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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1860s to 1870s (Benchmark 3) - Exodusters (Indicator 5) - Black perspectives on emigration

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Henry and Clara Smith to John P. St. John

Henry and Clara Smith to John P. St. John
Creator: Smith, Henry and Clara
Date: May 7, 1879
Henry Smith and his daughter, Clara, wrote this letter to Kansas Governor John St. John requesting information about black emigration to Kansas. Smith wrote on behalf of his community in Marshall, Texas, saying that a number of people were hoping to emigrate because they were unable to make a living due to discriminatory practices. According to the letter, some of the Smith's white neighbors were threatening to follow black emigrants if they attempted to leave the area (to what end is unclear). In addition to his role as Kansas governor, St. John served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


J. C. Black to Governor John P. St. John

J. C. Black to Governor John P. St. John
Creator: Black, J. C.
Date: April 28, 1881
This brief letter was written by J. C. Black, a former slave from Paris, Tennessee. According to Black, his white neighbors were saying that black refugees in Kansas were starving and out of work. Black wanted to know if this was true before he moved to Kansas. He asked for a speedy response. In addition to his service as Governor, St. John also served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


"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.


Richard West to John P. St. John

Richard West to John P. St. John
Date: January 18, 1881
Richard West, a resident of Barton Station, Alabama, wrote this letter to Kansas governor St. John requesting information about available land in Kansas. West was a farmer who described in some detail many of the concerns facing emigrants, including transportation and other expenses. In addition to his role as governor of Kansas, St. John also served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


S. H. B. Schoonmaker to Governor John P. St. John

S. H. B. Schoonmaker to Governor John P. St. John
Creator: Shoonmaker, S. H. B.
Date: May 17, 1879
S. H. B. Shoonmaker of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, wrote this letter to Governor St. John on behalf of the black residents of his parish (county). He asked the governor a number of specific questions, including how these black emigrants could obtain land, where they should settle, and whether there were relief organizations that could assist the refugees. In addition to his service as governor, St. John also served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association.


The Mississippi Negro Swindle

The Mississippi Negro Swindle
Creator: Topeka Colored Citizen
Date: July 19, 1879
This unsigned article in the Topeka Colored Citizen relates how a swindler, who had represented himself as a government agent, stole money from Southern blacks who were looking for passage to Kansas. Apparently, "a club of White Leaguers" planned the swindle in order to keep freed blacks in the South. The swindlers also told the blacks that they had been taken advantage of by their Northern allies.


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.


What the Rebels of the South Threaten to Do

What the Rebels of the South Threaten to Do
Creator: Topeka Colored Citizen
Date: December 21, 1878
This article in the Topeka Colored Citizen argues that, while many Northerners believed that the Civil War had ended, Southerners continued to deny blacks their rights. It also includes an excerpt from some newspapers in Mississippi that discuss this matter; one even states that "blacks have no right under the sun to vote."


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