Sypher was born near Millerstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Alfred University in 1859. He enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War and would eventually become colonel of the Eleventh United States Colored Heavy Artillery, where he led African-Americans who were fighting the war to secure freedom for themselves and their families. After the war he bought a plantation in northern Louisiana. This was not to his liking so he then moved to New Orleans and studied law there. After a short period of time he was admitted to the Bar of the state of Louisiana. He was first elected to congress in 1866. He may have lost the 1868 election, but there were so many irregularities that congress threw it out and he won the second round. When he was replaced by Effingham Lawrence in 1875 it was the first time a democrat had been seated in congress from Louisiana since before the Civil War. This was the beginning of the end of the Reconstruction in Louisiana. He then moved to Washington, DC, to practice law. He died in Baltimore.