FREEDOM'S CHAMPION by Paul Simon

FREEDOM'S CHAMPION

Elijah Lovejoy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An informative and brisk biography of a courageous journalist, by the senior US senator from Illinois, a follow-up to Simon's 1964 YA biography (Martyr to Freedom, not reviewed). Himself a former newspaper editor, Simon (Winners and Losers, 1989, etc.) assays the life and career of Elijah Lovejoy. Born in Maine in 1802 and educated at what is today Colby College, Lovejoy decided to seek his fortune in the West. A determined youth despite his supposedly frail constitution, he walked to Missouri when he could afford no other form of transportation. In St. Louis, he worked as a teacher but quickly became dissatisfied with the profession. He bought a half-interest in the St. Louis Times in 1830 and became its editor. At first he opposed the abolitionism of radicals like William Lloyd Garrison, favoring the repatriation of blacks to Africa, but by 1834, two years after he left the Times and eight months after he started a new paper called the Observer, he had decided that ``slavery as it now exists among us, must cease to exist.'' His abolitionist views and rabid anti-Catholicism soon brought him into conflict with slavery-supporting St. Louisans, and the Observer's offices were vandalized and much of the printing equipment destroyed. Lovejoy moved to Illinois, a free state where he thought he would receive a better hearing. His attacks on involuntary servitude encountered the same hostility there, however, since the state had been settled mostly by Southerners. He died in 1837, two days before his 35th birthday, defending his press against a drunken mob. Was he a zealot and a madman, or a visionary and martyr? Or, like John Brown, was he perhaps both at once? Simon attempts to answer these and other questions about a stubborn and courageous man whose story deserves to be more widely known. Enlightening and accessible to any reader interested in the struggle against slavery and for civil liberties.

Pub Date: Dec. 14th, 1994
ISBN: 0-8093-1940-3
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: Southern Illinois Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994