It was now apparent that the multitude would not disperse until I had left the building; and as egress out of the front door was impossible, the Mayor and his assistants, as well as some of my friends, earnestly besought me to effect my escape in the rear of the building. . . .
Preceded by my faithful and beloved friend, Mr J R C, I dropt from a back window on to a shed, and narrowly escaped falling headlong to the ground. We entered into a carpenter's shop, through which we attempted to get into Wilson's Lane, but found our retreat cut off by the mob. They raised a shout as soon as we came in sight, but the workmen promptly closed the door of the shop, kept them at bay for a time, and thus kindly afforded me an opportunity to find some other passage.
I told Mr. C. it would be futile to attempt to escapeI would go out to the mob, and let them deal with me as they might elect; but he thought it was my duty to avoid them as long as possible. We then went up stairs, and, finding a vacancy in one corner of the room, I got into it, and he and a young lad piled up some boards in front of me to shield me from observation. In a few minutes several ruffians broke into the chamber, who seized Mt. C. in a rough manner, and led him out to the view of the mob, saying, "This is not Garrison, but Garrison's and Thompson's friend, and he says he knows where Garrison is, but won't tell." Then a shout of exultation was raised by the mob, and what became of him I do not know; tho, as I was immediately discovered, I presume he escaped.
On seeing me, three or four of the rioters, uttering a yell, furiously dragged me to the window, with the intention of hurling me from that height to the ground; but one of them relented, and said"Don't let us kill him outright." So they drew me back, and coiled a rope about my bodyprobably to drag me through the streets. I bowed to the mob, and, requesting them to wait patiently until I could descend, went down upon a ladder that was raised for that purpose. I fortunately extricated myself from the rope, and was seized by two or three powerful men, to whose firmness, policy and muscular energy I am probably indebted for my preservation.
They led me along bareheaded (for I had lost my hat), through a mighty crowd, ever and anon shouting, "He sha'n't be hurt!! You sha'n't hurt him! Don't hurt him! He is an American," etc., etc. This seemed to excite sympathy among many in the crowd, and they reiterated the cry, "He sha'n't be hurt!" I was thus conducted through Wilson's Lane into State Street, in the rear of the City Hall, over the ground that was stained with the blood of the first martyrs in the cause of liberty and independence, by the memorable massacre of 17702and upon which was proudly unfurled, only a few years since, with joyous acclamations, the beautiful banner presented to the gallant Poles by the young men of Boston! . . .
Orders were now given to carry me to the Mayor's office in the City Hall. As we approached the south door, the Mayor attempted to protect me by his presence; but as he was unassisted by any show of authority or force, he was quickly thrust asideand now came a tremendous rush on the part of the mob to prevent my entering the hall. For a moment the conflict was dubiousbut my sturdy supporters carried me safely up to the Mayor's room. . . .
Having had my clothes rent asunder, one individual kindly lent me a pair of pantaloonsanother, a coata third, a stocka fourth, a cap as a substitute for my lost hat. After a consultation of fifteen or twenty minutes, the Mayor and his advisers came to the singular conclusion, that the building would be endangered by my continuing in it, and that the preservation of my life depended upon committing me to jail, ostensibly as a disturber of the peace! A hack was got in readiness at the door to receive meand, supported by Sheriff Parkman and Ebenezer Bailey, Esq. (the Mayor leading the way), I succeeded in getting into it without much difficulty, as I was not readily identified in my new garb.
Now came a scene that baffles the power of description. As the ocean, lasht into fury by the spirit of the storm, seeks to whelm the adventurous bark beneath its mountain wavesso did the mob, enraged by a series of disappointments, rush like a whirlwind upon the frail vehicle in which I sat, and endeavored to drag me out of it. Escape seemed a physical impossibility. They clung to the wheelsdashed open the doorsseized hold of the horsesand tried to upset the carriage. They were, however, vigorously repulsed by the policea constable sprang in by my sidethe doors were closedand the driver, lustily using his whip upon the bodies of his horses and the heads of the rioters, happily made an opening through the crowd, and drove at a tremendous speed for Leverett Street. But many of the rioters followed even with superior swiftness, and repeatedly attempted to arrest the progress of the horses. To reach the jail by a direct course was found impracticable; and after going in a circuitous direction, and encountering many "hairbreadth 'scapes," we drove up to this new and last refuge of liberty and life, when another bold attempt was made to seize me by the mobbut in vain. In a few moments I was locked up in a cell, safe from my persecutors, accompanied by two delightful associates, a good conscience and a cheerful mind.
1 Printed in the "Life of Garrison," written by his children, and in Hart's "Source Book of American History." Printed here by permission of Francis Jackson Garrison, son of William Lloyd Garrison, and one of the authors of the "Life."
When this attack took place, Garrison had already been subjected to persecution for his activity as an Abolitionist and as editor of the Liberator. The immediate occasion for the attack described was a meeting of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, at which the English Abolitionist, Thompson, had been expected to speak.
2 What is known as "the Boston massacre" is here referred to. It occurred In March, 1770, as the outcome of difficulties between British soldiers and a crowd of citizens. Provoked by words and hostile actions, the soldiers fired at the crowd, killing three and wounding five.
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 cityfurnishing 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 usefulness 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, tho 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, he still affirmed his hostility to immediate, unconditional emancipation. . . .
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. 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.
The Observer was issued regularly at Alton until the 17th of August, 1837discussing 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 discust at all. . . .
Two unsuccessful attempts having already been madethe 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; whereupon the office was deserted, and the destroyers finished their work without 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 stopt him, threatened him, and assailed him with vile language but did him no serious harm.
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 discust through two or three evenings, but left undecided.
Meantime, while he was absent, attending a meeting of the Presbytery, his new pressthe third which he had brought to Alton within a little more than a yeararrived 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, apprized of its arrival and also of its peril, grave 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 warehouse, 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 afterOctober 1stand 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. Lovejoy 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. . . .
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 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. . . .
About ten o'clock, some thirty persons, as if by preconcert, suddenly emerged from a neighboring grog-shopa few of them with arms, but the majority with only stones in their handsformed 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 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. Gilman retired into the building.
The warehouse 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. . . .
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 stept again to the door, and stood looking around just without the buildingMr. Lovejoy 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 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 be recovered. Those remaining alive in the building now held a consultation, and concluded to surrender. . . .
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.
1 From Greeley's "American Conflict."