Among those who suffered real physical injury was Fred. Douglass, the runaway slave. While in bondage he was often severely punished, but he encountered rougher treatment in the North than in the South. He was attacked by a mob while lecturing in the State of Indiana; was struck to the earth and rendered senseless by blows on the head and body, and for a time his life was supposed to be in danger. Although in the main he recovered, his right hand was always crippled in consequence of some of its bones having been broken.
If any one is desirous of estimating the extent of the sacrifice of life, of treasure, of home and family comforts, and of innumerable fair hopes that the institution of slavery, in its struggle, not merely for existence, but for supremacy, cost this country, let him visit a government cemetery in the neighborhood of one of the great battle-fields of the Rebellion, and there, while looking down the long avenues lined with memorial stones that a grateful country has set up, make inquiry as to the number of those that are there bivouacked “in fame’s eternal camping ground.” Some idea—a faint one it is true—will then be had of the multitudes that gave up all they possessed that liberty might live and rule in this fair land of ours. They were martyrs in the very highest sense to Freedom’s immeasurable cause. The war was the product of slavery. It was the natural outcome of the great moral conflict that had so long raged in this country. It was simply the development of an agitation that had begun on other lines.
But there were martyrs to the cause of freedom before the war. Everybody knows more or less of the story of John Brown, of Ossawatomie, whose soul kept “marching on,” although his body was “a-mouldering in the grave.”
There was another case involving the surrender of life to that cause, which has always struck me as having stronger claims to our sympathies than that of John Brown and his comrades in self-sacrifice.
I have already referred to Elijah P. Lovejoy who was a young Congregational clergyman, who went from the State of Maine to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1839. He became the editor of a religious journal in which he expressed, in very moderate terms, an opinion that was not favorable to slave-holding. The supporters of the institution were aroused at once. They demanded a retraction. “I have sworn eternal hostility to slavery, and by the blessing of God I will never go back,” was his reply. He also declared, “We have slaves here, but I am not one of them.”