“Hon. J. D. Shadd.” [sic; refers to Isaac D. Shadd]
To the Editor of the New National Era:
The lineage of the Hon. J. D. Shadd, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Mississippi, is a respectable and distinguished one. Abraham Shadd, Esq., his father, was born at Wilmington, State of Delaware, about the year of 18–; is well and favorably known, and much respected by all who know him or who have had anything to do with him.
He, as an early pioneer in the anti-slavery cause, rendered valuable service to the “underground railroad,” which furnished the avenue of escape to so many fugitive slaves.
He furnished much valuable information, which greatly enhanced the usefulness of the “under-ground railroad,” and the anti-slavery journals spoke in the highest terms of praise and commendation of his services.
In short, Mr. Shadd was foremost in all conventional and other movements, among colored men, that had for their object the advancement of the cause of human emancipation.
There is a large and influential family of the Shadds. Although Mr. Shadd, the father the subject of this sketch, had a large family of children, yet all of them have been well educated, and most if not all the daughters are, or have been, engaged in teaching in the different States. There were thirteen children in all; five boys – Hon. J. D., Joseph Lee, Wm. Garrison, Abraham W., and Gerrit Smith; and eight girls – Mary A., Elizabeth W., Harriet, Emeline, Amelia, Sarah, Ada, and Eunice.
Mr. Shadd moved to Canada, some years ago, with this family, where he made a great and good impression by his untiring efforts in aiding, pecuniarly and otherwise, those of his fellow-men escaping from slavery in the United States.
A perusal of the history and workings of the anti-slavery and anti-colonization movements, and the under-ground railroad work, would bring many things to light in the life and character of A. D. Shadd, Esq., that should make his posterity rise up and call him blessed.
Mr. Shadd was one of the first colored men ever elected to an honorable and trustworthy position in Canada, under her Majesty’s government, which caused considerable comment by the press, both in the States and in Canada. The New York Herald especially was very much alarmed at the precedent. It would take too much space to speak of the relative merits of all the children of this distinguished family (all of whom reflect much credit on their parents,) but may mention A. W. Shadd, Esq., a graduate of Howard University Law School, and now a successful practitioner at the bar of the Supreme Court of the State of Mississippi.
Mrs. Mary Shadd Cary is too well known to require even a passing notice here.
Hon. J. D. Shadd, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, was born at Wilmington, Delaware, in the year 1837. He was reared in Pennsylvania, in the town of West Chester. He moved to Canada about the year 1854, and was for several years associate editor and publisher of the Provincial Freeman, and subsequently engaged in mercantile pursuits. In 1862 he visited California, and returned overland, and spent three years on the frontier in Oregon, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Washington Territories; his travels were extensive among the mines of the territories.
The information gained by him is valuable. The stories of his experience and adventures out in the Northwest, are very interesting as well as instructive, and would, if published, be a source of information to those who cannot be eye-witnesses of life on the frontier. Mr. Shadd returned to Canada in 1865.
He came to Mississippi in 1870, and was employed as book-keeper by B. T. Montgomery & Son, at “Davis Bend;” was the first representative from Jeff. Davis’s old district, after reconstruction, being elected to the legislature in 1871, from the old plantation of the Confederate Chief. In 1871 was chairman of the House Committee on Counties and County Boundaries. Mr. S. proved himself an earnest and active worker, seeking at all times to do that which was considered for the best interest of the parties to be affected by the action of the legislature upon bills referred to his committee.
As a member of the Committee on Judiciary and Education, he took great interest in all matters before these committees, and did much toward perfecting the General School Law, which was passed in 1873. The election of Mr. Shadd to the Speakership (as the successor of Hon. John R. Lynch) was more a surprise to himself, than to his most intimate friends, the honor coming unsought, and, therefore, was the more honorable and complimentary. I think that I can safely predict a career in the Speaker’s chair, for Mr. Shadd, which will compare well with those of both the honorable gentlemen who were his predecessors in office – Messrs. Warren and Lynch.
Speaker Shadd is calm and collected, but firm in his decisions; gentlemanly and forbearing in his treatment of all members; his success, as a presiding officer, has surpassed the most sanguine expectations of his friends, and all are forced to confess that he is strictly just and impartial toward all members, without regard to party preferment.
The Jackson Pilot, of February 14th, commenting on the matter of his rulings, speaks of him as follows:
“Some of the decisions of Speaker Shadd, on Wednesday, pending the action of the House on the Franklin county contested election case, which were rendered so promptly and so correctly, prove to every member of that body that he has made himself thoroughly conversant with parliamentary usages and are an evidence that the members, in moving their points of order, will have to put them upon good grounds, if they wish to have them sustained.”
Mr. Shadd is, as we predicted he would be, an excellent presiding officer.
He keeps strict order and compels every one to obey the rules. He has no favorites; shows no partiality, and has won the confidence and respect of all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance.
Mr. Shadd has made for himself a reputation which is most likely to carry with it national honors.