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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1860s to 1870s (Benchmark 3) - Exodusters (Indicator 5) - Symbol of Kansas as a free state

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Isaiah T. Montgomery to Governor John P. St. John

Isaiah T. Montgomery to Governor John P. St. John
Creator: Montgomery, Isaiah T. (Isaiah Thorton), 1847-1924
Date: May 23, 1879
Isaiah T. Montgomery of Hurricane, Mississippi, wrote Governor John P. St. John of Topeka, Kansas, concerning the migration of twenty five families of black refugees from Mississippi to Kansas. Montgomery described the difficulties faced by the families and a visit he made to Kansas to assess their conditions. He also critiqued the relief programs in Kansas and made recommendations for assisting present and future migrants. In addition, the letter addresses Montgomery's broader effort to establish a community for black refugees in Kansas and the oppressive conditions under which blacks lived in Mississippi. Montgomery dictated a letter sent to him from William Nervis regarding the conditions of the refugees. During 1879 and 1880 a mass exodus of blacks from the deep South, known as the Negro Exodus, overwhelmed the state's ability to accommodate the refugees. These refugees were called Exodusters. Governor St. John established a Freedman's Relief Association to assist the migrants but its efforts were largely seen as a failure.


"Pap" Singleton songster

"Pap" Singleton songster
Creator: Hickman, Hester
Date: 1877
This pamphlet, sold by Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, the "Father of the Exodus," includes the lyrics for two songs advertising black Southerners' emigration to Kansas. The first song, "The Land that Gives Birth to Freedom," alludes to the hardships of life in Tennessee and the promise of a better life in Kansas. The second song, "Extending Our Voices to Heaven," is a farewell message to those left behind. Lyrics for these songs were written by Mrs. Hester Hickman with arrangement by A. D. DeFrantz. The pamphlet was originally included in the Benjamin Singleton scrapbook.


The Great Negro Exodus

The Great Negro Exodus
Creator: Harpers Weekly
Date: May 17, 1879
This article published in the nationally-renown newspaper Harper's Weekly discusses the black exodus from the South, stating that Kansas seemed to be the objective for many of these emigrants. In particular the article discusses the role of the Tennessee Real Estate and Homestead Association, led by Benjamin "Pap" Singleton.


Whar de shot gun rules no mo'e

Whar de shot gun rules no mo'e
Creator: Smith, Frank J.
Date: 1880
This song sheet, which includes both the sheet music and lyrics, describes how black Southerners longed for safety and freedom but frequently lived in fear of the Ku Klux Klan and other white Southerners. According to the song, these black Southerners were heading to Kansas "whar de shot-gun rules no mo'e." The song was written by Frank J. Smith, "a native hoosier," and was published by R. R. Meredith and Sons in Chicago. It uses a black dialect that was common in nineteenth-century depictions of African Americans.


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