Mr. McKim was an early advocate of colored enlistments, as a means of lifting up the blacks and putting down the rebellion. In the spring of 1863, he urged upon the Philadelphia Union League, of which he was a member, the duty of recruiting colored soldiers; as the result, on motion of Thomas Webster, Esq., a movement was set on foot which led to the organization of the Philadelphia Supervisory Committee, and the subsequent establishment of Camp William Penn, with the addition to the national army, of eleven colored regiments.
When, in November, 1863, the Port Royal Relief Committee was enlarged into the Pennsylvania Freedman’s Relief Association, Mr. McKim was made its corresponding secretary. He had previously resigned his place in the Anti-slavery Society, believing that that organization was near the end of its usefulness.
[Illustration: J. MILLER McKIM]
[Illustration: REV. WILLIAM H. FURNESS]
[Illustration: WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON]
[Illustration: LEWIS TAPPAN]
In the freedmen’s work, he traveled extensively, and worked hard, establishing schools at the South and organizing public sentiment in the free States. In the spring of 1865, he was made corresponding secretary of the American Freedman’s Commission, which he had helped to establish, and took up his residence in the city of New York. This association was afterwards amplified, in name and scope, into the American Freedman’s Union Commission, and Mr. McKim continued with it as corresponding secretary, laboring for reconstruction by means of Freedman’s schools, and impartial popular education. On the 1st of July, 1869, the Commission, by unanimous vote on his motion, disbanded, and handed over the funds in its treasury to its constituent State associations. Mr. McKim retired from his labors with impaired health, and has since taken no open part in public affairs. He is one of the proprietors of the New York Nation, in the establishment of which, he took an effective interest.
Mr. McKim’s long and assiduous career in the anti-slavery cause, has given evidence of a peculiar fitness in him for the functions he successively discharged. His influence upon men and the times, has been less as a speaker, than as a writer, and perhaps still less as a writer than as an organizer, a contriver of ways and means; fertile in invention, prepared to take the initiative, and bringing to the conversion of others, an earnestness of purpose and a force of language that seldom failed of success. In an enterprise where theory and sentiment were fully represented, and business capacity, and what is called “practical sense,” were comparatively rare, his talents were most usefully employed; while, in periods of excitement—and when were such wanting? his caution, sound judgment, and mental balance were qualities hardly less needed or less important.