This Day in History

Nov. 7, 1837: Elijah Parish Lovejoy Murdered

Time Periods: 1800
Themes: Economics, Media, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
Elijah Lovejoy Warehouse

Wood engraving of the pro-slavery mob setting fire to Gilman & Godfrey’s warehouse. Library of Congress

On Nov. 7, 1837, minister, journalist, newspaper editor, and abolitionist Elijah Parish Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois during their attack on his warehouse to destroy his press.

As reported at the Colored Conventions Project, abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet said of Lovejoy’s murder:

[Elijah P. Lovejoy] was targeted by white terrorism . . . White terrorism, which justifies racial policing, is inextricably linked to the racist politico-socio hierarchal structure in the United States. White violence was deployed to silence through murder and terror. Continue reading.

The 1838 booklet by Edward Beecher, Narrative of Riots at Alton: in connection with the death of Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, can be read online at the National Archives.

Learn more about Lovejoy and the people’s history of the media in News for All the People. Find resources for teaching about institutional racism, terrorism, and the abolition movement below.