It was deemed advisable by Mr. Lovejoy and his friends to move his printing establishment to Alton, opposite Missouri, in the free State of Illinois. There, however, a pro-slavery antagonism immediately developed. His press was seized and thrown into the Mississippi River. The same fate awaited two others that were procured. But, undismayed, Mr. Lovejoy and his friends once more decided that their rights and liberties should not be surrendered without a further effort. Another press was sent for. But in the meanwhile a violent public agitation had arisen. At the instance of certain pro-slavery leaders in the community a public meeting had been called to denounce the Abolitionists. Mr. Lovejoy was invited to attend it and declare what he would do.
“Gentlemen,” said he, “as long as I am an American citizen; as long as American blood runs in my veins, I shall hold myself at liberty to speak, to write, and to publish whatever I please on any subject, being amenable to the laws of my country for the same.”
The fourth press arrived. It was landed from a passing boat in the small hours of the morning, and was safely conveyed to a warehouse where Mr. Lovejoy and several of his friends assembled with a view to its protection. What followed is thus described:
“An hour or two afterwards there came from the grog-shops a crowd of people who knocked at the door and demanded the press. One of the owners of the warehouse informed them it would not be given up. Presenting a pistol, the leader of the mob announced that they were resolved to have the press at any cost. Stones were thrown, windows broken, and shots were fired at the building. The cry of ‘burn them out’ was raised. Ladders were procured, and some of the rioters mounted to the roof of the building and set it on fire. Mr. Lovejoy at this point stepped out of the building for the purpose of having a talk with his enemies, when he was fired upon. He received five balls, three in his breast. He was killed almost instantly.”
The animosity of his enemies was such that they followed his remains with scoffings and insults on its way to the grave.
But the most cruel and brutal persecutions by the slave power were not always those that involved the sacrifice of life.
In Canterbury, in the State of Connecticut, lived a Quaker lady of the name of Prudence Crandall. She conducted a school for young ladies. Among those she admitted was a colored girl. The fact becoming known, objection was raised by the citizens of the place. The position in which Miss Crandall was placed was a most trying one. Having invested all her means in the school building and its equipment, she was confronted with the alternative of losing her business and her property, or dismissing the colored student who had done no wrong. She chose to stand by her principles.