Surrendered His Life for Free Speech, Free Press and Free Men
by Paul Simon, [former] U.S. Senator Representing the State of Illinois
Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born Nov. 9, 1802, in the quiet town of Albion, Maine, He would die 35 years later—a death that would influence the national Through his editorial courage, Lovejoy conveyed his abhorrence for social injustice and his belief in the constitutional right of a free press.
A Presbyterian minister, Elijah Lovejoy's overriding conviction was to Christian morality. His father, the Rev. Daniel Lovejoy, was a congregational minister who also farmed. Like his father, his mother was "devoted to Christian living and serving the cause of her faith." At a young age, Elijah, or Parish as his family and friends called him, read the Bible and memorized hymns. His religious background influenced his need for spiritual enlightenment as an adult. He attended Waterville College, a Baptist-supported school in Maine.
After finishing college, Elijah Lovejoy ventured west, Illinois was nine years old when he started his journey in 1827. His first stop was at the home of John Tillson, a friendly Presbyterian who lived in Hillsboro, Ill. But there was no demand for a teacher or a college graduate in Hillsboro. Illinois had been settled from south to north. Chicago was one of the smallest Illinois towns. Finding a place that needed a teacher meant going to the state capital, Vandalia; to the thriving city of Shawneetown in deep Southern Illinois; to the rapidly growing river city of Alton; or to the big frontier town of St. Louis. Elijah Lovejoy chose St. Louis.
When Elijah Lovejoy arrived late in 1827, St. Louis had a population exceeding 6,000. Since St. Louis was a growing city, without public schools, Lovejoy decided to open a school. It was a prime opportunity to bring "good New England culture" to Missouri. The school was a tremendous success, spiritually and financially. But after two years of teaching, Elijah Lovejoy grew discontent.
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