Visitors Guide to the
The Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial
Alton Cemetery at Monument Avenue
Alton, Illinois

Accessible Illinois Historic Site

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.

Lovejoy Bust
at the Alton Museum of History and Art

Lovejoy enraged some of Alton's citizens by actively supporting the organization of the Anti-slavery 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 daily from dawn to dusk.
There is no charge to visit the Lovejoy Monument.

Directions: The Lovejoy Monument is located on Monument Avenue off Broadway just east of the Clark Bridge and downtown Alton.

GPS Coordinates
N  38  53.392
W 90  09.963

Learn more about the Alton area.

The Lovejoy Monument - State of Illinois site

Elijah Parish Lovejoy - "a Martyr on the Altar of American Liberty" is a good history on Lovejoy's life.

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