Mr. Chairman: It is not true, as has been charged upon me, that I hold in contempt the feelings and sentiments of this community, in reference to the question which is now agitating it. I respect and appreciate the feelings of my fellow-citizens; and it is one of the most painful and unpleasant duties of my life, that I am called upon to act in opposition to them. If you suppose, Sir, that I have published sentiments contrary to those generally held in this community, because I delighted in differing from them, you have entirely misapprehended me. But, Sir, while I value the good opinion of my fellow-citizens as highly as any one, I may be permitted to say that I am governed by higher considerations than either the favor or the fear of man. I am impelled to the course I have taken, because I fear God. As I shall answer it to my God in the great day, I dare not abandon my sentiments, nor cease in all proper ways to propagate them. I, Mr. Chairman, have not desired nor asked any compromise. I have asked for nothing but to be protected in my rights as a citizen — rights which God has given me, and which are guaranteed to me by the Constitution of my country. Have I, Sir, been guilty of any infraction of the laws? Whose good name have I injured? When and where have I published anything injurious to the reputation of Alton? Have I not, on the other hand, labored, in common with the rest of my fellow-citizens, to promote the reputation and interests of this city? What, Sir, I ask, has been my offense? Put your finger upon it — define it — and I stand ready to answer for it. If I have committed any crime, you can easily convict me. You have public sentiment in your favor. You have your juries, and you have your attorney (looking at the Attorney-General), and I have no doubt you can convict me. But if I have been guilty of no violation of law, why am I hunted up and down continually like a partridge upon the mountains? Why am I threatened with the tar-barrel? Why am I waylaid every day, and from night to night? and why is my life in jeopardy every hour? You have, Sir, made up, as the lawyers say, a false issue; there are not two parties between whom there can be a compromise. I plant myself, Sir, down on my unquestionable rights; and the question to be decided is, whether I shall be protected in the exercise and enjoyment of those rights--that is the question, Sir;--whether my property shall be protected — whether I shall be suffered to go home to my family at night without being assailed, and threatened with tar and feathers, and assassination; whether my afflicted wife, whose life has been in jeopardy from continued alarm and excitement, shall night after night be driven from a sick-bed into the garret to save her life from the brickbats and violence of the mob; that, Sir, is the question. “Here, much affected and overcome by his feelings, he burst into tears. Many, not excepting even his enemies, wept — several sobbed aloud, and the sympathies of the whole meeting were deeply excited. He continued:” Forgive me, Sir, that I have thus betrayed my weakness. It was the allusion to my family that overcame my feelings. Not, Sir, I assure you, from any fears on my part. I have no personal fears. Not that I feel able to contest the matter with the whole community; I know perfectly well that I am not. I know, Sir, that you can tar and feather me, hang me up, or put me into the Mississippi, without the least difficulty. But what then? Where shall I go? I have been made to feel that, if I am not safe at Alton, I shall not be safe anywhere. I recently visited St. Charles to bring home my family, and was torn from their frantic embrace by a mob. I have been beset night and day at Alton. And now, if I leave here and go else. where, violence may overtake me in my retreat, and I have no more claim upon the protection of another community than I have upon this; and I have concluded, after consultation with my friends, and earnestly seeking counsel of God, to remain at Alton, and hero to insist on protection in the exercise of my rights. If the civil authorities refuse to protect me, I must look to God; and, if I die, I have determined to make my grave in Alton.It was known in Alton that a new press was now on the way to Mr. Lovejoy, and might arrive at any time. Great excitement pervaded
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