John R Lynch can be described as an American politician, an author, a militant and an attorney. He was a fighter, a believer and a civil right activist who fought for the inequality in the American society. He was born near the Louisiana Mississippi border on 10th September 1847. They were enslaved in a plantation near Natchez. His father had plans to rescue them from the slavery and move them to a different place, but unfortunately he died before he could do that. Lynch was still very young and continued living with his mother in the plantation. While there he sometimes attended the night classes. His search to better himself through education saw him educate himself through magazines and newspapers and sometimes eavesdropped on the classes taught to the whites so that he could gain knowledge on what they were learning. His enthusiasm to gain knowledge knew no bounds and took all opportunities to ensure he knew how to read and write. Luckily he became free during the civil war where he became a volunteer cook at the Illinois following Emancipation Proclamation and partial activism of President Lincoln.
When Civil War in 1865 ended, John He learnt photography and started a successful business in the county of Natchez, Mississippi. John became a public figure in 1869 after being accepted as Natchez county peace justice. After the civil war and during the American Reconstruction, he joined the Republican Party and worked as the assistant secretary of the state convention for the Republicans. His leadership capabilities became known to many people in the black community. At the age of 22 he was appointed the justice of peace in Natchez County. According to Lynch and Franklin (2008), this marked the beginning of his career in politics as during the same year be was elected to the House of Representatives for Mississippi in 1869. He became the first black American speaker three years later even though blacks were not the majority in this legislature. Still in 1872, he won by the majority in the popular vote to secure a seat in the US House of Representatives and entered the Congress where he retained a position until 1876. Lynch having gone through suffering as a slave in the hands of the whites in the Plantation South; he embarked on vigorous fight for the civil rights of his fellow black men to achieve emancipation a move initiated by Harlem group.
John Lynch vehemently pushed for the support of the Civil Rights Act whose main aim was to ban discrimination of the blacks in public institutions. This made him less popular among the democrats though he was successfully reelected in 1874. However, when the Reconstruction came to an end, John vied to be reelected but was unsuccessful as he sought third term in office. He was not a person to give up so easily because in 1880, John campaigned for his reelection. Having lost unfairly, John contested and the decision, which was later overturned giving him third term to serve on the congressional seat (Lynch & Franklin, 2008). His concerted efforts as a rights activist saw him support the legislation of civil rights in the Congress.
In 1883, Lynch sought time off and retired to a plantation he had bought in county of Adams, Mississippi. He remained delegate of the Republican conventions nationally, a position Lynch held from 1884 to 1900. During this time spell, Lynch studied law, passed the Bar exams in Mississippi in 1896, and a year later returned to practice law in Washington DC. However, John had got used to public life to remain outside political limelight for long. He got various appointments in 1898 from William McKinley who was the then president. Lynch and Franklin (2008) point out John gladly took the position of auditor in United States Treasury, department of Navy. As an officer in the American Army, Lynch participated in Spanish-American War after he was also appointed by President McKinley. His appointments included being a captain in the army where he was later promoted to the rank of a major and served in Cuba, Philippines among other countries. In 1911, he retired from U.S Army and went to Chicago to revive his law practice. His firm was also involved in real estate business as the city boomed as a destination for many black people and with increased European immigration in America.
Lynch became an author upon retirement and wrote The Facts of Reconstruction, which empirically tried to dispel myths about the African American as well as their importance in smooth integration in the American society. In this book, John vehemently tried to dispel erroneous assumptions that after the Civil War, Southern governments were controlled by the blacks. This notion was a cheap propaganda aimed to bring conflicts between the whites and blacks in the Southern States. Like other African American writers of his time, John in his writings endeavored to educate the black community on the importance of education and assimilation in the American society so that they can grow socially, economically, and politically living the American Dream. He was also an active and revered writer in the Journal of Negro history where his articles earned a big following not only among the black community but also whites in the American society (Lynch & Franklin, 2008).
On the propaganda that labeled blacks as “not fit to hold political positions,” Lynch disagreed on the generalization where he argued a misdemeanor of some prominent African Americans was not reflection of all blacks. Indeed John argued it was wrong because some blacks had succeeded in being good politicians and depicted by his tenure in House and Congress after all. In views of Lynch and Franklin (2008), many people agreed that Lynch was a unrivaled political leader not only in Mississippi but also U.S Congress where whites and blacks acknowledged his contribution, honesty, and competence in service of Americans. Although none of his acclaimed writings have received literary accolades let alone becoming a topic of research, John Lynch had significantly changed the way blacks were viewed by whites in his own efforts.
The writings John wrote challenge most of the traditional arguments against blacks as the ‘other’ people and strived to show how they had contributed to advancement in the common good of all Southern states. He was on the view that during reconstruction the African Americans competed equally with the whites for government positions, only that the whites were highly prejudiced against Americans from black origin. It is this discrimination in government institutions, which John despised and wanted to bring out the facts and change the mindset of many American whites. His articles are also an eye opener to people on the governance, deals in the congress and conflicts among the politicians (Lynch & Franklin, 2008).
John Lynch married his first wife, Ella Sommerville, in 1984, had one daughter before their divorce. He married his second wife Cora Williams in 1911. He succeeded to live his father’s dream when he relocated to Chicago where he later died at 92 years in November 1939. John received military burial in Arlington cemetery fitting a veteran and Congressman.
The life of John Lynch is a great lesson that despite the challenging backgrounds, we should strive to realize our potential and use our life to make the world a better place for us and for those near us. He defied all odds to become a Congressman at 26 when racial discrimination was ripe in American society. As a leader from the black community, Lynch championed for legislation of civil rights in the Congress, a feat that has been seen as his biggest achievement for the black people. His literary works have also been used in the study of American Reconstruction because of the tenacity and aggressiveness he handled serious issues that affected the American society. He will live in the memory as an icon who relentlessly pursued justice and civil rights of the black race in America.