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Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction Paperback – May 17, 1992

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In 1879, fourteen years after the Emancipation Proclamation, thousands of blacks fled the South. They were headed for the homesteading lands of Kansas, the 'Garden Spot of the Earth' and the 'quintessential Free State, the land of John Brown'. . . . Painter examines their exodus in fascinating detail. In the process, she offers a compelling portrait of the post-Reconstruction South and the desperate efforts by blacks and whites in that chaotic period to 'solve the race problem' once and for all.” (Newsweek)

“What makes this book so important is . . . [that it] is the first full-length scholarly study of this migration and of the forces that produced it. . . . Most previous students have focused on nationally recognized black leaders; [Painter] calls for attention to the black masses.” (David H. Donald - New York Times Book Review)

“A genuine folk movement, the Exoduster migration has . . . been undeservedly ignored. Nell Irvin Painter has produced a book which rescues the Exodusters from obscurity and demonstrates her considerable talents as a researcher and writer.” (American Historical Review)

From the Back Cover

'In 1879, fourteen years after the Emancipation Proclamation, thousands of blacks fled the South. They were headed for the homesteading lands of Kansas, the 'Garden Spot of the Earth' and the 'quintessential Free State, the land of John Brown'....Painter examines their exodus in fascinating detail. In the process, she offers a compelling portrait of the post-Reconstruction South and the desperate efforts by blacks and whites in that chaotic period to 'solve the race problem' once and for all.'--Newsweek
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (May 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393009513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393009514
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was an easy and very informative read for me. I am the family historian and this added additional depth to my family research. When you delve into the history during the time your ancestors were living and experiencing it, it adds another dimension to your research. My mother's famiy were slaves in Overton Co. Tennessee and made the exodus to Kansas.
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This is a good solid historical account. Well documented and relentless in the telling of the story. It was another reminder for me of the intensity of the oppression of the American southern blacks before and after the Civil War. Once Reconstruction was effectively ended in 1876, the black people of the South were abandoned by the politicians of the North and left to the tender mercies of the southern planters and their hired help.

The Exoduster movement involved the movement of approximately 6,000 southern blacks from the South to Kansas starting around 1876 and peaking in 1879. It was a reaction to the terrorism used by the planter class and the white authorities of that time to keep the blacks in their place politically and economically. The fact that blacks outnumbered the white planter class and their minions in parts of the South meant that "appropriate methods" needed to be used by these same people to prevent the black populace from voting.

A story worth telling and well told by the author. It is a well documented and footnoted book. The book pays homage to the courageous spirit of the Exodusters, but also provides a reality check against those that would have us conveniently forget terrible injustices in our history.

Something to remember as we go forward in our grand national adventures in this year of our Lord, 2007.
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Format: Paperback
The migration of the Exodusters, blacks who moved to Kansas searching for a place in which to be truly free, is a massive and massively overlooked part of history. Nell Painter, in her book Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction, does a credible job of restoring this overlooked part of frontier history to the realm of academic discussion. It is a good book, yet, disturbingly, the voice of the Exodusters is missing. Painter claims that the exact number of Exodusters is unknown, but estimates from 6,000 to 20,000 have been made (184). Constrained by the prices gouged out of their harvests by tenant bosses, they dreamed of a land of milk and honey. This dream, in turn, with a small amount of exaggeration, helped to send them looking in Kansas for what they wanted. Yet, most of this book is about the conditions that led to the movement of the Exodusters and not what they found there, or how they adapted to life in a strange land. There are no reminiscences, no narratives, or stories from descendents. Painter points out the Southern credit system crushed them economically (55), that their schools were inferior (50) because of the practice of hiring deficient white teachers over exemplary black instructors, but there is no mention of whether or not change was achieved in Kansas.

Stylistically, Painter has the odd habit of taking end paragraphs to both sum up the previous chapter and introduce the next chapter. It breaks the flow of the book and makes it difficult to read. Also at times, Painter seems to be saying too much too fast. Some of her ideas, the study of black schools and the racial politics that controlled them, and the lineage of the black spiritual/political leaders for example, are books in themselves.
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Format: Paperback
A very comprehensive look at the events precedeing and including Black migration from the South after the Civil War. A must read for anyone interested in Black history or the Civil War.
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