Elijah Parish Lovejoy, editor of the St. Louis Observer, began writing editorials against slavery in 1833. After a mob destroyed his printing press for a third time, Lovejoy moved his family across the river to Alton, Illinois, where he started the abolitionist paper the Alton Observer. Soon a vocal faction of citizens felt that Lovejoy’s abolitionist views had become more extreme (for the time and place). On November 7, 1837, a pro-slavery mob approached the location of his hidden printing press with murderous intent. Both parties fired shots. Lovejoy came out of the building to overturn attempts to burn it down and fell victim to multiple gunshots. The mob reached the printing press and threw the pieces in the Mississippi. Due to multiple conflicts of interest, the justice system did not charge anyone with Lovejoy’s murder.
MCHS object 1964-035-0005: Joining a mantle from his Alton home, this platter entered into the Madison County Historical Society collections after travelling through Lovejoy’s extended family. In a 1937 Alton Telegraph article, the owner stated that the platter and four matched plates had been part a larger set that did not survive the 100 years between. “I did not realize the value of these dishes or I would have been more careful with them.”