THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND OWEN LOVEJOY
September 12, 1998
The relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Owen Lovejoy grew into an intimate, affectionate friendship through ten turbulent years of political dependency upon each other. In February, 1855, in Springfield, Illinois, they agreed upon an agenda to prevent the extension of slavery. Seven years later Lovejoy introduced that legislation into Congress, and Lincoln signed it into law. In 1864 Lincoln wrote: "My personal acquaintance with him commenced only about ten years ago, since then it has been quite intimate; and every step in it has been one of increasing respect and esteem, ending with his life, in no less than affection on my part." (1) Who were these two persons who had such a great impact on ending slavery in America, and how did they befriend each other?
These were two different yet similar individuals. One was raised in the woods of Kentucky and Indiana with a minimum of books, education, family support, and with only the basic necessities of life. The other was raised on the sparse slopes of central Maine, with a well-educated mother, father and older brothers, with many books and a very supportive, praying family. One grew up on the periphery of southern culture, the other on the periphery of northern culture yet steeped in the New England traditions of his grandfather, who had served in the Revolutionary War. One was quite homely, the other quite handsome. Both were physically strong, and both were acquainted with grief. Both men had rather complex, severe and melancholy fathers. Yet both were imbued with integrity, endowed with uncommon intelligence, possessed a healthy skepticism, and frequently displayed a well-executed wit. Both had skill with language, and both possessed a forgiving and generous heart and had a compelling drive to do the right thing. They both loved history--Lincoln steeped in Parson Weems' Life of George Washington, and Lovejoy steeped in Jefferson and the Greek and Roman Classics. They were both deeply committed to the values of democracy--the common people's right to give consent to those who governed them; and to freedom--the protection of the civil rights of the people by the government. They brought all this background to their relationship in 1854. (2) A comparison of these two men's development to this point--using the Lovejoy family letters, (3) the biography of Lovejoy's brother, (4) and Lovejoy's mother's biography (5)--and the recent studies of Lincoln's early life could prove most interesting. Another curious sideline for those who like genealogy would be to trace each man's lineage back to their common roots in the 15th century in Berkshire County, England. (6)
Yet, if they had so much in common, why did it take them so long to become such close friends? Perhaps it is primarily because one was a lawyer and the other a minister, and one was a Southerner and the other a Northerner. They were both raised on the periphery of their contending cultures, growing up on farms. They were never part of the urban centers with their reinforcing social and economic institutions. They were both independent professional men. For seventeen years, they each became a leader in their profession in central Illinois. Both had to learn to make accommodations to get along in an area where there was frequent social strain and cultural conflict. Lovejoy tempered his New England abolitionism into an antislavery humanitarianism. Lincoln, who found slavery immoral, had to accommodate to the mostly Southern mentality in Springfield. By historical accident their own cultural tension was the same as the country's. Thus, it is no accident that these two persons emerged as two of the most influential voices to help resolve that conflict. A deeper sociological analysis of living on these cultural boundaries could be quite informative.
However, the more profound differences were not cultural but personal. Lincoln had an abhorrence of abolitionism; (7) Lovejoy the reputation of a self-righteous, vindictive "ultra" abolitionist. Lincoln had an aversion to religion; (8) Lovejoy a profound trust in God's redeeming love. Lincoln had a deep logical commitment to statutory law; (9) Lovejoy a clear strong commitment to the "Higher Law." They both grew to accept, respect and trust the difference in the other and to enjoy their commonalities. We will look at these changes through four stages of development, and ask where we may find areas for productive research.
STAGE ONE OCTOBER 1854 TO MAY 1856
From Annoyance To Skepticism
On May 20, 1854, Stephen Douglas broke the sacred compromise between the North and South made in 1820. The Compromise had allowed Missouri to become a slave state and the rest of the Nebraska Territory to prohibit slavery. This blatant misuse of the Slave Power energized many people of high principle along with some opportunists interested in gaining power for themselves.
Thirty members of Congress met in Washington D.C. the following morning at the instigation of Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the Washington antislavery newspaper--the National Era. (10) A Senator from Maine, Israel Washburne, brother of Illinois congressman Elihu Washburne, suggested calling the new movement to stop the effects of this bill, Republican. Antislavery leaders in New England helped to make the people so enraged that it is reported that Douglas could see by the light of his burning effigies all the way back to Chicago. Alvin Bovay in Rippon, Wisconsin, published a call advocating that all people of good will who were against the extension of slavery come together. In Illinois, antislavery activists mobilized national leaders to come help canvass the divided state. Governor Salmon Chase of Ohio, the leading figure in the Free Soil movement; which had advocated non-extension of slavery, the end of Fugitive Slave Law and the end of slavery in the District of Columbia, came. Joshua Giddings, leading spokesman for the antislavery cause in Congress from the Western Reserve District of Ohio, who had roomed with Abraham Lincoln when he was a congressman in Washington D.C., came. Giddings met with Lincoln at length at that time to discuss his bill to compensate the slaveholders in the District of Columbia. Frederick Douglass, the celebrated Negro abolitionist, came. Cassius Clay, former slaveholder, congressman and antislavery leader from Kentucky, came. The three most prominent leaders of the hundreds of antislavery advocates in Illinois were Owen Lovejoy, Ichabod Codding, who canvassed the state for the antislavery cause, and Zabina Eastman, editor of the antislavery newspapers Western Citizen and Free West. Together, they were successful in organizing three of the northern congressional districts for "Republican" Anti-Nebraska, or fusion candidates. (11) Elihu Washburne of Galena was the first person and the first Whig to become a Republican candidate in Illinois at a convention held in Rockford in 1854. (12)
One of the strange interpretations which fueled the conflict in Illinois was the unjust law preventing a freed Negro person from entering the state without first paying a bond of $50. (13) Even some Democrats and Whigs could recognize that injustice. Impassioned speakers like Codding and Lovejoy would make the most politically of these and other so-called "black laws."
Lincoln was one such person of good will who came back into political life after Douglas' betrayal. He made a forceful critique of Douglas' Kansas-Nebraska Act on Oct. 4th 1854 at the Springfield State Fair. The Republicans had been so satisfied with their success in organizing the Party in the north that they now called for a State Convention to organize the Party statewide on a much broader base.
Lincoln called Douglas's act a repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and said that it was wrong to let slavery into Kansas and Nebraska. He believed that it was not just indifference that led Douglas to change sides. "I must think (it) covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I can not but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world..No man is good enough to govern another without the other's consent. I say this is the leading principle--the sheet anchor of American republicanism." (14)
Shortly after this speech, Owen Lovejoy tried to invite Abraham Lincoln to join the Republican Party State Convention. Lincoln demurred. Lincoln's abhorrence of ultra-abolitionism, his hope for a rejuvenated Whig party, his ignorance of the scope of Republicanism in Illinois, his coterie of conservative friends, and the voice of his strong, antislavery partner urging him that this was not a good time to talk fusion, confused Lincoln enough to avoid the whole situation and get out of town, even though he knew that Republicans shared his desire to repeal the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and stop the spread of slavery. (15)
Lovejoy was later appointed to the Platform Committee and worked all night with practical men to come up with a moderate platform. Finally, it was clearly written to appeal to the legal mind of Lincoln. It conceded the constitutional right for slavery to exist where it was. It did not even ask for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law but only to grant the slave his due rights before the court. (16)
At the next meeting the Republicans unanimously adopted this moderate platform and elected a central committee for the early Republican Party. At Lovejoy's insistence, they appointed Lincoln to the central committee. At this meeting Lovejoy encouraged the group in words he frequently repeated, "Let us trust in God and God's truth...His truth is what we are contending for and victory will crown our efforts." (17)
But where did Lovejoy gain this confidence in Lincoln as a necessary leader in the cause to end slavery, a confidence that never faltered from this moment on, to the time of his death? A full review of the men who knew them both is required. Did it come from William Herndon, whose father removed him from Illinois College after he had made a rousing speech on the campus in defense of Elijah Lovejoy's antislavery press? Was it from Joshua Giddings, who roomed with Lincoln at Mrs. Spriggs' rooming house in Washington D.C. in 1846? (18) Was it from Elihu Washburne, who was Lincoln's friend when Lincoln was in Congress and then himself became a Whig Congressman from Galena? Did Salmon Chase's visit to Illinois have some effect on both of them? Was it from Charles Ray, then a Democratic editor in Springfield for the Galena newspaper, eventually to be the editor of the Chicago Tribune and a champion of the Lincoln cause? Who are the others to review?
Or had Owen just intuited it when he heard the vehement phrase "hatred of slavery", or Lincoln's pure reference to the Declaration of Independence that no one can be governed by another without his consent? Or had he heard of Lincoln's 40 votes in Congress for the Wilmont Proviso , denying money for any new slave states? Or had Giddings told him of Lincoln's concern for the slaves in D.C.? Would Lovejoy have admired Lincoln's courage when he stood up to President Polk and asked him where the spot was that had started the Mexican War? Lovejoy, campaigning for Congress in 1846 on the Liberty Ticket, had asked the same question. (19) Had Lovejoy heard the stories of Lincoln's reputation for honesty and integrity from his legal associates? Lincoln was fairly well known in the central region of Illinois. However, Lovejoy's name, related to his martyred brother's fame, was both well-praised and well-maligned throughout the state. Or is it possible that the two men had met with or without one of these acquaintances before that fateful October 4th, when Lincoln avoided the so-called radicals and hurried out of town? Most likely we can credit Giddings, who just a few months later would claim that he would walk to Illinois to help elect Lincoln senator. But more study is needed to confirm it. (20)
The day after the convention there was a strange episode which points to the early suspicion between the two men. Charles Lanphier, the Democratic editor of the Springfield Register, published derogatory remarks about Codding and Lovejoy as ranting and raving, and claimed that their platform was radically "ultra" abolitionist. Lanphier reported the details of the Aurora platform of Kane County Republican Convention adopted earlier in the year, which was much more radical, calling for the end of Fugitive Slave Law and other things. Had Lincoln been misled by this false report? Probably, but he could have hidden behind the error to buy time. Again, more research is needed on this. In Charles Lanphier's unpublished biography at the Illinois State Historical Library, "Glory of God and the Sucker Democracy," it is claimed that Lincoln never forgave Lanphier for this misrepresentation, and that Lincoln later in 1858 called Lamphier a liar for intentionally misleading the public. (21) A confused and disconcerted Lincoln wrote to Ichabod Codding, who was secretary of the early Republican Party Central Committee, saying that he would have no part of their doings and refused to serve on their Central Committee. (22)
After the results of the elections in November, 1854, it was a different story. The Douglas Democratic machine had been beaten badly and lost control of the state legislature. Twenty seats were now held by Republican candidates in the House, and five in the Senate, about 25%. (23) Many were former Whigs, Democrats, or Free Soil candidates. Some had no prior political affiliation, but all had been endorsed by Republican conventions. Lincoln's list of legislative members though, identifies no Republicans and only one abolitionist, Owen Lovejoy. (24) A full analysis of the previous backgrounds of these members would more accurately determine the strength of the early Republicans at this point. Nonetheless, Lovejoy was clearly their recognized leader. He had been elected to the state House of Represenatives from Bureau County. Before the votes were official, Lovejoy wrote Giddings a personal note of satisfaction, thanking him for his help and soliciting his advice: "As I am a novice in legislation, I shall esteem it a favor to receive any hints, rules & advice for my guidance from a veteran & will perhaps repay it some time by a theological homily. Love to your family and yourself." (25)
When Lincoln decided to run for U.S. Senator--to be elected by the legislature--he sought Lovejoy and company's support. He asked Elihu Washburne to ask his fellow Congressman Joshua Giddings to intercede. (26) There is some indication that some antislavery members preferred antislavery Democrat Lyman Trumbull. Zabina Eastman, editor of the antislavery paper, the Free West, did not support Lincoln because Eastman thought he was still a believer in the "mummy of a Whig party." (27) Stephen Logan, the former law partner of Lincoln, was elected speaker of the House. He claimed in a letter to Herndon that Lincoln had made a pledge to fight against the extension of slavery. (28) In fact, the timing of this pledge is debatable. Lincoln had already stated his position at Springfield and later in Peoria. Maybe making such a pledge was a quid pro quo in exchange for supporting Lincoln for Senator, which Lovejoy assuredly did do. Douglas himself in the debates, accused Lincoln of making such a deal, when trying to identity him as a "Black Republican." Most likely there was some sort of an agreement with Logan, because Lovejoy was allowed to introduce into the House three antislavery measures to be voted on before the election for Senate. In a defining speech in support of the three measures, Lovejoy made it clear that he believed that one does not have power to interfere with slavery where it exists, but "we do have the power to prohibit the spread of slavery into the territories for they are under the jurisdiction of the people of the United States." (29) Also in this speech Lovejoy took the Free Soil Party position of ending the Fugitive Slave Law and forbidding any new slave states. Though there was a respectable showing of votes for the last two measures, only the non-extension of slavery passed the legislature. (30)
Six months later Lincoln wrote Lovejoy a much more conciliatory note, saying that "not even you are more anxious to prevent the extension of slavery than I..." (31) Lincoln remained anxious about being identified with "ultra" abolitionists, yet he also became anxious not to lose the support of a growing political movement; he cautiously reached out to their leader Owen Lovejoy, and tried to stay in touch. Lovejoy came to understand, perhaps, that only Lincoln could hold this rag tag coalition together.
Lincoln's August 5, 1855, letter ended with an invitation to meet in Bloomington. It is hard to believe that Lovejoy would have missed that opportunity. However, later he makes no reference to it. Both actually went their own way toward "fusion". On Washington's Birthday, 1856, Lovejoy played a vital role at the planning meeting at the first National Republican Convention in Philadelphia; and Lincoln played a vital role in the Decatur editors meeting, planning the Bloomington Convention of all the Illinois political parties that were against the Nebraska Act and the extension of slavery. The role of antislavery forces in the whole convention process needs more study. Lovejoy, Codding and Eastman long had been doing political organization throughout northern Illinois: first, for the Liberty Party in 1842; next for the Free Soil Party in 1848; and then for the Free Democratic Party in 1852. Lovejoy had been part of the national organization of all three, sharing major leadership in the latter with Frederick Douglass. (32) Each time they organized a new party, they tried to widen their base politically to end slavery in America. They knew the problems, they helped interpret continually the abuses of the slave power and they now sensed the national tide growing against it. They were always eager to learn practical effects while trying to retain their higher principles. It appears that with the help of Charles Ray, they knew that it was now time for them to step aside and let natural forces take over the movement--men without the unpopular label of "ultra." The key to this appears in a May 2, 1856, article in the Chicago Tribune. Ray made explicit what the role of the Republicans would be at the Bloomington Convention. He wrote with authority, as the secretary of the steering committee which had called the meeting: "It is said that the Convention is to be exclusively REPUBLICAN. Such is not the case...we know of no man who is identified with the Republican Party who desires or would accept a nomination from the Convention, for any place whatever.... The Republicans of the North wish to testify their sincerity by taking the places of privates in the ranks, reserving the right to do battle wherever the fight is fiercest." (33) Elwell Crissey's excellent work on the convention, Lincoln's Lost Speech, points to the fact that antislavery forces were involved. He states that, "Fewer than three hundred (of about one thousand in attendance) were officially delegates, and most of them from the central and northern counties; but virtually every antislavery political leader of any stature from anywhere in all Illinois had come. The excitement was too high, the issues too important, to stay away." Crissey also clarifies the dramatic contrast of the two great lost speeches (Lovejoy's and Lincoln's) with Lovejoy being much more moderate and Lincoln being much more impassioned than usual. The reputations of both men grew in wisdom and in stature. (34)
One of our growing understandings of early Illinois Republicans is that they were quite well-organized. Here, Victor Howard's work on Ichabod Codding is very persuasive. He calls Codding the most important unrecognized factor in the 1854 elections. (35) Codding was in fact paid by the Illinois Antislavery Society to canvass Illinois. Lovejoy's commitment to keep the Free Soil organization together as the Free Democratic Party in 1852 was also an important organizational factor in preparing for the response to the 1854 challenges of Senator Douglas. In the forties, Lovejoy helped organize 30 antislavery Congregational Churches. He was a strenuous campaigner. At the Pittsburgh planning meeting for the national party--when they called for committees of two persons in every county for the Republican organization,--Lovejoy moved for there to be three persons and prevailed. (36) The absence of this organizational power in 1862--because most sympathizers were serving in the war effort--may help explain the Democratic victories in Illinois in 1862. More study needs to be done on the influence of community voices-- from churches, schoolhouses, newspapers, and local officials--during this period.
An unpublished paper by Peter Willgring at Northern Illinois University, analyzing the occupations and positions of subscribers to the antislavery paper the Free West, demonstrates the importance of this early infrastructure. (37) The names of the subscribers are available at the Chicago Historical Society, so a study relating the names to the 1850 census material on occupations can be performed for other communities as well.
Abraham Lincoln on July 4, 1856, visited Owen Lovejoy's home town of Princeton to make a political speech against the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Weeks before he had already told his friend Judge Davis that he was blind with rage that Lovejoy, and not his personal Whig friend, Leonard Swett, had been nominated by the Third District Republican Convention. Some of Judge Davis's friends were seriously thinking of running another candidate. The week before, it is claimed, only a handful of people came out in Springfield to hear Lincoln speak on behalf of the candidates of the Bloomington Convention. In contrast, it was reported that 8,000 to 10,000 persons came to Princeton to support Republican candidates and speakers. (38) Evidently, the popularity, voter appeal, and organizational strength of Lincoln and Lovejoy throughout the state at that time was not the same. Lovejoy was at this time very well known and highly respected by many influential leaders in the small villages. Today, the people in Princeton are proud that so many people came to hear Lincoln. Actually, though, they came to hear a supporter of one who would help stop the slave power and the spread of slavery, an idea which Lovejoy and crew had been cultivating for the last 17 years. Lincoln, always a quick learner, assessed the situation and sent Judge Davis a letter admitting, "Seeing how many people like to support Lovejoy, I think it is best that we do not upset his many friends and run against him." (39) Lincoln preferred not to use the name Republican during the 1856 election because of its early association with "ultra" abolitionists, but he campaigned hard for Fremont for President and fought to replace the slave power and stop the spread of slavery. He made both clear in his speech at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Here, he began to accept his identification with abolitionists head on. "They tell us that we are in company with men who have long been known as abolitionists. What care we how many may feel disposed to labor for our cause? Why do not you, Buchanan men, come in and use your influence to make our party respectable?" (40)
Lincoln ended the speech with words similar to Lovejoy's, "...So sure as God lives, the victory shall be yours." Lovejoy received Lincoln's help later when Lincoln blocked T. Lyle Dickey's attempt to bolt the party nomination and run against him. (41) Lincoln, in using the word "abolitionist" positively, and then appropriating religious language effectively, was building a bridge to a larger constituency for future campaigning.
STAGE TWO 1857-1860
From Political Cooreration To Personal Respect
On December 21, 1857, Lovejoy made his first speech in Congress on the Treasury Note Bill. He asked, "How much (money) is to be used to force, at the point of the bayonet, upon the people of Kansas a government for which every person in the United States knows they never voted and never will?" (42) He was referring to the unrepresentative proslavery Lecompton Constitutional Convention the administration was supporting.
In 1858, he made one of his more widely published speeches, "Human Beings Not Property," in response to the Dred and Harriet Scott decision. He warned, "The President and Chief Justice by new unheard of and most unwarrantable interpretations of the Constitution are endeavoring to enthrone and nationalize slavery and make it the dominant power in the land." One project that still needs to be coordinated is the gathering of all of Lovejoy's speeches in one place. Esby Collins of the Lovejoy Homestead Association is transcribing some speeches from the Bureau County Republican. The Lovejoy Society has published 8 speeches with comment in the last 3 years and has plans for at least 17 more in the Lovejoy Society Newsletter. Yet, there are still more speeches that have been referenced and hinted at that deserve to be located and published.
By 1858, the country and Lincoln were learning what an effective, able congressman had been elected from the Third District in Illinois. Lincoln was obviously studying Lovejoy's situation. Some friends told Lincoln of another attempt by Chicago Democrats and Republicans to run another third party candidate against Lovejoy. Judge Davis, never a supporter of Lovejoy, was even thinking of running against Lovejoy himself. Soon after, Lincoln wrote Lovejoy a confidential note to be on guard and ended with the request, "I would like to hear from you." (43) The Joliet Nomination Convention, on June 30, 1858, renominated Lovejoy by acclamation. Lovejoy's acceptance speech, helped define the future strategy for the Republican Party in Illinois. It included Lovejoy's personal religious statements in a simple profound way. It defined the purpose of the Republican Party, stressed how to deal with political antecedents, and explained in part why Lovejoy supported Lincoln. He said, " I am for Lincoln because he is a true-hearted person, unseduced by ambition, unterrified by power, and come what may, he will remain true to the principles for which the Republican Party was organized." (44) Lovejoy sent the whole speech to Lincoln. He also sent him a note on the "House Divided Speech," saying, "It sounds like God's truth from the mouth of God." (45)
On June 13, 1858 Lincoln delivered the "House Divided Speech" at a nominating convention in Springfield. This was a new political process in Illinois. One of the first county meetings to nominate a candidate for U. S. Senate was held in Bureau County on June 11, 1858, with the help of John Howard Bryant. (46) He was a Lovejoy parishioner and a close political colleague. This was one of ninety-five county conventions that endorsed Lincoln. (47) This whole process and the antislavery leadership within it could be another fruitful subject for study--especially if seen in the context of many Eastern antislavery leaders, like Horace Greeley, who endorsed Stephen Douglas for Senator in Illinois, in gratitude for his strong stand against the unrepresentative Lecompton Constitution.
It is during the debates with Douglas that Lincoln and Lovejoy first worked together in each other's presence in most effective ways. During those debates one of the chief strategies of Douglas was to play his "Black Republican" card over and over, trying to paint Lincoln as an "ultra" abolitionist like Lovejoy.
Throughout the debates Lovejoy's name was mentioned 27 times. (48) The most famous reference came at Ottawa, when Douglas accused Lincoln of learning Parson Lovejoy's catechism by heart, "...That slavery is a sin against the laws of God." (49) Douglas accused Lincoln of being present and elected to the early Republican Central Committee in Springfield in 1854, which had adopted an "ultra" abolitionist platform. In his rebuttal, Lincoln turned to Lovejoy and asked Lovejoy to confirm that he wasn't there. Lovejoy stood up and said, "That's right he wasn't there." and sat down. Lovejoy took part in the political game because it was more important to him not to embarrass Lincoln; he did not fall for Douglas' baiting. It is wonderful irony that Douglas' mistake-- based on Lanphiers intentional or unintentional misleading of the people of Springfield--became the vehicle by which Lincoln could remind everyone that he was not a radical, while at the same time assuring that antislavery leaders would take no offense.
Lovejoy would usually go at it after Lincoln's speech and deliver his full antislavery message. Hundreds called on him after the Ottawa debate, and he rolled up his sleeves and went at in typical fashion. (50) Shortly after Ottawa, Lincoln and Lovejoy were on the same platform in Joliet, and Lincoln became irritated at Douglas's misinterpretations. He began talking back to him, which was a very impolite interruption not allowed in respectable debate. Lovejoy, after three such interruptions, got up and whispered something in Lincoln's ear, which quieted him.
After the Freeport Debate, Lovejoy went at it again in a stump speech outside Douglas' Hotel room, which upset Douglas enough to write a friend to do something to try to stop him. This speech, like many others, had to do with the Fugitive Slave Law. (51) Lincoln was still strongly supportive of it because of his commitment to upholding the laws of the country. Lovejoy, though, was just as strongly committed to a Higher Law. Years before in a Lovejoy sermon, delivered while he was helping to organize the Liberty Party in Illinois in 1841, entitled "Supremacy of the Divine Law," he quoted the text from Acts 5:2 "Men should obey God rather than men." (52) It appears that neither Lincoln nor Douglas were aware of the effectiveness with which Lovejoy had raised the fugitive slave issue. His courageous deeds as a stationmaster on the underground railroad at his home in Princeton matched his vehement language. His compassionate, humanitarian appeals turned many to his cause. A Democrat, writing years later in the History of Bureau Country, claimed that in the 40's, "He [Lovejoy] canvassed the district proclaiming his opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law. This was his well chosen attack upon slavery, and is it not the 'method of his madness'?'" The study of the effect of antislavery orators attacking the Religion and the Antislavery Debate OverSlavery Fugitive Slave Law continues to be explored. (See Mitchell Snay's .) People did not like being compared to bloodhounds nor being hounded to do such unbiblical deeds. Much to the surprise of the Republican Party, these techniques worked in Southern Illinois as well.
Another area that is a focus for further study is Lincoln's and Lovejoy's positions on the equality of the races. They both began as contemporary radicals. Lincoln said in Chicago that we needed to forget the distinction of race and move on. Lovejoy, in working with Frederick Douglass, had supported granting the franchise to the Negro. However in the heat of the battle to defeat the slavepower, they both used language that was intended not to lose Lincoln votes in certain sections of the state. Whether the change in language was pragmatic and made a difference, or whether the language helped establish deep prejudicial patterns in the national social fabric is worthy of exploration. James Bilotta has analyzed Lovejoy's speeches and documents numerous examples of racially inappropriate language. Regrettably, Lovejoy referred to, "The mental inferiority of the enslaved race. We may concede it as a matter of fact that it is inferior." (53) Even though some of Lovejoy's racial allusions are mocking of the South, the point remains that many Republicans of the 1860's used sheer prejudicial language to distance themselves from the so-called radicals.
The term "radical" has been used in so many ways that it is in continual need of clarification. Lovejoy seemed to apply it to himself when he wanted to show extremism or humorous self-deprecation. In the 1830's, the term referred to the radical abolitionists--Garrisonians' who called for the immediate ending of slavery by moral means only. In the 1840's, it was used to describe those who wanted the immediate end of slavery, but who were now willing to use political methods. This group stood in contrast to Free Soil political abolitionists, a term first used by Salmon Chase, for those who accepted that the Constitution allowed slavery in the South and thus claimed they would not interfere with it there. Then, after the 1860 election, the phrase Radical Republicans was used to describe those antislavery Republicans favoring public policy to end slavery immediately throughout America. At each stage Lovejoy was a radical by definition, and yet wasn't a radical by the same definition. He moved beyond each ideology and helped define the next stage until the goal was met.
We encounter the same problem with the word "abolitionist." If it means only those who continued to press for the immediate abolition of slavery, then only a few northern Garrisonians remained abolitionists. Lovejoy kept saying in Illinois that he was proud of his abolitionist antecedents. On the other hand, he closed a letter to Lincoln with "yours for the Ultimate extinction of slavery." Both words mean the same thing, "doing away with," but each word carried many different connotations--one suggesting self-righteous vindictiveness, the other implying slow, eventual withering away of the evil of slavery. Since the loaded words," radical" and "abolitionist", still carry some of these overtones, it appears that a generic term, "antislavery leader of Illinois," best suits Owen Lovejoy. And further study might be able to demonstrate that though Lovejoy was not identified as the major leader in any of the four stages of the antislavery movement--that of immediate abolitionism in the 1830's, political abolitionism in the 1840's, during the rise of the Republican Party in the 1850's, and as an antislavery Republican in Congress in the 1860's-- Lovejoy was clearly a state and national leader in each of those stages, which may be a unique claim. Could that earn him the phrase that Jesse Fell claimed for him--"The true hero of the antislavery movement?" Other contenders might be Giddings, Chase, Bailey and Frederick Douglass. However, when Douglass gives thanks for those who helped free the slaves, he ranks Lovejoy first and Giddings second. (54)
In 1860, Lovejoy was distinguishing himself through speeches and efforts on behalf of a Homestead Bill, which the Buchanan administration would eventually veto. His efforts and speeches on behalf of the bill would prove to be very effective in the 1860 campaign. Lovejoy, by the time of the National Republican Convention in Chicago, appears to show divided loyalty between his old friend Salmon Chase and his new friends William Seward and Abraham Lincoln. Though Lovejoy kept quiet on the matter, the Bureau County Republican supported Chase or Seward: for they were stronger antislavery men. The Bureau County Republican also supported Lincoln for Vice-President. (55) After the nomination of Lincoln for President, Lovejoy was sent East to help unify the party and bring harmony with the Seward forces in New York. Does this indicate his original support for Seward? More information on this subject would be interesting.
Lovejoy then wrote Lincoln a congratulatory note; "I suppose you are knee deep in letters of congratulations & that I am somewhat tardy in offering mine, although perhaps as sincere as those that have been earlier. I have seen enough of political life to know that it is not altogether a bed of roses. You have the advantage of being without entanglements & will go into the White House as free I trust as you are now. It would be a treat such as the nation has not enjoyed for a long time to have the offices seek the men rather than the men the offices." (56) Lincoln and Lovejoy, by the middle of 1860, not only tolerated each other's positions but respected and trusted each other and genuinely supported each other without reservation.
STAGE THREE JULY 1860 TO JANUARY 1863
From Vital Campaign Speaker To Vital Congressional Supporter
Jesse Fell, the editor of the Bloomington Pantagraph, and Lincoln assured Lovejoy that he would not have any problems for renomination in 1860. Fell was then the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Republican Party in Illinois and strongly felt that Lovejoy should be sent to the southern part of the state to canvass for the Lincoln candidacy. Lovejoy had been prevented from doing so in 1858 by southern leaders such a Ozias Hatch. Lovejoy wrote Hatch to tell him how important it was for him and the party not to be identified with the Garrisonian Abolitionists. (57) We now have confirmation that Lovejoy made at least 100 speeches on behalf of Lincoln, many of them in Southern Illinois, before crowds in the thousands. (58) A study which reviews these speeches could confirm Lyman Trumbull's claim that no other person did more to make antislavery sentiments acceptable to the masses in Illinois than Owen Lovejoy. Lovejoy wrote to Fell, "I had, as they say a perfect success. No one will doubt the wisdom of your counsel hereafter in regard to my going into Egypt. I was as glad for you as for myself." (59)
Later, Fell and Lovejoy were successful in getting Seward to come to Chicago to speak at the Wigwam. Seward said he hoped that "every district in the United States would choose men as brave, as truthful, as fearless and as firm as Owen Lovejoy." (60) The only full speech we have recorded of this period by Lovejoy was before 75,000 people in Chicago's Wigwam. It was reported he had a rollicking good time. He ended his speech calling for three cheers for Old Abe and the whole ticket. The audience responded with wild enthusiasm. (61)
Lovejoy's hopes for the South to begin emancipating their slaves were dashed, of course, once they seceded. Of course, Lovejoy conceded, Honest Abe would keep his word to allow slavery where it was, in hope of its ultimate extinction under its own weight. In a great act of statesmanship, Stephen Douglas tried to assure the South of the integrity of Lincoln's word. Was the South aware of the ultimate motive of antislavery leaders like Lovejoy, who temporarily accept the limited goal of stopping the spread of slavery but made no secret they wanted to see the end of the evil institution? Did the South sense that this motive was the engine behind the power of the Republican movement, or did they only fear it? Did the South reasonably understand that, with the ending of slavery in the territories, it would only be a matter of time before free states would have enough votes to change the Constitution? The decision of the South to secede will continue to be discussed in political, economic, cultural, legal and international terms, and should be forever studied anew in a democracy that still prides itself upon freedom of speech and press. However, serious review of the moral and religious perspectives on the public policy of that period also needs to be included in the dialogue for our time, especially the role of self-righteous vindictiveness.
A significant focus for further study would be on Lovejoy's role during the anti-compromise movement in the interim period just before Lincoln took office on March 6, 1861. According to Magdol, it appears that from the number of entrees in the Congressional Globe, Lovejoy was assigned a leadership role during this period. (62) In early February, 1861, Lovejoy made a compelling speech to the Republicans, arguing that "...Perhaps this drift towards a compromise foreshadows a purpose to organize a new party, 'soughing off,' as the phrase is, the extremes, both North and South. In this new arrangement all the radicals like myself are to be left out! I wish you a very merry time of it, my masters. A very interesting play, Hamlet, with Hamlet left out...If we had been cool, calm, self-possessed, doing nothing to conciliate on the one hand, and nothing to irritate on the other, we should have had, ere now, a strap around the leg of this disunion courser. But no; like the old Whigs, having achieved a victory, we were affrighted at our own success....We appointed a committee of compromise--a grave mistake for us, a carnival for the Democracy...." (63)
Among all the compromise talk and conciliatory votes, Lovejoy and Thaddeus Stevens led the fight. When others brought Lincoln in on the side of compromise, Lovejoy said in Congress. "This I cannot, and never will believe until I have it from his own lips or from his own acts. I know he has too much regard for the common appellation by which he is familiarly known, of 'Honest Old Abe,' ever to believe that he will betray the principles of the Republican party, which were made distinctly and squarely in the last campaign, of inflexible, unalterable opposition to the extension of slavery." (64) Did this long-standing commitment of these two men to their constituencies and to each other prevent them both from accepting any further compromise? Was it a major factor in the anti-compromise decision? This may be worth considering.
In 1861, Owen Lovejoy's brother John was appointed consul to Peru, Giddings as consul to Canada, (Lovejoy would have preferred him in the Cabinet) and Eastman as consul to Bristol, England. Probably Lovejoy encouraged them all. Though Lovejoy was not personally satisfied with the Cabinet appointments, he seems to have kept his counsel to himself. (65)
What is noteworthy concerning this latter phase of the relationship between Lincoln and Lovejoy may be found in that moving farewell speech the President gave when leaving Springfield. It expressed an honest, heartfelt religious personal conviction, "Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell." (66) Lovejoy had said in his own acceptance speech at Joliet on June 30th 1858, "Gentleman if I have uttered one heartfelt prayer to my God, it was for his aid, wisely to discharge the duties of my position and faithful to meet the trust committed to my care. That I have performed these duties imperfectly, and with inexperience, no one can be so well aware as myself--that I have performed them honestly, I am conscious before my God; and as long as you confide the standard of our common cause to my hands, I hope to bear it aloft in the thickest of the moral conflict, firmly without obstinacy, fearlessly but not rashly." This is from the very speech that Lovejoy sent to Lincoln. This public religious admission by Lincoln is surely attributed to many causes, but a significant factor appears to be his contact with "Parson Lovejoy." A full study by content analysis of their public statements about religion might reveal the degree of that influence.
Though best remembered for his loyalty to President Lincoln, Lovejoy's career in Congress did produce some other significant contributions. He became a leader in the passage of the Homestead Act, in establishing the Department of Agriculture, and as a critic of the high prices of military procurement. He was also a vigorous promoter of the war effort, raising many infantry companies from Illinois. Lovejoy was appointed a Colonel and served with General Fremont in Missouri in October, 1861. But Owen Lovejoy is most remembered for his consistent, loyal, enthusiastic, confidence in the President while maintaining his own persistent efforts to end slavery. He did this on five significant fronts:
(1) One of the first policies of the antislavery Republicans was to define the war effort as suppressing the rebellion by ceasing to uphold slavery and enlisting Negro troops. At a special session of Congress called on July 4, 1861, there was great posturing on this issue. The day after the debacle at the battle of Bull Run, Kentucky's representative John J. Crittenden's resolution passed Congress claiming that the war was not fought to overthrow or interfere with slavery but to uphold the Constitution and to preserve the Union with state's rights unimpaired. Thaddeus Stevens and Lovejoy were so disgusted with the measure that they refused even to vote against it. (67) Only ten men, though, including Senator Sumner, refused to vote for the bill. Magdol summarizes this by saying, "They would not be stampeded into courting the border states by surrendering the lives of millions." The President, however, abided by the official declared purpose of the war.
(2) Another front was the question of confiscation of rebel property. While Lovejoy was with General Fremont, the General ordered the confiscation of property and the freeing of slaves in Missouri. The President quickly countermanded the order and dismissed Fremont, much to the chagrin of antislavery people everywhere. Lovejoy remained silent on the matter publicly and privately. He was not present in the entourage on November 4, 1861, when Fremont departed for St. Louis. Lovejoy's loyalty was too great even to criticize the President on this most important issue. (68) A month later, though, General Halleck, went to the other extreme with his order #3, asserting that no fugitive slaves would be admitted within Union lines. Lovejoy responded by preparing a resolution requiring the Secretary of War to withdraw General Halleck's order. However, to accommodate the President, Lovejoy changed the wording of his resolution from "requiring" to "respectively requesting" the Commander in Chief to direct General Halleck to withdraw the order. The resolution passed, and the President requested the order withdrawn. (69)
Lovejoy said during the discussion, "I am opposed to the Army of the United States being turned into slave catchers. I am opposed to any General being allowed to give orders to throw back upon their masters those who desire to escape, whether they are Union or secession, white or black." Lovejoy was later helpful in passing other Confiscation Acts.
(3) Lovejoy is still criticized for his willingness to go along with Lincoln's compensation plan. On March 6, 1862, the President requested a joint resolution from Congress providing compensation to the owners of slaves in any state which would adopt a plan for the gradual abolition of slavery. (70) Abolitionists like Lovejoy in his "Human Beings Not Property" speech had vigorously resisted the notion that any government could recognize that persons could legally be considered property. Why did Lovejoy warmly support the proposition to pay to free slaves out of the U.S. Treasury? We may never know. Evidence suggests that Lovejoy did so, though partly out of his respect for the President, and partly because the underlying objective was the emancipation of the slaves. Lovejoy also appreciated the predicament that the President was in with the border states, and also looked for some future support for two other larger issues that he felt it was time to work on--freeing the slaves in the District of Columbia and ending the spread of slavery in the territories.
(4) One of the last issues which Owen's martyred brother Elijah was fighting for, prior to his murder as the antislavery editor of the Alton Observer in November, 1837, was to circulate a petition for the freeing of slaves in the District of Columbia. (71) On February 13, 1862, 25 years later, Senator Morill of Maine moved that the District Abolition Bill be made the order of the day on March 5th. Discussion was postponed in the Senate to hear the President's concerns for his compensation bill. However, both bills were being debated simultaneously before the House. It was Stevens, Lovejoy and Bingham who led the fight for the District Bill. The President insisted he would sign it, only if the slaveholders were compensated $300 per slave, which amounted to a million dollar appropriation. When some objected to the low price and said it would be robbery to pay only $300, Lovejoy forcefully objected, calling it the "sublimity of impudence." (72) Both bills passed on April 10th. The President signed the District bill into law on April 16th, 1862.
(5) On March 24th, Lovejoy's Illinois Congressional colleague Isaac Arnold introduced a bill that would abolish slavery in the territories of the United States and wherever the United States had jurisdiction, whether on the high seas, in federal dockyards or other federal establishments. The bill was referred to the Committee on Territories where Lovejoy was an influential member. On April 24th, Senator Crittenden, seeing the momentum building for the antislavery cause, made an emotional appeal to the President in Congress saying, "There is a niche in the temple of fame, a niche near to Washington, which shall be occupied by the statue of him who shall save the country... but if he choose to be, in these times, a mere sectarian and a party man, that niche will be reserved for some future and better patriot."
The next day Lovejoy could hardly wait to respond; "I too have a niche for Abraham Lincoln," answered Lovejoy, "but it is in Freedom's holy fane, and not the blood-besmeared temple of human bondage....Let Abraham Lincoln make himself, as I trust he will, the emancipator, the liberator, as he has the opportunity of doing, and his name shall not only be enrolled in the earthly temple, but it will be traced on the living stones of that temple which rears itself amid the thrones and hierarchies of heaven...." (73)
The floor fight for non-extension was led by Stevens, Lovejoy and Arnold. When Lovejoy's substitute bill was taken up, which eliminated freeing slaves on all national highways, the debate lasted all afternoon into the evening, with the outcome still uncertain. Lovejoy made other concessions and on May 12, 1862 the bill read, "An Act to Secure Freedom to all Persons within the Territories of the United States." It passed and was sent to the Senate. In the meantime, Lovejoy made his speech on behalf of the President at the Cooper Union Institute in New York City to many of his more eager abolitionist friends, who were clamoring for the President to liberate all the slaves immediately. He said, "The President is like a railsplitter who knows the thin end of the wedge must first enter the wood. So the Executive has taken the Abolition wedge and struck it into the log slavery. In very ugly and cross grained or frozen wood, the blows have to be a little easy, or the wedge flies out." Secondly, he used an image of the President as a person driving a horse on an exciting buggy ride: "Strapped to the back of the buggy is another horse which is leading him.Now the President knows that the horse Radical that he is driving can go ahead much faster, for it is that horse that has taken him in handsome style into the Presidency. Now I do not propose to dash ahead and risk throwing the President out or breaking the carriage. I propose to go steadily so the Executive can be assured that he is safe with the Radical steed. Then we will be able to cut the strap to the old conservative nag trailing behind and let it go out to grass." (74) These two quaint images show a bit of the Lincolnesque style which may have influenced Lovejoy. On June 19th, the President signed the Territorial Bill preventing the spread of slavery. With that, the political promise of the Republican Party was honored. Did these speeches and actions of Lovejoy help pave the way for the Emancipation Proclamation? It is worth investigating.
The above five points are only a few of the highlights of Lovejoy's vitality in Congress on behalf of the President and antislavery policies. Edward Magdol's excellent biography Owen Lovejoy: Abolitionists in Congress so well develops these points that it deserves to be reprinted.
But there are three disturbing episodes which demonstrate the stress of the situation and the weakness of Lovejoy in his relationship with Lincoln. First, in 1861, the British mail steamer the Trent was boarded and two noted Confederate leaders, James Mason and John Slidell, were detained. The immediate reaction was elation by antislavery people. But then due to legal complications, they were released by the President to continue on their journey. Lovejoy was irrationally furious about the "surrender" and bequeathed his hatred of the British government to his children, charging them to enlist in a war against England, for "Sooner or later it must, for we will never forget this humiliation." (75) The second and third episodes are incidents when Lovejoy convinced the President to intervene with Secretary of War Stanton on war policy, and on the appointment of the son of a man who had befriended Lincoln in his poverty. In both cases, Lovejoy delivered these messages verbally to Secretary Stanton. Both times he was rebuffed. The first time Stanton reportedly said, "If the President said that, he's a damn fool." When Lovejoy brought word of it to the President, Lincoln replied, "If Stanton said I was a damned fool, then I must be one; for he is nearly always right." The second time Stanton said, "I do not care what the President wants; the country wants the best it can get." When Julian and Lovejoy reported that to the President, Lincoln drew back, "Gentlemen it is my duty to submit. I can not add to Mr. Stanton's troubles. His position is one of the most difficult in the world." (76) It would be good to know other such setbacks that Lovejoy had to endure, which make his never-faltering public and private support for the President even more remarkable.
STAGE FOUR JANUARY 1863 TO MARCH 1864
From Political Colleague To Intimate Personal Friend
In February, 1862, Lincoln's bright and idolized son Willie died. This may have marked the beginning of a deeper, intimate friendship between these strong allies from Illinois.. Lovejoy wrote back to his children on February 23, 1861 that he had just been to the White House to see the President; "He feels very much the loss of his little boy Willie who is about the age of Parish." (77)
Hereafter, there are many citings of Lovejoy's visits to the White House. A study adding to the list and examining the sources might help document the degree of intimacy and friendship between the two men. The following partial list of citings helps define the nature of their relationship. How does this compare to other of Lincoln's close friendships at this time?
(1) Robert H. Browne in Abraham Lincoln and the Men of His Time described an interview with the President on a warm August evening in 1862, which he witnessed. (78) After a brief exchange about Lovejoy's recruiting regiments in Illinois in the early days of the war, they moved to an open window and talked for over half an hour. The President was concerned about Horace Greeley's letter of August 19, 1862, calling on the President to carry out the emancipation provisions of the Confiscation Act. Lincoln's famous reply was published in the Tribune August 25, 1862. Browne remembered Lincoln asking Lovejoy directly, "Tell me how you would proceed in my place, and with due respect for the thousands of loyal people who differ with you. I have given it thought and concern, the best I could." And he remembered the reply of Lovejoy as, "Is not Mr. Greeley right in asking you to promulgate the law known as the Confiscation Act, which you have approved, liberating every slave whose owner is in the rebellion, or who gives it aid and comfort?" Browne also remembered Lincoln saying that he was glad Lovejoy had come.
(2) Clark E. Carr in My Day and Generation reported the following encounter. "On a Sunday morning during the Winter of 1862.... He [Lovejoy] said 'I'm going into the White House. Come along with me.' 'You will not see the president,' I answered, 'he is sick.' 'I don't want to see the President,' he said; 'I only want to see Nicolay.'... Mr. Lovejoy had some papers to file. As we were about to withdraw, the door from the President's room opened...He greeted Mr. Lovejoy who had always stood by him, as his 'conservative ' friend, which was a joke, as the latter was regarded as the most radical man in Congress. This elicited some remarks about the malcontents who were denouncing the President, for as they thought, not going fast enough, which seemed to annoy him; and he probably showed this to us in a more marked degree than he would have done had he been well....but I do not remember the sequel to the story as Mr. Lovejoy used to tell it. Mr. Lovejoy said that as we were rounding the corner of the Treasury Department building I stopped him on the sidewalk and said: 'Mr. Lovejoy I want you to promise me that, if I have the smallpox and am so marked as to be a fright, you will give me a certificate that I took it from Abraham Lincoln.'" (79)
(3) Edgar Dewitt Jones in Lincoln and the Preachers entitles Chapter Six, "Owen Lovejoy: Fiery Abolitionist Preacher. Lincoln loved this servant of the Lord." Dewitt claimed that, "Mr. Lincoln's intimates were never numerous, but this Congregational preacher-agitator was of the inner circle among the few intimate friends of Mr. Lincoln's political life. They corresponded freely, and Lovejoy was a welcome visitor to the 'Executive Mansion' as Lincoln called it, at any time, night or day... When Lovejoy lay on his bed in Washington with the sickness from which he died (probably from February to April, 1863, when he stayed at the home of Margaret Bailey, widow of the editor of the National Era) the President visited him repeatedly. On one of these visits Mr. Lincoln remarked with foreboding: 'This war is eating my life out. I have a strong impression that I shall not live to see the end.'" (80)
(4) Edward Magdol in Owen Lovejoy: Abolitionist in Congress recounts the episode when Lovejoy and John Howard Bryant attended the National Convention of the Union League of Radical Republicans. The League was mounting a powerful attack against the appointment by Lincoln of General Schofield as commander of the army's Department of the West. They wanted General Butler to be appointed. In a weakened physical condition accompanied by his friend, Bryant, he attended the meeting in Cleveland. Magdol says, "He deprecated attacks on the Administration by its friends and asserted that the patriots and friends of the government should end all their minor differences and the President should be sustained in any measure he might deem it necessary to employ. Bryant and Lovejoy traveled together from Cleveland to Washington, where they spent a few days. The President and some of his Cabinet members received them warmly, and Lincoln congratulated Lovejoy on his recovery from his long illness." (81)
(5) Private William Laing of Dixon, Illinois, wrote a letter to his parents dated June 4, 1863. Most likely this was a few days after the meeting in the White House mentioned above. Laing was recovering from his wounds in a hospital in Washington D.C. He wrote to his parents, "...The President and Mr. Lovejoy called out, 'are there any Illinois boys here?' I answered, 'Over here sir.' And they came and stayed with me for considerable time." (82)
(6) In the David Todd letters at Illinois Historical Survey we find this note from his diary; "....had a fine talk with Mrs. Lovejoy and stayed longer than I intended....She went to Washington in January and returned about the first of May. (In 1862 during Lovejoy's most prolific and productive work)... She manifestly is considerably acquainted with the personages in Washington & among others Mrs. Lincoln. She was at the great party--did not approve---went because she could have an opportunity to see & meet some she otherwise could not. She & Mr. Lovejoy returned between 11 & 12. Willie Lincoln was very sick at the time & worse the next day. Dancing was expected til 8:30 that evening. At 8:30 Abe put down his foot that there should be no more dancing...But the party was not demanded by any custom at the White House--it was out of taste because of the war & Willie's illness. Mrs. Lovejoy thought from something Mrs. Lincoln said that she regarded Willie's death as a judgement for the party." (83)
(7) In "A Wisconsin Woman's Picture of President Lincoln," by Cordelia A. Harvey, there is an account by a strong, self-possessed, person fully conscious of the rightness of her mission to establish a Military Hospital in Wisconsin. Her husband had been the Governor of Wisconsin and had drowned trying to assist some of his state's soldiers near the battle lines. Mrs. Harvey was appointed U.S. Sanitary Commission Agent for the state of Wisconsin and did admirable work caring for the needs of the wounded. She was convinced that soldiers unable to get well over a long period of time would heal faster and better in the temperate climate of their home state than in southern conditions. So for four determined days she came to the White House to address the President, who asked plain, tough questions, and received plain, tough responses, until he authorized the hospital. One of her colleagues was Hattie Wiswall, Lovejoys' step-niece. Mrs. Harvey wrote that on September 8, 1863. "As I left the White House, I met Owen Lovejoy who greeted me cordially and asked, 'How long are you going to stay here?' 'Until I get what I came after,' I replied. 'That's right, that's right; go on, I believe in the final perseverance of the saints.'" (84)
(8) In Michael Burlingame and John Ettingers' recent editing of the complete Civil War diary of John Hay, entitled Inside Lincoln's White House, we find this entry. "Lovejoy was in my room a good part of Sunday Morning (Dec, 6, 1863) in his finest vein. He avows the deepest faith in A.L. and the firmest adherence, though there is nothing subservient about it. He made a mauvaise plaisanterie (French for a untimely joke) about Miss Dickinson (Anna Dickinson, a 21-year-old Philadelphian, who was an outspoken radical antislavery lecturer,) which considering the man and the day was quite startling. Lovejoy says he is going in, and is going to vote, and if it comes to a question of muscle he can whip Etheridge." (85) (Etheridge had vowed to prevent the Republicans from organizing the new session of Congress on a technicality he had devised himself.)
(9) Shortly after Lovejoy's death, Mary Lincoln wrote a letter on April 5, 1864, to Senator Charles Sumner who was also a regular visitor to the White House. She said, "Our friend, whom we all so loved & esteemed, has so suddenly & unexpectedly passed away--Mr. Lovejoy! An all wise power, directs these dispensations, yet it appears to our weak & oftentimes erring judgment, 'He should have died hereafter.'" (86)
The last three references raise questions about both men's attitude and response to women during a time of national crisis. Lovejoy in 1842 was aware of the political value of the women in the antislavery movement. In a sermon published in the Western Citizen he wrote, "...Women, under the guidance of common sense, should be called on to exert any influence for the repeal of unjust laws." Later in the same speech, he asked rhetorically, who are the people who ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America? And he answered, "The people are composed of all the souls in the land--men, women and children, and not of the males over 21 years." Yet he would not vote to include woman's suffrage in the Platform of the Free Democratic Party in 1852 as Frederick Douglas had advocated. (87) The Lincoln campaign was noted for the women draped on floats during the big Wide Awake Parades. Women were very much part of the great audiences at the debates and at Lovejoy speeches. Lovejoy also worked with antislavery female writers and editors, especially with Maria Child. Lovejoy frequently referred to the abuse of Negro women by white men in his speeches. He appears to have had a fine relationship with his wife and their daughters and step-daughters.
Lincoln appears to have treated active women as he would treat everyone else--with respect while demanding intellectual toughness. Both men seemed able and willing to make jibes at women's foibles, at least in private life. They were men who demonstrated the struggle of growing in their ability to treat women as equals. These men who accomplished the freeing of the slaves should be studied concerning their views on the status of women in the middle of the last century. Lovejoy actually received women's recognition when he was invited to speak at a huge gathering at the Northwest Convention of the Sanitary Commission in Chicago in October, 1863. He returned the compliment by saying, "The genius and talent which can project, arrange and carry forward to a successful termination an affair like this Fair, are equal, if not the same, to the genius and talent requisite for the successful management of a great battle. I propose, therefor, that all the ladies,--managers--operating in this patriotic enterprise, have conferred upon them honorary commissions as Captains, and Major Generals of the Sanitary Department of the United States." (88)
One of the most interesting questions that this intimate personal friendship raises is what effect Parson Lovejoy's religious beliefs and manner of living them may have had on the President's religious development during this period. Did Lovejoy trade political advice for theological advice as he promised Giddings? Did pastoring with the parson in the hospital open doors of insight? Did Lovejoy's weakening physical condition develop Lincoln's thoughts on the meaning of life? Surely there were many factors affecting the religious transformation of the President while in the White House. Would not an articulate, honest, godfearing intimate friend have had some effect? The answer is clearly, yes. But where can we look for it? A comparison of their use of scripture in public and private would be very informative. A content analysis of their shared religious terms and words could also prove fruitful, and computerized technology may soon make this easily possible. William Temple has documented well that Lincoln was not a formal Christian. He did not belong to any organized religion; in Lincoln's younger days he was quite skeptical about the emotionality of the religion that he saw. (89) But Lincoln's later writings are filled with religious themes and biblical quotations. It was during Lincoln's tenure as President that Thanksgiving Day was first proclaimed, and "In God We Trust " was stamped upon our coins.
Would Lincoln have consulted with his pastoral friend or borrowed his friend's thoughts when asked to give a funeral oration? No one in Lincoln's or the country's memory took more devotion to the cause for which his brother gave his last full measure of devotion than did Owen Lovejoy. (90) He had sworn at the side of his murdered brother Elijah never to forsake the cause for which his brother's blood was sprinkled. The classically trained Lovejoy frequently referred to the death of John Wycliffe, who was the translator of the Bible into the vernacular language of the people, English, in the 14th century. Lovejoy would quote a poem about Wycliffe's ashes flowing down the Severn River, spreading like his ideas of democracy and freedom were spreading throughout England; and compare this to Elijah's campaign against slavery flowing through the United States from his martyrdom. (91) Surely Lovejoy would have known that the dedication of that Bible was to a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." (92) Is not further study warrantable? One can always hope for new documents, but the recent acknowledgement by a member of the Lovejoy family of forty sermons of Lovejoy in his own handwriting will greatly assist in this work. Lovejoy's active presence in the White House did not get in the way of that last minute addition to the Gettysburg Address: "This nation under God."
Let us find new ways, approaches, and perspectives to study these two men's contributions to American history--one a workhorse for Union, the other a workhorse for Liberty. They pulled together at the head of thousands of workhorses that delivered Union and Liberty, one and inseparable, now and for as long as we remember well.
1 Letter from Lincoln to John Howard Bryant, May 30, 1864. Princeton, IL., Bureau County Historical Society.
2 Strozier, Charles B., Lincoln's Quest for Union. New York, Basic Books, 1982. Michael Burlingame. Inner World of Abraham Lincoln. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1994. Edward Magdol. Owen Lovejoy: Abolitionist in Congress. New Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press, 1967.
3 Owen Lovejoy Papers. Ann Arbor, MI., William L. Clements Library.
4 Lovejoy, Joseph and Owen Lovejoy. Memoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in the Defence of the Liberty of the press at Alton, Illinois, November 7, 1837. New York, 1838.
5 Wickett-Wiswall Collection of Lovejoy Papers. Lubbock, TX., Texas Technological College.
6 Smith, Ethel Farrington. "Seventeenth Century Hull and Her People (continued). The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. CXLIII, No. 150, April 1989. Earle Lovejoy, The Lovejoy Genealogy, with biographies and history 1460-1930.
7 Angle, Paul. The Lincoln Reader. New Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press, 1947, p. 86.
8 Temple, Wayne C. Abraham Lincoln From Skeptic to Prophet. Mahomet, IL., Mayhaven Publishing, 1995.
9 Basler, Roy P.,The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. I., New Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press, 1953.
10 Harrold, Stanley, Gamaliel Bailey and Antislavery Union. Kent, OH., Kent State University Press, 1986.
11 Cole, Arthur C., The Era of the Civil War, 1848-1870, Chicago, 1922. P. 133.
12 . Northwestern Gazette, Galena, IL., September 4, 1854.
13 Magdol, p. 102.
14 Basler, Collected Works, Vol. II, p. 240.
15 Donald, David. Lincoln's Herndon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948, p. 74.
16 1854 Platform of the Illinois Republican Party.
17 Prince, Era M., "Convention of May 29, 1856," McLean County Historical Society,
Vol. III, p. 46.
18 Findley, Paul A., Abraham Lincoln: The Crucible of Congress. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., p. 138.
19 Western Citizen. June 23, 1846.
20 Letter from Elihu Washburne to Abraham Lincoln, January 8, 1855. Abraham Lincoln Papers, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress.
21 Patton, Charles C. "Glory to God and the Sucker Democracy." Manuscript Collection of the Letters of Charles H. N. Lanphier, Illinois State Historical Library, p. 105.
22 Basler,Collected Works, Vol. II., p. 288.
23 A list of the Members composing the Nineteenth General Assembly of the State of Illinois, prepared and published by E. Rust, Printed at the State Register Office. Springfield, IL., Illinois State Historical Library.
24 Basler,Collected Works, Vol. II, p. 296.
25 Letter from Owen Lovejoy to Joshua Giddings, November 10, 1854. Columbus, OH., Ohio Historical Society.
26 Letter from Elihu Washburne to Abraham Lincoln, January 8, 1855. Abraham Lincoln Papers. Washington, D.C., Library of Congress.
27 Magdol, p. 119.
28 Wilson, Douglas L. and Rodney O. Davis. Herndon's Informants' Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln.Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998, p. 467.
29 Free West, April 5, 1855.
30 Magdol, p. 126.
31 Basler, Collected Works, Vol II., p. 316.
32 Magdol, p. 97.
33 Chicago Tribune, May 2, 1856.
34 Crissey, Elwell,Lincoln's Lost Speech: The Pivot of His Career. New York: Hawthorn Brooks, 1967, p. 121.
35 Howard, Victor B., "The Illinois Republican Party: Part I," Illinois State Historical Journal, Vol. LXIV, No. 2, Summer, 1971, p. 136-137.
36 Proceedings of Republican National Conventions, 1856, 1860, 1864.
37 Willgring, Peter J., Unpublished Master's Essay, "Citizens for a Free West: Anti-Slavery Advocates in DeKalb County, Illinois, 1843-1855," DeKalb, Northern Illinois University, 1994.
38 Magdol, p. 153.
39 Letter to Abraham Lincoln to Judge David Davis. Owen Lovejoy Homestead Association, Princeton, Illinois.
40 Basler,Collected Works, Vol. II, p. 366.
41 Magdol, p. 160.
42 "The Treasury Note Bill Speech of Hon. Owen Lovejoy of Illinois, Delivered in the House of Representatives, December 21, 1857," published by Buell and Blanchard, Printers, 1858. Library of Congress.
43 Basler,Collected Works, Vol. II., March 8, 1858, p. 435.
44 Owen Lovejoy Speech at Joliet, June 30, 1858. Princeton, IL., Bureau County Republican.
45 Browne, Robert H., Abraham Lincoln and the Men of his Time, Vol. II, Revised Edition. Chicago: 1907, p. 210.
46 Bureau County Republican, June 17, 1858.
47 Cole, p. 163.
48 See Index in Basler, Collected Works, Vol. II, under "Lovejoy."
49 Angle, Paul M., ed., Created Equal? The Complete Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958, p. 111.
50 Magdol, p. 212.
51 Magdol, p. 215.
52 Lovejoy, Owen, Sermon: "Supremacy of Divine Law," Western Citizen, September 13, 1843. Chicago Historical Society Library.
53 Bilotta, James D. Race and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1848-1865. New York: Peter Lang. P. 240.
54 Blassinggame, John W. and John R. McKivigan, editors, The Frederick Douglass Papers Series One: Speech, Debates, and Interviews, Volume 4: 1864-80, New Haven, Yale University Press, p. 270.
55 Magdol, p. 247.
56 Letter from Owen Lovejoy to Hon. A. Lincoln, June 10, 1860. Abraham Lincoln Collection, Library of Congress.
57 Owen Lovejoy letter of October 30, 1859 to Ozias Hatch in the Ozias Hatch Manuscript Collection, Springfield, IL., Illinois State Historical Library.
58 Geneseo Republic, November 19, 1862.
59 Letter from Owen Lovejoy to Jesse Fell, July 21, 1860. Bloomington, IL., The Bloomington Daily Pantagraph, May 28, 1900.
60 Magdol, p. 254.
61 Magdol, p. 259.
62 Magdol, p. 272.
63 Magdol, p. 267.
64 Magdol, p. 268.
65 Letter from Owen Lovejoy to Abraham Lincoln, March 27, 1861. Abraham Lincoln Collection. Library of Congress.
66 Harrison, Maureen and Steve Gilbert. Abraham Lincoln In His Own Words.New York: Barnes and Noble, 1994. p. 289.
67 Magdol, p. 289.
68 Magdol, p. 296.
69 Magdol, p. 310.
70 Magdol, p. 323.
71 Lovejoy, Joseph and Owen Lovejoy, Memoir.
72 Magdol, p. 326.
73 Magdol, p. 329.
74 New York Times, June 13, 1862.
75 Magdol, pp. 307-308.
76 Rothschild, Alonzo. Lincoln: Master of Men. Cambridge, Riverside Press, 191, pp. 234, 235.
77 Magdol, p. 323.
78 Browne, p. 679.
79 Carr, Clark E., My Day and Generation. Chicago, 1908, pp. 251-253.
80 Jones, Edgar DeWitt. Lincoln and the Preachers. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948, pp. 62-70.
81 Magdol, p. 386.
82 Laing, Pvt. William, Letter to his parents in Dixon, Illinois, June 4, 1863. Dixon, IL., Public Library.
83 David Todd Letters, Urbana, Illinois Historic Survey.
84 Harvey, Cordelia. "A Wisconsin Woman's Picture of President Lincoln". Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1918.
85 Burlingame, Michael and John R. Turner Ettinger, Inside Lincoln's White House--The Complete Civil War Diary of John Jay. Carbondale, IL., Southern Illinois University Press, 1997, p. 121.
86 Randall, Ruth Painter., Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1953, p. 356
87 Magdol, p. 99.
88 Chicago Tribune, Novemember, 6, 1863.
89 Temple, Wayne C., Abraham Lincoln From Skeptic to Prophet. Mahomet, IL.: Mayhaven Publishing, 1995.
90 Lovejoy, Owen, Sermon: "Supremancy of Divine Law," Western Citizen, September 13, 1843. Chicago Historical Society Library.
91 History of Bureau County. p. 332.
92 John Wycliffe Bible.