Elijah P. Lovejoy, abolitionist and editor, surrendered his life for free speech, free press, and free men. As a Presbyterian minister, Lovejoy read the bible, memorized hymns and led a life of Christian morality and conviction. After college, he ventured west to St. Louis and later bought half interest in the St. Louis Times. As the paper’s editor, he was concerned with politics and social justice.
In 1836, following opposition of his anti-slavery views, Lovejoy moved the paper to Alton and called it The Observer. On Sunday, July 23, Elijah received his first printing press. Before dawn, it was destroyed and dumped in the river by a group of men from Missouri. Several of Lovejoy’s printing presses were destroyed by angry mobs. On the night of November 7, 1837, Lovejoy’s fourth press was destroyed and thrown into the Mississippi River. That night, Lovejoy was murdered as he stood defending his press.
Today, visitors can pay tribute to this martyr of the abolitionist movement at the Lovejoy Monument in the Alton Cemetery. One of Lovejoy’s presses, recovered from the river, can also be seen in the lobby of The Telegraph in Alton. Exhibits dedicated to telling the story of Elijah Lovejoy can also be found at the Alton Museum of History and Art.
Click here to listen to a story about Elijah Lovejoy.