Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument
Elijah Lovejoy was one of the most important Midwestern abolitionists in the years leading up to the American Civil War. Born in Maine to a devout Presbyterian family in November of 1802, Lovejoy was encouraged by his father to accomplish everything he never did. In his formative years, Lovejoy focused on school, religion, and politics. By 1826, he graduated valedictorian from Waterville College. After a year or so of struggling to find his path, his former teachers encouraged him to hit the road for St. Louis. Lovejoy did just that, and much more.
In 1932, Lovejoy moved to St. Louis and founded The Observer. Over the next several years Lovejoy’s opinion on slavery changed incrementally, yet profoundly. After witnessing mobs against abolitionists, murders of black people, and other extreme injustices, Lovejoy became a full-on abolitionist. By 1837, The Observer had become one of the premier publications of the abolitionist movement. After months of violent mob attacks and little to no support from local leadership, Lovejoy was forced to move out of St. Louis for his and his family’s safety.
Thinking Illinois would be more accepting of an abolitionist, Elijah Lovejoy decided to move himself and his paper to Alton. After hearing about a planned mob attack on The Observer, Lovejoy and his supporters armed themselves and attempted to defend the establishment. Not long thereafter, a drunken mob attacked The Observer where Lovejoy was eventually killed.
Lovejoy had the courage to give everything for what he believed was right and eventually, he did. His death sparked outrage from the abolitionist movement and lit a spark lit that eventually burned into a public consensus against slavery. Lovejoy’s death played a large role in paving the road for emancipation, liberty, and America finally began to expand its constitutional rights to more people.
Today, visitors are encouraged to check out the Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument in Alton, Illinois. It stands as a reminder of how courageous and powerful individuals can be in the face of extreme danger.