Blacks in the West

Blacks in the West

Blacks in the West

Blacks in the West

Excerpt

The settlement and development of the West has been one of the most extensively studied topics of American history. A great deal of this interest was due to the influence of Frederick Jackson Turner and the frontier school. As a result of their work, almost every section of the frontier has been investigated in depth and much has been told us of the men and women who settled there. Conspicuous in its absence from the history of the West, however, was an account of black men and women. Indeed, many of the authors in early times wrote as though blacks had made no contribution at all. Fortunately, recent scholarship has brought us closer to the truth. Especially noteworthy in this respect are two studies: William Loren Katz The Black West and Kenneth W. Porter The Negro on the American Frontier.

The present study differs from those two in that it deals only with the West, thereby excluding the slave states. It is an effort to determine what influence, if any, blacks had on a region where their numbers were few. They were not drawn to the West in great numbers partly because there were no staple crops and partly because the region was far removed from the center of the black population.

Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Missouri are all states west of the Mississippi, and in all of them blacks have, by their labor, made some contribution. But these states are part of the cotton kingdom . . .

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