Dwelling as he does on the horrors of lynch law in Mississippi and Missouri, Lincoln may seem remiss in ignoring, save for this phrase, the lynching at Alton, Illinois, on November 7, 1837, of the abolitionist editor Elijah Parish Lovejoy. It is somewhat too obvious and naive to assume that Lincoln was being politic in avoiding reference to an episode so recent and so vivid in the recollection of his audience. Rather it seems possible that he chose a subtler way of pricking the conscience of his audience than by direct denunciation. Members of the Lyceum who listened to Lincoln without sensing the specter of Lovejoy in their midst must have been obtuse indeed.
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