This is the only surviving piece of abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy’s last printing press. Throughout the nineteenth century, Missouri found itself at the center of the pro-slavery and abolitionist debate as a slave state surrounded by free states. Elijah Lovejoy joined the discussion when he founded the St. Louis Observer, an abolitionist newspaper. Harassment at the hands of pro-slavery agitators forced Lovejoy to move his operation across the river to Alton in the free state of Illinois. On November 7th, 1837, Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in the new city while defending his anti-slavery newspaper. The mob burned down his warehouse and destroyed his printing press by throwing it into the Mississippi River. After his death, abolitionists celebrated him as a martyr for the anti-slavery movement. This surviving piece of the printing press represents Lovejoy’s career and his contribution to the abolitionist cause. It was recovered in 1915 and placed in the lobby of the Telegraph building located at 111 East Broadway in Alton, Illinois.
Contributing Institution: Missouri Historical Society
Accession Number: N29767
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Region: St. Louis Metro