Refugees on Levee, 1897. "Exodusters waiting for a steamboat to carry them westward in the late 1870s. Photo Credit: © Library of Congress.

United States – Exoduster Movement

The American Civil War ended in 1865. It had been won by the anti-slavery Northern states. This meant that over four million African-Americans were freed from slavery in 1865. However, many of the Southern States could not accept this and they continued to try and restrict Black Americans’ freedom.

In 1879, a rumor spread that the United States government was giving away free land for formerly enslaved people in Kansas. This further encouraged thousands of Black Americans to move to Kansas. By the end of the year, over 40,000 left Southern states along the Mississippi River and migrated to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

Prominent figures such as Benjamin Singleton of Tennessee and Henry Adams of Louisiana contributed to the organization of the movement, also known as the Exoduster Movement of 1879.


  • Van Deusen, John G. 1936. “The Exodus of 1879″. The Journal of Negro History. Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 21 (2): 111. doi:10.2307/2714567.
  • Johnson, M. Daniel, & Campbell, R. Rex. 1981. Black Migration in America: A Social Demographic History. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-8223-0449-X.
  • Jordan, Sophie. “Exoduster Movement,” Tutor2u.