Lynch, John Roy

Lynch, John Roy, 1847–1939, African-American politician, b. near Vidala, La. Born a slave, he became active in the Republican party after the Civil War in Natchez, Miss., and served (1869–73) in the Mississippi house of representatives, becoming its first African-American speaker. Elected (1872) to the U.S. House of Representatives, he served two terms and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Bill of 1875. A third term was blocked by the Mississippi Democratic party, which controlled the elections committee. He ran again in 1880, and after contesting the result, was awarded the Congressional seat in 1882. He lost the next three elections, but remained active in the state and national Republican party. Lynch later served as a Treasury auditor of the Navy Dept. (1889–93), practiced law, and was a volunteer and regular officer in the army. He retired as a major in 1911 and returned to the law, in Chicago. He wrote The Facts of Reconstruction (1913), Reminiscences of an Active Life: The Autobiography of John Roy Lynch (1970; new ed. 2008, ed. by J. H. Franklin), and other books and articles.

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