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James Miller McKim (National Cyclopaedia)

Reference

“McKim, James Miller,” The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (New York: James T. White & Company, 1895), 2: 420.

McKIM, James Miller, reformer, was born at Carlisle, Pa., Nov. 14, 1810. He was educated at Dickinson and Princeton Colleges, and was present at the convention that met in Philadelphia, Dec. 4, 1833, to organize the National Anti-Slavery Society. In 1835 was ordained pastor of a Presbyterian church at Womelsdorf, Penn., but resigned in the following year to become lecturing agent under the auspices of the American Anti-Slavery Society, having become an abolitionist a few years earlier on reading Garrison's “Thoughts on Colonization.” He lectured in Pennsylvania, though often in danger of personal violence, and in 1840 removed to Philadelphia to become publishing agent of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. He subsequently became corresponding secretary, and served in that capacity for twenty-five years, and as general manager of the affairs of the society. He was frequently brought into contact with “underground railroad” affairs, and was actively connected with many slave cases before the courts, chiefly after the passage of the fugitive slave law of 1850. After the capture of Port Royal in 1862, he called a meeting of Philadelphia citizens, to care for the 10,000 liberated slaves, and the meeting resulted in the organization of the Philadelphia Port Royal relief committee. He advocated the enlistment of the colored troops, was a member of the Union League, aided in establishing Camp William Penn, and in the recruiting of eleven regiments. The Port Royal relief committee was enlarged into the Pennsylvania Freedman's relief association in 1863, and Mr. McKim became corresponding secretary, traveling and establishing schools at the South. From 1865 to 1869 he was connected with the American Freedmen’s Union Commission, and endeavored to promote general education at the South, and in the latter year, thinking the commission had accomplished its work, it was disbanded at Mr. McKim's suggestion. He was one of the founders of the “Nation,” New York, in 1865. He has been called “That prudent, rash man.” In “Garrison and His Times,” Johnson says of McKim: “Fitted by his intellectual gifts as well as by education, for any place of influence and power to which he might have chosen to aspire, he devoted himself unreservedly for a generation to the cause of the slave, rendering it service of the very highest character by his pen and his voice, as well as by his wisdom in counsel.” He died in West Orange, N. J., June 13, 1874.
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