- Historic Sites
1837 One Hundred And Fifty Years Ago
November 1987 | Volume 38, Issue 7
Elijah Lovejoy, abolitionist editor of the Alton (III.) Observer , was killed on the night of November 7 while defending his printing press from a mob. Lovejoy had already lost numerous presses to vandals who sought to silence him; he was determined to protect the one that arrived early on November 7. Hidden in a massive stone warehouse and guarded by a small volunteer militia, it seemed safe, but by nightfall an angry crowd had gathered nearby. Shots were exchanged, and the roof was torched. When Lovejoy rushed out to stop the fire, he was riddled with bullets and died soon after. No one was ever convicted for his murder. Lovejoy’s death aroused resentment in the North and greatly strengthened the abolitionist cause.