Elijah Lovejoy martyred for freedom of press

Elijah Parrish Lovejoy was born in Albion, Maine, in 1802, and died at the hands of an angry mob in Alton on Nov. 7, 1837.
An editor and Presbyterian clergyman, Lovejoy was outspoken on the subject of slavery. He preached abolition through the pulpit and through the pages of the newspapers he edited.
Elijah received his license to preach in 1832, and was ordained as an evangelist two years later. At this time, it was fairly new doctrine to condemn slavery, along with whiskey drinking and gambling.
On May 27, 1837, Lovejoy served as moderator at Bethel Presbyterian Church near Reno in Bond County, and his signature appears in the church books. We can make a guess as to the subject of his discourse.
The Bethel Presbyterian Church, organized on Sept. 15, 1825, was built of hewn logs and heated by a fire in the center on a raised mound of earth. It was in this primitive setting that Lovejoy orated for six months before his untimely death.
Prominent members of the congregation were Robert and David McCord, both identified as conductors on the Underground Railroad in Bond County. Robert and his wife, Rebecca, gave the land on which the church was built.
As editor of the St. Louis Observer, Lovejoy attacked slavery through its pages. He moved the paper to Alton in 1837, calling it the Alton Observer.
There, he helped organize the Illinois Anti-Slavery Society. He had many supporters – and many more detractors. Two of his printing presses were destroyed by mobs.
When a third press was purchased and shipped to Alton, it was stored in a well-secured warehouse. Lovejoy called on the mayor to post men to help protect the building from expected mob action.
He gathered together friends and his brother, Owen Lovejoy, a minister and abolitionist, and posted guards himself. At first, all was quiet and Elijah rested easier.
On the second day, a crowd gathered. Though it took a while to heat up, heat up it did. In the ensuing fracas, fire was set to the warehouse and gunfire was exchanged. Elijah Lovejoy was struck by a bullet. After he fell, the fire was doused and the mob took his press.
Elijah Lovejoy died on Nov. 7, 1837, defending not only his printing press but freedom of the press.
No one was ever convicted of his murder, although men stood in line to take credit for it.

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