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XI. the pro-slavery Reaction.

  • Rifling the mails
  • -- persecution and murder of Rev. E. P. Lovejoy -- the struggle in Congress for the right of petition.

The Liberator, by its uncompromising spirit and unsparing denunciations, soon challenged and secured, to an extent quite unprecedented, the attention of adversaries. Treating Slavery uniformly as a crime to be repented, a wrong to be righted at the earliest moment, if it did not convince the understanding of slaveholders, it at least excited their wrath. Before it had been issued a year, while it had probably less than a thousand subscribers, and while its editor and his partner were still working all day as journeymen printers, sleeping, after some hours' editorial labor, at night on the floor of their little sky-parlor office, and dreaming rather of how or where to get money or credit for the paper required for next week's issue than of troubling the repose of States, they were flattered by an act of the Legislature of Georgia, unanimously passed, and duly approved by Governor Lumpkin, offering the liberal reward of $5,000 to whomsoever should arrest, bring to trial, and prosecute to conviction, either of them under the laws of that State--the arrest being the only difficult matter.1 There was no reason to doubt that the proffer was made in good faith, and that the stipulated reward would have been more promptly and cheerfully paid than Southern debts are apt to be. Other such rewards of $10,000, $50,000, and even $100,000, for the bodies or the heads of prominent Abolitionists, were from time to time advertised; but these plagiarisms were seldom responsibly backed, and proved only the anxiety of the offerers to distinguish themselves and cheaply win a local popularity. Their aspect was not business-like. In several instances, Southern grand juries gravely indicted Northern “agitators” for offenses against the peace and dignity of their respective States; and in at least one case a formal requisition was made upon the Governor of New York for the surrender of an Abolitionist who had never trod the soil of the offended State; but the Governor (Marcy), though ready to do what he lawfully could to propitiate Southern favor, was constrained respectfully to decline.

That “error of opinion may be safely tolerated where reason is left free to combat it,” 2 is a truth that does not seem to have occurred either to the Southern or Northern contemners of the Garrisonian ultras. In fact, it does not seem to have irradiated the minds of the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees of Christ's day, nor those of the hereditary champions of established institutions and gainful traditions at almost any time. The Southern. [123] journals and other oracles imperiously, wrathfully, demanded the instant suppression and extinction of the “incendiaries” and “fanatics,” under the usual penalty of a dissolution of the Union;3 to which was now added the annihilation of Northern prosperity and consequence through a retributive withdrawal of Southern trade.4 The commercial and political interests at the North, which regarded Southern favor as the sheetanchor of their hopes, eagerly responded to these overtures, clamoring for penal enactments and popular proofs of Northern fidelity to Constitutional obligations. The former were not forthcoming; in fact, the most adroit and skillful draftsman would have found it difficult to frame any such law as was required — any one that would have subserved the end in view — that would not have directly and glaringly contravened the constitution or bill of rights of even the most “conservative” State. Yet President Jackson did not hesitate, in his Annual Message of December 2, 1835, to say:

I must also invite your attention to the painful excitement produced in the South by attempts to circulate, through the mails, inflammatory appeals addressed to the passions of the slaves, in prints, and in various sorts of publications, calculated to stimulate them to insurrection, and to produce all the horrors of a servile war.

There is, doubtless, no respectable portion of our fellow-countrymen who can be so far misled as to feel any other sentiment than that of indignant regret at conduct so destructive of the harmony and peace of the country, and so repugnant to the principles of our national compact, and to the dictates of humanity and religion. Our happiness and prosperity essentially depend upon peace within our borders — and peace depends upon the maintenance, in good faith, of those compromises of the Constitution upon which the Union is founded. It is fortunate for the country that tie good sense, the generous feeling, and the deep-rooted attachment of the people of the non-slave-holding States to the Union, and to their fellow-citizens of the same blood in the South, have given so strong and impressive a tone to the sentiments entertained against the proceedings of the misguided persons who have engaged in these unconstitutional and wicked attempts, and especially against the emissaries from foreign parts who have dared to interfere in this matter, as to authorize the hope that those attempts will no longer be persisted in. But, if these expressions of the public will shall not be sufficient to effect so desirable a result, not a doubt can be entertained that the non-slaveholding States, so far from countenancing the slightest interference with the constitutional rights of the South, will be prompt to exercise their authority in suppressing, so far as in them lies, whatever is calculated to produce the evil.

In leaving the care of other branches of this interesting subject to the State authorities, to whom they properly belong, it is nevertheless proper for Congress to take such measures as will prevent the Post-Office Department, which was designed to [124] foster an amicable intercourse and correspondence between all the members of the confederacy, from being used as an instrument of an opposite character. The General Government, to which the great trust is confided of preserving inviolate the relations created among the States by the Constitution, is especially bound to avoid, in its own action, any thing that may disturb them. I would therefore call the special attention of Congress to the subject, and respectfully suggest the propriety of passing such a law as will prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern States, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.

Had the President been asked to justify his charges against his fellow-citizens of having “attempted to circulate, through the mails, inflammatory appeals, addressed to the passions of slaves, in prints,” etc., etc., he must have answered that he had heard or read charges to this effect, and had believed them. But it was in vain that the Abolitionists remonstrated, and protested, and called for proofs. The slaveholding interest detested and feared them; the mob was in full cry at their heels; and it was the seeming interest of the great majority of speakers and writers to join in the hunt.5

Governor Marcy followed in the footsteps of his party chief. In his Annual Message of January 5, 1836--five weeks later than the foregoing — he said:

Relying on the influence of a sound and enlightened public opinion to restrain and control the misconduct of the citizens of a free government, especially when directed, as it has been in this case, with unexampled energy and unanimity, to the particular evils under consideration, and perceiving that its operations have been thus far salutary, I entertain the best hopes that this remedy, of itself, will entirely remove these evils, or render them comparatively harmless. But, if these reasonable expectations should, un-happily, be disappointed; if, in the face of numerous and striking exhibitions of public reprobation, elicited from our constituents by a just fear of the fatal issues in which the uncurbed efforts of the Abolitionists may ultimately end, any considerable portion of these misguided men shall persist in pushing them forward to disastrous consequences, then a question, new to our confederacy, will necessarily arise, and must be met. It must then be determined how far the several States can provide, within the proper exercise of their constitutional powers, and how far, in fulfillment of the obligations resulting from their federal relations, they ought to provide, by their own laws, for the trial and punishment by their own judicatories, of residents within their limits, guilty of acts therein, which are calculated and intended to excite insurrection and rebellion in a sister State. * * * I cannot doubt that the Legislature possesses the power to pass such penal laws as will have the effect of preventing the citizens of this State and residents within it from availing themselves, with impunity, of the protection of its sovereignty and laws, while they are actually employed in exciting insurrection and sedition in a sister State, or engaged in treasonable enterprises, intended to be executed therein.

A legislative Report responsive to these recommendations was made in May following, just at the close of the session, which assumed to pledge the faith of the State to pass such laws as were suggested by the Governor, whenever they shall be requisite! This report was duly forwarded to the Southern Governors, but not circulated at large, nor was any such action as it proposed ever taken-or meant to be. Governor Edward Everett (Whig), of Massachusetts, sent6 a Message to the Legislature of his State, communicating the demands of certain Southern States that anti-Slavery inculcations in the Free States should be legally suppressed, and saying:

Whatever by direct and necessary operation [125] is calculated to excite an insurrection among the slaves, has been held, by highly respectable legal authority, an offense against the peace of this commonwealth, which may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor at common law.

The Legislature referred the subject to a joint Committee, whereof a conspicuous champion of Slavery was Chairman. The Abolitionists perceived and eagerly embraced their opportunity. They demanded a hearing before this Committee — they being accused of grave misdemeanors in the documents whereon it was to act — and their request was tardily acceded to. On the 3d of March, 1836, they were apprised that they would be heard next day. They were duly present accordingly — the Committee sitting in the spacious Representatives' Hall, neither House being in session. Brief addresses in their behalf were heard from Rev. Samuel J. May and Ellis Gray Loring, who were followed by Professor Charles Follen, who, in the course of his remarks, alluded to the mob outrages to which the Abolitionists had recently been subjected, remarking that any legislative enactment to their prejudice would tend to encourage their adversaries to repeat those outrages. The Chairman treated this remark as disrespectful to the Committee, and abruptly terminated the hearing. The Abolitionists thereupon completed promptly their defense, and issued it in a pamphlet, which naturally attracted public attention, and a popular conviction that fair play had not been accorded them was manifested. The Legislature shared it, and directed its Committee to allow them a full hearing. Monday, the 8th, was accordingly appointed for the purpose. By this time, the public interest had become diffused and intensified, and the Hall was crowded with earnest auditors. The Rev. William E. Channing, then the most eminent clergyman in New England, appeared among the champions of Free Speech. Professor Follen concluded, and was followed by Samuel E. Sewall, William Lloyd Garrison, and William Goodell — the last-named stigmatizing the demand of the South and its backers as an assault on the liberties of the North. Mr. Bond, a Boston merchant, and Dr. Bradley, from Plymouth, were prompted by the impulse of the hour to add their unpremeditated remonstrances against the contemplated invasion of time-honored rights. Darkness had set in when the Committee rose, and a low murmur of approving multitudes gave token that the cause of liberty had triumphed. The Committee reported adversely to the “agitators” and “fanatics” at the heel of the session, but in evident despair of any accordant action; and none was ever had. Massachusetts refused to manacle her own people in order to rivet more securely the shackles of others.

Rhode Island was the theatre of a similar attempt, ending in a similar failure. And if, in any other State, like efforts were made, they were likewise defeated. No nominally Free State, however hostile to Abolition, consented to make it a crime on the part of her people to “preach deliverance to the captive.”

But the systematic suppression of anti-Slavery teaching by riot and mob-violence was, for a time, well-nigh universal. In New York, a meeting at Clinton Hall, to organize a City Anti-Slavery Society, having [126] been called for the evening of October 2, 1833, there appeared a countercall from “Many Southrons” for a meeting at the same time and place. In apprehension of a riot, Clinton Hall was not opened; but such of the Abolitionists as could be notified on the instant repaired to the Chatham-street Chapel. Their opponents met in Tammany Hall, and, after making their speeches and passing their resolves unquestioned, were about to adjourn, when they were apprised of the meeting in the Chapel. “Let us rout them!” was the general cry; and they rushed noisily to the Chapel only to find that the Abolitionists had departed. “Ten thousand dollars for Arthur Tappan!” was shouted; but no one was molested, and the crowd dissolved in the comforting assurance that the Union was safe.

But on the 4th of July, 1834, an attempt to hold an anti-Slavery celebration in Chatham-street Chapel was the signal for a furious and alarming riot. The prayer, the singing, and the reading of the Declaration, were endured with tolerable patience; but a Declaration of the Sentiments of the Anti-Slavery Society by Lewis Tappan was interrupted by hisses; and when David Paul Brown, of Philadelphia, commenced his oration, it was soon manifest that a large portion of the audience had come expressly not to hear him, nor let any one else. Rev. Samuel H. Cox interposed in behalf of Free Speech; but both were clamored down with cries of “Treason! Treason! Hurrah for the Union!” and the meeting quietly dispersed, without awaiting or provoking further violence.

The leading commercial journals having commended this experiment in Union-saving, the actors were naturally impelled to extend it. At midnight on the 9th, the dwelling of Lewis Tappan was broken open by a mob, his furniture carried into the street, and consigned to the flames. The burning of the house was then proposed; but the Mayor remonstrated, and it was forborne. The riots were continued through the next day; the doors and windows of Dr. Cox's (Presbyterian) church being broken, with those of Dr. Ludlow's church; while a Baptist, a Methodist, and a Protestant Episcopal church, belonging to colored congregations, were badly shattered, and one of them nearly destroyed, as was a school-house for colored children, and many dwellings inhabited by negroes, while others were seriously injured. Many rioters were arrested during these days by the police, but none of them was ever punished.

Newark, New Jersey, imitated this riot on the 11th, but with indifferent success. A church was somewhat injured.

Philadelphia followed on the 13th of August. Her riots lasted three nights, and the harmless and powerless blacks were mainly their victims. Forty-four houses (mostly small) were destroyed or seriously injured. Among them was a colored Presbyterian church. Several of the blacks were chased and assaulted, one of them being beaten to death, and another losing his life in attempting to swim the Schuylkill to escape his pursuers.

At Worcester, Massachusetts, August 10, 1835, the Rev. Orange Scott, who was lecturing against Slavery, was assaulted, his notes torn up, and personal violence attempted. [127]

At Concord, New Hampshire, on the same day, a mob demolished an academy, because colored boys were admitted as pupils.

At Canterbury, Connecticut, Miss Prudence Crandall having attempted, in 1833, to open a school for colored children, an act was passed by the Legislature forbidding any teaching within that State of colored youth from other States. She persisted, and was imprisoned for it as a malefactor. Having been liberated, she resumed her school; when it was broken up by mob-violence.

The riots whereof the foregoing are specimens were too numerous and wide-spread to be even glanced at severally. They were, doubtless, multiplied and intensified by the presence in our country of George Thompson, an eminent and ardent English Abolitionist, who — now that the triumph of Emancipation in the British West Indies was secured — came over to aid the kindred struggle in this country. That a Briton should presume to plead for Liberty in this free and enlightened country was not to be endured; and Mr. Thompson's eloquence, fervor, and thoroughness, increased the hostility excited by his presence, which, of itself, was held an ample excuse for mobs. Hie was finally induced to desist and return to England, from a conviction that the prejudice aroused by his interference in what was esteemed a domestic difference overbalanced the good effect of his lectures. The close of this year (1835) was signalized by the conversion of Gerrit Smith — hitherto a leading and zealous Colonizationist — to the principles of the Abolitionists.

In Northfield, New Hampshire, December 14, 1835, Rev. George Storrs attempted to deliver an anti-Slavery lecture, but was dragged from his knees while at prayer, preliminary to his address, by a deputy sheriff, on the strength of a warrant issued by a justice, on a complaint charging him with being “a common rioter and brawler,” “an idle and disorderly person, going about the town and county disturbing the public peace.” On trial, he was acquitted; but, on the 31st of March following, after having lectured at Pittsfield, New Hampshire, he was again arrested while at prayer, on a writ issued by one who afterward became a Member of Congress, tried the same day, convicted, and sentenced to three months imprisonment in the House of Correction. He appealed, and that was probably the end of the matter.

At Boston, October 21, 1835, a large and most respectable mob, composed in good part of merchants, assailed a meeting of the Female Anti-Slavery Society, while its President was at prayer, and dispersed it. William Lloyd Garrison, having escaped, was found concealed in a cabinet-marker's shop, seized and dragged through the streets with a rope around his body, threatened with tar and feathers, but finally conducted to the Mayor, who lodged him in jail till the next day, to protect him from further violence. At the earnest request of the authorities, he left town for a time.

At Utica, New York, the same day, a meeting, convened to form a State Anti-Slavery Society, was broken up by a most respectable Committee, appointed by a large meeting of citizens. The office of a Democratic journal that had spoken kindly [128] of the Abolitionists was assailed and its press thrown down. The discipline proved effective. No Democratic journal issued in that city has since ventured to speak a word for Freedom or Humanity. The Abolitionists, at Gerrit Smith's invitation, adjourned to his home at Peterborough, Madison County, and there completed their organization.

At the South, there was but one mode of dealing with Abolitionists — that described by Henry A. Wise as made up of “Dupont's best [Gunpowder], and cold steel.” “Let your emissaries cross the Potomac,” writes the Rev. T. S. Witherspoon from Alabama to The Emancipator, “and I can promise you that your fate will be no less than Haman's.” 7 Says the Rev. William Plummer, D. D., of Richmond, Virginia, in response (July, 1835) to a call for a meeting of the clergy to take action on the exciting topic, “Let the Abolitionists understand that they will be caught if they come among us, and they will take good care to stay away.” 8 The calculation was a tolerably sound one; yet it did not save quite a number of persons — mainly of Northern birth — who were seized at various points throughout the South on suspicion of being anti-Slavery, and very summarily put to death — some with, and some without, a mob trial. Had there been any proof9 against them, they would doubtless have been left to the operation of the laws for such cases made and provided; for these were certainly harsh enough to satisfy even Wise himself.

At Charleston, S. C., July 29, 1835, it was noised about that the mails just arrived from the North contained a quantity of Abolition periodicals and documents. A public meeting was thereupon called, which the Reverend Clergy of the [129] city attended in a body, “lending,” says The Courier of next morning, “their sanction to the proceedings, and adding, by their presence, to the impressive character of the scene.” This meeting unanimously resolved that all the mail matter in question should be burnt, and it was burnt accordingly — the mails being searched and rifled for the purpose; “although,” (says The Courier), “arrangements had previously been made at the Post-office to arrest the circulation of incendiary matter, until instructions could be received from the Department at Washington ;” and “it might have been better, perhaps, to have awaited the answer before proceeding to extremities.” But Mr. Amos Kendall, then Postmaster-General, was not the man to “hint a fault, or hesitate dislike,” with regard to such mail robbery, though obliged to confess that it was not strictly according to act of Congress.

“I am satisfied,” he replied to the Post-master's application, “that the Postmaster-General has no legal authority to exclude newspapers from the mail, nor to prohibit their carriage or delivery on account of their character or tendency, real or supposed.” “But I am not prepared to direct you to forward or deliver the papers of which you speak.” “By no act or direction of mine, official or private, could I be induced to aid, knowingly, in giving circulation to papers of this description, directly or indirectly. We owe an obligation to the laws, but a higher one to the communities in which we live; and, if the former be permitted to destroy the latter, it is patriotism to disregard them. Entertaining these views, I cannot sanction, and will not condemn, the step you have taken. Your justification must be looked for in the character of the papers detained, and the circumstances by which you are surrounded.”

Governor Seward has been widely charged and credited with the authorship of the “higher law” doctrine; but here we find it clearly set forth in a grave Democratic State paper, fifteen years before he uttered it. And it is yet far older than this.

General Jackson's recommendation of repression by law of the circulation of “incendiary” matter through the mails, was referred by the Senate to a Select Committee, whereof John C. Calhoun was Chairman. The perilous scope of any such legislation was at once clear to the keen intellect of that statesman, who had by this time learned to dread “Consolidation” as intensely as he detested “Abolition.” He reported (February 4, 1836), that the measure proposed by the President would violate the Constitution, and imperil public liberty.

Nothing is more clear, “says the Report,” than that the admission of the right of Congress to determine what papers are incendiary, and, as such, to prohibit their circulation through the mail, necessarily involves the right to determine what are not incendiary, and enforce their circulation. * * * If Congress may this year decide what incendiary publications are, they may, next year, decide what they are not, and thus laden their mails with real or covert abolitionism. * * * It belongs to the States, and not to Congress, to determine what is or is not calculated to disturb their security.

He proposed, therefore, that each State should determine for itself what kind of reading it would deem “incendiary,” and that Congress should thereupon prohibit the transmission by mail of such matter to that State. He concluded with a bill, which contained this provision:

Be it enacted, etc., That it shall not be lawful for any deputy postmaster, in any State, Territory, or District, of the United States, knowingly, to deliver to any person whatsoever, any pamphlet, newspaper, handbill, or other printed paper or pictorial representation, touching the subject of Slavery, where, by the laws of the said State, Territory, or District, their circulation is [130] prohibited; and any deputy postmaster who shall be guilty thereof, shall be forthwith removed from office.

This bill was ordered to a third reading by 18 Yeas to 18 Nays--Mr. Van Buren, then Vice-President, giving the casting vote in the affirmative. It failed, however, to pass; and that ended the matter.

Elijah P. Lovejoy, son of Rev. Daniel Lovejoy, and the eldest of seven children, was born at Albion, Maine, November 9, 1802. His ancestors, partly English and partly Scotch, all of the industrious middle class, had been citizens of New Hampshire and of Maine for several generations. He was distinguished, from early youth, alike for diligence in labor and for zeal and success in the acquisition of knowledge. He graduated with high honors at Waterville College, Maine, in September, 1826. In May following, he turned his face westward, and in the autumn of that year found employment as a teacher in St. Louis. In 1828, he became editor of a political journal, of the National Republican faith, and was thence actively engaged in politics of the Clay and Webster school, until January, 1832, when he was brought under deep religious impressions, and the next month united with the Presbyterian Church. Relinquishing his political pursuits and prospects, he engaged in a course of study preparatory for the ministry, entering the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, on the 24th of March. He received, next Spring, a license to preach from the second Presbytery of Philadelphia, and spent the Summer as an evangelist in Newport, R. I., and in New York. He left the last-named city in the autumn of that year, and returned to St. Louis, at the urgent invitation of a circle of fellow-Christians, who desired him to establish and edit a religious newspaper in that city — furnishing a capital of twelve hundred dollars for the purpose, and guaranteeing him, in writing, the entire control of the concern. The St. Louis Observer, weekly, was accordingly first issued on the 22d of November. It was of the “Evangelical” or Orthodox Protestant school, but had no controversy, save with wickedness, and no purpose, but to quicken the zeal and enlarge the use-fulness of professing Christians, while adding, if possible, to their number. There is no evidence that it was commenced with any intent to war on Slavery, or with any expectation of exciting the special hostility of any interest but that of Satan. Its first exhibition of a combative or belligerent tendency had for its object the Roman Catholics and their dogmas; but this, though it naturally provoked some resentment in a city so largely Catholic as St. Louis, excited no tumult or violence. Its first articles concerning Slavery were exceedingly moderate in their tone, and favorable rather to Colonization than to immediate Abolition. Even when the editor first took decided ground against Slavery,10 he still affirmed his hostility to immediate, unconditional emancipation. This article was, in part, based on an editorial in The St. Louis Republican, of the preceding week, which — discussing a proposed Convention to revise the Constitution of that State--said: [131]

We look to the Convention as a happy means of relieving the State, at some future day, of an evil which is destroying all our wholesome energies, and leaving us, in morals, in enterprise, and in wealth, behind the neighboring States. We mean, of course, the curse of Slavery. We are not about to make any attack upon the rights of those who at present hold this description of property. They ought to be respected to the letter. We only propose that measures shall now be taken for the Abolition of Slavery, at such distant period of time as may be thought expedient, and eventually for ridding the country altogether of a colored population.

Mr. Lovejoy, commenting on the foregoing, wished that some Southern-born man, of high character, decided ability, and fervent piety, would take up the subject of Slavery in a proper spirit, and, being familiar, experimentally, with all its evils and its difficulties, would show the people, practically, what they ought to do with regard to it. He continued:

To such a man, a golden opportunity of doing good is offered. We believe the minds of the good people of this State are fully prepared to listen to him — to give a dispassionate consideration to the facts and reasonings he might present connected with the subject of Slavery. Public sentiment, amongst us, is already moving in this great matter — it now wants to be directed in some defined channel, to some definite end.

Taken all in all, there is not a State in this Union possessing superior natural advantages to our own. At present, Slavery, like an incubus, is paralyzing our energies, and, like a cloud of evil portent, darkening all our prospects. Let this be removed, and Missouri would at once start forward in the race of improvement, with an energy and rapidity of movement that would soon place her in the front rank along with the most favored of her sister States.

He continued to speak of Slavery at intervals, through that summer, leaving his post in October to attend a regular meeting of the Presbyterian Synod.

Directly after his departure, an excitement commenced with regard to his strictures on Slavery; and the proprietors of The Observer, alarmed by threats of mob-violence, issued a card, promising that nothing should be said on the exciting subject until the editor's return; and, this not proving satisfactory, they issued a further card on the 21st, declaring themselves, “one and all,” opposed to the mad schemes of the Abolitionists. Before this, a letter11 had been written [132] to the editor by nine eminent citizens of St. Louis (including H. R. Gamble, her present provisional Governor), urging him “to pass over in silence everything connected with the subject of Slavery;” which, in due time, he respectfully declined.

The immediate cause of the excitement here alleged was the illegal and violent seizure, in Illinois, of two white men suspected of having decoyed slaves away from Saint Louis. The suspected persons, having been forcibly brought to St. Louis, and there tried and convicted by a mob, which voted, 40 to 20, to whip, rather than hang them, were accordingly taken two miles back of the city, and there whipped between one and two hundred lashes — the sixty wealthy and respectable citizens taking turns in applying the lash. A public meeting was thereupon held, wherein it was gravely

2. Resolved, That the right of free discussion and freedom of speech exists under the Constitution; but that, being a conventional reservation made by the people in their sovereign capacity, does not imply a moral right, on the part of the Abolitionists, to freely discuss the subject of Slavery, either orally or through the medium of the press. It is the agitation of a question too nearly allied to the vital interests of the slaveholding States to admit of public disputation; and so far from the fact, that the movements of the Abolitionists are constitutional, they are in the greatest degree seditious, and calculated to excite insurrection and anarchy, and, ultimately, a disseverment of our prosperous Union.

3. Resolved, That we consider the course pursued by the Abolitionists, as one calculated to paralyze every social tie by which we are now united to our fellow-man, and that, if persisted in, it must eventually be the cause of the disseverment of these United States; and that the doctrine of amalgamation is peculiarly baneful to the interests and happiness of society. The union of black and white, in a moral point of view, we consider as the most preposterous and impudent doctrine advanced by the infatuated Abolitionists — as repugnant to judgment and science, as it is degrading to the feelings of all sensitive minds — as destructive to the intellect of after generations, as the advance of science and literature has contributed to the improvement of our own. In short, its practice would reduce the high intellectual standard of the American mind to a level with the Hottentot; and the United States, now second to no nation on earth, would, in a few years, be what Europe was in the darkest ages.

4. Resolved, That the Sacred Writings furnish abundant evidence of the existence of Slavery from the earliest periods. The patriarchs and prophets possessed slaves — our Saviour recognized the relation between master and slave, and deprecated it not: hence, we know that He did not condemn that relation; on the contrary, His disciples, in all countries, designated their respective duties to each other.

Therefore, Resolved, That we consider Slavery, as it now exists in the United States, as sanctioned by the sacred Scriptures.

Mr. Lovejoy, on his return to the city, put forth an address to “My fellow-citizens,” wherein he said:

Of the first resolution passed at the meeting of the 24th October, I have nothing to say, except that I perfectly agree with the sentiment, that the citizens of the non-slaveholding States have no right to interfere with the domestic relations between master and slave.

The second resolution, strictly speaking, neither affirms nor denies anything in reference to the matter in hand. No man has a moral right to do anything improper. Whether, therefore, he has the moral right to discuss the question of Slavery, is a point with which human legislation or resolutions have nothing to do. The true issue to be decided is, whether he has the civil, the political right, to discuss it, or not. And this is a mere question of fact. In Russia, in Turkey, in Austria, nay, even in France, this right most certainly does not exist. But does it exist in Missouri? We decide this question by turning to the Constitution of the State. The sixteenth section, article thirteenth, of the Constitution of Missouri, reads as follows:

“That the free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and that every person may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.”

Here, then, I find my warrant for using, as Paul did, all freedom of speech. If I abuse that right, I freely acknowledge myself [133] amenable to the laws. But it is said that the right to hold slaves is a constitutional one, and therefore not to be called in question. I admit the premise, but deny the conclusion.

Mr. Lovejoy proceeded to set forth that Robert Dale Owen and Frances Wright had recently landed on our shores from Great Britain, and had traversed our country, publicly propagating doctrines respecting Divorce which were generally regarded as utterly destructive to the institution of Marriage, yet they were nowhere mobbed nor assaulted for so doing. “And yet, most surely, the institutions of Slavery are not more interwoven with the structure of our society than those of Marriage.” He continued:

See the danger, and the natural and inevitable result, to which the first step here will lead. To-day, a public meeting declares that you shall not discuss the subject of Slavery in any of its bearings, civil or religious. Right or wrong, the press must be silent. To-morrow, another meeting decides that it is against the peace of society that the principles of Popery shall be discussed, and the edict goes forth to muzzle the press. The next day it is, in a similar manner, declared that not a word must be said against distilleries, dram-shops, or drunkenness: and so on to the end of the chapter. The truth is, my fellow-citizens, if you give ground a single inch, there is no stopping-place. I deem it, therefore, my duty to take my stand upon the Constitution. Here is firm ground — I feel it to be such. And I do, most respectfully, yet decidedly, declare to you my fixed determination to maintain this ground. We have slaves, it is true; but I am not one. I am a citizen of these United States, a citizen of Missouri, free-born; and, having never forfeited the inestimable privileges attached to such a condition, I cannot consent to surrender them. But, while I maintain them, I hope to do it with all that meekness and humility that become a Christian, and especially a Christian minister. I am ready, not to fight, but to suffer, and, if need be, to die for them. Kindred blood to that which flows in my veins flowed freely to water the tree of Christian liberty, planted by the Puritans on the rugged soil of New England. It flowed as freely on the plains of Lexington, the rights of Bunker Hill, and the fields of Saratoga. And freely, too, shall mine flow — yea, as freely as if it were so much water — ere I surrender my right to plead the cause of truth and righteousness, before my fellow-citizens, and in the face of all their opposers.

He continued in this strain to review and refute all the positions and doctrines of these resolutions, and, toward the close of his appeal, said:

If in anything I have offended against the laws of my country, or its Constitution, I stand ready to answer. If I have not, then I call upon those laws and that Constitution, and those who revere them, to protect me.

I do, therefore, as an American citizen, and Christian patriot, and in the name of Liberty, and Law, and Religion, solemnly protest against all these attempts, howsoever or by whomsoever made, to frown down the liberty of the press, and forbid the free expression of opinion. Under a deep sense of my obligations to my country, the Church, and my God, I declare it to be my fixed purpose to submit to no such dictation. And I am prepared to abide the consequences. I have appealed to the Constitution and laws of my country; if they fail to protect me, I appeal to God, and with Him I cheerfully rest my cause.

The Observer failed for one week to appear, but was issued regularly thereafter. On the request of its proprietors, Mr. Lovejoy gave up the establishment to them, intending to leave St. Louis; but they handed it over in payment of a debt of five hundred dollars, and the new owner immediately presented it to Mr. Lovejoy, telling him to go on with the paper as before. He had gone to Alton, Illinois, expecting to remove it to that city; but, while there, a letter reached him from St. Louis, urging him to return and remain, which he did.

On the 28th of April, 1836, a quarrel occurred between two sailors, or boatmen, at the steamboat landing [134] in St. Louis. When the civil officers attempted to arrest them for a breach of the peace, a mulatto named Francis J. McIntosh interfered, and enabled the boatmen to escape, for which he was very properly arrested, carried before a justice of the peace, and committed to jail. On his way thither, being informed that his punishment would be not less than five years in the State Prison, he immediately broke loose from the officers, drew a knife, and stabbed one of them fatally, severely wounding the other. He was instantly secured and lodged in jail. A mob thereupon collected, broke open the jail, tore him from his cell, carried him out of town, and chained him to a tree, around which they piled rails, plank, shavings, etc., to the hight of his knees, and then applied fire. He was burning in fearful agony about twenty minutes before life became extinct. When the fire had nearly died out, a rabble of boys amused themselves by throwing stones at the black and disfigured corpse, each endeavoring to be first in breaking the skull.

This horrible affair came in due course before the grand jury of St. Louis for investigation, and a Judge, who bore the apposite name of Lawless, was required to charge said jury with regard to it. Here is a specimen of his charge:

If, on the other hand, the destruction of the murderer of Hammond was the act, as I have said, of the many — of the multitude, in the ordinary sense of these words — not the act of numerable and ascertainable malefactors, but of congregated thousands, seized upon and impelled by that mysterious, metaphysical, and almost electric frenzy, which, in all ages and nations, has hurried on the infuriated multitude to deeds of death and destruction — then, I say, act not at all in the matter; the case then transcends12 your jurisdiction — it is beyond the reach of human law!!!

On this charge, Mr. Lovejoy commented with entire unreserve; whereupon a mob surrounded and tore down his office — although, in the issue which contained his strictures, he had announced his decision to remove the paper to Alton, believing that it would be there more useful and better supported than at St. Louis. His first issue at Alton is dated September 8th.

Meantime, his press was taken from St. Louis, by steamboat, to Alton, and landed on the bank about daylight on Sunday morning. It lay there in safety through the Sabbath; but, before the next morning, it had been destroyed by some five or six individuals. On Monday, a meeting of citizens was held, and a pledge voluntarily given to make good to Mr. Lovejoy his loss. The meeting passed some resolutions condemnatory of Abolitionism, and Mr. Lovejoy assured them that he had not come to Alton to establish an abolition, but a religious, journal; that he was not an Abolitionist, as they understood the term, but was an uncompromising enemy of Slavery, and so expected to live and die.

He started for Cincinnati to procure new printing materials, was taken sick on the way, and, upon reaching Louisville, on his return, was impelled by increasing illness to stop. He remained there sick, in the house of a friend, for a week, and was still quite ill after his return.

The Observer was issued regularly [135] at Alton until the 17th of August, 1837--discussing Slavery among other topics, but occasionally, and in a spirit of decided moderation. But no moderation could satisfy those who had determined that the subject should not be discussed at all. On the 11th of July, an anonymous hand-bill appeared, calling a meeting at the market-place for the next Thursday, at which time a large concourse assembled. Dr. J. A. Halderman13 presided, and Mr. J. P. Jordon was Secretary. This meeting passed the following resolves:

1. Resolved, That the Rev. E. P. Love-joy has again taken up and advocated the principles of Abolitionism through his paper, the “Observer,” contrary to the disposition and will of a majority of the citizens of Alton, and in direct violation of a sacred pledge and assurance that this paper, when established in Alton, should not be devoted to Abolitionism.

2. Resolved, That we disapprove of the course of the “Observer,” in publishing any articles favorable to Abolitionism, and that we censure Mr. Lovejoy for permitting such publications to appear in his paper, when a pledge or assurance has been given to this community, by him, that such doctrines should not be advocated.

3. Resolved, That a committee of five citizens be appointed by this meeting to wait upon and confer with Mr. Lovejoy, and ascertain from him whether lie intends, in future, to disseminate, through the columns of the “Observer,” the doctrines of Abolitionism, and report the result of their conference to the public.

The only point requiring comment in these resolves is the allegation that Mr. Lovejoy had pledged himself not to discuss the subject of Slavery or its Abolition. This point was answered by ten respectable citizens of Alton, who united in the following statement:

Whereas it has been frequently represented that the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, late Editor of the “Alton Observer,” solemnly pledged himself at a public meeting, called for the purpose of taking measures to bring to justice the persons engaged in the destruction of the first press brought to Alton by said Lovejoy, not to discuss the subject of Slavery; we, the undersigned, declare the following to be his language, in substance: “My principal object in coming to this place is to establish a religious paper. When I was in St. Louis, I felt myself called upon to treat at large upon the subject of Slavery, as I was in a State where the evil existed, and as a citizen of that State I felt it my duty to devote a part of my columns to that subject; but, gentlemen, I am not, and never was, in full fellowship with the Abolitionists; but, on the contrary, have had some spirited discussions with some of the leading Abolitionists of the East, and am not now considered by them as one of them. And now, having come into a Free State, where the evil does not exist, I feel myself less called upon to discuss the subject than when I was in St. Louis.” The above, as we have stated, was his language in substance. The following, we are willing to testify, to be his words in conclusion:

“But, gentlemen, so long as I am an American citizen, so long as American blood runs in these veins, I shall hold myself at liberty to speak, to write, and to publish, whatever I please on any subject, being amenable to the laws of my country for the same.”

On the 24th, a Committee from the meeting aforesaid presented its resolves to Mr. Lovejoy, asking a response thereto. That response was given on the 26th, and its material portion is as follows:

You will, therefore, permit me to say that, with the most respectful feelings toward you individually, I cannot consent, in this answer, to recognize you as the official organ of a public meeting, convened to discuss the question, whether certain sentiments should, or should not, be discussed in the public newspaper, of which I am the Editor. By doing so, I should virtually admit that the liberty of the press, and the freedom of speech, were rightfully subject to other supervision and control than those of the law. But this I cannot admit. On the contrary, in the language of one of the speakers at the meeting, I believe that “the valor of our forefathers has won for us the liberty of speech,” and that it is “our duty [136] and our high privilege to act and speak on all questions touching this great common-wealth.” I am happy, gentlemen, in being able to concur in the above sentiments, which, I perceive, were uttered by one of your own members, and in which, I cannot doubt, you all agree. I would only add, that I consider this “liberty” was ascertained, but never originated, by our forefathers. It comes to us, as I conceive, from our Maker, and is, in its nature, inalienable, belonging to man as man.

Believing, therefore, that everything having a tendency to bring this right into jeopardy is eminently dangerous as a precedent, I cannot admit that it can be called into question by any man, or body of men, or that they can, with any propriety, question me as to my exercise of it.

These proceedings attracted attention from abroad, especially in St. Louis, to whose pro-Slavery politicians the publication of The Observer, though not in their city or State, was still an eyesore. On the 17th of August, The Missouri Republican, in an article entitled “Abolition,” said:

We perceive that an Anti-Slavery Society has been formed at Upper Alton, and many others, doubtless, will shortly spring up in different parts of the State. We had hoped that our neighbors would have ejected from amongst them that minister of mischief, the “Observer,” or at least corrected its course. Something must be done in this matter, and that speedily! The good people of Illinois must either put a stop to the efforts of these fanatics, or expel them from their community. If this is not done, the travel of emigrants through their State, and the trade of the slaveholding States, and particularly Missouri, must stop. Every one who desires the harmony of the country, and the peace and prosperity of all, should unite to put them down. They can do no positive good, and may do much irreparable harm. We would not desire to see this done at the expense of public order or legal restraint; but there is a moral indignation which the virtuous portion of a community may exert, which is sufficient to crush this faction and forever disgrace its fanatic instigators. It is to this we appeal, and hope that the appeal will not be unheeded.

These recommendations and incitements were not unfruitful. Four days thereafter--two unsuccessful attempts having already been made — the office of The Observer was entered between the hours of ten and eleven P. M., by a band of fifteen or twenty persons, and the press, type, etc., utterly destroyed. The mob commenced, as usual, by throwing stones at the building, whereby one man was hit on the head and severely wounded; where-upon the office was deserted, and the destroyers finished their work with-out opposition, while a large concourse were “looking on and consenting.” The authorities did nothing most rigorously. Mr. Lovejoy was absent at the time, but was met in the street by the mob, who stopped him, threatened him, and assailed him with vile language, but did him no serious harm. In The Observer of the preceding day, he had made an explicit and effective response to the question--“What are the doctrines of anti-slavery men?” wherein he had succeeded in being at once moderate and forcible — affirming most explicitly the flagrant wrong of slaveholding, with the right and policy of immediate emancipation, but explaining that such an emancipation was to be effected “by the masters themselves, and no others,” who were to be persuaded to it, exactly as a distiller is to be dissuaded from making intoxicating liquors, or a tippler from drinking them. But, though his doctrines were peaceful and his language mild and deprecatory, he doubtless irritated and annoyed his adversaries by pointing to the fact — in refuting their slang about amalgamation — that the then 14Vice-President [137] of the United States “has been, if he is not now, the father of slaves. And thousands have voted to elevate him to his present condition, who would crucify an Abolitionist on the bare suspicion of favoring, though only in theory, such an amalgamation. How shall we account for such inconsistency?” On the 24th of August, he issued an appeal to the friends of law and order for aid in reestablishing The Observer; and this appeal was promptly and generously responded to. Having obtained a sufficient amount in Alton and Quincy alone, he sent to Cincinnati to purchase new printing materials. Meantime, he issued an address, submitting “To the friends of the Redeemer in Alton” his resignation of the editorship of the paper, offering to hand over to them the subscription-list, now exceeding two thousand names, on condition that they pay the debts of the concern, receive all dues and assets, and furnish him sufficient means to remove himself and family to another field of labor. A meeting was accordingly held, which resolved that The Observer ought to be continued, while the question of retaining Mr. Lovejoy as its editor was discussed through two or three evenings, but left undecided. Meantime, while he was absent, attending a meeting of the Presbytery, his new press — the third which he had brought to Alton within a little more than a year — arrived on the 21st of September, was landed about sunset, and immediately conveyed by his friends to the warehouse of Geary & Weller. As it passed along the streets--“There goes the Abolition press! Stop it! Stop it!” was cried, but no violence was attempted. The Mayor, apprised of its arrival and also of its peril, gave assurance that it should be protected, and asked its friends to leave the matter entirely in his hands, which they did. A constable was posted by the Mayor at the door of the ware-house, with orders to remain until a certain hour. He left at that hour; and immediately ten or twenty ruffians, with handkerchiefs tied over their faces, broke open the store, rolled the press across the street to the river-bank, broke it into pieces, and threw it in. Before they had finished the job, the Mayor was on hand, and ordered them to disperse. They replied, that they would, so soon as they got through, and were as good as their word. The Mayor declared that he had never witnessed a more quiet and gentlemanly mob!

Mr. Lovejoy preached at St. Charles, Missouri, the home of his wife's relatives, a few days after--October 1st--and was mobbed at the house of his mother-in-law, directly after his return from evening church. The mob attempted, with oaths and blows, to drag him from the house, but were defeated, mainly through the courageous efforts of his wife and one or two friends. Three times the house was broken into and a rush made up stairs; and, finally, Mr. L. was induced, through the entreaties of his wife, to leave it clandestinely and take refuge with a friend, a mile distant, whence he and his wife made their way back to Alton next day. Nearly the first person they met there was one of those who had first broken into the house at St. Charles; and the hunted clergyman had the cold comfort of hearing, from many of his religious brethren, that he had no [138] one to thank but himself for his persecutions, and that, if The Observer were reestablished, they would do nothing to protect it. During the following month, Mr. Lovejoy attended the meeting of the Presbyterian Synod of Illinois, at Spring-field, as also meetings of an anti-Slavery Convention in Upper Alton, and one or two meetings held at the Court House in Alton, to discuss and determine the propriety of allowing him to continue the publication of The Observer. At the last of these meetings (November 3d), having obtained the floor, he said:

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 [139] the community. Friends were on the alert to protect it on its arrival, and enemies to insure its destruction. It finally reached St. Louis on the night of the 5th, and an arrangement was made to have it landed at Alton at three o'clock on the morning of the 7th. Meantime, Mr. Lovejoy and a friend went to the Mayor and notified him of its expected arrival, and of the threats that it should be destroyed, requesting the appointment of special constables to protect it. A meeting of the City Council was held, and some discussion had; but the subject was laid on the table and nothing done.

On that evening (November 6), between forty and fifty citizens met in the warehouse of Godfrey, Gilman & Co., where the press was to be stored, to organize a volunteer company to aid in the defense of law and order. At ten o'clock, several left; but about thirty remained in the building, with one city constable to command them. They were armed. Mr. Lovejoy was not among them. His dwelling had been attacked but a few nights before, when he and a sister narrowly escaped a brick-bat, thrown with sufficient force to have done mortal injury. Expecting an assault, his wife in very delicate health, and in a state of nervous alarm from her recent experience at St. Charles, Mr. Lovejoy had arranged with a brother that they should watch alternate nights at home and at the store. At three in the morning, a steamboat brought the expected press. A sentinel of the mob was watching for it, and immediately gave the alarm, when horns were blown throughout the city. The Mayor had already been called, and was in the building. He requested those who guarded there, to remain and keep quiet till he called for them, saying that he would attend to the storing of the press, which he did. A few stones were thrown, but no serious damage effected, and the press was safely deposited in the garret of a strong stone warehouse, where it was thought to be safe.

Throughout the following day, general quiet prevailed, though it was well known that “the Abolition press” had been received, and was stored in Godfrey & Gilman's ware-house. The Mayor made inquiries at several points, and was satisfied that no further violence was intended. At evening, the volunteer defenders of Mr. Lovejoy's rights dropped in at the warehouse, and remained until nine o'clock; when, there being no signs of trouble, all but twelve went away. Mr. Lovejoy remained, with one or two others who were called Abolitionists. The residue were simply citizens, opposed to burglary and robbery, and willing to risk their lives in defense of the rights of property and the freedom of the press.

About ten o'clock, some thirty persons, as if by preconcert, suddenly emerged from a neighboring grogshop — a few of them with arms, but the majority with only stones in their hands — formed a line at the south end of the store, next the river, knocked and hailed. Mr. Gilman, from the garret door, asked what they wanted. Their leader replied: “The press.” Mr. Gilman assured them that it would not be given up; adding, “We have no ill feelings toward any of you, and should much [140] regret to do you any injury; but we are authorized by the Mayor to defend our property, and shall do so with our lives.” The leader replied that they were resolved to have the press at any sacrifice, and presented a pistol, whereupon Mr. G. retired into the building. The mob then passed around to the opposite end of the warehouse, and commenced throwing stones, which soon demolished several of the windows. No resistance was offered; the inmates having agreed not to fire unless their lives were in danger. The ware-house being of stone, and solidly built, no further impression was made on it by this assault. Finding their missiles ineffectual, the mob fired two or three guns into the building, by which no one was hit. The fire was then returned, and several of the rioters wounded, one of them mortally. Hereupon, the mob recoiled, carrying off their wounded. But they soon returned with ladders, and other preparations for firing the roof of the warehouse, cursing and shouting, “Burn them out! Burn them out!” They kept carefully on the side of the building where there were no windows, so that they could not be injured or repelled by its defenders. The Mayor and a justice were now deputed by the mob to bear a message to the inmates of the building, proposing that, on condition the press were given up, no one should be further molested, and no more property destroyed. The proposition was quietly declined. Mr. Gilman, in turn, requested the Mayor to call on certain citizens to save his store from the threatened destruction by fire.. The Mayor replied that the mob was so strong and so determined that he could do nothing — that he had already tried to command and persuade them to desist, but without success. He was asked if those in the building should defend their property with arms; to which he replied, as he had repeatedly done before, that they had a perfect right to do so, and that the law justified them in that course. He then left the building, and reported the result of his mission, which was received with yells of “Fire the building!” “Fire the building!” “Burn 'em out!” “Burn 'em out!” “Shoot every d----d Abolitionist as he leaves!” It was now near midnight, and the bells had been rung, collecting a large concourse, who stood passive spectators of what followed.

The mob now raised their ladders against the building, mounted to the roof, and kindled a fire there, which burned rather slowly. Five of the defenders hereupon volunteered to sally out and drive them away. They left by the south door, passed around the corner to the east side of the building, and fired upon the man who guarded the foot of the ladder, drove him off, and dispersed his immediate comrades, returning to the store to reload. Mr. Lovejoy and two others stepped again to the door, and stood looking around just without the building--Mr. L. in advance of the others. Several of the rioters were concealed from their view behind a pile of lumber a few rods in their front. One of these had a two-barreled gun, which he fired. Mr. Lovejoy received five balls, three of them in his breast, probably each mortal. He turned quickly, ran into the store, and up a flight of stairs into the counting-room, where [141] he fell, exclaiming, “Oh God, I am shot! I am shot!” and almost instantly expired. One of his friends received at the same time a ball in his leg, of which he recovered. Those remaining alive in the building now held a consultation, and concluded to surrender. One of their number went up to the scuttle and apprised the mob that Mr. Lovejoy was dead, and that the press would now be given up. A yell of exultation was sent up by the rioters, and the proposed surrender declined. Another of the inmates now resolved to go out and make some terms, if possible; but he had hardly opened the door when he was fired upon and severely wounded. A citizen now came to the door at the opposite end, and begged those within to leave the building, as it was on fire, and their remaining would be utterly useless. All but two or three hereupon laid down their arms, left the building, and fled, being fired upon by the mob as they escaped. The rioters then rushed into the building, threw the press out of the window, broke it up, and pitched the pieces into the river. They destroyed no other property, save a few guns. One of them — a doctor — offered to extract the ball from the wounded man's leg; but he declined their assistance. At two o'clock, they had dispersed, and all was again quiet.

Mr. Lovejoy's remains were borne away next morning to his dwelling, amid the jeers and scoffs of his murderers. He was buried the day following--Thursday, November 9--the day which, had he been living, would have completed his thirty-fifth year. His wife, who, on account of the critical state of her health, had been sent away from Alton, was unable to attend his funeral. Of their two children, one was born after his death.

The defenders of the warehouse, as well as the recognized leaders of their assailants, were respectively indicted for riot, and tried, or rather, Mr. Gilman alone of the defenders was tried; and upon his acquittal the City Attorney entered a nolle prosequi as to the other defendants. The leading rioters were next placed on trial, and were likewise acquitted. The testimony of the Mayor, John M. Krum, was much relied on by the defenders of the press, who expected to prove by it that they acted throughout under his authority, as ministers of the law and official guardians of the rights of property. His testimony, however, did riot sustain this assumption. The Mayor fully admitted that he had repeatedly and freely consulted with them as to their course in the premises, and had advised them that they would be entirely justified in defending their rights by arms, if necessary. But, he said, he had given this advice as a lawyer, a neighbor, and citizen; not as Mayor.

The details of this tragedy are important, as they serve to silence two cavils, which have been most familiar in the mouths of the champions of Slavery. “If you want to oppose Slavery, why do n't you go where it is?” has been triumphantly asked many thousands of times. Mr. Love-joy did exactly this — as Lundy, and Garrison, and many others had done before him — and only left a Slave for a Free State when such removal was [142] imperatively demanded. “Why do n't you keep clear of the fanatical Abolitionists, and discuss the question in moderation and good temper?” Mr. Lovejoy did exactly this, also. He was not the advocate of Garrisonism; on the contrary, he condemned it. He was not the champion of any political party, nor of any peculiar line of anti-Slavery action. He did not publish an Abolition journal. His was simply and purely a religious newspaper, in which Slavery was from time to time discussed, and its evils exposed, like those of intemperance, or any other immorality. But this he was not permitted to do, whether in a Slave or in a Free State. He was proscribed, hunted, persecuted, assaulted, plundered, and finally killed — not because he persisted in opposing Slavery in the wrong place, or in a peculiarly objectionable manner, but because he would not desist from opposing it at all.15

The District of Columbia was originally composed of a hundred square miles of territory, lying on both sides of the river Potomac, at the head of navigation on that stream. The forty square miles south of that river, forming the county and including the city of Alexandria, were ceded to the Union in 1789 by Virginia, and retroceded to that State in 1846--the movement for retrocession having, doubtless, some covert reference to the probability or prospect of disunion. The sixty square miles lying north of the Potomac — forming the county of Washington, and including the cities of Washington and Georgetown — were ceded by Maryland in 1788, and now compose the entire District; so that Washington is commanded, within easy shelling distance, by hights which, in case the separation of Virginia from the Union were conceded, would be part and parcel of a foreign country.

The Federal Constitution (Art. I., Section 8) provides that, “The Congress shall have power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases what-soever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the Government of the United States.” The cession by Maryland was without qualification. But Congress proceeded, soon after, to pass an act, apparently without much consideration or forecast, whereby the then existing laws of Maryland and Virginia were to continue in full force and effect over those portions of the Federal District ceded by them respectively, until Congress should otherwise enact; and, as those States were undoubtedly Slave States, their slave laws continued operative herein, with little or no modification or improvement, down to the passage of the Compromise measures of 1850.

Very naturally, the creation out of nothing of such a city as Washington, with its adoption as the capital of the Republic, combined with its favorable location, served to render it an extensive mart for the prosecution of the domestic Slave-Trade. [143] Some of the largest purchasers in Maryland and Virginia for the cotton and sugar region located themselves at this point, fitted up their slavepens, and advertised in the leading journals of the Capital their readiness to buy and sell young and likely negroes. Vessels were regularly dispatched from Alexandria to New Orleans, laden with their human merchandise. So that, in the absence of manufactures, and of any but a petty retail trade, slaves were long a chief staple of the commerce, and certainly the leading export, of the American metropolis.

Under the slave laws, so hastily bolted by Congress, every negro or mulatto was presumptively a slave; and, if unable to indicate his master, or to establish specially his right to freedom, was liable to be arrested and imprisoned, advertised, and sold, in default of a claimant, to pay the costs of this worse than Algerine procedure; and, as Washington steadily increased in population and importance, the number of colored persons drifting thither from all quarters increased with it, until the business of arresting, detaining, advertising, and selling unowned negroes became a most lucrative perquisite of the Federal Marshal for the District, yielding him a net profit of many thousands of dollars per annum. The advertisements in The National Intelligencer, United States Telegraph, Globe, Union, etc., of negroes whom he had caught and caged, and, in default of an owner, was about to sell, were widely copied in both hemispheres, provoking comments by no means flattering to our country nor its institutions. The plumage of the American eagle was often ruffled by criticisms and comparisons between these legal proceedings, under the shadow of our Capitol, and the harsher dealings of savages and heathen with strangers so luckless as to fall into their hands; and the point of these invidious comparisons was barbed by their undeniable justice.

Petitions for the Abolition of Slavery in the Federal District, or, at least, of the Slave-Trade so flourishing therein, had been from time immemorial presented to Congress, and treated with no more disrespect or disregard than petitions to legislative bodies usually encounter. One of these, presented in 1828, was signed by United States District Judge Cranch, and about one thousand more of the most respectable citizens of the District; but, while it was treated decorously, no decisive step was taken toward compliance with its prayer. As the distinctive Abolition movement gained strength in the North, and the excitement caused thereby rose higher in the South--especially after the Message of Gen. Jackson, already quoted, urging that anti-Slavery agitation be made a penal offense — a more decisive hostility was resolved on by the champions of Slavery, under the lead of Mr. Calhoun.

On the presentation, by Mr. Fairfield, of Maine (December 16, 1835), of the petition of one hundred and seventy-two women, praying the Abolition of the Slave-Trade in the District, it was decisively laid on the table of the House; Yeas 180, Nays 31--the Nays all from the North, and mainly Whigs.

On the 18th, Mr Jackson, of Massachusetts, offered a similar petition from the citizens of the town of [144] Wrentham; and Mr. Hammond of South Carolina, moved that it be not received; which was met by a motion to lay on the table. This was rejected — Yeas 95, Nays 121. But, finally, a proposition that the petition and all motions regarding it be laid on the table was carried — Yeas 140; Nays 76.

Mr. Buchanan16 presented a memorial of the Cain (Pennsylvania) quarterly meeting of Friends, asking for the same in substance as the above. Though opposed to granting the prayer of the petition, he preferred its reference to a Select Committee or that on the District. But, finding that there were insurmountable obstacles to such a reference, he would move that the memorial be read, and that the prayer of the memorialists be rejected. The question being demanded on Mr. Buchanan's motion, it was carried by the decisive vote of 34 to 6.

Mr. Morris, of Ohio, soon after presented similar memorials from his State; whereupon Mr. Calhoun raised the question of reception, declaring “that the petitions just read contained a gross, false, and malicious slander on eleven States represented on this floor.” “That Congress had no jurisdiction over the subject, no more in this District than in the State of South Carolina.” After a long and spirited debate, mainly by Southern senators, Mr. Calhoun's motion to reject was defeated by a vote to receive the petition — Yeas 35, Nays 10, as follows:

Yeas: Messrs. Benton, Brown, Buchanan, Clay, Clayton, Crittenden, Davis, Ewing of Illinois, Ewing of Ohio, Goldsborough, Grundy, Hendricks, Hill, Hubbard, Kent, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Knight, Linn, McKean, Morris, Naudain, Niles, Prentiss, Robbins, Robinson, Ruggles, Shepley, Southard, Swift, Tallmadge, Tipton, Tomlinson, Wall, Webster, Wright. Nays: Messrs. Black, Calhoun, Cuthbert, Leigh, Moore, Nicholas, Porter, Preston, Walker, White.

In the House,17 Mr. Henry L. Pinckney, of South Carolina, submitted the following resolve:

Resolved, That all the memorials which have been offered, or may hereafter be presented to this House, praying for the abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia, and also the resolutions offered by an honorable member from Maine (Mr. Jarvis), with the amendment thereto, proposed by an honorable member from Virginia (Mr. Wise), and every other paper or proposition that may be submitted in relation to that subject, be referred to a Select Committee, with instructions to report that Congress has no constitutional authority to interfere in any way with the institution of Slavery in any of the States of this confederacy; and that, in the opinion of this House, Congress ought not to interfere in any way with Slavery in the District of Columbia, because it would be a violation of the public faith, unwise, impolitic, and dangerous to the Union; assigning such reasons for these conclusions as, in the judgment of the Committee, may be best calculated to enlighten the public mind, to repress agitation, to allay excitement, to sustain and preserve the just rights of the slave-holding States, and of the people of this District, and to reestablish harmony and tranquillity amongst the various sections of the Union.

After some demur by Mr. Hammond, of South Carolina, and Mr. Wise, of Virginia, the Previous Question was ordered on this resolve — Yeas 118, Nays 47. Mr. Vinton, of Ohio, now demanded a division of the resolve into three parts, which demand was sustained by the Chair; and the first proposition, requiring a reference of all memorials on this subject to a Select Committee, was carried — Yeas 174, Nays 48: the Nays all from the South. The second proposition, regarding Slavery [145] in the States, was affirmed — Yeas 201, Nays 7. The third proposition, affirming that “Congress ought not to interfere in any way with Slavery in the District of Columbia,” prevailed — Yeas 163, Nays 47--the Nays, of course, from the North. And the third clause, being now divided, the question was taken on the remaining part--“because it would be a violation of the public faith, unwise, impolitic, and dangerous to the Union” --and that was also affirmed — Yeas 129; Nays 74: the Nays being all from the North, and nearly all Whigs. The remainder of the proposition was then affirmed — Yeas 169; Nays 6.

The Committee appointed under the above resolution consisted of Messrs. Pinckney of South Carolina; Hamer of Ohio; Pierce of New Hampshire; Hardin of Kentucky; Jarvis of Maine; Owens of Georgia; Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania; Dromgoole of Virginia; and Turrill of New York — all Democrats, but Hardin, a Southern Whig. This Committee, in due season, reported, First, That Congress possesses no constitutional authority to interfere, in any way, with the institution of Slavery in any State of this confederacy. Secondly, That Congress ought not to interfere in any way with Slavery in the District of Columbia. And, “for the purpose of arresting agitation, and restoring tranquillity to the public mind,” they recommended the adoption of this resolve:

That all petitions, memorials, resolutions, propositions, or papers relating in any way to the subject of Slavery, or the abolition of Slavery, shall, without either being printed or referred, be laid upon the table.

This resolve was adopted — Yeas 117, Nays 68; the Nays being substantially, but not entirely, composed of the Whig members from the Free States.

Amazing as it may seem, this heroic treatment was not successful in “arresting agitation, and restoring tranquillity to the public mind ;” so that, when this Congress met for the second session, it was found necessary to do the work all over again. Accordingly, Mr. Albert G. Hawes, (Democrat) of Kentucky,18 offered a resolution, providing:

That all memorials, etc., on the subject of the abolition of Slavery, should be laid on the table, without being referred or printed, and that no further action should be had thereon.

Which was adopted-Yeas 129; Nays 69--the Nays mainly Northern Whigs, as before. All debate was precluded by the Previous Question.

And still the agitation refused to be controlled or allayed; so that, on the meeting of the next Congress, Mr. Patton, of Virginia,19 offered the following “as a timely sacrifice to the peace and harmony of the country:”

Resolved, That all petitions, memorials, and papers touching the abolition of Slavery, or the buying, selling, or transfer ring of slaves in any State, District, or Territory of the United States, be laid upon the table without being debated, printed, read, or referred; and no further action whatever shall be had thereon.

The Previous Question having against been ordered, this resolve was adopted — Yeas 122; Nays 74--the Nays, as before, mainly, if not entirely, the Whig members from the Free States. [146]

At the next session,20 Mr. Charles G. Atherton, of New Hampshire, moved the following resolutions:

Resolved, That this government is a government of limited powers; and that, by the Constitution of the United States, Congress has no jurisdiction whatever over the institution of Slavery in the several States of the confederacy.

Resolved, That the petitions for the abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia and the Territories of the United States, and against the removal of slaves from one State to another, are a part of the plan of operations set on foot to affect the institution of Slavery in the several States, and thus indirectly to destroy that institution within their limits.

Resolved, That Congress has no right to do that indirectly which it cannot do directly; and that the agitation of the subject of Slavery in the District of Columbia, or the Territories, as a means or with a view of disturbing or overthrowing that institution in the several States, is against the true spirit and meaning of the Constitution, an infringement of the rights of the States affected, and a breach of the public faith on which they entered into the confederacy.

Resolved, That the Constitution rests on the broad principle of equality among the members of this confederacy; and that Congress, in the exercise of its acknowledged powers, has no right to discriminate between the institutions of one portion of the States and another, with a view of abolishing the one and promoting the other.

Resolved, therefore, That all attempts on the part of Congress to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia or the Territories, or to prohibit the removal of slaves from State to State, or to discriminate between the institutions of one portion of the country and another with the views aforesaid, are in violation of the Constitution, destructive of the fundamental principles on which the Union of these States rests, and beyond the jurisdiction of Congress; and that every petition, memorial, resolution, proposition, or paper, touching or relating in any way, or to any extent whatever, to Slavery as aforesaid, or the abolition thereof, shall, on the presentation thereof, without any further action thereon, be laid on the table, without being debated, printed, or referred.

Mr. Cushing, of Massachusetts, objecting, on motion of Mr. Atherton, the rules were suspended; and Mr. A.'s resolves duly passed, as follows: No. 1--Yeas 198; Nays 6. No. 2--Yeas 134; Nays 67--mainly, if not wholly, Northern Whigs. The third resolution having been divided, the House first resolved “That Congress has no right to do that indirectly which it cannot do directly,” etc.--Yeas 170, Nays 30. The residue of the third resolve passed — Yeas 164, Nays 39. The fourth resolve was in like manner divided, and passed in two parts, by 182 and 175 Yeas to 26 Nays. The last of Mr. Atherton's resolves was in like manner divided, and the former part adopted by Yeas 147 to Nays 51; and the latter or gag portion by Yeas 127, Nays 78--Henry A. Wise refusing to vote.

This would seem quite stringent enough; but, two years later,21 the House, on motion of William Cost Johnson (Whig), of Maryland, further

Resolved, That upon the presentation of any memorial or petition, praying for the abolition of Slavery or the Slave-Trade in any District, Territory, or State of the Union, and upon the presentation of any resolution or other paper touching that subject, the reception of such memorial, petition, resolution, or paper, shall be considered as objected to, and the question of its reception laid on the table, without debate or further action thereon.

Resolved, That no petition, memorial, resolution, or other paper, praying for the abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia, or any State or Territory, or the Slave-Trade between the States or Territories of the United States, in which it now exists, shall be received by this House, or entertained in any way whatever.

On this proposition, the votes were — Yeas 114; Nays 108--several Northern Democrats and some Southern Whigs voting with all the Northern Whigs in the minority.22

In a little more than ten years [147] after this, Congress prohibited the Slave-Trade in the District; and, within twenty-two years, Slavery itself, in that District, was likewise abolished by a decided vote. Thus Congress at last discovered and applied the true, enduring remedy for “agitation,” in hearing and heeding the demands of Justice, Humanity, and Freedom.

1 Harrison Gray Otis, the wealthy and aristocratic Mayor of Boston, being required by a Southern magistrate to suppress The Liberator--which was probably the first he had heard of it — in due season reported that his officers had “ferreted out the paper and its editor, whose office was an obscure hole, his only visible auxiliary a negro boy, his supporters a few insignificant persons of all colors” --whence the said Otis concluded that his paper ought not to disturb the slumbers of the quite significant and potent Southrons. The superficial, purblind Mayor!

2 Jefferson's Inaugural Address.

3 The following is an extract from the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle of October, 1833.

We firmly believe that, if the Southern States do not quickly unite, and declare to the North, if the question of Slavery be longer discussed in any shape, they will instantly secede from the Union, that the question must be settled, and very soon, by the sword, as the only possible means of self-preservation.

February 16, 1836, both houses of the Virginia Legislature agreed to the following:

Resolved, That the non-slaveholding States of the Union are respectfully but earnestly requested promptly to adopt penal enactments, or such other measures as will effectually suppress all associations within their respective limits purporting to be, or having the character of, Abolition societies.

Resolutions, similar in spirit and demand, were adopted by the Legislatures of South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, and doubtless other Slave States.

4 The Richmond Whig, in the course of a fulmination against the Abolitionists, said:

The people of the North must go to hanging these fanatics if they would not lose the benefit of the Southern trade, and they will do it. * * * Depend upon it, the Northern people will never sacrifice their present lucrative trade with the South, so long as the hanging of a few thousands will prevent it.

Not a bad calculation, provided “the Northern people” and the enjoyers of “the lucrative trade” aforesaid had been identical; but they were not.

5 “Now we tell them [the Abolitionists] that when they openly and publicly promulgate doctrines which outrage public feeling, they have no right to demand protection of the people they insult. Ought not, we ask, our city authorities to make them understand this — to tell them that they prosecute their treasonable and Beastly plans at their own peril?” --New York Courier and Enquirer, 11th July, 1834.

6 January 6, 1836.

7 At a public meeting convened in the church in the town of Clinton, Mississippi, September 5, 1835, it was

Resolved, That it is our decided opinion, that any individual who dares to circulate, with a view to effectuate the designs of the Abolitionists, any of the incendiary tracts or newspapers now in the course of transmission to this country, is justly worthy, in the sight of God and man, of immediate death: and we doubt not that such would be the punishment of any such offender, in any part of the State of Mississippi where he may be found.

8 “The cry of the whole South should be death — instant death — to the abolitionist, wherever he is caught.” --Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle.

We can assure the Bostonians, one and all, who have embarked in the nefarious scheme of abolishing Slavery at the South, that lashes will hereafter be spared the backs of their emissaries. Let them send out their men to Louisiana; they will never return to tell their sufferings, but they shall expiate the crime of interfering with our domestic institutions, by being burned at the stake. --New Orleans True American.

Abolition editors in Slave States will not dare to avow their opinions. It would be instant death to them. --Missouri Argus.

And Mr. Preston, of South Carolina, who once delivered a speech at Columbia in reference to a proposed railroad, in which he despondingly drew a forcible contrast between the energy, enterprise, knowledge, and happiness of the North, and the inertia, indigence, and decay of the South, in the U. S. Senate afterward declared:

Let an abolitionist come within the borders of South Carolina, if we can catch we will try him, and, notwithstanding all the interference of all the governments of the earth, including the Federal Government, we will hang him. --See N. Y. Journal of Commerce, June 6, 1838.

9 In 1835, a suspicion was aroused in Madison County, Mississippi, that a conspiracy for a slave insurrection existed. Five negroes were first hung; then five white men. The pamphlet put forth by their mob-murderers shows that there was no real evidence against any of them — that their lives were sacrificed to a cowardly panic, which would not be appeased without blood-shed. The whites were hung at an hour's notice, protesting their innocence to the last. And this is but one case out of many such. In a panic of this kind, every non-slaveholder who ever said a kind word or did a humane act for a negro is a doomed man.

10 April 16, 1835.


St. Louis, October 5, 1835.
To the Rev. E. P. Lovejoy, Editor of The Observer:
Sir:--The undersigned, friends and supporters of the “Observer,” beg leave to suggest, that the present temper of the times requires a change in the manner of conducting that print in relation to the subject of domestic Slavery.

The public mind is greatly excited, and, owing to the unjustifiable interference of our Northern brethren with our social relations, the community are, perhaps, not in a situation to endure sound doctrine in relation to this subject. Indeed. we have reason to believe, that violence is even now meditated against the “Observer office;” and we do believe that true policy and the interests of religion require that the discussion of this exciting question should be at least postponed in this State.

Although we do not claim the right to prescribe your course as an Editor, we hope that the concurring opinions of so many persons, having the interest of your paper and of religion both at heart, may induce you to distrust your own judgment, and so far change the character of the “Observer,” as to pass over in silence everything connected with the subject of Slavery. We would like that you announce in your paper, your intention so to do.

We shall be glad to be informed of your determination in relation to this matter.

Respectfully, your obedient servants,

I concur in the object intended by this communication.

I concur in the foregoing.

This document is indorsed as follows:

I did not yield to the wishes here expressed, and in consequence have been persecuted ever since. But I have kept a good conscience in the matter, and that more than repays me for all I have suffered, or can suffer. I have sworn eternal opposition to Slavery, and, by the blessing of God, I will never go back. Amen.

E. P. L. October 24, 1837.

12 “Higher law” again--fourteen years ahead of Gov. Seward.

13 This name reappears in the “Border Ruffian” trials of Kansas. 1856-8.

14 Col. Richard M. Johnson.

15 Wendell Phillips, then a young Whig lawyer, first conspicuously identified himself with the anti-Slavery movement, at a meeting held in Boston (December 8, 1837), at the old Court House--Faneuil Hall having been asked for, and refused, to a petition headed by Rev. William E. Channing--to consider the circumstances attending the death of Mr. Lovejoy.

16 January 11, 1836.

17 February 5, 1836.

18 January 18, 1837.

19 December 21, 1837.

20 December 11, 1838.

21 January 18, 1840.

22 The members from the Free States, twenty-eight in all (all Democrats but Proffit, a Tylerized Whig), who voted for this resolve, were as follows:

Maine.--Virgil D. Parris, Albert Smith.--New Hampshire.--Charles G. Atherton, Edmund Burke, Ira A. Eastman, Tristram Shaw.--New York.--Nehemiah II. Earle, John Fine, Nathaniel Jones, Gouverneur Kemble, James de la Montanya, John H. Prentiss, Theron R. Strong. Pennsylvania.--John Davis, Joseph Fornance, James Gerry, George McCullough, David Petriken, William S. Ramsay. Ohio.--D. P. Leadbetter, William Medill, Isaac Parrish, George Sweeney, Jonathan Taylor, John B. Weller. Indiana.--John Davis, George H. Proffit.--Illinois.--John Reynolds.

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