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 Owen Lovejoy

Owen Lovejoy

Birth
Albion, Kennebec County, Maine, USA
Death 25 Mar 1864 (aged 53)
Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Burial Princeton, Bureau County, Illinois, USA
Plot Lovejoy Plot, Block OP, Lot 77 (family marker), Lot 64 (gravesite)
Memorial ID 12741065 · View Source
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Abolitionist, Minister, US Congressman. He was one of America's most influential anti-slavery activists before and during the Civil War, and a trusted ally of President Abraham Lincoln. The son of a Congregational minister, Lovejoy was born in Albion, Maine, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1832. He studied law but never practiced, turning instead to theology. In 1837 he witnessed the murder of his brother, abolitionist Elijah Parish Lovejoy, by a pro-slavery mob, and vowed to continue the cause that had been "sprinkled with my brother's blood". The following year he settled in Princeton, Illinois as pastor of the Congregationalist Church, and used the pulpit to further his belief that slavery could be ended through political action. During the 1840s and 1850s Lovejoy's home was a "station" in the Underground Railroad and he was arrested several times for harboring runaway slaves. At one point he even advertised his services in a Chicago newspaper, inviting "Ladies and Gentlemen of color from the South who wish to travel North for the benefit of their condition" to visit him. He would later declare before Congress, "Owen Lovejoy...aids every fugitive that comes to his door and asks it. Proclaim it then from the housetops...I bid you defiance in the name of my God!" Following the controversial passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) he won a seat in the State House of Representatives and helped organize the Republican Party both nationally and in Illinois; it was then that he became friendly with Abraham Lincoln. In 1856 Lovejoy was elected to the first of four consecutive terms in the US House of Representatives, where he would serve Illinois' 3rd and later 5th Districts until his death. His furious abolitionist oratory initially won him a reputation as the most radical of the "Radical Republicans", but in time he moderated his views for the good of the cause and the party unity needed to win it. He successfully campaigned for Lincoln in 1860 and from then on was the President's most steadfast supporter in Congress, although he was personally impatient with Lincoln's cautious approach to Emancipation. Lovejoy mused, "If he does not drive as fast as I would, he is on the right road, and it is only a question of time". The tragic Civil War years deepened their friendship and they would occasionally find solace reading from the Bible together. Ailing from cancer in his final months, Lovejoy left Washington in March 1864 to return home but died en route in Brooklyn, New York. Upon hearing the news Lincoln wrote, "To the day of his death, it would scarcely wrong any other to say, he was my most generous friend." His remains were returned to Princeton for interment at Oakland Cemetery; there is also a cenotaph for him at Washington's Congressional Cemetery. The Owen Lovejoy House in Princeton - with its secret compartment where escaped slaves were presumably hidden - was opened as a museum in 1972 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 19 Dec 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12741065
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Owen Lovejoy (6 Jan 1811–25 Mar 1864), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12741065, citing Oakland Cemetery, Princeton, Bureau County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .