White abolitionists took great risks in speaking out against slavery, often at the cost of their lives. Elijah P. Lovejoy, a journalist and abolitionist, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob because he would not discontinue railing against the racist practice in his newspaper.
Elijah Paris Lovejoy was born November 9, 1802 in Albion, Maine. In 1827, Lovejoy relocated to St. Louis, Mo., establishing a career as a journalist and starting a school. In 1833, he began writing for the St. Louis Observer, a Presbyterian publication in which he shouted down slavery in the pro-slave state.
In 1835, St. Louis officials warned Lovejoy to tone down his condemnation of slavery, but he pushed back. Under the threat of violence, Lovejoy moved his printing press operations across the Mississippi River in Alton in the free state of Illinois. His printing press offices were repeatedly attacked as he defiantly continued printing anti-slavery material.
On November 7, 1837, Lovejoy’s printing press offices were destroyed by an angry white mob, killing him in the process as he tried to defend himself. His death only served to galvanize abolitionists across the nation. In some circles, Lovejoy’s murder is seen as the first casualty of the Civil War.
The people responsible for his death were never charged despite a trial.
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