Homestead Festival postmark honors valiant anti-slavery leader
Postmark Pursuit by Molly Goad
Hot air balloons soar onto a Princeton, Ill., pictorial postmark for the area’s annual Homestead Festival celebration that took place Sept. 8-10. The event honors the Rev. Owen Lovejoy (1811-63) and his efforts in the abolition movement and the Underground Railroad.
Born in Maine in 1811, Lovejoy moved to Alton, Ill., in 1836 to be with his older brother, Elijah, and study for the ministry. Elijah was the editor of an anti-slavery newspaper and was eventually killed by people on the other side of the cause. As a result, Lovejoy devoted his life to continuing his brother’s work.
In 1854, Lovejoy was elected to the Illinois legislature and later won the nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was elected to four consecutive terms. After the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, he took a leave of absence to serve in the war.
He was unafraid in his mission, and on the congressional floor in 1859 he declared, “Proclaim it upon the house-tops! Write it upon every leaf that trembles in the forest! … Owen Lovejoy lives at Princeton, Illinois, three-quarters of a mile east of the village, and he aids every fugitive that comes to his door and asks it.”
Built in 1837, Lovejoy’s Princeton house was an Underground Railroad stop. Today, the Owen Lovejoy Homestead is preserved and open to the public, and it was named a National Historic Landmark in 1997 by the National Park Service.
The Homestead Festival celebrates Lovejoy’s life with myriad activities, including hot air balloon rides. The 2023 festival included a Lego design competition, where participants built original creations using the theme “Let your dreams take flight.”
To obtain the postmark, address your request to: HOMESTEAD FESTIVAL Station, Postmaster, 326 S. Main St., Box 9998, Princeton, IL 61356-9998, Sept. 8-10.
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