By Doug Dammon

"The Observer had been muzzled by the original proprietors. A communication had been sent to me signed by them and by my friend, Mr. Potts, requesting me to say no more on the subject of Slavery. I was accused, by name, in one of the city papers of being an abolitionist in the bitterest manner and the public vengeance's invoked [sic] upon me." 

Elijah Lovejoy letter to his brother, Joseph Lovejoy

"But his spirit, 'the vital spark of heavenly flame' that made him what he was, still lives and breathes and burns--not only here among us today, but wherever his story has been told the wide world over. And so it must always be--as long as unselfish and heroic manhood is recognized and appreciated on this earth."

Thomas Dimmock, Dedication of the Lovejoy Monument, November 8, 1898

Research Topics and Materials
The Slavery Question in Illinois
A look at the history of this institution in Illinois including how the wording of the original state constitution illustrated the pro-slavery feelings of the majority of Illinois' early political leaders. 

A Map of Illinois in 1837

1837 Descriptions of Illinois Cities
 Alton, Upper Alton, Jacksonville, Peoria, Springfield, Quincy, and Chicago 

Elijah Lovejoy, Abolitionist Editor 

Antislavery Broadside Printed by Lovejoy
Original document printed by Elijah Lovejoy in 1837. 

Personal Letters Written by Lovejoy

Lovejoy's Final Public Speech in Alton
Transcription with an image of the speech printed on a handkerchief. 

Journal of the Upper Alton Lyceum
Original handwritten minutes of the meetings of this intellectual organization started in Alton in 1836 to discuss community issues such as slavery and voting rights. 

Anti-Slavery Leaders in America before 1840
William Lloyd Garrison, Edwin Beecher, Owen Lovejoy 

Lovejoy's Contemporary Pro-Slavery Opponents
Short biographical sketches of two of Elijah Lovejoy's harshest and most unforgiving critics: Judge Luke E. Lawless and Usher F. Linder. 

The Alton Tragedy
The American Peace Society's criticism of Lovejoy for his use of force to defend his press in Alton. 

Editorials from the St. Louis and Alton Observer

The Lovejoy Monument in Alton, Illinois
Photographs and descriptions of the monument which honors the life of Elijah P. Lovejoy 

Lovejoy Bibliography
Publications relating to Lovejoy in the holdings of 
the Illinois State Historical Library

"Sir, I dare not flee away from Alton. . . No sir, the contest has commenced here; and here it must be finished. Before God and you all, I here pledge myself to continue it, if need be, till death. If I fall, my grave shall be made in Alton." 

Elijah Lovejoy, November 3, 1837



"The editor of the Observer has merited the full measure of the community's indignation; and if he will not learn from experience, they are very likely to teach him by practice, something of the light in which the honorable and respectable portion of the community view his conduct. He has forfeited all claims to the protection of that or any other community by his continued efforts to promote antislavery doctrines." 
Missouri Republican, July 17, 1837 

The Illinois State Historical Library offers selections from its holdings that illustrate the life and times of abolitionist minister and editor, Elijah Parish Lovejoy (1802-1837). The selected works shed valuable light not only on the beliefs of Elijah Lovejoy, but also comment directly on the differing attitudes of the citizens of the state of Illinois concerning the issue of slavery during the early decades of the 19th century. The Lovejoy Papers at the Illinois State Historical Library include a unique collection of books, broadsides, pamphlets, newspaper articles, personal letters, prints, photographs, and drawings which provide a thorough account of Lovejoy's battle for freedom of the press and civil rights. Through this electronic resource, the Illinois State Historical Library hopes to coordinate these research tools and make them available to researchers and students of Illinois history on a larger scale. The Lovejoy research page is just a small part of the overall commitment of the Illinois State Historical Library to provide access to the historical materials of our state.

This project was made possible through the generosity of a grant provided by George Ryan through the Illinois State Library.

Images and text on these web pages are intended for research and educational use only.  Please read our statement on use and reproduction.

Copyright: Illinois State Historical Library, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2000-2001.
WebMaster: Karen E. Everingham   Updated:  2/28/2001