Moving West: The Exodusters Movement (1879)

Shortly after President Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction in 1877, pulling federal troops who protected the rights of freedmen out of the south, many southern Black Americans made an exodus to states out west, like Kansas, where they saw the opportunity to own and work land away from the oppressive hands of White southerners. After Reconstruction, many Black Americans, some of whom had only recently found freedom, lacked the means to move up in their social station. Their progress was further inhibited by southern Whites whose racism continued to color their treatment of those formerly enslaved. Thus, the victims of intimidation and violence by White southerners, southern Black farmers and laborers sought labor and economic freedom in Kansas, where blood had been spilled in the 1850s to keep the state free. The ability to own and farm land gave these migrants hope, and they would be known as the Exodusters.


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