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Outline Map of St. Charles County

Elijah Lovejoy

Written in


“as long as I am an American citizen, and as long as American blood runs in these veins, I shall hold myself at liberty to speak, to write, and to publish, whatever I please on any subject, being amenable to the laws of my country for the same.” Elijah Parish Lovejoy

I plant myself down on my unquestionable rights, and the question to be decided is, whether I am to be protected in the exercise and enjoyment of those rights,–that is the question, sir,– whether my property shall be protected; whether I shall be suffered to go home to my family at night without being assailed and threatened with tar and feathers, and assassination; whether my afflicted wife, whose life has been in jeopardy fromElijah P Lovejoy continued alarm and excitement, shall, night after night, be driven from a sickbed into the garret to escape the brickbats and violence of the mobs,–that, sir, is the question.[Here the speaker burst into tears.] Forgive me, sir, that I have thus betrayed my weakness. It was 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 matter with the whole community: I know perfectly well I am not. I know, sir, you can tar and feather me, hang me, or put me in 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 in Alton I shall not be safe anywhere. I recently visited St. Charles [301 South Main Street, St. Charles, MO] to bring home my family. I was torn from their frantic embrace by a mob. I have been beset day and night in Alton. And now, if I leave here and go elsewhere, violence may overtake me in my retreat, and I have no more claim upon the protection of any other community 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 insist on protection in the exercise of my rights. If the civil authorities refuse to protect me, I must look to God; and if I die, I am determined to make my grave in Alton.”

Five days later, Nov. 7, 1837, a citizen mob took him at his word, beset him at his printing-office, and murdered him.

From the pages of William Greenleaf Eliot’s book “The Story of Archer Alexander“, where he writes “I am indebted for nearly all the details to several recent articles in the “Globe Democrat” of St. Louis, and in the “St. Louis Republican,” the latter of which are from the pen of Mr. Thomas Dimmock, one of the ablest editors of that well-known and influential journal.” who wrote “Mr. Lovejoy first came to St. Louis in 1827, being at the time twenty-five years of age. “Having a decided taste and talent for journalism, he naturally drifted into it, and in 1828 became editor of the long since forgotten ‘Times,’ then advocating the claims of Henry Clay. His editorial work made him quite popular with the Whig party, and might have opened the way to political advancement; but in the winter of 1831-32, during a religious revival, his views of life underwent a radical change, and he united with the Second Presbyterian Church, then in charge of Rev. W. S. Potts. Believing he had a call to the sacred office, he entered the Princeton Theological School in the spring of 1832, where he remained until April, 1833, when he received his ministerial credentials. In the autumn of the same year he returned to St. Louis, then a city of seven thousand inhabitants, and, yielding to the solicitations of many friends, established a weekly religious newspaper, called the ‘Observer,’ the friends furnishing the necessary funds, and the entire management being intrusted to him. The first number appeared Nov. 29, 1833. In the spring of 1834 he publicly announced his anti-slavery principles, and thus began the bitter warfare, which finally cost hirn his life. He was not, however, what was then popularly known as an abolitionist. He favored gradual emancipation, with the consent, compensation, and assistance of the slave-owners; and this should be considered in our estimate of the character and conduct of the man, and of those who hounded him to death.”

Post by Dorris Keeven-Franke November 16, 2018



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