McKim, James Miller

James Miller McKim, photograph, detail

Pennsylvania farmer's son James Miller McKim was a giant of the anti-slavery movement. He worked to end slavery, help fugitives escape it, and, when it was ended, aid those who had been freed. The second of eight children born on a farm near Carlisle, McKim entered Dickinson College at age thirteen in 1824 and graduated in 1828. He became a Presbyterian minister and began to work across Pennsylvania to form local anti-slavery groups. By 1838 the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society had been founded and soon after McKim moved to Philadelphia to edit the organization's journal. About the same time, he married Sarah Speakman, a Quaker, with whom he had two children, including a daughter, Lucy, who married the son of William Lloyd Garrison. In Philadelphia, McKim also met William Still and joined his Philadelphia Vigilance Committee and its work to aid the Underground Railroad passing through the city. McKim was cautious and careful in personality but his actions were always, in the end, those of a radical abolitionist. He departed Presbyterianism in disgust at its ambivalence over slavery, supported the family of John Brown after Harpers Ferry, and recruited African-American regiments during the Civil War. In 1865, he moved to New York City as the first secretary of the American Freedman’s Union Commission, founding The Nation to help publicize the needs of the newly emancipated. After a lifetime of almost constant effort, he died in Orange, New Jersey in 1874. (By John Osborne)

Life span
11/10/1810—06/13/1874
Dickinson Connection:
Class of 1828

Life Summary

Full name
  James Miller McKim
Place of Birth
Birth Date Certainty
  Exact
Death Date Certainty
  Exact
Gender
  Male
Race
  White
Sectional choice
  North
Origins
  Free State
No. of Spouses
  1
No. of Children
  2
Family
 
James McKim (father), Catherine Miller (mother), John Linn McKim (brother), Sarah Allibone Speakman (wife), Charles Follen McKim (son), Lucy McKim Garrison (daughter)
Education
  Dickinson (Carlisle College)
Occupation
  Clergy
  Journalist

Note Cards

Bibliography