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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are calculated to recoil, and produce a want of confidence
in the efforts of good men. Still, we believe that the
Abolitionists have done good. They have aroused the
country to more reflection on the subject. They have
detected defects in the management of the Colonization
Society — and they have, by showing that society that


they will hereafter be watched with Argus eyes, secured
the better conduct of its affairs. But why wage a war
of extermination upon a kindred institution ? Will the
sending away to the land of their fathers of some hun-
dre-ds of manumitted slaves and free persons of colour,
annually, prevent the rise of public opinion in favour of
abolition ? If it is said that free persons do not wish to
leave the soil — it is well — let them remain. The Colo-
nization Society compels no one to go. Admit that our
laws are unjust in the heavy load of disabilities which
they impose upon the colored man — and that those are the
compelling power — the Society did not make the laws,
but taking the statutes as they were, they provided a
home where these disabilities were unknown. If it is
said this Society does not provide an effectual remedy
for the evil, and hence it is a waste of funds that might
be better employed Why not permit it to go as far as it
can ? A.nd what prospect is there that if these funds are
diverted from their present channel they will flow into
another that is better? Surely the Abolitionists can
have no hope that their coffers would be supplied by the
friends of Colonization in the South and West.

But we will not extend our remarks. Our object is
peace and concert in action with every good man, in
every good work. We are not sensible that we possess
any prejudices upon the subject. We do not promise by
any means, that we shall not become an Abolitionist,
strictly, at some future day, and see the necessity of fol-
lowing the example of our worthy brother Cox, in for-
saking the Colonization enterprise, but arguments of suf-
ficient weight must be laid before us in order to this con-




April IQth, 1835.

" We ask from every professor of Christianity — as
also from all others — a careful, candid, and prayer/uZ pe-
rusal of the article on our first page on this subject. It
is from the pen of one* who is entitled to be heard in the
case ; inasmuch as having been a slave holder once, he
has ceased to be such by emancipating all his slaves.
The main principles, facts and inferences stated by the
writer, we are so far from questioning that we believe
them entirely correct. ' How hardly shall they that have
riches be saved,' said One who perfectly well knew the
principles by which the human mind operated and was
operated upon. For the same reason though found in
the opposite extreme, we may say how hardly shall they
that are slaves enter into the kingdom of heaven. In
either case there is nothing which absolutely forbids
heaven to either class, or which renders it of itself more
difficult of attainment, yet judging from analogy and from
the results of experience, we are enabled confidently to
predict that not ' many wise, not many noble,' and not
many ignorant slaves, will make their way through the
difficulties that surround their positions, to a heaven of
disinterestedness and intelligence.

While therefore we cordially adopt the main senti-
ments of our correspondent, and would afiectionately, yet
urgently, press them upon our Christian readers as a
reason why they should introduce a thorough change in
their manner of treating, or rather neglecting, their slaves,

* The article is signed 'N.' presumed to be from Dr. Nelson.


SO far as religious instruction is concerned ; we do not
believe that this change ought to be immediate and un-
conditional emancipation. We are entirely convinced that
such a course would be cruel to the slave himself, and
injurious to the community at large. But something
must be done and done speedily on this all-important
subject. While Christians have been slumbering over it,
the eye of God has not slumbered, nor has his Justice
been an indifferent spectator of the scene. The groans,
and sighs, and tears, and blood of the poor slave have
gone up as a memorial before the throne of Heaven. In
due time they will descend in awful curses upon this
land, unless averted by the speedy repentance of us all.

Look at the manner in which our sister state, Louisi-
ana, is treating her slaves ! Why, as surely as there is a
thunderbolt in Heaven and strength in God's right arm
to launch it, so surely will it strike the authors of such
cruel oppression. Look, too, at the slave-drivers^ who
go up and down our own streets, lifting their heads and
moving among us unshamed, unrebuked — as if they had
not forfeited all claim to the name of max. All abhor
the traffic, and detest the wretch who pursues it ; why
then is he not driven from the face of day, and made to
hide himself in some dark corner, whose murky gloom
might faintly emblem the savage darkness of his own
heart ? Why ? simply because public sentiment has
never been aroused to think on the subject. " If the laws
protect the miscreant who coins his wealth out of the
heart's blood of his fellow creatures, he can at least be
crushed beneath the odium of public opinion.

There is another fact we wish to introduce in this
place. It is this. Congress, acting only as the organ of
public opinion, has pronounced the slave trade from the
coast of Africa piracy. Those engaged in it are punish-


able with death. From a statement given in the Journal
of Commerce, it appears, that last November there were
no less than forty eight slave vessels on the African
coast engaged in this nefarious traffic. It was supposed
these vessels would carry off at least 20,000 victims —
victims in every sense of the term, to tyranny, brutality,
and lust. It also appears that many of these poor
wretches eventually land in the United States, by way
of Cuba, and other Spanish Islands. Particularly is it to
be feared and supposed that many of them are smuggled
into Louisiana. Now, although the system of domestic
Slavery is not necessarily connected with this foreign
piratical trade, yet no one can deny that it tends greatly
to encourage it. And no one can deny, that if domestic
Slavery should cease throughout Christendom, the slave
trade from Africa would cease of course. We mention
these things as affording strong incidental reasons for
action among ourselves at home. Above all the rest, the
same paper states that there is no doubt a slave vessel
left New York a few days since.

In this connexion it gives us heart-felt pleasure to in-
troduce the following extract from the ' Republican' of
Friday last. The Editors are referring to the Conven-
tion about to be called for the purpose of amending our
Constitution. With the sentiments of the extract we
most cordially concur, and hope the Editors will not fail
to keep the subject before their readers till the time for
action shall arrive. And who are the individuals or in-
dividual, who will make it their business between the
present time and the time for voting, to arouse and en-
lighten pubHc sentiment on this great subject ? What aj
glorious opportunity is now offered to such a one — an
opportunity such as will not be likely again to arise for
centuries to come — to confer a lasting, an unspeakable \

REV. E. P. LOVEJOy. 125

benefit upon the citizens of this state, of this republic,
and upon the cause of universal humanity ! Is it too
much to ask of Christians, that they will ask the Lord,
in fervent, importunate prayer, to send such a labourer into
the field of this state ? We do not want a man from the
northern or middle states ; we want one w^ho has him-
self been educated in the midst of Slavery, who has al-
ways lived in contact with it, who knows, experimental-
ly, all its evils, and all its difiiculties — one who will not
lift his head up into the region of abstract speculation,
and in the loftiness of his pride, in a beautiful theory, dis-
dain alike to make acquaintance with facts and with com-
mon sense. To such a man a golden opportunity of
doing good is offered. We believe the minds of the good
people of this state are fully prepared to listen to him —
to give a dispassionate consideration to the facts and
reasonings he might present connected with the subject
of Slavery. Public sentiment, amongst us, is already
moving in this great matter — it now wants to be directed
in some defined channel, to some definite end.

Taken all in all, there is not a state in this Union pos-
sessing superior natural advantages to our own. At pre-
sent, Slavery, like an incubus, is paralyzing our energies,
and like a cloud of evil portent, darkening all our pros-
pects. Let this be removed, and Missouri would at once
start forward in the race of improvement, with an energy
and rapidity of movement, that would soon place her in
the front rank along with the most favoured of her sister

But w^e stay too long from the extract from the ' Re-

' We look to the Convention as a happy means of re-
lieving the state, at some future day, of an evil which is
destroying all our wholesome energies, and leaving us,


in morals, in enterprise, and in wealth, behind the neigh-
bouring states. We mean, of course, the curse of Slavery.
"We are not about to make any attack upon the rights of
those who at present hold this description of property.
They ought to be respected to the letter. We only pro-
pose, that measures shall now be taken for the abolition
OF SLAVERY, at such distant period of time as may be
thought expedient, and eventually for ridding the country
altogether of a coloured population. The plan has been
adopted in other states, and they hare been effectually
relieved from the incubus which, even now, is weighing
us down. With no decided advantage in soil, climate,
productions, or facilities, the free states have shot far
ahead of those in which Slavery is tolerated. We need
go no further than Ohio and Kentucky for an illustration
of this assertion. For ourselves, if this one principle
shall be adopted, whatever may be the errors of the Con-
vention — no matter with how many absurdities the Con-
stitution may abound, we shall gladly overlook them all.
To secure so important a benefit, we must set about it at
once. Now is the time for action. The evil of which
we are speaking, may be arrested in its incipient stage.
It is perhaps the last time we shall have an opportunity
of attempting it. And we call upon all citizens, of what-
ever rank, sect, or party, to aid in this good and glorious
work. It is one in which all, laying aside minor contro-
versies and considerations, may unite, and all may exert
a favourable influence. Let us to the work, then, firmly
and heartily !' "



April 30tk, 1835.

" There can be no doubt that this subject in its various
bearings will occupy much of the attention of the good
people of this state, the ensuing season. We take it for
granted there will be a convention of the people, at the
time designated by our Legislature, (next December,) for
the purpose of amending our constitution. This Con-
vention will afford an opportunity for again deciding the
question whether Missouri shall hereafter be a free, or
continue a slave state. We look upon this question as
one of more importance than we have words to express.
And in its discussion and final decision by the Conven-
tion, we feel how much need there is of mutual forbear-
ance among all those who shall have a word to say on
the subject — as well as the exercise of that calm, saga-
cious, patriotic foresight which looks to the good of the
whole community, and consults for the good of future as
of present generations.

Let an unbiased, intelligent decision of our fellow-
citizens in the matter be had, and we have no fears of
the result. We know, very well, that a right decision
of the case, will, in many instances, have to be made in
the face of immediate personal interest ; but we look
with confidence to the intelligence, the good sense, and
moral justice of our citizens, as fully adequate to the

Slavery, as it exists among us, admits of being con-
sidered in a three-fold view — in a civil, a religious, and
a moral view. Considered in any of these lights, it is
demonstrably an evil. In every community where it ex-
ists, it presses like a night-mare on the body politic. Or,


like the vampyre, it slowly and imperceptibly sucks
away the life-blood of society, leaving it faint and dis-
heartened to stagger along the road of improvement.
Look at Virginia — that noble commonwealth, the mother
of states and great men — how strikingly does her pre-
sent condition illustrate the truth of this sentiment !

The evils of Slavery in a moral and religious point of
view, need not be told ; they are seen, and palpable, by
all. It becomes us as a Christian people, as those who
believe in the future retribution of a righteous Providence,
to remove from our midst an institution, no less the cause
of moral corruption to the master than to the slave. It
surely cannot be thought wrong, to press such a notion
as this upon the consideration of our fellow-citizens.

Gradual emancipation is the remedy we propose. This
we look upon as the only feasible, and indeed, the only
desirable way of effecting our release from the thraldom
in which we are held. In the mean time, the rights of
all classes of our citizens should be respected, and the
work be proposed, carried on, and finished, as one in
which all classes of our citizens are alike interested, and
in which all may alike be called upon to make sacrifices
of individual interests to the general welfare of the com-

There is, however, another matter — and we mention
it here, lest our silence may be misinterpreted — con-
nected with this subject, which admits, nay, demands a
very different mode of treatment. We mean the man-
ner in which the relations subsisting between Christians
and their slaves are fulfilled. Here the reform ought to
be thorough and immediate. There is no possible plea
which can afford excuse for a moment's delay. On this
point, we expect to have much to say ; and we hope our
readers will bear in mind — and thus save themselves


from confounding our arguments on the two points — that
while on the general subject of Slavery we are decidedly
gradual, on this part of it we are as decidedly immediate
Abolitionists. It is fearfully true that many professed
Christians habitually treat their slaves as though they
had no immortal souls, and it is high time such a prac-
tice as this were abolished."


Mississippi River, May, 2\st, 1835.

*' We have just swung from our moorings, and are going
up to the upper part of the town, to take in some passen-
gers. What glorious prospects are opening before the
city of St. Louis ! The time cannot be far distant when
it will be enthroned, without a rival, the Queen of the
West. Already, Front Street is, I should think, more
than a mile in length. Seventeen Steamboats, among
which were the mammouth Mogul, and the unfortunate
Majestic, line its shores this morning. The whole quay
is covered with merchandize and alive with the bustle of
business. One boat was discharging freight, another
was receiving it ; here was one with her flag floating in
the wind, indicating that she was soon to depart, and
there another whose bell was calling all on board, who
did not choose to be left behind — here was one blowing
off, and there another raising her steam. Altogether, the
scene was a most animated and animating one.

One thing depressed my spirits. It was the moral con-
dition of a large portion of those whom I saw. As I
passed up and down the quay, among the busy, hurry-
ing multitude, the drunkeries and drinking I witnessed,
the oaths and the obscene blasphemies I heard, caused


my spirits to sink within me. I felt assured, too, that
Christians in St. Louis, were not doing enough — are
they doing any thing?— for the boatmen in our harbour.
I fear these last may truly say, ' No man careth for our

As we rounded to, and approached the shore of our
sister state, a little below the city, we saw several little
children at play upon the river's bank. Some one in the
company remarked, ' That is a land of liberty !' Now
the subject of slavery had not been mentioned, and the
fact that such a thought was suggested by the very sight
of the soil of Illinois, shows that the atmosphere of sla-
very is an unnatural one for Americans to live in. The
institution is repugnant to the very first principles of lib-
erty. The remark was the more worthy of notice as
coming from one who has for many years, even from
infancy, resided in a slave state, and who is the owner of
slaves ? I envy not the prosperity of our sister state,
Illinois : I rejoice in it the rather, and look forward with
delight to the period, and that not far distant, when the
busy hum of industry shall be heard over all her prai-
ries, while schools, colleges, and religious temples, shall
adorn and strengthen the institutions of two millions
of freemen. Yet when contemplating this glorious and
exciting spectacle, I cannot help saying, with a half sup-
pressed sigh of despondency, ' Oh ! that Missouri, my
own beloved state, were in a condition to compete for the
prize of such renown ?' And why may she not ? What
nobler race of men exists in this wide world, than those
who have followed Daniel Boone from the blood-bought
fields of Kentucky, and pitched their tabernacles in
Missouri ? Alas ! the single word SLAVERY, tells us
why. So long as that remains amongst us, we may long
for those improvements in art, science, and the habits of


social life, which mark a rapidly advancing community,
but they can never be ours. These are the rewards of
well-directed industry alone.

I look forward to the approaching Convention in our
state with more solicitude than I have words to express.
It does seem to me a crisis that calls for the exercise of
all the candor, enlarged patriotism, and sound judgment
of all our citizens. We have it in our power to bequeath
to posterity a benefit, for which all future generations
shall bless us, or we may put back the hopes of human-
ity, and, instrumentally, the benign purposes of Heaven,
a whole generation. Fearful responsibility ! And will
not all those who believe in the efficacy of prayer, and
who know that God hath in his hands the hearts of all
men, will they not cry day and night to Him, that he
would gi-aciously be pleased, by his Spirit to move upon
the minds of our fellow citizens, inspiring them with right
sentiments on this infinitely important subject. There
is power sufficient in the church to accomplish this mat-
ter, if that power can only be brought to bear.

The more I think on this subject, the more am I pene-
trated with a sense of its magnitude. God and man are
calling to us to be up and doing. Hayti and Southamp-
ton have written their lesson of warning in lines of blood.
Virginia has traced hers upon many a ruined and desert-
ed spot, once the most fertile of all her wide domains, but
which has long since become as the ' plains of Sodom,'
beneath the withering blight of slavery. The example
of England is showing us that gradual abolition is safe,
practicable and expedient. God from on high, and by his
providence in making slave labour unprofitable, is com-
manding us to ' break every yoke, and let the oppressed
go free.' It may not be, that we can slight all these
warnings, exhortations, and commands, and yet prosper.


The physical and moral laws of God must both be in-
verted first. I could write forever on this subject but
must close. Our boat is walking the water like a ' thing
of life.' We are just opposite Herculaneum ."


Perhaps no other place is more appropriate in the
order of events than this, to state that at the age of
thirty-two he found the Scripture verified — " It is not
good for man to be alone." On this subject, although
so important in its consequences, there is every where
license given to a playful mood in speaking of it. We
therefore insert his own letter announcing this event to
his friends. The reader will, of course, make some al-
lowance for the partiality of a husband — his veto to the
contrary notwithstanding.

St. Louis, March lOth, 1835.
My dearest Mother,

/ a?n married. So much for the first sentence,
which contains the substance of the whole matter. But
as I suppose you would like to have a few particulars,
they follow.

I was married on Wednesday last, the 4th inst. at St.
Charles, a village about twenty miles distant from this
place. My wife's maiden name was Celia Ann French
I thought we made a very respectable couple at the time.
As for my own personal appearance, you know enough
of that already. For the lady, I can tell you (she sits at
my right hand while I write,) that she was twenty-one
years of age last August, is tall, well-shaped, of a light,
fair complexion, dark flaxen hair, large blue eyes, with


features of a perfect Grecian contour. In short, she is
very beautiful. This is not a mere expression of a fond
husband, but just the simple truth. John will tell you
if you ask him.

But the best is yet to come. I need not tell you she
is pious, for I hope you knew I would marry no one who
was not. She is, I know, intelligent, refined, and of
agreeable manners ; and unless I have entirely mistaken
her character, she is also sweet-tempered, obliging, kind-
hearted, industrious, good-humoured, and possessed alike
of a sound judgment and correct taste. I am sure you
will not think it the least evidence of these last — at any
rate, I do not — that she has chosen your son for a hus-
band. In addition to all this, she loves me, I think, about
as much as I deserve. I shall now leave you to measure
that love.

With such a wife I think I ought to be happy — I am
sure I am thankful to the Lord who gave her to me.

Celia sends love to you, and to all her new sisters and
brothers in Maine. She will expect a letter from sisters
Sarah, Sibyl, and Elizabeth.

Pray tell me what is the reason of your long silence
in Maine ? I have heard nothing for a long time from a
living soul in all that region. John is well, and so am
I, and so is my dear wife, I have my hands full of
business, but the Lord has hitherto sustained me.
Your most affectionate son,


Sun and clouds alternate in the horizon which sur-
rounds the earth. We now pass to that period of our
brother's history, when his trials and persecution com-
menced, and which terminated only with his death. The
causes of these will be unfolded in the progress of the

REV. E. P. LOVEJOy. 135

narration. In October, 1835, he was absent from St.
Louis for several weeks. During this time, a great ex-
citement commenced in that city upon the subject of
Slavery. The proprietors of the " Observer" became
alarmed at the threats of a mob, and caused the following
notice to appear in that paper.

St. Louis, October 8th, 1835.
X\3^ " The Editor will be absent two or three weeks,
in attendance on Presbytery and Synod."

" Since the Editor left, the Publishers of the Observer
have received a communication from the Patrons and
Owners of the property of this paper, advising an entire
suspension of all controversy upon the exciting subject
of Slavery. As this course is entirely agreeable to the
feelings and views of the publishers, nothing upon the
subject will appear in its columns, during the absence of
the Editor. Upon his return the communication will be
submitted to him, and the future course of the paper
finally arranged in such a manner, as, we doubt not, will
be consonant with the wishes of the proprietors.

The articles upon the subject of Slavery in our paper
to-day, were prepared by the Editor before his departure,
and could not have been omitted without great incon-

The mob not being satisfied, and still threatening the
destruction of the office of the " Observer," another con-
cession to the " new code" " of our most respectable
citizens" soon followed.

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 9 of 28)