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By 1878 the population in the two sections of the State was fairly well defined. The eastern half was occupied largely by the pro and antislavery emigrants of the antebellum period; the western half by late comers from the East, ex-Union soldiers and Europeans. But it was yet to receive the sudden flow of emancipated Negroes, known as the "exodusters." From the close of the Civil War, freed slaves from the South had trickled into Kansas in small numbers; in 1878 lured by the false promise of "forty acres and a mule," southern Negroes came in such numbers that 20,000 are said to have entered the State in four years. The Negro population in 1870 was 17,108; ten years later it had increased to 43,107. Benjamin (Pap) Singleton, a Negro who styled himself the father of the exodus, induced more than 7,000 Negroes to migrate from Tennessee alone. Most of those who came in 1876-78 settled in one of his three colonies Dunlap in the Neosho Valley, Singleton in Cherokee County, and Nicodemus (the only surviving "Exoduster" community) in Graham County. The few who had teams and farm implements procured land or found work on farms; the remainder swelled the growing towns and cities. Subsequent growth of Negro population was relatively slow, the increase in the next fifty years being only 23,000. 

In 1878 Indian troubles were terminated with the last Cheyenne raid in western Kansas. The State, finally at peace, had time to consider a long vexing problem prohibition. The control of liquor had always been a live issue. In 1855 the "bogus legislature" provided for local option with the Dram Shop Law, copied from the Missouri statutes. This law was never satisfactory in Kansas and, to improve upon it, such towns as Emporia, Baldwin, and Topeka adopted measures revoking titles to land on which liquor was sold. The subject of State prohibition was considered at each constitutional convention. Organizations such as the Good Templars were created, embodying the temperance pledge in their constitutions. In 1860 the sale of liquor to Indians was prohibited. The State Temperance Society held its first meeting the following year. The Richard-Murphy Temperance movement swept the State in 1870; in 1873 the Women's Crusade was begun, with groups meeting in saloons to smash containers, spill liquor, and pray with drunken habitues. Through these agencies local prohibition was effected in various counties and towns, but it was not until 1 88 1, under the administration of the eighth Governor, John P. St. John, that the State prohibition law was passed. 

The decade following "the grasshoppers" was exceptionally prosperous and the whole State entered into a boom of speculation. Eastern money, made readily available, was diverted into public and private improvements; with reckless abandon. Land values were boosted, "false front" buildings, erected, "paper" towns were laid out. Then came the drought of 1887, and the boom collapsed. Demands made for loans could not be met, banks and business houses failed, and, especially in the western counties, thousands of settlers who faced foreclosure left the State. 

In 1889 approximately 50,000 Kansas settlers moved to the newly opened land in Oklahoma, leaving the Plains virtually abandoned. Four years later the general panic of 1893, together with another partial crop failure, brought a second period of "hard times." But the State was then too well established to be more than temporarily affected. Eastern emigration soon refilled the western counties, and another succession of good crops restored confidence. Greeley, the last of the State's 105 counties, was organized July 9, 1888, and pioneering days were over.