BIOGRAPHY

THE HON. REV. OWEN GLENDOWER LOVEJOY was born in the town of Albion, in the Maine District of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, January 6, 1811 and died in New York City, March 25, 1864.

"The true hero of the antislavery movement" according to Jesse Fell the Secretary of the Republican Party in Illinois in 1860.

An "orthodox minister of the gospel" as Owen wrote about himself in1862.

"It was in his family he was best and greatness: there he gave all the love of a warm generous heart," as reported in a African American newspaper in 1890.

A pioneer farmer, "...to watch him select seed corn was a valuable lesson, to help him train a horse was instructive..." according to one of his daughters. He also wrote an Agricultural Poem honoring the farmers of America in 1858.

An angry person who expressed hostility squarely on the cause of his brother Elijah's murder-the system of slavery? He did not seek revenge for the murderers but redeemed the time by taking increased devotion to the cause for which his brother gave his last full measure of devotion.

 

He was Abraham Lincoln's best friend. We have in Lincoln's own handwriting a letter... "my respect increased step by step ending in my part with affection...It would scarcely wrong any other to say, he was my most generous friend."

"The greatest stump speaker I ever heard" was a frequent response to hearing his speak. Others would put him in the same category of Wendell Phillips, Henry Ward Beecher, Stephen Douglas, and Frederick Douglass and other great speakers of the day.

A tenacious political campaigner and shrewd coalition builder. "Pray, toil, give, distribute tracts, lecture, preach, get subscribers to the Citizen (Western Citizen an antislavery newspaper) move, renovate the state," he urged his friends.

A courageous, if not fearless, political speaker who would take verbal and physical threats with grace and humor. "Every egg these leetle ones throw, hatches a Liberty Chicken, which will be full grown by the time of the election." Taking abuse in such a way indeed won respect in many who would vote for him later.

An active Captain on the Underground Railroad. When challenged in court for harboring slaves, he ran an ad in the Western Citizen inviting the "ladies and gentleman of color of the south who wish to travel North for the benefit of their condition" to come to his residence in Princeton, in Bureau County.

Owen Glendower Lovejoy was born in Albion Maine in January 6, 1811.

Became pastor of the Hampshire Colony Congregational Church in Princeton, Illinois in 1838. He was a Republican Member of Congress from 1856-64.

FORMATION OF LOVEJOY SOCIETY

In as much as the Rev. Owen Lovejoy, PASTOR of the Hampshire Colony Congregational Church in Princeton, Illinois, from 1839-1856 was:

  1. A leader in organizing the General Congregational Association of Illinois in 1844, which in 1963 became the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ
  2. A prime mover in assuring that all such churches in the Association would consider “slavery a heinous crime against the laws of God,”
  3. A leader in the formation of thirty such churches in Central Illinois
  4. A trustee of Knox College, Wheaton College and supporter of Chicago Theological Seminary

And in as much as Owen Lovejoy was an effective COALITION BUILDER and courageous leader in the antislavery movement in Illinois and the nation:

  1. Helping to form the following organizations both locally and nationally: The American Antislavery Society, Liberty Party, Free Soil Party, Free Democratic Party, and Republican Party
  2. Helping fugitive slaves on the way to freedom as a FEARLESS LEADER of the Underground Railroad

And in as much as Owen Lovejoy’s GIFT OF LANGUAGE and communication of the gospel had a persuasive and compelling effect on the lives of many:

  1. In his early sermons, building a large constituency against slavery
  2. In his political speeches, demonstrating the use of religious language to persuade political action which had a significant effect on both the support for Abraham Lincoln and on Lincoln’s use of religious language in politics
  3. In his major addresses in Congress which helped define and fulfill the vision and promise of his Party

And in as much as Owen Lovejoy was a NATIONAL LEADER in Congress in the critical years of 1856-1864 where he:

  1. Helped create the middle class with his hard fought battle as co-leader for the successful Homestead Bill as chairman of the Land Use Committee
  2. Led the movement in Congress in 1860-1861 for no compromise with the South on the extension of slavery
  3. Helped establish the Department of Agriculture
  4. Introduced the bill that freed the slaves in the District of Columbia
  5. Introduced the bill that prohibited slavery in the territories, (the founding principle of the Republican Party that he helped to organize in Illinois)
  6. Advocated successfully for Negro participation in the Civil War effort
  7. Introduced the first legislation for Universal Emancipation in 1864 that eventually led to the 13th Amendment that freed the slaves
  8. Became a close PERSONAL FRIEND of Lincoln; calling with him at hospitals to visit wounded Civil War soldiers; consistently supported Lincoln with the words, “You can have faith in Abraham”; remembered by Lincoln as his “most generous friend.”

And in as much as Owen Lovejoy’s gifts of language, analysis, compassion and inspiration have come from:

  1. His mother Betsy’s deep, articulate, Christian faith and strong commitment against slavery,
  2. His martyred brother Elijah Lovejoy who died defending the freedom of an antislavery press in Alton, Illinois, in 1837 and became the rallying symbol for the antislavery movement as the prime example of how slavery was corrupting other institutions in society,

And whereas we are the inheritors of this great legacy of clear Christian commitment and useful Christian language for the cause of freedom and democracy in this land:

  1. Having available in fine condition sermons, speeches and papers of the family and proximity to possible new materials
  2. Having an excellent biography by Edward Magdol, Owen Lovejoy: Abolitionist in Congress, published in 1967 concering his contributions as a coalition builder and adroit, successful politician; with little reference to his many religious contributions
  3. Having nearby the resources of the Princeton Historical Society and the Lovejoy Homestead Association

And whereas little is known in our local churches, conference and denomination as well as the wider church and the public about Lovejoy’s exceptional skills and extensive influence,

And whereas every generation raises significant questions as to the relation of effective Christian witness on public policy, and needs good models to guide them,

Therefore, we the Prairie Association of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ meeting in Hampshire Colony Congregational Church, Princeton, Illinois on April 22, 1995, do hereby

Resolve to establish the Lovejoy Society for the purpose of studying and interpreting the lives of Betsy, Elijah and Owen Lovejoy (and other antislavery workers, especially those in the Congregational and Evangelical and Reformed Churches of that time) as effective witnesses of the Christian gospel for the promotion of the public welfare and the establishment of a free, just, and democratic society.

THE LOVEJOY SOCIETY INTERPRETS THE LIVES OF BETSY, ELIJAH, AND OWEN LOVEJOY

Betsy Lovejoy: “And as to advice should I give you any, you know what it would be, to love and fear God all the day long, for the ‘fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’”

Elijah Lovejoy: “…but if by a compromise is meant that I should cease from that which duty requires of me, I cannot make it. And the reason is that I fear God more than I fear man.”

Owen Lovejoy: “Beside the prostrate body of my murdered brother Elijah, while fresh blood was oozing from his perforated breast, on my knees while along with the dead and with God, I vowed never to forsake the cause that was sprinkled with his blood.”

 

Tributes to the Hon. Rev. Owen Lovejoy, M.C.

In the spring of 1864 fifteen colleagues in the United States Congress honored Owen Lovejoy's work and character; clergy associates led a service in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn New York celebrating his Christian life and mission; hundreds of friends gathered in Princeton to share their vivid memories: President and Mrs. Lincoln wrote personal and eloquent tributes; African-Americans venerated him; newspapers extolled him and years later his grandson delivered a speech reflecting the family's love and respect.

Throughout these remarks his friends expressed a heartfelt yearning that history would remember him as an influential leader to end slavery in the U.S. and as a courageous, genial man. Specifically they wanted him remembered as:

A courageous advocate for equality and justice

"I think it must have been worth years of common life to stand in this Hall (April 5, 1860) . . . after having repeatedly endured the insults . . . he said to those who vainly attempted to silence him, 'You shall hear me; I will speak. I stand to say what I have to say about the great crime of the nation. I will not yield the floor' Those who saw the determined face, the compact, erect form, and the uplifted hand, motionless for five minutes amid the turmoil of opposing voices, well know the earnestness of the declaration and the stern will that underlay it." (Pendleton of Ohio p.18.)

"His greatest efforts have been made in favor of the poor and the down-trodden slave, and for the destruction of the terrible system of wrong and oppression which lies at the foundation of all our perils." (Norton of Illinois p.27)

". . . He swore by the everlasting God eternal hostility to African slavery. Well and nobly has he kept that oath . . . . when the historian shall write upon his records the names of those who have done most to accomplish the . . . destruction of African slavery, in my judgment he will record the name of no man who has done more than OWEN LOVEJOY." (Arnold of Illinois p.43)

"The heated denunciations of partisans, the ridicule and clamor of the vulgar, and the threats of the cowardly and the base, failed alike to turn him from that great purpose of his life." (Washburne of Illinois p.7)

"On one occasion, indicted by a grand jury for giving food and raiment to a poor woman who came, footsore and starving, to his door, on her weary way from a land of chains to a land of freedom, he faced court, jury, bar and witnesses and against their statues and their special pleading beat them with the righteousness of his act. (Farnsworth p. 17)

"The demon of slavery was omnipresent, inspiring every body and controlling every thing. The question with terrible significance was forced upon us. Shall the freedom of speech and of the press and the right of petition be taken away? Shall the last citadel of republican liberty be surrendered and her watch-fires be extinguished on all our hills and through all our vales? Shall the spirit of God, the spirit of love, of liberty and of humanity be insulted, and we be dumb, the slaves of slaves? A divinely prepared few, said with the full meaning of the word no. The clarion notes of the Liberator sounding out from Boston heights, replied 'No, in God's name, No.'"

"This was one of those crises when God inspires men in different parts of the country and the world, with the same great thoughts and the same holy purposes. So under his guidance, this little band went forth in the martyr's spirit, from conquering to conquest. History will record that God by them saved the country, and the cause of republican liberty throughout the world from being put back 200 years. Conspicuous among them was Owen Lovejoy, a young man surrounded by a darkness that could be felt, assailed on the one hand by friendly remonstrances and on the other by mob violence. Poor, with fines, imprisonments, and more poverty in prospect, he rose to these sublime heights where all is light, serenity, and harmony: lighted his torch at heaven's own fires, & Pallas-like [Pallas-Athena] leaped forth with a war-shout full grown and armed for the conflict.

"'Devils tempt the prophet with terror of defeat and want, and with the hopes of a selfish ambition, it may be in the form of canonical robes. But a 'get-thee-behind-me-Satan' brings angels to help-then are the prophets' lips touched with a live coal from the altar of truth. He is baptized with the spirit of fire. His countenance is as lightning and his words like arrows in the quiver of the Almighty.'" (Ichabod Codding speech the evening of the funeral at Princeton.)

An unusually gifted public speaker

"With a mind well stored with classic learning, with a vigorous and enlightened understanding, with a fine personal presence, he was one of the greatest of orators, while yet he scorned the ordinary artifices of eloquence. . . .Like those apostles of the French revolution, his eloquence could stir from the lowest depths all the passions of man; but unlike them, he was as good and as pure as he was eloquent and brave, a noble-minded Christian man, a lover of the whole human race and of universal liberty regulated by law. While from his tribune he spoke to the nation, and left upon it the impress of his principles and his convictions and of his master mind, the theatre of his great triumphs as an orator was on the stump and before the masses of the people. It was in his own State, where he was known the best and heard the oftenest, that he achieved his greatest distinction as an orator. In the presence of the people he was invincible. Whatever might have been affected against him by political or personal prejudice, whenever he reached the popular ear all was scattered as if by a whirlwind." (Washburne 9,10 with a touch of Mrs. W.)

"Educated for the pulpit, his scripture knowledge, judiciously used, gave force and elevation to his argument." (Stevens 13)

"As a public speaker the deceased had no superior. Possessing in a most remarkable degree that electric power which brings an audience into harmony and sympathy with the speaker, with his fine and self-possess presence, his clear, ringing voice, his distinct but earnest utterances, his vivid and fascinating imagery, and above all that manner which shows the soul of the speaker in his words, he held his hearers spell-bound, or moved them at his will." (Farnsworth (16-17)

"I have seen him discoursing in the open air among the people of his own district, and take him all in all; I have been disposed to regard him, prolific as our country is in this class of orators, as without an equal before a popular audience. Almost from the start he seemed to exert a magic power, swaying his hearers to and fro at his will as with the wand of a magician. Fertile in all the resources of logic and persuasion, he also abounded in humor and those sallies of wit which makes a public speaker both feared and loved." (Morrill 31)

"He was possessed of a clear and manly intellect, a vigorous understanding, a vivid imagination, and great command of language. These had been strengthened by long culture. He had an almost intuitive knowledge of the avenues to the human heart. His love of justice was strong, and he had the courage to avow and maintain it under all circumstances and at all hazards. It was these qualities combined with a ready humor and a commanding presence, that gave him such great power before a popular audience." (Norton 26-27)

"He spoke well always; but he believed in deeds rather than words, although speech for him was a deed. It was his contribution to that sublime cause for which he toiled always. 'Words are the daughters of earth; deeds are the sons of heaven:' so says the Oriental proverb. But there was little of earth in his words. Proceeding from a pure and generous heart, they have so far prevailed even during his life that they must be named gratefully among those good influences by which our triumph has been won." (Sumner of Massachusetts, 52)

A collaborative pragmatic political coalition builder

"It is perhaps the case that where men have been devoted to a particular idea, they age generally impractical in all other matters, but it was not so with our late associate. He was eminently a practical man, and a man of great common sense, a good judge of human nature, and familiar with the working of the human heart." (Washburne 8)

"I served with Mr. LOVEJOY since he first entered Congress. . . . I differed radically with all of his opinions on public affairs. . . .Sir I knew him upon the arena of this; and here I knew him well. I had seen him in all the vicissitudes of political life; I have seen him when his party upon this floor was in a great minority, and he the leader of the smallest section of that party. I had seen him when parties were so nearly equally divided that after two months' stormy struggle we were unable to elect a Speaker; and I saw him afterwards, when his party was largely in the majority, and where he, with a few active friends, led the van in exploring those pathways which his party was destined so soon to tread"

"He was a prompt and ready debater. He was an active and vigorous thinker. He was a brave and bold apostle of the faith which he held. What he said, he thought; what he thought, he seemed to believe in the innermost recesses of his soul. What he believed, he uttered; and what he uttered, he was prepared at all times to defend, with all the powers that God had given him. He seemed to be overcome by the strength of his convictions. He was too intense to be always fair; he was too ardent to be always just; he was too thoroughly convinced of his own opinions to be always correct; but it was the very strength of his convictions which made him self-reliant and self-confident; and it was his entire self-reliance which made him always logical in his positions; always candid, frank, outspoken in their expression, and bold, determined, zealous, and constant in their defence." (Pendleton of Ohio 20,21)

"He was ever foremost in support of measures to suppress the rebellion. That, to my mind, was with him paramount to the one question which had so long been his aim and object in public and private life. His views upon the peculiar institution of the country he often told me were now subservient to the paramount duty of the nation, the putting down by military power the enemies of our country; he believing that when this was accomplished the object and purpose of this life, for which he had so earnestly labored, would also be accomplished.. . . One of his colleagues who had long known him in both public and private life, and who is his political opponent, said to me last night that OWEN LOVEJOY was a honest man. In any age of the world this were high praise; but in these degenerate times, when peculation and fraud abound, when the whole nation seems demoralized, such a reputation is of priceless worth." (Dem. Odell of New York 33)

A partner with African Americans

"He was not afraid to defend the rights of the injured and oppressed of every race, in this house, nor ashamed to unite with them in worship and kneel at the same altar." (Stevens of Pennsylvania p. 14)

From a meeting of the Washington Island United Literary Association "Resolved, That the sacrifices and efforts of this illustrious person, in the cause of his country, and the affectionate interest which he has at all times manifested for the success of her political institutions, and the freedom of the down-trodden sons of Africa claim . . . especially for the colored people, an expression of condolence for his loss, veneration for his virtues, and gratitude for his services." (The Christian Recorder, April 30, 1864)

"J. T. Costin, in seconding the resolutions, said, that he had been intimately acquainted with Mr. Lovejoy, for several years . . . And who would not love him. Who would not honor him? I am a poor man, but, if I had my way, I would sell the coat off my back to erect a monument to John Q. Adams, Joshua R. Giddings and Owen Lovejoy.

" "John W. Lee, was the next speaker, who said, Mr. Chairman, In looking over my mind, meditating upon the deeds of great and good men, never will I forget the day when Owen Lovejoy stood in the House of Representatives of the United states, until his locks were wet with perspiration, defending the bill for the Emancipation of slavery in the District of Columbia, and the universal freedom of all the down-trodden sons of Africa, within the dominion of the United States of America . . . What, sir have been the fruits of the labors of this great man? Why it has hurried into the earth the law of slavery, which said that a free and respectable colored person shall not walk after 10 o'clock at night, without being provided with a pass; it has enabled us to testify in all legal courts of justice, in any and all cases that come under our notice; the shouldering of the musket is also allowed, and free schools for the education of our children, are commenced to be strewed in profusion throughout our city and I expect soon, to be seen walking to the polls of the 7th ward , handing in my little piece of paper with name of candidate, &c., &c

." "Mr. James L. N. Bowen, who was the next speaker said, Mr. Chairman, We are Here to-night to pay the last tribute of respect to a departed friend, . . . a friend who has been with us in adversity as well as prosperity - a friend who, in the dark day of slavery, when we groped in darkness like that of Egypt which could be felt, he was with us, and like Moses, helped to lead us to the promised land - Owen Lovejoy. May he rest in peace." (Ibid) "During his long stay at Princeton his house was the station where all trains on the "Underground Railway," stopped for dinner, and that road did a large passenger business. His house and barn were full of fugitive Negroes from year to year. Late one Saturday night twelve stalwart blacks came crouching into the house fleeing from pursuit. He gave them shelter, took the round dozen to church the next morning, and used them in his sermon as an illustration of the iniquities of slavery. ("OWEN LOVEJOY" by John Lovejoy Elliott The Cornell Magazine Volume II, October, 1889-June, 1890 Ithaca, New York, 1890.

"He did not forget the individual in the race. Not only has the black man cause to bless his name and memory, but the black men and women and little children recall him as a benefactor. It was meet that a negro, a freedman, should aid in bearing his body to its final resting place, for he maintained their cause at all times as the matter required." ("A Land Mark Removed, Owen Lovejoy" by Gail Hamilton in the Congregationalist.)

"That poor woman, who received the slippers and the supper and was helped on her way to Canada, will ever remember and bless him. What blessings went up from her soul to heaven! Her blessings went up and were written upon the record of heaven, upon the grand record of eternal right. Owen Lovejoy instead of taking a place at the expense of principle in old and honored popular and apparently successful organizations, rejected them with scorn and said to his tempters with Christ-like courage, 'Get Thee behind me Satan." (Wm. Cullen Bryant June 9 BCR)

"In the train coming from the West was a poor black woman on hearing the passengers say the Mr. Lovejoy was being brought to Princeton inquired why? And was told they are bringing his body for burial-that he was dead. 'Dead' she responded, her dusky cheek paled with its grief, 'Lovejoy dead! Such men should never die.'" (C. L. Kelsey June 16, 1864 BCR)

A genial not bitter man

"For while he was a fearless man, he was not a malignant or an irritable man. He never fought with animosity, still less did he ever quarrel. He never scolded. To speak of Owen Lovejoy as a querulous, irritable reformer is as foreign as possible from the truth. He was genial, smiling, good natured, honest-hearted, openhanded man, that every one must sympathize with and respect, even those whom he used to drub; for he was called to do a great deal of that disagreeable work in his lifetime, especially in the later periods of his public life. Every one who knows him may bear witness that it was not the love of morbid anatomy it was not a sort of fierce hatred of evil alone. It was the love of good and the sweet open hearted love of that, and that alone the impelled him. And in the end of his life he maintained healthiness. He was not a morbid reformer in any sense." (Henry Ward Beecher NY Tribune March 29, 1864)

"Malignant did some say and bitter? Never was a more beautiful and lovely spirit encased in human form." W.T. Allan, BCR June 16, 1864) "How throbbed his warm and generous heart." (John Howard Bryant hymn NY Tribune March 29, 1864)

"(His) strength of will might sometimes make him seem impracticable, but it was governed by honest purposes and high sense of duty and balanced by a sensitive nature full of noble impulses." (Congressman James Pike of Maine March 28, 1864 House of Representatives)

"For myself, I never met Mr. Lovejoy until the commencement of the present session of Congress. He had been know to be by reputation . . .sometimes urged by his views so persistently as to excite the censure of those with whom he was brought in contact or association. I supposed, sir, until I knew him that he had not only an ardent but a vindictive temper; that he was rough and savage in his nature. . . . It was only when we came together in our committee-room, when the formalities which prevail here are laid aside, and in frank intercourse men express their sentiments, that we found that the highest intellect was combined with a childlike simplicity of character. No man ever possessed a more kindly or genial nature than Owen Lovejoy. He was ever amiable and gentle, always ready to do full and ample justice, to listen patiently to those who sought redress of wrong." Congressman Davis of New York on House Committee on the District of Columbia which Owen chaired March 28,)

An antislavery politician not an abolitionist

"In some portions of Illinois the prejudice against abolitionists, of whom Mr. LOVEJOY was denominated the chief, was such that he could not address public assemblies without danger of personal violence, but when he once got a hearing such was his eloquence and power over the people that he never failed to disarm all personal opposition, if he did not wholly convince his hearers. No man in the State did so much as he to overcome the pro-slavery prejudices of a large portion of its inhabitants. (Sen. Trumbull of Illinois 49)

"It is easy to see that he scorned the wicked fantasy that man can hold property in man. This pernicious delusion, which is the source of such intolerable pretensions on the part of slave-masters, and worse still the source of such intolerable irresolution on the part of professed opponents of slavery, could get no hold of him. He knew that it was a preposterous falsehood, as wicked as false, born of prejudice and infinite credulity, and therefore he brushed aside as cobweb all the fine-spun snares of law or Constitution so ingeniously woven in its support. Recognizing freedom as the God-given birthright of all who wear the human form, he knew no duty higher than to protect it always; and to this end law and Constitution must minister." (Sen. Pomeroy of Kansas 54-55)

"The seed which had been sown in obscure places, and had grown almost unknown, was beginning to put forth fruit for the harvest. Not only conscience and religion were protesting against the wrongs of slavery, but an enlightened common sense was teaching the people that in denying the rights of others they were losing their own. The encroachments of the slave power became menacing, and Mr. LOVEJOY was the champion sent from his district to the Thirty-fifth Congress to protest and oppose. How well he did both, you know; and the multitudes that mourn him to-day through the length and breadth of the loyal state do not need that I should tell. By word and deed, by keen wit and sharp logic, by eloquent pathos and most scathing denunciation, he made his presence felt here as few have been felt, and sent his words like a trumpet-blast to stir the hearts of those outside these walls. And he was singularly happy that, beginning amid so much opposition and contempt, he lived to see the monstrous wrong against which he had vowed ceaseless warfare humbled and wounded to death." (Pike of Maine 23, 24)

A ministry in Princeton and in Congress

"One of the morning papers states that he left the Ministry and devoted himself to politics. It should have been written; He changed his pulpit but continued to his Ministry. with the nation as his audience. He did not leave the Ministry, he never did. He continued its sacred labors in that one direction pointed out by God. Our politics need such a Ministry. And as he could not bring the politics of the nation to his pulpit in Princeton and changed it to the National Assembly and there preached Christ and him crucified in behalf of those for whom Christ died." (Rev. Cheever NY Tribune March 29, 1864)

"He never preached a gospel that left out human rights and human liberties. In preaching he felt there was a spiritual element, and he was faithful in the discharge of his ministerial duties in that direction, but he also felt that spiritual element should never absorb and hide the ethical and that the preponderance of one or the other must be determined in the providence of God, the exigencies of the community; and in his time the exigencies of the community required that the gospel tell what were the rights of man. And in the region where he lived he educated public sentiments and brought men to feel that religion inspired liberty, and that piety, one of the evidences of it should be the love of liberty for one's self and one's fellows. . . . He changed the sphere of his ministry and did not lay it down, for he was a man of God in Congress and all his political and public life he was still carrying out the great truths of the gospel giving them emphasis and practical force in the labors of reform which occupied the last year of his life." (Henry Ward Beecher. NY Tribune Mar. 29)

"Had he left the world ten years since the narrow circle in which he moved would have left the loss of an obscure free-soil candidate for Congress and a Congregational minister. But what have ten years of noble, heroic devotion to freedom achieved. The clergyman by leaving his flock for the promising field which invited his labors is justified. A man and a citizen before a minister, he proved that his politics were consistent with and not derogatory to Christian and ministerial character, following the example of Mayhew, Cooper, and Witherspoon of our early days, who were not more eminent in the pulpit than learned and useful as legislators . . .." (Grinnell of Iowa 40)

A great Congressman but a greater family man

"I have spoken of the deceased a public man, but who shall speak of the virtues which adorned his private life? Who shall speak of him as a husband, father, friend neighbor, citizen? He was so genial in his intercourse, of a sympathy so quick and ready, so fine, affectionate, and generous, that there seemed combined in him all these qualities which challenged the love and admiration of those who best knew him, and which disarmed the resentment of enemies and endeared him to the hearts of friends. Upon the immediate family of our late colleague has this blow fallen with crushing force. No words of human sympathy or condolence can stanch the wound of bleeding affection, and it is alone to Him who 'tempers the wind of the shorn lamb' that the appeal must be made." (Washburne of Illinois 8)

"But I have seen him in his own family, and it was there his virtues appeared to great advantage. There he possessed the unbounded confidence and affection of a beloved wife and a large family, who were cultured and trained to all the generous hospitalities of social life, and to all the duties of Christianity, blended with the perpetual sunshine of his own genial humor. Here he had made up and was surrounded by all we understand by the comprehensive word home! He will not soon be forgotten here; there he will never be forgotten." (Morrill of Vermont 31, 32)

"It was in his family he was best and greatest; there he gave all the love of a warm and generous heart, and no member ever heard from him even a reproving word; a look was all that was ever inflicted." ("OWEN LOVEJOY" by John Lovejoy Elliott The Cornell Magazine Volume II, October, 1889-June, 1890 Ithaca, New York, 1890.

"At the very last session of Congress a man came to him with a claim which he wished allowed by a Congressional enactment. Mr. Lovejoy examined the claim, pronounced it unjust and said 'If I am present I shall vote against it.' The man persisted, and repeatedly sought his influence, saying at length, I will give you $2,000 if you will get it passed.' He replied indignantly 'When I said no, I meant no! I never took a bribe. I shall not now. I mean to leave a public record of which my children will never be ashamed.'" (Dr. Edward Beecher's remarks at the funereal April 1, 1864, reported April 2, 1864 by a special correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.)

An esteemed and generous friend of the Lincolns

"Through a friend I learned by letter that he was lying at the point of death. This intelligence I communicated to the President the same evening in the vestibule of the White House,--meeting him on his way to the War Department. He was deeply affected by it. His only words were, "Lovejoy was the best friend I had in Congress." ( Francis Carpenter, Six Months at the White House p. 18)

"I speak what I know to be true, when I assure his constituents that there is not a single member of Congress who has more of the confidence of the President than Mr. Lovejoy, and it not unreasonable that he should have, for he has been one of the most efficient and uncompromising supporters of the Administration in either house of Congress,. (JC. Hewitt editor of the Bureau County Republican about July 1863)

"Our friend, whom we all so loved and esteemed, has so suddenly & unexpectedly passed away-Mr. Lovejoy! An all wise power, directs these dispensations, yet it appears to our weak and oftentimes erring judgment, 'He should have died hereafter.'" Mary Lincoln

"My personal acquaintance with him commenced only about ten years ago, since when 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. It can be truly said of him that while he was personally ambitious he bravely endured the obscurity which the unpopularity of his principles imposed, and never accepted official honors, until those honors were ready to admit his principles with him. Throughout my heavy, and perplexing responsibilities here, to the day of his death, it would scarcely wrong any other to say, he was my most generous friend. Let him have the marble monument, along with the well assured and more enduring one in the hearts of those who love liberty, unselfishly, for all men." Abraham Lincoln

In the Twentieth Century some saw him as a "fiery abolitionist preacher," with inflammatory vindictive language. Others saw him as a fine humanitarian caring for runaway slaves. Now some claim his "abolitionism" hurt the forming of the Republican Party. Others see him as a pragmatic coalition builder. Some recognize that he doesn't fit the defined categories of an "abolitionist." Others define him as a Western political abolitionist with an effective religious antislavery message becoming a political bridge between the Radical Republicans in Congress and the White House. Some still ignore his friendship with Lincoln; and others see them as a team.