• Martin's Cove at Devil's Gate in Wyoming

    Mormon Pioneer

    National Historic Trail IL,IA,NE,UT,WY

Research

TITLE: Sweet Freedom's Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails 1841-1869
AUTHOR: Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, PhD.
DATE ACCEPTED: January 31, 2012

Dr. Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento, worked with the National Park Service, National Trails Intermountain Region to create this groundbreaking study about the African American emigrant experience on the Oregon, California and Mormon Pioneer national historic trails. Read her engaging study on this little known component of American history.

Sweet Freedom's Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails 1841-1869, Adobe PDF

"African American men, women and children were western pioneers too. Enslaved or free, they were an integral part of the human tide that undertook the long journey across the continent."

"Black people, like their white counterparts, crossed the plains for myriad personal, economic, social, and political reasons. The lure of free land, new business opportunities, and individual autonomy were aspirations shared by both groups."

"Clearly, the lives, hopes, and expectations of nineteenth century black people differed in critical ways from those of white people. As a result, African Americans understood and experienced the westering journey in ways that white emigrants could not. The study of the African American experience on the trails broadens our understanding of the nature, scope, and meaning of westward migration. The experiences of the thousands of black men and women who came west compel us to reconsider the traditional narrative of our nation's history."

Did You Know?

Elkhorn River Crossing near Fremont, Nebraska.

The Elkhorn River, a few days from the Mormon Winter Quarters at Council Bluffs, was one of the first major water crossings encountered by the Mormons. In April 1847, several days were spent building rafts to ferry the first 72 wagons across the flooded river. More...