News

1837- Lovejoy Killed - History

1837- Lovejoy Killed - History


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Drawing from the time

Elijah Parish Lovejoy was an editor of an antislavery newspaper the St. Louis Observor. He was forced to move across the Missisppi River to Alton. Lovejoy's anti-slavery views engraged the residents of Alton. Pro-slavery groups repeatedly attacked him, twice throwing his press into the river. On November 7th they once again attacked his offices. When he attempted to defend the press with his body he was shot.

Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born in 1802 in the state of Maine. Lovejoy's father was a minister. After college, Lovejoy established himself as a newspaper editor in St. Louis– where he also ran a small school. Lovejoy become involved in the abolitionist movement and decided to become a minster himself. After going to Princeton Theology School Lovejoy returned to St. Louis and renewed his work as a newspaper editor. Tensions in St. Louis over the issue of slavery were very high. After his press was destroyed three times, Lovejoy moved to Alton, in the nominally free state of Illinois. Alton, however, was a center for many slave catchers, and had been settled largely by Southerners.


On November 7, 1837 a mob of slavery supporters approached the warehouse where Lovejoy had hidden his press. The mob fired shots into the warehouse. Those shots were returned by Lovejoy and his supporters, killing one of the member of the mob. The mob put a ladder on the building – with the intention of torching the roof. Lovejoy surprised them by going out of the warehouse and knocking down the ladder. He then retreated back into the warehouse. Once again, the mob tried to place a ladder on the warehouse and burn it down. When Lovejoy emerged the second time, the mob was ready and shot Lovejoy. He was killed on the spot by five bullets. The warehouse, along with the press were then burned down.


Lovejoy's name was enshrined as someone who gave his life to stop slavery.


Elijah Parish Lovejoy

Elijah Parish Lovejoy (November 9, 1802 – November 7, 1837) was an American Presbyterian minister, journalist, newspaper editor, and abolitionist. After having moved his newspaper from St. Louis, Missouri to Alton, Illinois, he was fatally shot during an attack by a pro-slavery mob. They were seeking to destroy a warehouse owned by Winthrop Sargent Gilman and Benjamin Godfrey, which held Lovejoy's press and abolitionist materials.

According to John Quincy Adams, the murder "[gave] a shock as of an earthquake throughout this country". [1] "The Boston Recorder declared that these events 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.'" [2] When informed about the murder, John Brown said publicly: "Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery." [3]


The Lovejoy Award

The Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award of Colby, established in 1952, honors a member of the newspaper profession who continues the Lovejoy heritage of fearlessness and freedom.

The recipient may be an editor, reporter, or publisher who, in the opinion of the judges, has contributed to the nation’s journalistic achievement. The selection committee makes its decision using criteria including integrity, craftsmanship, character, intelligence, and courage.

The purpose of the award is threefold: to honor and preserve the memory of Elijah Parish Lovejoy to stimulate and honor the kind of achievement embodied in Lovejoy’s own courageous actions and to promote a sense of mutual responsibility and cooperation between a journalistic world devoted to freedom of the press and a liberal arts college devoted to academic freedom.


Changemakers: Elijah Parish Lovejoy

Happy World Press Freedom Day! In 1993, the UN General Assembly proclaimed May 3 World Press Freedom Day as an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence
  • and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.(From http://www.un.org/en/events/pressfreedomday/)

In honor of press freedom, we’re highlighting changemaker Elijah Parish Lovejoy. Lovejoy, a Presbyterian minister, abolitionist, and newspaper publisher, knew the power of a free press, and died in 1837 defending his right to press freedom.

As the editor for The Observer in St. Louis in the years leading up to the Civil War, Lovejoy wrote editorials criticizing slavery. He defended his views and his right to publish them, even though they angered many. As violence increased and more people threatened him, Lovejoy, a husband and father, feared for his family’s safety. In 1837, after his printing press was destroyed and his home burglarized, he moved across the Mississippi to Alton, Illinois and began publishing there. However, even in a free state, his views met with anger and two more printing presses were destroyed by opponents to try and silence him.

In November of 1837 Lovejoy bought a new press, and organized a group to protect it. On November 7, a mob attacked the building where the press was housed. During an exchange of gunfire with the mob, Lovejoy was shot and killed. He was buried on November 9, his 35th birthday. President John Quincy Adams called Lovejoy the “first American martyr to the freedom of the press and the freedom of the slave.”

In honor of World Press Freedom Day, find out more about Elijah Parish Lovejoy and his lasting legacy to freedom.


'First To Fall': Tells The History Of Abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy

The journalist Ken Ellingwood took a break some years ago from journalism. He went to live in China and was hired to teach a university class about the ethics of American journalism and also some American journalism history.

KEN ELLINGWOOD: It was in the course of teaching about abolitionism and slavery that I introduced them to Elijah Lovejoy

INSKEEP: Elijah Lovejoy - a newspaper editor in the 1800s who wrote against slavery and was killed for it. Telling that American story in an authoritarian country so affected Ellingwood that he wrote a biography of Lovejoy. "First To Fall" tracks a New Englander who moved in the 1830s from the free state of Maine to the slave state of Missouri. He became a minister, edited a religious journal and lived in St. Louis amid enslaved people, an experience that gradually tugged at his conscience.

ELLINGWOOD: He was kind of an accidental abolitionist, or a reluctant one, at least. He was at first very antagonistic toward abolitionists, toward the antislavery movement. He was opposed to slavery on moral grounds. He believed it was a curse on American society. But he was reluctant to rock the boat. He believed that it was in the hands of slave owners to decide whether to emancipate or not. And he gradually - and I really stress this, it was gradual - he shifted his tone to worry not only about the slaves' souls and their religious training but also their lives and how they were being treated. And he began to write quite eloquently in his newspaper, The Observer, about those realities.

INSKEEP: How did people respond?

ELLINGWOOD: It wasn't long before people in St. Louis began to ask him to be quiet about slavery. He was beginning to anger people in elite positions in St. Louis, and he was attracting the kind of notice that could result in real trouble.

INSKEEP: And eventually a mob comes and smashes his press. And there's this, I want to say comical if it wasn't so tragic, sequence where he writes something, his press is smashed, he fixes the press, the press is smashed again.

ELLINGWOOD: He's chased from St. Louis, and he goes across the river to Alton, Ill. And there, he's supposed to be in a free state now. And yet in Illinois, his press is attacked several times. It's smashed he replaces it, or his friends help him replace it. In addition to that, he faces physical threats. He's waylaid on a road and threatened with tarring and feathering. He's facing any number of threats and continues, in spite of all of this, to insist on his right to publish.

INSKEEP: How was he killed?

ELLINGWOOD: After the third press was destroyed, it was a moment of reckoning for Lovejoy and his supporters, and it was a question for all of them to decide whether to continue this - in trying to publish his newspaper or not. And Lovejoy, in spite of all the attacks that had happened already, in spite of the threats that had occurred and the terror that his family had endured, wanted to continue. The fourth press was delivered to Alton by steamboat in November of 1837, and his friends spirited it up to a warehouse that was owned by a supporter and a friend of Lovejoy's. And in that warehouse, the press sat in an attic while Lovejoy and his friends gathered below to defend it against the attack that they were fairly certain was going to come. And it did come. The riot that occurred at the warehouse lasted for some hours. Eventually, the mob set the warehouse on fire, and Lovejoy and a couple of friends were shot by gunmen who were waiting outside that door when they came out.

INSKEEP: What did people make of that murder in 1837?

ELLINGWOOD: John Quincy Adams, the former president, who was a congressman from Massachusetts, described it as being like an earthquake when Lovejoy was killed because of the shock of an editor falling to the lawless, you know, acts of a mob. And so this killing was a wake-up call in the North in that it signaled to people that the defense of slavery by the South, the lengths that they would go to to defend this institution, endangered also the rights of free whites in the North.

INSKEEP: Was he influential, then, in death?

ELLINGWOOD: I would say that he was. It would be wrong to say that he had a giant impact on the antislavery movement, but it would not be wrong to say that he influenced and directed, helped steer the definition of press freedom in the modern era. We - our conception, our modern conception of a free press owes much to Elijah Lovejoy, to the notion that we have a right to publish, even if those opinions are unpalatable to people around us in the community, that all opinion is part of the public discourse and belongs in a democracy.

INSKEEP: This is a very dark story that shows a dark side of America. Yet it's inspiring in a way, his stubbornness and getting one printing press after another.

ELLINGWOOD: Yes, his principle in this, his courage is remarkable to me. As a journalist myself, I understand that, you know, a lot of what makes us work well as journalists is what we're willing to do when we're alone, you know, when it's just us deciding how far do I dare go on this story?

INSKEEP: When you laid all this out in that classroom in China some years ago, how did your students, your Chinese students, respond?

ELLINGWOOD: Well, I could see it in their - in the essays that they wrote, you know, comparing Lovejoy to, you know, heroes in their own lore and to see this reaction in them - remember, of course, we know, you know, China is a place where press freedom doesn't really exist. It was very inspiring to me to see just how well they got it. And I found their reaction to be really quite moving.

INSKEEP: Ken Ellingwood's new book is called "First To Fall: Elijah Lovejoy And The Fight For A Free Press In The Age Of Slavery." Thank you very much.

ELLINGWOOD: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID GOODRICH'S "CODA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


1837- Lovejoy Killed - History

Some of the me. stooped to gather stones. Others fingered the triggers of the guns they carried as they made their way to a warehouse n the banks of the Mississippi River.

As they approached, they eyed the windows of the three-story building, searching for some sign of movement from inside.

Suddenly, William S. Gilman, one of the owners of the building, appeared in an upper window.

"What do you want here?" he asked the crowd.

"The press!" came the shouted reply.

Inside the warehouse was Elijah Parish Lovejoy, a Presbyterian minister and editor of the Alton Observer. He and 20 of his supporters were standing guard over a newly arrived printing press from the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society.

This was the fourth press that Lovejoy had received for his paper. Three others already had been destroyed by people who opposed the antislavery views he expressed in the Observer.

But Lovejoy would not give up.

This time, in an attempt to hide the arrival of the new press, secret arrangements were made. A steamboat delivered the press at 3 o'clock in the morning on November 7, 1837, and some of Lovejoy's friends ere there to meet it.

Moving quickly, they carried the press to the third floor of Gilman's warehouse, but not before they were spotted by members of the mob.

Word of the arrival of the press spread throughout the town all that day. As nightfall approached, mob leaders were joined by men from the taverns, and now the crowd stood below, demanding this fourth press.

Gilman called out: "We have no ill feelings toward, any of you and should much regret to do any injury but we are authorized by the Mayor to. defend our property and shall do so with our lives." The mob began to throw stones, breaking out all the windows in the warehouse.

Shots were fired by members of the mob, and rifle balls whizzed through the windows of the warehouse, narrowly missing the defenders inside. Lovejoy and his men, returned the fire. Several people in the crowd were hit, and one was killed.

"Burn them out!", someone shouted.

Leaders of the mob called for a ladder, which was put up on the side of the building. A boy with a torch was sent up to set fire to the wooden roof. Lovejoy and one of his supporters, Royal Weller, volunteered to stop the boy. The two men crept out- side, hiding in the shadows of the building. Surpris- ing the mob, they rushed to the ladder, pushed it over and quickly retreated inside.

Once again a ladder was put in place. As Lovejoy and Weller made another brave attempt to overturn the ladder, they were spotted. Lovejoy was shot five times, and Weller was also wounded. Lovejoy staggered inside the warehouse, making his way to the second floor before he finally fell.

"My God. I an shot," he cried. He died almost immediately.

By this time the warehouse roof had begun to burn. The men renmaining inside knew they had no choice but to surrender the press.

The mob rushed into the vacant building.

The press Lovejoy died defending was carried to a window and thrown out onto the river bank. It was broken into pieces that were scattered in the Mississippi River.

Fearing more violence, Lovejoy's friends, did not remove his body from the building until the next morning.


Why Violence Against Journalists Ran Rampant in 19th-Century America

Before the Civil War, running a newspaper could be pretty dangerous if an editor ran pieces against slavery. Basically, you had to accept that violence was part of the job: There were more than 100 mob attacks against abolitionist newspapers, including one 1837 riot that killed editor Elijah Lovejoy.

This was not Lovejoy’s first brush with mob violence. In 1833, he𠆝 become the editor of the St. Louis Observer in his home state of Missouri and started publishing anti-slavery editorials. Missouri was a slave state, and these editorials quickly made him a target. Threats of mob violence forced him to flee to the city of Alton in the free state of Illinois, just across the Mississippi River. There, he began publishing the Alton Observer and resumed his support of abolition in his editorials.

However, the fact that Illinois was 𠇏ree” didn’t mean white citizens were necessarily against slavery’s existence and it certainly didn’t mean they were in favor of emancipated black people living freely throughout the U.S. On November 7, 1837, armed rioters stormed Lovejoy’s warehouse and destroyed his printing press. This was actually Lovejoy’s fourth printing press because mobs had destroyed his previous three. It was also his last—he died in a shootout.

“This was the most violent of these actions to date” says John Nerone, a communications professor at the University of Illinois and author of Violence Against the Press.

It was also a calculated political move. One of the mob organizers was Usher F. Linder, the anti-abolitionist attorney general of Illinois. Before the rise of corporate advertising and the professionalization of journalism, newspapers aligned themselves with political parties or groups to cover issues in a way that was mutually beneficial. For anti-abolitionist papers aligned with political parties, this involved framing abolitionists in a negative way and even staging events.

An illustration titled ‘New Method of Assorting the Mail,’ depicting attacks on a southern Post Office, 1835. Pro-slavery residents of the town broke in to burn all anti-slavery newspapers on the town square. (Credit: Fotosearch/Getty Images).

“The party editors wanted to represent [abolitionists] as a bunch of lunatics who were not only in favor of abolishing slavery, but were also in favor of women’s rights and women wearing pants, free love and vegetarianism,” Nerone says.

In contrast, “when crowd actions happened against abolitionists…the party newspapers would generally represent them as respectable orderly meetings,” he says. 𠇊nd just like any other political meeting, they elected a chair, passed resolutions and then they𠆝 go take the printing press and dump it in the river.”

All this created an atmosphere of violence for people who wrote in favor of abolition, especially if you were a black writer like David Walker. After Walker published a pamphlet urging enslaved people to fight for their freedom in 1829, there was a price on his head: $1,000 to kill him, $10,000 to capture him alive.

Other editors and writers who supported abolition, or even wrote something about a politician that he didn’t like, were egged, robbed, or shot at. In 1852, General James W. Denver challenged Edward Gilbert, the editor of Alta California, to a duel for accusing the general of corruption. The general won, and the editor died.

Author Frederick Douglass being attacked by an anti-abolitionist mob at a convention in Pendleton, Indiana 1843. (Credit: Stock Montage/Getty Images)

Because editors were the face of the newspapers they printed, and since the majority of their readers lived in their area, editors were somewhat easy to locate and target. Regular threats of violence against white editors lasted until the 1870s and  �s. Yet for black journalists like Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells, threats of violence continued to be part of the job.

Nerone says he can’t authoritatively speak to whether attacks on journalists in the U.S.—the most violent being the fatal shootings at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis—have increased in the past few years. But he does see parallels between the chaotic media environment of the pre-Civil War era and today. These parallels include partisan alignment in media, a “revolving door” between people who work in politics and media, high levels of public distrust in journalists, and technology that quickly circulates attention-grabbing stories. (Before, it was the telegraph now, it’s the Internet.)

That isn’t to say that conditions are exactly the same now, or that we’re heading toward a civil war.

“Slavery was a fundamental issue that needed to be resolved—I don’t see anything quite as compelling as slavery in today’s political environment,” Nerone says. “Nevertheless, when you have this kind of volatile political environment, you anticipate that there’ll be a certain amount of violence. And you hope that it’ll be resolved through discussion, which is what the press is supposed to be about.”


Pro-slavery mob kills Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Nov. 7, 1837

On this day in 1837, a pro-slavery mob shot and killed Elijah Parish Lovejoy as he sought to defend a newly delivered set of presses of the St. Louis Observer, his anti-slavery newspaper, from being destroyed. Lovejoy’s murder outraged abolition-minded Americans.

At the time of his death, Lovejoy had moved his family across the Mississippi River, to Alton, in the free state of Illinois. In contrast to the reaction elsewhere, officials in Illinois, with one notable exception, remained mute over Lovejoy’s murder and the fire-bombing of the newspaper presses. But Abraham Lincoln, a 28-year-old state representative, spoke out.

“Let every man remember,” Lincoln said, “that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. … Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother. … In short, let it become the political religion of the nation.”

Lovejoy was born in 1802 in Albion, Maine. In 1826, he graduated from Colby (then Waterville) College. From there, he traveled west to St. Louis to teach and to write for newspapers. He became the editor of a paper that supported Henry Clay for president.

Even as he felt the pull of a political career, Lovejoy experienced an intense religious conversion of a sort then sweeping the young nation. He entered Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1833, after preaching a few months in Rhode Island and New York City, he returned to St. Louis and opened a weekly newspaper that championed religious revival causes.

Lovejoy’s editorials raised local hackles even as national circulation rose. Thomas Hart Benton, a future Missouri senator, declared that freedom of speech did not include the right to speak against slavery. Such sentiments helped spur the violence that led to Lovejoy’s death.


'First To Fall': Tells The History Of Abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy

The journalist Ken Ellingwood took a break some years ago from journalism. He went to live in China and was hired to teach a university class about the ethics of American journalism and also some American journalism history.

KEN ELLINGWOOD: It was in the course of teaching about abolitionism and slavery that I introduced them to Elijah Lovejoy

INSKEEP: Elijah Lovejoy - a newspaper editor in the 1800s who wrote against slavery and was killed for it. Telling that American story in an authoritarian country so affected Ellingwood that he wrote a biography of Lovejoy. "First To Fall" tracks a New Englander who moved in the 1830s from the free state of Maine to the slave state of Missouri. He became a minister, edited a religious journal and lived in St. Louis amid enslaved people, an experience that gradually tugged at his conscience.

ELLINGWOOD: He was kind of an accidental abolitionist, or a reluctant one, at least. He was at first very antagonistic toward abolitionists, toward the antislavery movement. He was opposed to slavery on moral grounds. He believed it was a curse on American society. But he was reluctant to rock the boat. He believed that it was in the hands of slave owners to decide whether to emancipate or not. And he gradually - and I really stress this, it was gradual - he shifted his tone to worry not only about the slaves' souls and their religious training but also their lives and how they were being treated. And he began to write quite eloquently in his newspaper, The Observer, about those realities.

INSKEEP: How did people respond?

ELLINGWOOD: It wasn't long before people in St. Louis began to ask him to be quiet about slavery. He was beginning to anger people in elite positions in St. Louis, and he was attracting the kind of notice that could result in real trouble.

INSKEEP: And eventually a mob comes and smashes his press. And there's this, I want to say comical if it wasn't so tragic, sequence where he writes something, his press is smashed, he fixes the press, the press is smashed again.

ELLINGWOOD: He's chased from St. Louis, and he goes across the river to Alton, Ill. And there, he's supposed to be in a free state now. And yet in Illinois, his press is attacked several times. It's smashed he replaces it, or his friends help him replace it. In addition to that, he faces physical threats. He's waylaid on a road and threatened with tarring and feathering. He's facing any number of threats and continues, in spite of all of this, to insist on his right to publish.

INSKEEP: How was he killed?

ELLINGWOOD: After the third press was destroyed, it was a moment of reckoning for Lovejoy and his supporters, and it was a question for all of them to decide whether to continue this - in trying to publish his newspaper or not. And Lovejoy, in spite of all the attacks that had happened already, in spite of the threats that had occurred and the terror that his family had endured, wanted to continue. The fourth press was delivered to Alton by steamboat in November of 1837, and his friends spirited it up to a warehouse that was owned by a supporter and a friend of Lovejoy's. And in that warehouse, the press sat in an attic while Lovejoy and his friends gathered below to defend it against the attack that they were fairly certain was going to come. And it did come. The riot that occurred at the warehouse lasted for some hours. Eventually, the mob set the warehouse on fire, and Lovejoy and a couple of friends were shot by gunmen who were waiting outside that door when they came out.

INSKEEP: What did people make of that murder in 1837?

ELLINGWOOD: John Quincy Adams, the former president, who was a congressman from Massachusetts, described it as being like an earthquake when Lovejoy was killed because of the shock of an editor falling to the lawless, you know, acts of a mob. And so this killing was a wake-up call in the North in that it signaled to people that the defense of slavery by the South, the lengths that they would go to to defend this institution, endangered also the rights of free whites in the North.

INSKEEP: Was he influential, then, in death?

ELLINGWOOD: I would say that he was. It would be wrong to say that he had a giant impact on the antislavery movement, but it would not be wrong to say that he influenced and directed, helped steer the definition of press freedom in the modern era. We - our conception, our modern conception of a free press owes much to Elijah Lovejoy, to the notion that we have a right to publish, even if those opinions are unpalatable to people around us in the community, that all opinion is part of the public discourse and belongs in a democracy.

INSKEEP: This is a very dark story that shows a dark side of America. Yet it's inspiring in a way, his stubbornness and getting one printing press after another.

ELLINGWOOD: Yes, his principle in this, his courage is remarkable to me. As a journalist myself, I understand that, you know, a lot of what makes us work well as journalists is what we're willing to do when we're alone, you know, when it's just us deciding how far do I dare go on this story?

INSKEEP: When you laid all this out in that classroom in China some years ago, how did your students, your Chinese students, respond?

ELLINGWOOD: Well, I could see it in their - in the essays that they wrote, you know, comparing Lovejoy to, you know, heroes in their own lore and to see this reaction in them - remember, of course, we know, you know, China is a place where press freedom doesn't really exist. It was very inspiring to me to see just how well they got it. And I found their reaction to be really quite moving.

INSKEEP: Ken Ellingwood's new book is called "First To Fall: Elijah Lovejoy And The Fight For A Free Press In The Age Of Slavery." Thank you very much.

ELLINGWOOD: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID GOODRICH'S "CODA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Watch the video: The Death of Elijah Lovejoy (May 2022).