Weekly Louisianian clipping
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HONORABLE JAMES LYNCH.
The announcement of the death of this estimable gentleman, a few days ago, filled the minds of all who knew him with sorrow at his untimely removal.
His funeral took place on the 22d ult. His body was removed from West Jackson to the Capitol, and there laid in state.
The Pilot says, “From early morning until the close of the funeral ceremonies in the afternoon, a continuous line of men, women and children was surrounding the body passing in at one door of the Capitol and out at another, after pausing to look upon the cold, calm face of the dead. With the colored people, composing the greater portion of the mourners, many of the highest officials of the State were seen to view the body. And there were not wanting many of the best and most respectable white citizens, who thus evinced their respect for the memory of the man who had so long and so ably marshaled the hosts of the freedmen of Mississippi.”
The spacious hall is described as being literally crammed during the ceremonies, which were evidently very imposing as well as impressive.
A funeral sermon was delivered by Rev. A. C. McDonald, at the conclusion of which he recited the following:
NARRATIVE OF HIS LIFE.
Hon. and Rev. James Lynch was born in Baltimore, Maryland, January 8, 1839. His father was a freedman of that city engaged in mercantile pursuits. His mother, a woman of unusual intelligence among her race, had once been a slave, but, on her marriage, her liberty was purchased by her husband. All their children were, therefore, born free. At an early period James, who was a bright active boy, with large head and slender frame, was sent to school. His first teacher was the Rev. Dr. Paine, now and for many years past one of the ablest Bishops of the African M. E. Church, under whose tuition, at eight years of age, he commenced the study of Latin Grammar. On reaching his fourteenth year he was sent to Kimball Union Academy at Meredith, New Hampshire, from which he graduated in his eighteenth year. It was his purpose to have then entered Dartmouth College but, by the failure of his father in business, he was obliged to return home. Soon after he engaged in teaching a school at Jamaica, Long Island, which was continued one year. While at this place he experienced a change of heart and united with the Presbyterian church under the labors of Rev. Amos N. Freeman, who still remains pastor of the same church. Finding that his field of labor in that Church would be greatly restricted, as it contained but very few colored people, and feeling it his duty to preach the gospel, he changed his church relation and joined the Indiana Conference of the African M. E. Church under the superintendence of Bishop Paine, and became an itinerant minister. His first appointment was to Galena, Illinois, where he remained six months, and became acquainted with Miss Eugenia Rice whom he afterwards married. In the spring of 1860 he was stationed at Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, where he remained two years. In 1862, he was stationed at Waters Chapel, Baltimore, where in September of that year, he was married. In May, 1863 he went to South Carolina under the auspices of the American Freedmen’s Association. Here his labors were arduous. He formed various societies in connection with the African M. E. Church; was commissioner of Freedmen’s Affairs under General Saxton, and also filled the position of Chaplain to the 1st South Carolina Regiment of colored soldiers raised under the orders of Gen. Hunter. At the close of the war he returned to Baltimore, and at the ensuing General Conference of his Church, held in May, 1866, was elected editor of the Christian Recorder published at Philadelphia. This position he held two years, and in June, 1867, came to Mississippi. Having connected himself immediately previous to his coming, with the Methodist Episcopal Church, he was employed by Bishop Simpson as Presiding Elder of the South Mississippi District. He was also employed by the Congressional Reconstruction Committee, of which Thaddeus Stevens was Chairman, to canvass the State in the interests of reconstruction. In this field of effort he took an active part in the calling of the Constitutional Convention. In 1868 he was elected State Senator from the District embracing Hinds and Rankin counties, but, as the Constitution was defeated, never qualified. In 1869 he was appointed by General Howard Assistant Superintendent of Education for the freedmen. Early in the spring of the same year he commenced in connection with Mr. J. J. Spellman, the publication of the Colored Citizen’s Monthly, devoted both to the interests of religion and of the Republican party. This publication was financially, a failure but did good service for the cause he had at heart.
In the fall of the same year (1869) he was nominated for the responsible and honorable office of Secretary of State, and elected by a large majority which office he filled up to the time of his decease.
LABORS IN THE MINISTRY.
While deeply engrossed with official cases and excessive campaign labors, he found time to devote to the care of Jackson District, over which he presided four years. At the last annual Conference of his Church he was appointed to Crystal Springs District, and was also elected a delegate to the General Conference, which met last May in Brooklyn, and before which he made a most effective speech on the subject of a colored Bishop. His position that there should be no discrimination either against or in favor of colored men for that high position, but that it should be determined alone by personal qualifications, met with an almost unanimous endorsement from the General Conference. But such was the impression made by his speech that there is little doubt, had he been free from political entanglements and influences, he would have been one of the number elected to that ecclesiastical position.
From Brooklyn he repaired to Philadelphia and took his seat as a delegate from Mississippi to the Convention that nominated Gen. Grant. His speech before that Convention was complimented as one of the most brilliant there delivered. The nominations made, he entered most heartily into the Presidential campaign and in New York City, and in various portions of Indiana and Mississippi, made some of the most powerful political speeches of his life. But his excessive labors were telling on a constitution already enfeebled with disease. When he returned home his health was greatly impaired. A cough, which had followed him from infancy, was developing alarming symptoms. Other obstinate diseases were preying upon him, and though neither his friends nor himself expected so sudden a termination, he slowly declined till, on the morning of December 18th, the weary wheels of life stood still.
Such, in brief, is the outline of a life which crowded into the space of thirty-three years such unwonted activities. But I should feel that these memorial services were strikingly incomplete if they failed to recognize Brother Lynch in his true character as
A LEADER AMONG HIS PEOPLE.
He was a born leader, and a careful analysis will show that he had all the essential elements of leadership. He had fine natural abilities, thorough culture, large knowledge of human nature, unusual tact, pleasing address, ready power of oratory, quick discernment, and a great opportunity considered in reference to the great purpose of his life.
He lived exactly at the right time. Only twenty-two years of age when the storm of war burst upon the country, enough of quiet had been enjoyed by him before that event to secure the mental culture indispensable to future success. Then came to him at the most impressible period of life the wonderful revelations of the war. For that war, fearful as it was in itself, with its lurid battle-clouds, its red lines of blood, its carnage-heaped fields, and its black, desolating track, furnished grand lessons to be studied by the lovers of progress. It was an era in humanity that, to the colored man, rolled back the dark years of bondage and brought in the brighter days of liberty. It was to the whole nation a change in the tide of time that started it toward a higher destiny and furnished the occasion when great principles were vindicated on a scale of grandeur unsurpassed before. Then, as the war cloud passed and the smoke of battle was lifted, there rose upon our friend an exciting vision. He saw before him, in all the vividness of the great reality, his entire race in this country, four million strong, standing on the threshold of American civilization, waiting for some strong hand to lead them onward till they should range in line with the progressive races of the earth. Need we wonder that he caught the spirit of a second Moses, and that henceforth all other purposes merged into the one great purpose to lead his race into the newly discovered promised land. But his enthusiasm was not of the type which ignores the difficulties that lie in the path to accomplishment. To his clear mind, more than to most others, were apparent the obstacles to the elevation of his people. To him the war was one of earth’s great judgment days, in whose fearful revealings long and dark chapters were added to the world’s knowledge and estimate of the evils and curses of slavery. He knew, though cautious in expressing this knowledge, in what a shroud of darkness his people were veiled, and the fearful corruption of morals entailed upon them. He felt, and oh, how bitterly he felt it, the weight of that incrusted prejudice that lay upon his race. He knew the fearful crushing out of their manhood, and the blighting of their hopes, and the fears that invaded their hearts. The Red Sea, the barren desert, the weary march, were before him, but, his courage rose above them all. He never despaired of the ultimate elevation of his people.
In advocating the rights of his people he relied much upon the power of the press. Through two years at the head of the official paper of his Church, he had acquired experience and skill in the use of the pen. When he came to Mississippi it was his cherished purpose to maintain at least a monthly paper which should plead the cause of his people. In this he was only partially successful, but his incessant efforts in this direction show his appreciation of the agency of the press.
He accomplished, however, far more by his unwearying public addresses. His was an eloquent tongue, and all his high gifts of oratory were most assiduously cultivated and employed. There was such fascination of style, smoothness of delivery, earnestness of manner, beauty of illustration, and thrilling pathos in his public efforts as gave him wonderful power over the people. His labors in this, his chosen field, were herculean. Repeatedly he canvassed the State, speaking at all the great centers of population, until comparatively few of his race can be found who have not listened to his eloquent appeals. But that voice is hushed; that gifted tongue is cold and silent; that kindling eye has lost its fire; that heart has ceased to throb; but never, my friends, will you know, never can you estimate the value of the work Brother Lynch has done for you.
How constantly did he plan and work for you; how zealously did he guard your interests. Does anyone say he was scheming? Suppose he was. But where has there been a great leader who did not look ahead? Moses was forty years in advance of his age; David was a King in spirit long before he wore a diadem or held a scepter; Isaiah broke forth in rapturous [?] of gospel exhortation six hundred years before Christ came; Jesus was full eighteen centuries ahead of his times. Confess, then, that it is but further proof of the high order of his mind that Brother Lynch was so constantly forecasting the future. His movements were generally wise and exhibited the practical sagacity of his mind. If he changed his Church relation, it was done each time with a view to a wider field. Satisfied with the Presbyterian Church, the Church of his mother’s choice, and his own first love; he went to the African M. E. Church only that he might reach greater numbers of his race. With no cause of complaint against this latter Church, he changed its communion for that of the M. E. Church because on its broad platform, reaching from pole to pole, and stretching to every land beneath the circuit of the sun, was a fitting place for all of every kindred race and tongue to stand. The selection of Mississippi, the key State of the South, as the field of his special labors, as also his conciliatory polity toward the whites, are other illustrations of his practical sagacity.
But this earnest worker for his race has passed away. The work he had undertaken was not done. The cherished purposes of his life had not been accomplished when in the solemn midnight hours the summons came. Ah, why was he called so soon? We shall miss him, and in the conflicts that must come, will need him yet again. But never more shall he heed our summons. Never again shall he lead our ranks.
And yet he is not wholly gone. His example is living still, and for years to come will be calling his people upward to a higher life. In his own person is shown how high any of his race may rise. In his early and thorough culture, the key of all his success in later life, is a ringing call to all colored youth to engage in the same work of preparation, and to lay foundations on which to build in future years. In his devotion to the right all may imitate him.
And now, dearest friend, farewell. With slow and solemn steps shall living hearts bear all that is earthly and mortal to the place of quiet rest. With measured tread shall this vast procession move forward to drop their tears upon the grave. As the sad months roll by affection will bring many a weary pilgrim to kneel beside thy tomb. While by the people, in the choicest casket of memory, shall be treasured remembrance of thy services more beautiful and fragrant than the evergreens and flowers with which they adorn thy resting place.
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