Free State of Jones Ending Explained [SPOILER!](L-R) Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight and Bill Tangradi as Lt. Barbour in ``Free State of Jones.’’

SPOILER ALERT: the following article contains massive spoilers, including the ending. If you have not yet seen the movie, proceed at your own risk, or better, come back to this article later!

In 1863, Mississippi farmer Newt Knight serves as a medic for the Confederate Army. Opposed to slavery, Knight would rather help the wounded than fight the Union. After his nephew dies in battle, Newt returns home to Jones County to safeguard his family but is soon branded an outlaw deserter. Forced to flee, he finds refuge with a group of runaway slaves hiding out in the swamps. Forging an alliance with the slaves and other farmers, Knight leads a rebellion that would forever change history.


Free State of Jones Plot Summary and Synopsis

After surviving the 1862 Battle of Corinth and being told of the Twenty Negro Law that allows wealthy men to avoid being conscripted into military service, Newton Knight, a poor farmer from Jones County serving as a battlefield nurse in the Confederate army, deserts and returns home to his wife Serena after seeing his nephew Daniel get shot and killed.

Upon returning home, he befriends Rachel, an enslaved woman who has secretly learned to read.

Newton’s disenchantment with the Confederacy grows after finding out that Confederate troops have been confiscating crops and livestock from his fellow farmers as “taxes” to support the war effort.

After helping one family resist such a raid, he is pursued by a Confederate slave patrol and gets bitten by an attack dog. With the help of abolitionist-oriented Aunt Sally and sympathetic slaves, he escapes to a swamp where a camp of escaped slaves led by Moses Washington tend to his wounds.

After the Siege of Vicksburg, more rebel soldiers desert. Most flee into the swamps, and Newton is elected as a captain to organize them against efforts to force them back into service.

The ex-Confederates, runaway slaves, and farmers of Jones County start a revolt against the Confederacy. They raid Confederate convoys for food and supplies and capture a piece of southeast Mississippi, organizing it as the “Free State of Jones”.

Despite getting little help from the Union, Newton’s firm leadership and the rebels’ use of the terrain and various deceptions enable them to hold out until 1865, when the Confederacy is dissolved.

Newton continues to fight racial inequality after the war. He helps free Moses’ son from an “apprenticeship” to Rachel’s former master.

After Moses is lynched while registering freedmen to vote, Newton is seen participating in a march of voters to the polls while they sing “John Brown’s Body”. He eventually has a son with Rachel named Jason. Since they are unable to legally marry, Newton arranges for her to be deeded a parcel of his land for farming.

Free State of Jones Ending

The film ends with Newton’s great-grandson, Davis Knight, being arrested under Mississippi’s anti-miscegenation laws in 1948. Since he is possibly of one-eighth black descent, the law considers him to be black, and he therefore cannot legally marry his long-time white sweetheart.

He is sentenced to five years in prison, but his conviction is thrown out by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1949, rather than risk the law being declared unconstitutional in light of the emerging civil rights movement.

Source: Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Leave a Reply