — that of principle was mighty — the in-
famy of it, not the tide of all coming years, nor the flow
of your ever-rolling Mississippi can wash away. Upon
the internal and domestic situation, to which you seem
to have sealed yourselves by this act, I can reflect only
with pity and horrour. Deep and cruel as may have been
the injury done to your country and your kind — the first
and bitterest fruits you must reap in your own bosom.
Living in a community without law, with a blood-baited
and fanatical populace for your masters, with the fatal
evidence before you, that that populace can be restrained
in the course of its impulses by no right, human or di-



REV, E. P. LOVEJOY. 341

vine, but are ready upon provocation to waste your city
with arson and murder — the condition you exhibit is
most deplorable. But add to this the fact, that that pop-
ulace have, many of them, brought upon themselves the
guilt and frenzy of murder, and have placed themselves
in a situation which requires the perpetual prostration of
law, and the permanent ascendancy of the mob, in order
to their personal safety — and the frightfulness of the
picture is consummate.

Nor do I address you, because I think that with you
the principles of liberty and morality are peculiarly un-
sound, or that popular depravity with you is without
parallel. Alas, it finds guilty fellowship in but too many
places in our land. But the outrage perpetrated among
you was one of aggravated enormity — both as it regards
the individual, and principles sacrificed. It was no
gambler, no ruffian, no malefactor defying or evading
justice, whose blood is upon your hands. It was not a
case where an indignant populace, in the impulse of an
evil hour, inflicted a vengeance, due to its object, though
rendering the avengers more guilty than the victim. It
had not even the miserable justification of those instances,
where, in a zeal for justice, all justice is trampled under
foot, and in punishing one crime, are committed a thou-
sand. It was a man, in the eye of human law, without
reproach, a man of undoubted piety, and giving evidence
of a devotion sincere, however misguided you may have
deemed it, to the great cause of human rights — a man
wrong, if wrong at all, only in his views of a great moral
question, and in the fearless expression of those views^-
a man who, however imprudent or misjudging "you may
have thought him, you must at least acknowledge could
not be deterred by self-sacrifice, or intimidated by the
fury of the multitude, or seduced by popular opinion from
29*



342 MEMOIR OF THE

supposed duty, but who dared in the assertion of the
right even to die — it is for shedding the blood of such a
man, that mankind hold you responsible. There was
too at stake, not individual rights only, but vast princi-
ples. Whether our General and State Constitutions,
with their solemn guarantees, should be of sovereign
authority, or a mere splendid delusion and a snare, was
in controversy. Moreover, he who strikes at the free-
dom of speech, is guilty of treason, not only to his coun-
try, but to his kind ; he strikes at the great means to the
ultimate triumph of truth, and the anticipated improve-
ment of the human race. It is these considerations —
that the atrocity committed among you was provoked by
no crime — that you made, as far as you could, a solemn
oblation of the principles of universal liberty and of the
future hopes of the race, upon the same ensanguined
altar, that sink your hitherto fair fame far below the infa-
mous murders of Vicksburg and St. Louis.

Before entering upon the question of responsibility for
the past events, permit me to remark, what should per-
haps have been premised before, that in addressing 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 24 of 28)