Elijah Parish Lovejoy

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Elijah Parish Lovejoy

Birthplace: ME, United States
Death: November 07, 1837 (34)
Alton, IL, United States (murdered by a mob of pro-slavery advocates)
Place of Burial: Alton, Madison County, Illinois, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Daniel B. Lovejoy and Elizabeth Gordon Lovejoy
Husband of Celia Ann Lovejoy
Father of Edward Payson Lovejoy and Charlotte Lovejoy
Brother of Daniel Lovejoy, Jr; Joseph Cammett Lovejoy; Owen Lovejoy; Sybil Pattee Blanchard; Owen C. Lovejoy and 4 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Elijah Parish Lovejoy




Elijah Parish Lovejoy (November 9, 1802 – November 7, 1837) was an American Presbyterian minister, journalist, and newspaper editor who was murdered by a mob in Alton, Illinois for his abolitionist views.

Lovejoy had a deeply religious upbringing, as his father was a Congregational minister and his mother a devout Christian. He attended Waterville College (now Colby College) in his home state of Maine, and graduated at the top of his class, with first class honors. Afterwards, he traveled to Illinois and, after realizing that the area was largely unsettled, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1827. There, Lovejoy worked as an editor of an anti-Jacksonian newspaper and ran a school. Five years later, influenced by the Revivalist movement, he chose to become a preacher. He attended the Princeton Theological Seminary and became an ordained Presbyterian preacher. Once he returned to St. Louis, he set up a church and became the editor of a weekly religious newspaper, the St. Louis Observer. He wrote a number of editorials, critical of other religions and slavery. In May 1836, he was run out of town by his opponents after he chastised Judge Luke E. Lawfull, who had chosen not to charge individuals linked to a mob lynching of a free black man-who had been jailed after killing two law officers. [1]

Lovejoy moved to Alton, Illinois, where he became editor of the Alton Observer. On three occasions, his printing press was destroyed by pro-slavery factions who wanted to stop his publishing abolitionist views. On November 7, 1837, a pro-slavery mob approached a warehouse belonging to merchant Winthrop Sargent Gilman that held Lovejoy's fourth printing press. Lovejoy and his supporters exchanged gunfire with the mob. The leaders of the mob decided to burn down Gilman's warehouse, so they got a ladder and set it alongside the building. They attempted to climb up ladder to set fire to the warehouse's wooden roof, but Lovejoy and one of his supporters stopped them. After the mob set up their ladder along the side of the building for a second time, Lovejoy went outside to intervene, but he was promptly shot with a shotgun and died on the spot. Lovejoy was hailed as a martyr by abolitionists across the country. He was honored by the naming of monuments and buildings in his memory. His brother Owen entered politics after his death and became the leader of the Illinois abolitionists. Lovejoy also had a cousin, Nathan A. Farwell, who served as a U.S. Senator from Maine.

Early life Lovejoy was born at his grandfather's frontier farmhouse near Albion, Maine as the first of the nine children of Reverend Daniel Lovejoy and Elizabeth Pattee.[2] Lovejoy's father was a Congregational preacher and farmer and his mother, a devout Christian. Daniel Lovejoy named his son "Elijah Parish" in honor of his close friend and mentor, the Reverend Elijah Parish.[3] Due to his own deprived education, he encouraged his sons—Daniel, Joseph Cammett, Owen, John and Elijah—to become educated men. As a result, Elijah was taught to read the Bible and other theological texts at an early age. After completing his early studies in public schools, Lovejoy attended the Academy at Monmouth and China Academy. After becoming proficient enough in Latin and mathematics, he enrolled at Waterville College (now Colby College) in Waterville, Maine as a sophomore in 1823.[4] He excelled in his studies, and upon faculty recommendation, he became a teacher at the college's preparatory division. Lovejoy received financial support from Reverend Benjamin Tappan to continue his attendance at Waterville College.[5]

Despite his academic success, Lovejoy had a number of emotional troubles, and at one point, he even contemplated committing suicide.[6] Although he was able to overcome these thoughts, he was still deeply affected by a feeling of being alone. He had been brought up in a simple atmosphere, in which he learned to think of religion as the most important aspect of his life. However, the atmosphere of the world outside his home was very complex, and he found himself alienated by people, many of whom did not adhere to his religious beliefs.[5]

In September 1826, Lovejoy graduated from Waterville College with first class honors[7] at the top of his class.[8] During the winter and spring, he taught at China Academy. Unsatisfied with the mundane teaching environment, Lovejoy contemplated moving to the South or Western United States. His former teachers at Waterville College advised him that he would best serve God in the West.[9] Lovejoy agreed with their words, and in May 1827, he said goodbye to his family and went to Boston. He searched for a job to fund his journey to Illinois, his chosen destination, but was unsuccessful.[10] He left the city and headed to Illinois by foot. He stopped in New York City in mid-June, with the intention of again trying to find employment to fund his travels. Lovejoy had difficulties searching for a job, but was eventually able to land a position with the Saturday Evening Gazette as a newspaper subscription peddler. For nearly five weeks, he walked up and down streets, knocking on peoples' doors and wheedling passersby, in hopes of getting them to subscribe to the newspaper.[11] Lovejoy was still struggling with his finances, and so, he wrote a letter to Reverend Jeremiah Chaplin, the president of Waterville College, explaining his situation. Chaplin unhesitatingly sent the money that his former student so desperately needed.[11] Lovejoy promptly embarked on his journey to Illinois, reaching Hillsboro, Montgomery County in the fall of 1827. Lovejoy did not think he could maximally realize his potential in Illinois's scantly settled land, so he headed for St. Louis.

In St. Louis, Lovejoy quickly established himself as the editor of the anti-Jacksonian newspaper, the St. Louis Observer, and as the headmaster of a coeducational private school. In 1832, upon influence of the Christian revivalist movement led by abolitionist David Nelson, he decided to become a preacher.[13] He then studied at the Princeton Theological Seminary, and upon completion, went to Philadelphia, where he became an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in April 1833. Upon returning to St. Louis, he set up a Presbyterian church and also became editor of a weekly religious newspaper, the St. Louis Observer. In 1835, Lovejoy married Celia Ann French, who would later bear him two children.

Death On November 7, 1837, pro-slavery partisans congregated and approached Gilman's warehouse, where the printing press had been hidden. According to the Alton Observer, shots were then fired by the pro-slavery advocates, and balls from muskets whizzed through the windows of the warehouse, narrowly missing the defenders inside. Lovejoy and his men returned fire. Several people in the crowd were hit, and one was killed.

As some began to demand the warehouse be set on fire, leaders of the mob called for a ladder, which was put up on the side of the warehouse. 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 outside, hiding in the shadows of the building. Surprising the pro-slavery partisans, Lovejoy and Weller 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 attempt to overturn the ladder, they were spotted. Lovejoy was shot with a shotgun loaded with slugs. He was hit five times and killed; Weller was wounded. Suffering the same fate as its predecessors, the new printing press was destroyed; it was carried to a window and thrown out onto the riverbank. The printing press was then broken into pieces that were scattered in the river.

Afterwards, Lovejoy was considered a martyr by the abolition movement, and in his name, his brother Owen Lovejoy became the leader of the Illinois abolitionists. His murder was a sign of the increasing tension within the country leading up to the Civil War, and it is for this reason that he is considered to be the "first casualty of the Civil War."

Legacy Elijah Lovejoy is buried in Alton Cemetery in Madison County, Illinois. In the late 1890s, local citizens erected a monument to Lovejoy's memory within the cemetery, created by Richard Bock. The monument commemorates his dual commitment to both freedom and freedom of the press. The memorial mainly consists of a tall column topped by a symbolic figure. The monument overlooks the Mississippi, meaning that visitors who come to see the monument can also see the river into which his presses were thrown.

Lovejoy is buried some fifty yards away, beyond the farthest reach of the memorial figure's longest shadow. The monuments of some of his supporters are near the burial site.

The Lovejoy Library at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is named in his honor; it was initially proposed to name the whole university after him. The African American village of Brooklyn, Illinois (popularly known as Lovejoy), located just north of East St. Louis, is also named for him. The Albert King album and song "Lovejoy, Illinois" draws its name from the town.

The Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award, given annually by Colby College, Lovejoy's alma mater, honors a member of the newspaper profession who "has contributed to the nation's journalistic achievement." A major classroom building at Colby is also named for Lovejoy. Elijah Lovejoy also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

The Elijah Parish and Owen Lovejoy Scholarship, was founded in February 2003 and is given annually by Reed College.

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Elijah Parish Lovejoy's Timeline

November 9, 1802
ME, United States
March 1836
St. Louis, MO, United States
November 7, 1837
Age 34
Alton, IL, United States
Alton Cemetery, Alton, Madison County, Illinois, United States