Image courtesy of Library of Congress
John Roy Lynch, a Representative from Mississippi in the 1870s and 1880s, later wrote a history of the post-Civil War years, The Facts of Reconstruction, in 1913.
On this date, Representative John Roy Lynch
was born into slavery near Vidalia, Louisiana. Emancipated at the end of the Civil War, Congressman Lynch cut his political teeth by giving speeches supporting the new Mississippi constitution. He rose up through the state government and became speaker of the Mississippi house of representatives in 1872. Lynch won his seat in the 43rd Congress
(1873–1875) by a wide margin. In the House, Lynch fought for civil rights legislation and noted on the House Floor that “it is not social rights that we desire. We have enough of that already. What we ask for is protection in the enjoyment of public rights—rights that are or should be accorded to every citizen alike.” The Mississippi Congressman won re-election to the 44th Congress
(1875–1877), but lost the battle for the 45th Congress
(1877–1879). He again sought election to the 47th Congress
(1881–1883) and won a contested election case. After three additional unsuccessful re-election campaigns, Lynch stayed active in Mississippi Republican Party politics. In 1884, Lynch delivered a keynote address at the Republican National Convention—the first African American to do so and the last awarded that honor at a national political convention until 1968.