Owen Lovejoy Dead.
Slavery dies slowly — obstinately, stubbornly fighting for breath to the last; and many of the noblest of her life-long combatants are preceding her on the beaten pathway to the tomb. Moses, looking wistfully yet trustfully over into the Promised Land which he had so nobly struggled to reach, but which he was fated not to enter, is the exemplar of myriads of the great and good through all time. And among the noble array of those who have sternly, gallantly fought a life-long battle for the Freedom of Man, but especially to make ours a land of Impartial, Universal Liberty, there is not one, living or dead, who has fought a braver, manlier fight than Owen Lovejoy.
Others have given the better portion of their manhood to this warfare; Lovejoy gave all. He was 24 years old when he left college in his native Maine to take his place beside his brother Elijah, who had already been for some years fighting slavery to the best of his ability in the heart of the Great West; he was twenty-six when he stood beside that brother and saw him shot dead by slavery's murderous minions, while seeking to defend his own property, under the sanction of the laws and the civil authority, from spoliation and destruction. Elijah P. Lovejoy died a martyr to the Liberty of the Press and the Liberty of Man; and Owen standing beside him and sharing his deadly peril in life, caught a double portion of the martyr spirit from his parting breath, and girded himself for a leading part in the heroic work thus devolved upon him. From that hour to his last, Owen Lovejoy held a place in the front rank of those who made hostility to the Slave Power the purpose of their lives. The son of a clergyman-farmer, and a steadfast laborer on his father's farm in youth, he became himself a clergyman-farmer, preaching and tilling the earth with signal energy and success; but always and absorbingly laboring for the devoted to the cause of Human Liberty. He lectured persistly against Slavery when there were very few to hear and many to curse; he prayed for the fugitive from unjust bondage, and helped him on his way to freedom; he became a politician from Freedom's sake, and — never discovering the wisdom of standing aloof from the ballot-box when a vote might be deposited therein which would prove, at the very least, a protest against legalized injustice and systematic oppression — he at length took his place in the legislative councils of his State, afterwards, in those of the Nation, always patriotic, intelligent, upright and manly; but always pre-eminently and unmistakably an Abolitionist, in soul and act — one of the few whom Slavery instinctively felt could not be silenced nor bought, and therefore confronted at all times with open, implacable, and vengeful hate.
Stout and strong in body and soul, Lovejoy always met the foes of human liberty as his natural enemies. He was no bully, no brawler, no pugilist, no duelist; he sought no personal collision, and was never tempted by harsh words to deal blows; yet he stood ready to defend his person and life against any ruffian assailant with such weapons as God had given him. For years legally persecuted for his Anti-Slavery efforts, he was never awed nor swerved from his course by legalized iniquity nor by the terrors of mob violence. — Congressional ruffianism threatened him, but rarely or never ventured to approach menacingly within reach of his stalwart arm. Large in frame and in soul, his voice was full and resonant, and his eloquence that of a steady, clear-headed, true-hearted, earnest, upright man — such as reached the souls of all who had souls, whether assembled to hear him in the log school house of a new settlement in his own Illinois, or sitting at ease under the softened gas-light of the glass-ceiled hall of the House of Representatives.
Lovejoy lived long, though he died in the early afternoon of life — only 53 years old. — But all those years had been faithfully spent either in preparation for, or in faithful execution of, the work to which God had called him; so that he was fully ripened by a career of beneficent activity for that Great Hereafter which he had ever contemplated without dread or fear. Though not old, he had done his work amply and well, and was ready to bear and obey his Master's call. He leaves behind him none more deserving of the admiring love of his countrymen.