Visitors Guide to
The Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial
Alton Cemetery at Monument
Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born in Albion, Maine, November 9, 1802. In 1826 he
came to St. Louis as a school teacher. Ordained as a Presbyterian minister in
1834, he later published a religious newspaper, The St. Louis Observer, and
began to advocate the abolition of slavery.
Despite strong opposition, Lovejoy was a champion
for freedom of the press,
freedom of speech, and freedom from slavery. When, in 1836, he published a full
account of the lynching of an African American in St. Louis and the subsequent
trial that acquitted the mob leaders, his critical report angered some city
residents. In July of
that year his press was destroyed by a mob, and he moved across the river to Alton, Illinois.
at the Alton Museum of History and Art
Lovejoy enraged some of Alton's citizens by actively
supporting the organization of the
Society of Illinois and establishing the Alton
Observer as an abolitionist newspaper. He continued writing and publishing even after three printing presses
had been destroyed and thrown into the Mississippi River. On the night of November 7, 1837, a group of
twenty supporters joined him
at the Godfrey & Gilman warehouse to guard a new press until it could be
installed at the Observer. When a pro-slavery mob assembled outside the
warehouse, Alton's mayor tried to persuade the
defenders inside to abandon the press. They refused and the pro-slavery mob
tried to set the warehouse on fire. As Lovejoy attempted to put out the
fire, he was killed by a shotgun blast. Soon after the mob allowed the
remaining defenders to leave and then proceeded to destroy the printing press.
Lovejoy was buried on his 35th birthday, November 9, 1837, in an unmarked grave
in the Alton City Cemetery.
Plans for a Lovejoy monument began in the 1850's but it wasn’t until the
1890's that work began in earnest. The memorial centers on a 93-foot high granite
column topped by a 17-foot high winged statue of Victory which is guarded by two
granite sentinel columns 30 feet high and mounted by bronze eagles. The
monument was dedicated November 7, 1897, the sixtieth
anniversary of Lovejoy's death. Following a renovation, the monument was
rededicated in a ceremony on September 25, 1969.
Visiting the Lovejoy Monument
The Lovejoy Monument can be visited during
regular cemetery hours.
There is no charge to visit the Lovejoy
Directions: The Lovejoy Monument is located on Monument Avenue off Broadway
just east of the Clark Bridge and downtown Alton.
more about the Alton
Monument - State of Illinois site
Parish Lovejoy -
"a Martyr on the Altar of American Liberty" is a good history on Lovejoy's life.