Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Elijah Parish Lovejoy: Abolitionist, Martyr
Though he only lived 35 years, Elijah Parish Lovejoy made a lot of Missouri slave owners angry. You see, Lovejoy lived in Alton, Illinois a the time and was an abolitionist who believed slavery was wrong, and he used his newspaper to write about it. This didn't go over well with the slave owners on the St. Louis side of the river. Lovejoy, "published a religious newspaper, The St. Louis Observer, and began to advocate the abolition of slavery. Despite the bitter feeling against him., Lovejoy persisted in arguing the fights of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom from slavery. After seeing a slave, Francis J. McIntosh, burned at the stake, his editorials became so strident against slavery that he became an object of hatred by both Southerners and slave-holders. His press was wrecked by a mob in July, 1836, and he moved to Alton in the free State of Illinois."
That was the first time. However, Lovejoy would not be stopped. He believed what he believed and wasn't afraid to stand up against an angry mob intent on making slavery legal in all states. Anyone opposing them, were intimidated or even killed. "In Alton, Lovejoy became the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery in 1837 and the first pastor of the present College Avenue Presbyterian Church. He actively supported the organization of the Anti-slavery Society of Illinois which enraged the Alton citizens. He continued writing and publishing the Alton Observer even after three presses had been destroyed and thrown into the Mississippi River."
"On the historic night of November 7, 1837, a group of 20 Lovejoy supporters joined him at the Godfrey & Gilman warehouse to guard a new press until it could be installed at the Observer. As the crowd grew outside, excitement and tension mounted. Soon the pro-slavery mob began hurling rocks at the warehouse windows. The defenders retaliated by bombarding the crowd with a supply of earthenware pots found in the warehouse. Then came an exchange of gunfire. Alton's mayor tried in vain to persuade the defenders inside to abandon the press. They stood fast. One of the mob climbed a ladder to try to set fire to the roof of the building. Lovejoy and one of his supporters darted into the darkness to over-turn the ladder, for they knew they would be doomed if a fire was set. But again a volunteer mounted the ladder to try to ignite the roof with a smoking pot of pitch. As Lovejoy assisted Royal Weller in putting out the fire on the roof of the building, Lovejoy received a blast from a double-barreled shotgun. Five of the bullets fatally struck Lovejoy. He died in the arms of his friend Thaddeus Hurlbut. The mob cheered and said all in the building should die. Amos Roff tried to calm the mob and was shot in the ankle. Defenders of the press then laid down their weapons and were allowed to leave. The mob rushed the building, found the press, and threw it out a window to the riverbank, broke it into pieces and dumped the broken parts into the river, The body of Lovejoy was left undisturbed, remaining there until morning, guarded by friends who finally carried him home. He was buried on his 35th birthday, November 9, 1837."