EXODUSTERS: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction by Nell Irvin Painter

EXODUSTERS: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction

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An academic study of ""the most remarkable migration in the US after the Civil War""--the flight of tens of thousands of black citizens to Kansas from Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana in the spring of 1878. The causes are not hard to find: after years of landlessness and persecution, the hope of a ""bootstrap"" future in the South was killed for many blacks by the 1877-78 re-entrenchment of Democratic Party rule, involving not only whites but ""leading colored men."" Some black organizers like Henry Adams swung to ""the Kansas bandwagon"" only after Liberian prospects faded; but masses of people developed ""millenarian"" expectations of free land and unhampered movement in the West. Despite physical terrorization, they resolved to leave the South, and Painter writes that the wave was not halted by reports of no free land in Kansas after all, but only by the virtual starvation of the migrants as they waited for passage. Few could immediately become farm-owners once they arrived, but few returned to the South. Painter reconstructs the public uproar from Southern whites appalled at losing their cheap labor force, from black leaders who feared exploitation of the ""Exodusters,"" and from Kansas authorities who did little to assist them. The individual freedmen remain unheard for the most part, but their motives, leaders, and ordeals are graphically Conveyed.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0393009513
Publisher: Knopf