Epitaph of Elijah P. Lovejoy

November 08, 1994|By Maria Garriott

On November 7, 1837, the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, abolitionist editor of The Observer, died in Alton, Illinois.

They say I was the War's first casualty:

shot, not once, but five times by a mob

engorged, enraged by blood of slavery.

Three times they came with pistols, torches, robbed

me, hauled my press to the Mississippi, threw

it in. I bought another, vowed to spread

the rank stench of slavery until they grew

sick of sin and purged their souls. The thread

of the Union unravels with every lash

of the whip, every wail on the auction block.

The North is agitated at my death; men gnash

their teeth and claim the time has passed for talk.

They know the truth: The tree of justice will never bud

until this country's sins are washed in blood.

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