Last updated: May 25, 2018
In 1869, John Roy Lynch was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives at the age of 22.
John Roy Lynch was born into slavery in Louisiana on September 10, 1847. During the Civil War, Lynch escaped from the plantation he was forced to work on. He served as a cook for the 49th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, a regiment that was present during General Ulysses S. Grant's capture of Fort Donelson and the Battle of Shiloh.
Mr. Lynch used opportunities available during reconstruction in order to rise quickly in his political career. After working as assistant secretary for the Republican State Convention, Lynch became the Justice of the Peace in Natchez County, Mississippi. In November 1869, Lynch was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives at the age of 22. Three years later, he was named Speaker of the House becoming the first African-American to hold this position. In 1872, Lynch ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives and was elected, winning re-elections until 1882. During this time he fought endlessly for civil rights and the protection for African Americans, meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant multiple times.