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Elijah Parish Lovejoy: Overview


Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born on November 9, 1802 in Albion Maine. He was the son of the Reverend Daniel Lovejoy and Elizabeth Pattee Lovejoy. He entered what was then Waterville College in 1823 as a second-year student and graduated as class poet and giver of the validictory address in August of 1826. After a short period as principal of China Academy, he went to St. Louis, Missouri, to teach. He began a career in journalism as a part-time writer, then full-time editor and publisher, of the St. Louis Times. After a conversion of faith and commitment to the ministry, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary. He preached briefly in New York and then returned to St. Louis to edit the St. Louis Observer, a weekly religious paper.

At  first Lovejoy published editorials impartially on both sides of the slavery question. When patrons of the paper requested a halt to editorials published on slavery, he refused on the grounds of freedom of the press. Lovejoy decided to move the publication across the river to Alton, Illinois. Friends purchased a new press, and he started publishing the Alton Observer. This press and two subsequent presses were destroyed by pro-slavery mobs, and Lovejoy himself was shot to death defending the fourth press on November 7, 1837.

In 1952 Colby established the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award to honor members of the newspaper profession who continue the Lovejoy tradition. Recipients are chosen on the basis of their integrity, craftsmanship, character, courage, and intelligence.

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