Born into slavery on a Louisiana plantation, John Roy Lynch (1847-1939) came to adulthood during the Reconstruction Era and lived a public-spirited life for over three decades. His political career began in 1869 with his appointment as justice of the peace. Within the year, he was elected to the Mississippi legislature, and was later elected Speaker of the House. At age 25, Lynch became the first African American from Mississippi to be elected to the United States Congress. He led the fight to secure passage of the Civil Rights bill of 1875. In 1884, he was elected temporary chairman of the Eighth Republican National Convention and was the first black American to deliver the keynote address, an occasion that would not be repeated until 1968.
His autobiography reflects Lynch’s thoughtful and nuanced understanding of the past and of his own experience. The book, written when he was 90, challenges a number of traditional arguments about Reconstruction. In his experience, African Americans in the South competed on an equal basis with whites; the state governments were responsive to the needs of the people; and race was not always a decisive factor in the politics of Reconstruction.
The autobiography, which would not be published until 1970, provides rich material for the study of American politics and race relations during Reconstruction. It sheds light on presidential patronage, congressional deals, and personality conflicts between national political figures. Lynch’s childhood reflections reveal new dimensions to our understanding of black experience during slavery and beyond. An introduction by John Hope Franklin puts Lynch’s public and private lives in the context of his times and provides an overview of how the autobiography came to be written.
John Roy Lynch (1847-1939) was the first African American Speaker of the House in Mississippi and the first black politician from the state to be elected to the United States Congress. He is the author of The Facts of Reconstruction.
John Hope Franklin is professor emeritus of history at Duke University and has served as president of the American Historical Association, the American Studies Association, and the Southern Historical Association. He is the author of From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, and other books.
|Publisher:||University Press of Mississippi|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.27(d)|
About the Author
John Roy Lynch is the author of The Facts of Reconstruction.
John Hope Franklin is professor emeritus of history at Duke University and the author of From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation, and other books.