• Moving West: African Americans After the Civil War

    After the war, African-Americans were excited to start their new lives. Actually doing it was harder than they expected. First, many white people carried racist attitudes and refused to change. They wouldn’t give African-Americans jobs and sometimes actively hurt or even killed them. And, African-Americans lacked education and skills. They needed a fresh start.

    Fun Facts

    • Some African-Americans headed west. An army unit built roads and forts, lay telegraph lines, and protected mail carriers and stage coaches from robbers.
    • Many black people moved west with the Homestead Act of 1862. They could get a piece of land and farm it.
    • Farming in Oklahoma and Nebraska was hard. Hot weather, lack of water, and summer hailstorms made farming an unpredictable business. There were no trees to get lumber for houses. Most people lived in houses made of mud, grass, and cow pies. They had to dig wells to get water.
    • White people weren’t happy to have the black people there. They made laws that kept the black people from attending public school, buying land, or voting. They made them pay fines to enter the state and sometimes threatened to shoot them if they didn’t leave.
    • Some black people started their own towns, complete with teachers, doctors, and sheriffs.
    • It wasn’t an easy life, but they were glad to be free.

    Questions and Answers

    Question: Why did the white people hate the black people so much?

    Answer: That is a good question. For generations, they’d been taught that white people were better than black people. They believed that black people weren’t as intelligent or as capable. If they had seen black people as people deserving of respect and value, they wouldn’t have been able to enslave them like they did. Their attitudes allowed them to justify their behavior to themselves.

    Learn More

    Read an article about black homesteaders.


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Declan, Tobin. " Moving West: African Americans After the Civil War - American History For Kids ." American History for Kids, May 2021. Web. 26 May 2021. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/moving-west-african-americans-after-the-civil-war/ >.

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Tobin, Declan. (2021). Moving West: African Americans After the Civil War - American History For Kids. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/moving-west-african-americans-after-the-civil-war/

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