Lincoln Discussion Symposium

Full Version: Lovejoy Martyr To Freedom
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written by former Illinois Senator, Paul Simon, in 1974. About 140 pages, easy to read, organized well.

Paul Simon, at the age of 19, became the youngest newspaper publisher - editor in the US when he purchased the Troy, IL newspaper. Along with Lovejoy's strong anti slavery views, there is also significant emphasis on the right of Freedom of the Press. Lovejoy wrote, " But, gentlemen, 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, to publish whatever I please on any subject--being amenable to the laws of my country for the same."

Elijah Lovejoy was a religious Presbyterian newspaper publisher and editor who was anti slavery. His editorials criticized other religions and slavery. His views over time became more extreme and critical.

July 4, 1837, was the 61st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Lovejoy wrote this editorial in his newspaper. Four months later he would be dead.

"What bitter mockery is this. We assemble to thank God for our own freedom and to eat and drink with joy and gladness of heart, while our feet rest on the necks of nearly three million of our fellow men. Not all of our shouts of self-congratulation can drown their groans. Even that very flag of freedom that waives over their heads is formed from materials cultivated by slaves on a soil moistened by their blood"

His printing press was destroyed five times, his life was threatened on several occasions. However, even some with pro slavery beliefs felt he had the right of freedom of the press to print his views
An interesting part of the book is the day to day description of the last 11 days leading up to his death.

After his printing press was destroyed by an angry mob, a new one was ordered. The same pro slavery group that destroyed his last printing press were bent on destroying this new one as well. When it arrived by boat, it was quickly unloaded during the middle of the night and stored in a friends warehouse. The next day, the mob reappeared and attacked.

Elijah Lovejoy was 34 years old in 1837 when he was killed by the angry, pro slavery mob. Shot five times, he died minutes later. He was buried in an unmarked grave on what would have been his 35th birthday. He left a pregnant, 24 year old wife, and young son. His wife was to ill to attend the burial ceremony. As soon as she was able, his wife Celia moved into her parents home (who had not approved of her marriage to Lovejoy). She was in her last months of pregnancy when Elijah was killed, the baby was lost.

The trial following his murder was terrible. The owner of the building where Lovejoy's printing press was destroyed was charged with inciting a riot. He was acquitted. The one's that attacked the building and the man who actually shot Lovejoy were also acquitted. One of the jurors was an active participant of the mob.

Lovejoy's younger brother Owen becomes a senator from Illinois and a friend of Abraham Lincoln. Owen was there when his brother was killed.

Lovejoy was probably the first martyr for the cause of freeing the slaves in our country. Not widely known, his violent death stirred up the passions of the anti slavery movement.
In 1897, Alton citizens erected the 110-foot tall Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument at the cemetery where he was reburied.

An interesting book, I can recommend this one. There is much more to the story than I have mentioned. I purchased my copy at the local library book sale for $1.
You can find a copy on Amazon
Very interesting, Gene. I knew the name and his abolitionist views, but little else.

Another book to mention (and this one is new): For one of AussieMick's tricky trivia questions recently, I gave a wrong answer -- Henry Villard, a young journalist who chronicled Lincoln's political path from Springfield to Washington City.

Michael Burlingame has now edited a compendium of Villard's dispatches and it has been published by Southern Illinois University Press; 424 pp., cloth bound, $45.50.
Here's an article on his brother (from one of my favorite sites):
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