Friday, November 07, 2008

The Struggle Is Not New News

On this day in 1837, a drunken mob attacked a warehouse where a printing press sat waiting to produce the Alton (Illinois) Observor, an unapologetically anti-slavery newspaper published by Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist minister. He had already been run out of St Louis, just across the river in Missouri. And similar mobs had already destroyed two printing presses and threatened Lovejoy's life. But his response was simple and straightforward:

"You may hang may burn me at the stake, tar and feather me, or throw me into the Mississippi, but you cannot disgrace me. I and I alone can disgrace myself; and the deepest of all disgrace would be, at a time like this to deny my Master by forsaking his cause."

When the mob charged, Lovejoy tried using a torch to hold it back, but two doctors, hiding behind a woodpile shot him a total of five times and he died, two days before his thirty-fifth birthday. One of the doctors was seen to dance a jig as Lovejoy's bloody body was carried home to his pregnant wife.

Until this occurance, many "White" northerners labored under the delusion that the controversy around the abolition of slavery was just a clash of opposing ideas, but this event demonstrated otherwise as an early predictor of the Civil War which came twenty-five years later. Read the whole story here.

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