Alton in Madison County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Elijah P. Lovejoy
— Looking for Lincoln —
Considered by many to be the first casualty of the Civil War, abolitionist editor and Presbyterian minister Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy was killed defending the freedom of the press.
Editor of the St. Louis Observer, Lovejoy wrote powerful anti-slavery editorials that gained national attention. But his views were very unpopular in Missouri, a slave state.
In 1836, Lovejoy moved his press to Alton and renamed it the Alton Observer. Pro-slavery groups repeatedly attacked Lovejoy, destroying and throwing his press into the Mississippi River three times. On November 7, 1837, Lovejoy was shot and killed during a riot while protecting his fourth printing press. No one was ever convicted for any act committed during this event.
Lovejoy's example inspired John Brown and sparked the ideas debated by Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen Douglas 21 years later.
Lovejoy's tragic death for freedom in every sense marked his sad ending as the most important single event that ever happened in the new world." —Abraham Lincoln
—Elijah P. Lovejoy
Lovejoy's fourth press arrived in Alton on November 6, 1837, and was placed under guard in the Godfrey-Gilman warehouse. A mob attacked around midnight, setting the roof ablaze and shooting Lovejoy."
The broadside, pictured above, announced the September 27, 1837, meeting of the state abolitionist group. Lovejoy printed it in Alton shortly before his death.
A recovered piece of one of Lovejoy's presses is on display at The Telegraph offices at 111 E. Broadway near the Ryder Building exhibit.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Cemeteries & Burial Sites • Civil Rights • Communications. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is September 27, 1837.
Location. 38° 53.402′ N, 90° 9.957′ W. Marker is in Alton, Illinois, in Madison County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of East 5th Street and Monument Avenue, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1301 East 5th Street, Alton IL 62002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Elijah Parish Lovejoy (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Elijah Parish Lovejoy (a few steps from this marker); The Cost of Freedom (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); A National Cemetery System (approx. 0.2 miles away); Alton National Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Scott Bibb and the Alton School Desegregation Case (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lyman Trumbull House (approx. 0.8 miles away); Haskell Playhouse (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alton.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 228 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on November 14, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.