The Fuss and the Industrial Luminary, Part Five

The Alton mob attacking Lovejoy's warehouse.

The Alton mob attacking Elijah Lovejoy’s warehouse.

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4. Magers’ paper.

What did George Park do, in the eyes of the Platte County Self-Defense Association, to earn the destruction of his printing press and the threatening of his life if he remained in Missouri or dared move to Kansas? The Herald of Freedom cited an article that Park published in the Industrial Luminary, happily reprinting the it. This took a bit of cheek, especially given what had already happened in Kansas proved that proslavery Missourians would not stay on their own side of the line and could very well bring violence when they came. The Herald’s press could go in the drink just as the Industrial Luminary’s had, possibly with the editors tied to it. Magers at one point says that the mob planned to do that with George Park, but he never provides any evidence on that front.

The Herald had some things to say to any Missourians thinking of such mayhem, which it used to preface its reprinting of Park’s offensive article:

It was said that destruction of the LUMINARY OFFICE was designed as an example to others, and it is very knowingly hinted that ours will meet a similar fate. Very well, we have concluded to give any number of persons who wish to perpetrate such an act of folly a free pass to “kingdom come,” and we pledge them every assistance in our power. Probably many of them never took an upward journey, and would like to try the experiment of sailing on a blaze of glory, such as a couple of kegs of gunpowder, exploded at an opportune occasion, would furnish. We have not a member in our family, ourself included, who would not deem a transit into the future life with, companions deu voyage of a goodly number of printing press destroyers as a favor rarely to be met with.

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Their “eyes would see the glory of the coming of the Lord,” all right. To make it clear to any aspirant proslavery martyrs that they would die in vain, the editors also told the reader that they had duplicate subscription books and arrangements with others to continue publication should circumstances ever require them to ride their gunpowder straight into Heaven.

Park’s own piece began with a fairly straightforward account of the theft of the legislative elections at the end of March. He put on Reeder, who he supposed would soon go off to Washington to get the opinion of the Pierce administration, the decision to set aside the election and so “Abolitionize” the territory “or countenance such action which has for its ulterior object a dissolution of the Union.” But what else could Reeder do?

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton

We have occupied a conservative and national ground, promptly opposing the measures and men who have brought this crisis. Will the President meet it? Surely he cannot longer follow counsels from among Abolitionists and Nullifiers? The country demands that, sound, firm, energetic men have the direction of public affairs-who will impress and enforce justice and law. There is virtually no law in Kansas, and no security for life and property, save in the sense of honor and justice cherished by every true pioneer. This may save the country from bloodshed; but the Government is held up to ridicule and contempt, and its authority disregarded-Judges of elections have been displaced, and others appointed-the polls have in some instances been guarded with pistols and bowie-knives-and some of those elected are going to the governor swearing that if he does not give a certificate of election immediately, they will “cut his throat from ear to ear!” Is the flag or our country to be no longer a protection?-or are individuals, or companies of men to declare WE WILL! and it MUST be so, without regard to law? Is this what the authors of the Nebraska-Kansas bill meant by Squatter Sovereignty?

This challenged the Self-Defensives and their allies directly. More keenly, Park attacked them on decisively Bentonian line. Thomas Hart Benton always said that abolitionists and nullifiers alike made problems for the Union. The best way to handle slavery involved no agitation on it at all, either for or against. For that sin, Atchison eventually conspired to unseat him. Here George Park may well have quoted the former senator, right in the heart of Atchison country.

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