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Title: From Slave to College President - Being the Life Story of Booker T. Washington
Author: Pike, G. Holden (Godfrey Holden), 1836-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From Slave to College President - Being the Life Story of Booker T. Washington" ***

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               FROM SLAVE TO COLLEGE PRESIDENT



+----------------------------------------------------------------------+
|                   The "Lives Worth Living"                           |
|                                                                      |
|                SERIES OF POPULAR BIOGRAPHIES.                        |
|                                                                      |
|     Illustrated. Crown 8vo, Cloth Extra, Gilt Edges, 3s. 6d. per     |
|     Volume.                                                          |
|                                                                      |
| #1. LEADERS OF MEN.# By H. A. PAGE, Author of "Golden Lives." Sixth  |
|     Edition.                                                         |
|                                                                      |
| #2. WISE WORDS AND LOVING DEEDS.# By E. CONDER GRAY. Eighth Edition. |
|                                                                      |
| #3. MASTER MISSIONARIES.# By A. H. JAPP, LL.D., F.R.S.E. Sixth       |
|     Edition.                                                         |
|                                                                      |
| #4. LABOUR AND VICTORY.# By A. H. JAPP, LL.D. Third Edition.         |
|                                                                      |
| #5. HEROIC ADVENTURE.# Illustrated. Third Edition.                   |
|                                                                      |
| #6. GREAT MINDS IN ART.# By WILLIAM TIREBUCK. Second Edition.        |
|                                                                      |
| #7. GOOD MEN AND TRUE.# By A. H. JAPP, LL.D. Second Edition.         |
|                                                                      |
| #8. FAMOUS MUSICAL COMPOSERS.# By LYDIA MORRIS. Second Edition.      |
|                                                                      |
| #9. OLIVER CROMWELL AND HIS TIMES.# By G. HOLDEN PIKE. With 8        |
|     Illustrations, including the Bristol Portrait as Frontispiece.   |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------+

[Illustration: BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.]



                        FROM SLAVE TO
                      COLLEGE PRESIDENT

                          BEING THE

                        LIFE STORY OF
                    BOOKER T. WASHINGTON


                             BY
                       G. HOLDEN PIKE

                          Author of
              "Oliver Cromwell and His Times,"
                         Etc., Etc.


                _With Frontispiece Portrait_


                           London
                       T. Fisher Unwin
                     Paternoster Square
                            1902

                  [_All rights reserved._]



+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|                CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN OF HARPER'S                          |
|                             FERRY                                      |
|                                                                        |
|                              BY                                        |
|                                                                        |
|                          JOHN NEWTON                                   |
|                                                                        |
|           Crown 8vo, Cloth, 6s. Fully Illustrated.                     |
|                                                                        |
| There are few to whom the lines,                                       |
|                                                                        |
|     "John Brown's body lies a-mould'ring in the grave,                 |
|     But his soul's marching on,"                                       |
|                                                                        |
| are not familiar, but few are now aware that they came into being as   |
| the marching song, made and used by the followers of "John Brown of    |
| Harper's Ferry," or of "Ossawatomie," after he had been executed. His  |
| was a stirring life. Having conceived the idea of becoming the         |
| liberator of the negro slaves in the Southern States of North America, |
| he emigrated in 1855 from Ohio to Kansas, where he took an active part |
| in the contest against the pro-slavery party. He gained, in August     |
| 1856, a victory at Ossawatomie over a superior number of Missourians   |
| who had invaded Kansas (whence the surname "Ossawatomie"). On the      |
| night of October 16, 1859, he seized the arsenal at Harper's Ferry,    |
| Virginia, at the head of a small band of followers with a view to      |
| arming the negroes and inciting an insurrection. He was captured       |
| October 18th, was tried by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and was       |
| executed at Charlestown, December 2, 1859.                             |
|                                                                        |
| Mr Newton has been at pains to inform himself from every available     |
| source upon which it was possible to draw for a biography of John      |
| Brown. The result is a most exhaustive work, in which the part Brown   |
| took in the Kansas border wars, all his preparations for Harper's      |
| Ferry and what occurred there, and his trial are fully related.        |
| Practically no day between Brown's condemnation and his                |
| execution--nearly a month--is ignored, and many most interesting       |
| particulars are given of Brown's family. The judgments of his great    |
| countrymen, Whittier, Thoreau and Emerson, as well as that of the      |
| great romancer, Victor Hugo, are related, and interesting sketches are |
| given of many prominent men of all parties with whom Brown came in     |
| contact.                                                               |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+



                          CONTENTS


CHAP.                                                               PAGE

   I. WANTED: A MAN--THE MAN FOUND                                     1

  II. THE ERA OF FREEDOM--REALISING THAT KNOWLEDGE IS POWER           16

 III. OFF TO HAMPTON--WAS HE A LIKELY CANDIDATE?                      32

  IV. GENERAL ARMSTRONG--HIS PREDECESSORS AND COLLABORATORS--PIONEERS
      OF THE NEW ERA                                                  41

   V. UPS AND DOWNS--PROGRESS AS A STUDENT--BEGINNING TO TEACH        49

  VI. AMERICAN INDIANS--WORK AT HAMPTON                               60

 VII. THE BEGINNING OF A LIFE WORK                                    71

VIII. SOME ACTUAL RESULTS--POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS                      85

  IX. CONTINUED PROGRESS--POPULARITY AS A SPEAKER                     94

   X. VISIT TO EUROPE--RETURN TO TUSKEGEE                            104



                    FROM SLAVE TO COLLEGE
                          PRESIDENT



                          CHAPTER I

                WANTED: A MAN--THE MAN FOUND


Just at the most severe crisis of the war between France and Germany,
over thirty years ago, a London newspaper, in describing the situation,
remarked that France wanted not men, but a Man. During a whole
generation which followed after the close of the gigantic and sanguinary
conflict between the Northern and Southern States of the American
Republic, a similar remark would have applied to the millions of slaves
who, though nominally free, were drifting hither and thither, now
groping in the wrong direction altogether, or missing opportunities they
might have embraced, had there but been one commanding personality in
their midst to give the word and lead the way. There seemed to be too
many negroes, while they were still increasing with a rapidity which
inspired misgiving. The race seemed to be "at sea" for want of a Man. At
length the much-needed chief or leader was found in Booker T.
Washington, whose distinguished work on behalf of the race at the great
institution which he has founded at Tuskegee has given him a world-wide
reputation. As a negro, his mission is to the men and women of his own
nation.

In regard to this man with his commanding personality, the
_International Monthly_ of New York says:--"At the present time he is
universally recognised as the foremost representative of his race. He is
eagerly sought after as a speaker. Whatever he chooses to write
immediately finds a willing publisher. Newspaper eulogy declares him to
be a remarkable orator. He is often spoken of as of solid, and even
brilliant, intellectual attainments. How much of all this vogue and of
this unusual reputation is based upon the fact that he is a negro, and
how much upon his native merit when weighed and judged without regard to
any other consideration whatsoever? Has he, in fact, done that which,
had he been a white man, would have given him a solid and substantial
claim to the esteem that he now enjoys?"

Mr Harry T. Peck, who writes thus, ventures the opinion that the
estimate of the public in regard to Booker Washington is exaggerated.
"There is no evidence that his mind is in any way exceptional," he
adds.... "Were he a white man, he never would be singled out for
eminence.... He is not an orator; he is not a writer; he is not a
thinker. He is something more than these. He is the man who comes at the
psychological moment and does the thing which is wanting to be done, and
which no one else has yet accomplished." This can hardly be accepted as
genuine criticism. Just as we judge a tree by its fruits, so we measure
capacity, and even genius, by its results. If, as is generally
acknowledged to be the case, Booker Washington has practically solved
that Race Problem which American politicians have hardly dared to face
since the close of the Civil War, it is only fair that we accord him the
distinction of possessing that original shrewdness which may even be
called genius. When an idea of exceptional value is given forth, one
that is all the greater on account of its simplicity, people seem to be
naturally disposed to underrate the power which gave it utterance.
Booker Washington may merely be following in the footsteps of Adam Smith
when, instead of regarding the negro population as an evil or a
grievance, he prescribes that their labour, as a source of vast wealth,
be utilised for the national advancement. Viewed from any other
standpoint, there can be no doubt that the rapidly-increasing negroes
inspire some disquieting apprehensions as a possible source of
inconvenience or of actual danger. Once get the coloured race well under
control, however, and the result would be all-round satisfaction.

Thus Booker Washington is not only the man of the hour to his own
people; in him the Man who has been wanted for forty years has been
found. Being somewhat over forty years of age, he was born in those
portentous times towards the end of the sixth decade of the last century
when the political horizon of the Republic was darkening and showing
symptoms of the coming Civil War. Virginia, his native State, was the
most populous and wealthy of the original thirteen, which, as colonies,
separated from Great Britain after the War of Independence. In the days
of his childhood, before the Civil War actually broke out, his
surroundings were those of the cabin standing amid the squalor of
slavery. All the sad, as well as the comic, phases of life on the
Southern plantations, as they then existed, are vividly remembered by
Booker Washington. Of course, to the slaves themselves very much
depended on the disposition of their owners, or on the character of the
overseers which those planters employed. The lot of Booker Washington
was what may be called an average one. It was not so bad as that of many
others who were less fortunate; nor was it so good as the exceptional
experience of the few who were born amid the most favourable
surroundings. It was, of course, a sad childhood, unrelieved by anything
like what we should in Great Britain call the comforts of life. He was a
keen-witted lad; but the shrewdest of seers could not have foreseen that
he would develop into the man of hope whom the negroes, after their
coming emancipation, would most sorely need.

At the time of his birth, some forty-three or forty-four years ago--the
exact place or time being alike unknown--the public sentiment in regard
to emancipation had made great advances, and this had been effected
chiefly through the diffusion of millions of copies of Mrs H. B. Stowe's
_Uncle Tom's Cabin_. Among those in this country who believed the
descriptions in that work to be exaggerated, and that Legree was a
non-existent character, we have to include Charles Dickens. At the same
time, that famous novelist, in common with some others, probably
clearly saw that the days of slavery were numbered. "In truth, it must
be so," remarked one journalist at the time when _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ was
the most popular book both in the Old and the New World. "In truth, it
must be so, for the very laws of population forbid the permanence of
slavery in America. The black man thrives where the white man decays,
and it is the knowledge of this very remarkable fact that in great part
accounts for the dislike to the coloured population which is everywhere
expressed in the United States." The social inequality of the negroes
and the whites struck people then, as it does to-day in this country, as
being one of the most marked features of American society. There is
probably no remedy for that state of things, and it is partly through
his recognising this fact, and knowing that the negroes must continue to
be a race by themselves, that Booker Washington's success has been what
it is.

Meanwhile, what kind of existence was the everyday life on a plantation
"down South" in the days of Booker Washington's childhood? By way of
reply, take this vivid word-picture from Mr Casey's _Two Years on the
Farm of Uncle Sam_, which was published in the decade of our hero's
birth:--

"The slaves are all that I had imagined, coming up to the dark outline
of fancy with a terrible precision. We put in to wood at one of these
places, and for the first time I saw these hewers of wood and drawers of
water. A party of us went on shore to shoot; some distance in the wood
we found two men, three women and two boys; there were twenty in all on
this farm. The women were dressed in a rough, shapeless, coarse
garment, buttoned at the back, with a sort of trousers of the same
material, rough shoes and stockings, the upper garment reaching nearly
to the ankle; a kind of cloth, like a dirty towel, was wound round the
head. One of the women drove an ox-team; she had a large and powerful
whip, with which, and a surprising strength, she belaboured and tugged
the unwieldy team with great dexterity. The other woman had five
children, and assisted in loading the wood; the younger, about sixteen
years of age, had one child, and appeared to do nothing. The women, it
seemed to me, worked harder than the men. I observed the almost complete
absence of memory in the elder woman; she could not remember where she
had left the link-chain or goad-whip, though but a few minutes out of
her hand. I must confess that, looking on that labour-crooked group, I
felt a dislike, strong and definite, to that system which takes away
even the hope of improvement, crushing down the principle of self-esteem
in the man, until it reaches the passive and unambitious existence of
the oxen which he drives. And looking on those women, negroes though
they were, so unnaturally masculine, so completely unsexed, so far
removed from all those attributes with which the name of woman is
associated, I felt that no reason based on an asserted right, no fiction
of argument, could stand in my judgment but as dust in the balance when
the question is whether a human being--no matter of what colour, whether
an Indian or an African sun may have burned upon him--should possess the
liberty or right of securing his own happiness to the extent of his
ability. Then their state, their look, bodies, mind and manner were so
many self-evident arguments against the system, which no
representations, however plausible, could refute; and all that I had
listened to from Southerners on the voyage disappeared like gossamer in
the tempest before the mute, living picture of wretchedness presented by
that group."

Brought up amid such surroundings, one would not know much about his
ancestry, if anything at all. A great planter gave no more heed to the
pedigree of his slaves than he did to that of his cattle; all alike were
bought and sold in the open market, and neither one nor the other had
any rights or privileges apart from the will of their owners. The cabin
of the slave family was, in a very literal sense, what its name
implied--a cabin and nothing more. The household was not supposed to
need more than one room; the furniture was, of course, as rude as the
hovel itself, and, though the apartment would be well ventilated, glass
windows were not considered necessary. A pallet on the earthern floor
was the only sleeping accommodation. It was one-room life under one of
its worst phases; and, in addition to other drawbacks, the inmates
suffered from cold and draughts in winter and from heat in summer. It is
almost needless to say that under such conditions and amid such
surroundings a lad like Booker Washington fared neither better nor worse
than tens of thousands of his fellows; his earliest days were not
cheered by any of the sunshine of childhood. As a rule, the children of
the slave-cabin knew nothing of those ordinary sports and pastimes which
relieve and give variety to the early days of the young under happier
circumstances. Of course, he was not more than a child when slavery came
to an end, but in the case of such a child slave, at a very early age
indeed, his possible service was found to be commercially too valuable
to be altogether dispensed with. He could do duty as a messenger or as a
porter between the great house--a sumptuous palace in comparison with
the slave-cabins--and the fields where his elders were at work. With a
horse he could also go on more distant errands, some of which, along
lonely roads, were not unattended with danger. Thus the dense, dark
woods through which he might have to pass, when taking corn to be ground
at a distant mill, would be haunted by imaginary spectres; and, besides,
there were said to be deserters from the Confederate Army hidden in
those recesses who, by way of sport, would relieve any negro lad of his
ears if they chanced to meet with him. Such were the last repellent
phases of that phase of that now obsolete world of slavery in Old
Virginia as Booker Washington remembers them.

In our common, everyday talk we are accustomed to say that the darkest
hour of night precedes the dawn of day. It was so in this instance. The
time of Booker Washington's birth, and for some years after, was
apparently the darkest period in the history of the slaves of the
Southern States. For long the negroes of the plantations not only grew
up quite illiterate--it was a punishable offence for them to make any
endeavour to learn to read, or for anyone to attempt to teach them. Not
very long before the Fugitive Slave Law had found a place in the Statute
Book of the Republic, and this Act made it illegal for any fugitive
slave to find either shelter or aid in any State of the Union. Then,
just about the same time, the American Chief-Justice had, in his
official capacity, declared that nowhere in any one of the States had a
slave any rights of citizenship. In a word, the slaves on a plantation
were simply on a level, in a legal sense, with the cattle they tended or
used in their everyday work. For example, the mere children had no
regular meal times in the conventional sense as we understand things;
and there was little or nothing of what we should recognise as family
life. Thus when, after the era of emancipation, Booker Washington came
to the experience of sleeping in an ordinary bed and sitting down at
table to partake of a family meal, both were a revelation of civilised
existence which were quite new to him.

In a sense the very denial to the slave population of their educational
rights would seem to have had something like the effect of sharpening
their wits, until they became not only interested in what was happening
around them, but the shrewdest observers of the signs of the times. Like
other boys of his race, Booker Washington ran wild when he was not
engaged in his customary errands, and without so much as learning even
the English alphabet. But this compulsory ignorance seems to have
intensified that ardent desire for knowledge which was part of his
nature. Among his errands he might have to go to a schoolhouse where
companies of happy young people were engaged over their books, and he
was naturally much affected by what he saw and heard. Why was not he
privileged in a similar way? Tens of thousands of negro boys may have
asked themselves that same question in the generations that preceded
him, and in every instance the answer would be the same--schools are
forbidden to the slave. The coloured population was fast increasing, and
the planters believed that the public safety could only be guaranteed by
compelling them to remain illiterate.

In point of fact, however, the slaves on the plantations were not as
ignorant as their too sanguine owners supposed them to be. In a secret
way one here and there may even have learned to read; and, in regard to
what was going on in the outside world, they were oftentimes hardly less
well informed than their masters and mistresses. As Booker Washington
remembers it, the time of his childhood was a wonderful era of
transition. None more fully realised than the slaves themselves that the
bone of contention which occasioned the Civil War was the question of
slavery. Thus, to them, the period of conflict was a time of wild, but
still subdued, excitement, for fear their sentiments should be detected
and be followed by pains and penalties. The traffic on "the underground
railroad" was probably for the time suspended; but what was called "the
grapevine telegraph" was in full operation, and on every plantation and
in every planter's palatial mansion the slaves looked for its messages
with that ardent interest which cannot be described. They could not read
newspapers, and would have been forbidden to do so had they been able,
but whenever a messenger was sent to a neighbouring town he took care to
linger about the post-office, or elsewhere where persons conversed on
the current news, and everything that entered the coloured messenger's
sharpened ears soon became generally known to every soul on the
plantation. There were masters who professed to believe that their
people would fight for them; but in secret nocturnal meetings these
slaves congratulated one another on every Northern victory, while they
prayed with pathetic ardour for the success of Lincoln and his armies.

At the same time, when they were tolerably well used by their owners,
there was a good deal of sympathy binding together the coloured race and
the white people. Booker Washington does not think that his race have
ever betrayed any trust that has been reposed in them. Being born into
slavery, they grew up without being acquainted with any other condition
of life, so that it must have appeared quite natural to them for the
dominant whites to live in the great house and for themselves, who were
merely niggers, to herd in the cabins. But while they never undervalued
freedom, and, personally, ardently longed for it, there were certain
things which exercised influence over them of a softening kind, despite
the master grievance of hard bondage and its occasional cruel hardships.
For example, Booker Washington, at a very early age, undertook such
service as he could perform in his master's house; and it was not only a
possibility, it frequently happened, that a young servant, whether a lad
or a girl, became a favourite with the members of the family. The
younger white people would sometimes favour or protect a slave when he
got into trouble, and thus something like genuine affection would be
kindled in the hearts of the subject race. What animated conversations
respecting the two great armies in the field such a boy as Booker
Washington would hear at his master's table while he was engaged in
keeping the room as clear as possible of flies! This was another way of
getting the current news by those who did not form any part even of the
fringe of the newspaper constituency. Then, of course, there was the
constant occurrence of the usual casualties of war. Bitter sorrow and
mourning, like angels of darkness, would steal into the luxurious homes
of the planters when the master himself, or a son of the household, was
returned invalided or so sorely wounded as to be maimed for life. It was
still worse when, as it actually happened, one or another of these chief
people of the Southern Confederacy was killed. There was then the
anguish of mourning in the household akin to that which afflicted the
people of Egypt when the first-born of each family was slain. In many
cases, whether the fallen or the wounded might belong to the older or
the younger generation, the slaves themselves were touched by the
affliction of the family, because they never forgot the good deeds of
those who had befriended them. It seems to be the belief of Booker
Washington that, in any case, if, as trusted servants, they had been
left in charge of a house by night or day, they would never have
surrendered to the enemies of their owners, even though the invaders
might have been men of the Northern battalions who were practically
fighting for the freedom of the oppressed race. Still, it is thought
with good reason that both the white and the coloured races were losers
by slavery. As was inevitable, it turned out that one race cannot
oppress another without being affected for the worse. Over the best of
the plantations there seemed to hover a shadow, as though something were
wanting to make the prosperity complete, when wealth was amassed by
doubtful means. Instead of being a pleasure and honourable, labour was
looked upon as something which had degradation associated with it. The
planters and their families held aloof from it because it was the badge
of slavery. The slaves themselves disliked it because it belonged to
their condition of bondage.

As it has been shown, slavery reached its darkest phase in the years
which immediately preceded the era of emancipation, during Booker
Washington's childhood. Many telling illustrations might be given to
show that this was actually the fact. I am personally well acquainted
with an ex-slave, who is also a native of Virginia, who vividly
remembers those days. At the time of his birth his mother was hardly
more than sixteen years of age; but, notwithstanding, this girl had
already tasted enough of the anguish and bitterness of slavery which
might more than have sufficed for a long lifetime. She was so roughly
treated by her owner that for some little time preceding her child's
birth she remained concealed in a neighbouring wood, where the only diet
procurable was berries or wild fruit. In this case the painful anomaly
was that the slave-girl's husband was a free man who, loving his wife
and child, made strenuous efforts to purchase them, but did so quite
unsuccessfully. The master even moved away to another place, where the
mother did the work of a domestic servant, and during this time her son
experienced something of the gaiety of childhood while playing in the
yard with coloured juveniles of his own age, who, like himself, were as
young cattle in a pen growing up for a sad destiny.

In those days, as Booker Washington himself would be aware,
slave-mothers would at times speak to their children of Georgia, or
going "down South," in order to inspire terror. Going to Georgia meant
to pass on into a land without hope, of darkness and death. Occasionally
a hard-featured stranger would appear on the scene, and, while leaning
on the fence with folded arms, he would watch the boys at play in the
yard with the interested glances of a trader. Then, as must have
appeared mysteriously to the boys themselves, after the stranger had
gone away, one or another of the boys would be missing. Then it would be
whispered, as though some horror had overtaken them, the missing boy had
been taken "down South"--into Georgia.

Booker Washington is certainly one of the most extraordinary examples on
record of the successful pursuit of knowledge under difficulties; but
there have been many striking examples among slaves of lads showing this
mettle. My ex-slave friend, to whom reference has been made, is
certainly to be reckoned as one of these. It is probable that his mother
may have passed as a woman of education, seeing that she knew the
English alphabet and was able to count a hundred. Be this as it may,
however, like a genuine Christian mother, she determined that, in spite
of planters and their laws, her child should learn whatever she could
teach him. In due course the boy himself showed a flaming desire to
learn. By dint of remarkable diligence and perseverance, he got ahead of
his mother in knowledge. If learning was carried on in secret, there had
rarely been found a more ardent pupil. Without inconvenient questions
being asked, he succeeded in purchasing a copy-book and spelling primer,
which were well used on all possible occasions. He actually went through
the whole of the Bible when he could not master more than one in eight
of the words. This man afterwards enjoyed the benefit of a college
education in England, so that his case is worthy of being mentioned as
being similar to that of Booker Washington. Both instances alike show
that negroes may not only have good intellectual endowments, but may
also succeed in high aims by dint of unflagging energy and perseverance.

At length the era of freedom came; and although at that time Booker
Washington was still too young to realise what all the excitement and
commotion portended, those who looked upon him saw the child who would
develop into a benefactor of his race and the most distinguished negro
of his time. The Man who was wanted was found.



                         CHAPTER II

    THE ERA OF FREEDOM--REALISING THAT KNOWLEDGE IS POWER


The great, long-looked-for and ardently-prayed-for day of freedom had
come at last, and probably one of the things which Booker Washington
remembers is the kiss which his mother gave him after listening to the
reading of President Lincoln's Proclamation, and to which the Southern
leaders were compelled to yield when the pressure of the Northern army
became too great to be longer resisted. In common justice to the
Southern planters, we have to remember that the crisis may have meant
little if anything short of actual ruin. The human chattels, as slaves
were often called, were not seldom very valuable bargains in the open
market. A sum of 3000 dollars in gold was once offered for the ex-slave
friend to whom reference has been made, and was at once refused by his
owner. It can well be believed that one who has developed such a gift
for organisation as Booker Washington would have commanded a much higher
figure, although such prices were, of course, far in advance of the
average.

It might also be said that the planters were not responsible for slavery
having become an institution of the Republic, and that they had to do
with things as they found them. But while this may be true, it has also
to be admitted that the Southern States retained that institution longer
than their neighbours. At the end of the century in which the Republic
secured its independence there were under 900,000 slaves in the whole of
the United States; but the total was nearly 4,000,000 in the year of
emancipation. The Northern States had already liberated their slaves in
a gradual way about a quarter of a century before that crisis. For
generations slavery had been denounced as a wrong, amounting to a great
evil, by a number of chief men among the Republican leaders, such as
Franklin and Washington, Madison and Jefferson, and others. These men
were sufficiently outspoken to regard the thing as being quite out of
keeping with the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
Nevertheless, differences of opinion over this matter not only led to
violent controversy but to religious division, the most notable split
being that of the Episcopal Methodist Church, which henceforth had its
Northern and Southern sections, the latter being founded on a
pro-slavery basis.

Young as he was when the great revolution of complete abolition in the
Southern States was brought about, Booker Washington was still able to
show a child's keenest interest in what was taking place. It was as if
the sun had risen on new times altogether; the very winds seemed to blow
more cheerfully; the sky above seemed to be bright with promise with
better things to come than mere _niggers_ had ever known before; it was
as though the Golden Age itself had dawned. The sharp-witted little son
of the slave-girl could heartily enter into his mother's joy, but he
could not take in the meaning of the things that were happening as he
has been able to understand them since. Such a child was naturally
affected by the growing boldness and enthusiasm of his elders, who for
some time before the final catastrophe clearly anticipated what the end
would be. When they gathered at their nocturnal meetings there was
unwonted light in their eyes; a spirit of hope and cheerfulness such as
they had never known before gave new life to their hymns, which had too
often been sad or weird; their feelings became irrepressible. There were
signs and tokens of various kinds which the working slaves well
understood, whatever this child of a slave-mother may have made of them.
There was something in the air which told that something uncommon was
coming--"a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees," as it
were, which betokened that the great day of freedom had come. Straggling
soldiers, who had broken away from the Confederate Army, had a doleful
story to tell of disaster and collapse. Then, besides, the inmates of
the great house were thinking of how best they could secure their
valuables if the invaders actually came. Then, on the first Sunday of
April 1865, the catastrophe may be said to have really come. On that day
vast quantities of stores were burned at Richmond; during the night many
a slave-owner stole away, and in the early morning numbers who had been
slaves found themselves no longer in bondage when they greeted the
regiments of the Northern Army.

Booker Washington testifies to the wild excess of joy with which the
slaves on all the plantations accepted the freedom which had come to
them in this remarkable, but no doubt providential, way. For the moment
they took no account of the future; they were altogether intoxicated
while trying to estimate the reality of that new condition in which they
found themselves--that inestimable blessing about which their
forefathers had prayed through long and weary generations. The thing
seemed to be too good to be true, and yet it was actually with them--it
was their own blissful possession!

Then, as was inevitable, human nature being what it is, there came a
somewhat strong reaction to this outburst of feeling and irrepressible
excitement. What about the future? Practically, a whole nation of
something like 4,000,000 persons had suddenly been set free, severed
from their employment and their masters, who in their way had looked
after them. Those masters had been sorely reduced by the war; many
members of the great houses had been killed or wounded. What was to
become of those millions of coloured people who had never come in
contact with the outer world, who, with a few exceptions, were quite
illiterate and knew nothing of the outside world? No wonder that a
certain amount of gloom and misgiving soon took the place of that
exuberance of joy which the sense of freedom had at first inspired. The
crisis was sufficiently serious for those who were young and strong, but
what was to become of the aged or those who were worn out in the hard
service of the plantations?

Probably the gloom which now overtook so many of the coloured people was
as exaggerated as their wild ideas about their good fortune when
freedom first came to them. These coloured folk were apt to run into
extremes. Booker Washington well remembers them in both moods; and he
also can call to mind how they came to see that, after all, liberty was
an inheritance of sterling worth when it was fairly estimated. One
advantage of the new-found freedom consisted in possessing the right to
choose a respectable surname; and another gain was the right, if they
felt so disposed, to leave the old haunts and, in some measure, to look
round the outside world. Otherwise, they could hardly tell how it might
feel to be free. As is the case with agricultural labourers in general,
these poor coloured slave folk, with whom Booker Washington was
acquainted, had never been far afield from the place of their birth,
and, having seen so little of the world, they found that the world was a
wide place and, in some respects, different from what they had expected.
Of course, a large number were glad to return to the plantations and to
agree with their old employers to work as labourers. In choosing their
new names, the ex-slaves showed some good taste as well as ambition.
Having the patronymic list of presidents, statesmen, soldiers and others
to select from, they bedecked themselves in becoming style, not
forgetting a middle and, apparently, an initial letter, which usually
did not represent a name at all, but, as showing the American manner,
was still indispensable. Even in the case of the distinguished negro, an
account of whose life and work is given in this volume, he had no such
name as Booker T. Washington while he remained in a state of slavery; he
chose it for himself after he became free, and all must admit that he
made a good selection.

Mrs Washington--as by courtesy she may be called--did not return to the
fields after gaining her freedom, as was the case with so many of her
old companions. Circumstances led to her removal to Malden, in West
Virginia, and which is also in the suburbs of Charleston. Still being
quite a young lad, Booker Washington accompanied his mother, as did also
his brother John, the object being to join their mother's husband--the
man being only their stepfather--who was then employed in the salt
industry.

Notwithstanding that all were now free, the temporal prosperity of the
family so far showed no improvement. Amid the huts and furnaces of the
salt-producing little town there was even less comfort, and far more
repulsive squalor, than there had been on the plantation among
fellow-slaves. Being a mixture of coloured and white people, the main
part were a degraded set; so that, after all the toil and rough
adventure of some weeks of travelling, the wonder is that the future
benefactor of his race was not utterly demoralised amid his new
surroundings. Perhaps it turned out to his advantage that he had to work
hard through very long days.

Ever since the time that he began to think about anything, Booker
Washington had been inspired by a very strong desire to learn to read.
He resolved that, come what might, he would, if possible, so far
distinguish himself as to become competent to read the periodicals and
newspapers of the day. This was a very praiseworthy resolution to make,
but to ordinary persons how utterly impossible of attainment it must
have seemed when all things were against them. By a roundabout way he so
far advanced as to be able to understand what certain figures on a
salt-barrel meant; but he had not even a primer or spelling-book until,
on being earnestly requested to do so, his mother was successful in her
strenuous endeavours to obtain one. In the whole circle of his coloured
acquaintance the ex-slave child knew of no individual who could read,
his mother being no exception. This fact, however, seems to have the
effect of bringing out in bolder outline the sterling traits of this
negro woman's character. She was evidently uncommonly shrewd in worldly
matters, and, instead of advising her child not to attempt what might
well have seemed to be impossibilities, she showed that wholesome
ambition for the boy's future which proved her to be of a superior
nature, while she was a genuine, loving mother. We may be sure that
Booker Washington inherited his gifts and indomitable perseverance from
his mother. A long line of distinguished men have borne similar
testimony. Men who have lived and laboured for the benefit of others
have been, in very many instances, what their mothers made them.

Having obtained his spelling-book, Booker Washington commenced his
education without a teacher, the consequence being that he was occupied
for some weeks in overcoming the difficulties of the alphabet, which,
under the most favourable conditions, would have detained him but a few
hours. In due course he made more rapid progress under the teaching of a
negro boy who had the rare distinction of being able to read a printed
page; and, as was quite natural, such an example of literary attainments
in youth was no less envied than admired.

Then something else occurred which cannot fail to strike us as being
almost a phenomenon--at all events, a thing altogether extraordinary
under the circumstances. What, through the vista of a third of a
century, looks like a perfect _furore_ for education took complete
possession of the ex-slaves, and, what made this the more singular, the
burning desire for school teaching extended to aspirants of all ages.
Before philanthropists came forward to help them the coloured people
were found to have their own appointed tutor, and care was taken that he
should fare well. Thus, in the case of Booker Washington, the first
comparatively competent teacher with whom he came in contact was a
quondam soldier who had served in the war. Surely no tutor ever had more
enthusiastic pupils; and whether the age of the learner was seven or
seventy-five, it seemed to make no difference in damping their
enthusiasm. Indeed, it may be seriously questioned whether any other
race of people would ever have rivalled this extraordinary ardour in
learning to read. And circumstances made it necessary that even the
Sunday schools, in common with the day schools, should, first of all,
give the most elementary of teaching. What a contrast such a state of
things presents to anything of the kind with which we are familiar in
connection with any other country! How many there are who remain
illiterate, or semi-illiterate, in spite of the schools which are
provided and admirably equipped under any national system of education!
In their darkest days of ignorance and bondage the negro slaves showed
the most lively desire for education. In what measure is that true of
any other race? We know that through a long succession of centuries our
own peasantry remained, for the most part, quite illiterate, all the
while showing a kind of sullen content or stolid indifference. That
negroes should show other characteristics should inspire the
encouragement coming from the hope that they are destined for better
things than have usually entered into the calculations of American
politicians. It is because Booker Washington so thoroughly well
understands his race that he can harbour such bright hopes of their
future, provided that common-sense means are used to train and educate
them, so as to give them an opportunity of making the best possible use
of their capacities. He is quite an ingenuous man, who says just what he
thinks, and who would never think of aiming at the impracticable. What
may at first have seemed to be quite a Utopian enterprise to quidnuncs
in American social and political circles is to him a very ordinary
business. He has solved what has been to others a dark problem, because
he has failed to see that there was any problem which needed solution.
He sees in the labour of the millions of negroes who people the Southern
States a source of vast national wealth. Only turn this to good account
and the whole country will be benefited and enriched, while the
descendants of the ex-slaves themselves will remain contented and good
citizens. To carry out this idea is certainly one of the greatest of
enterprises to which social reformers in the New World have ever set
their hand.

When a school was established and a supposed competent tutor was
appointed, Booker Washington did not find that his course had ceased to
be a pursuit of knowledge under difficulties. His mother and stepmother
were so poor that it was not thought that his services at the salt works
could be altogether dispensed with in order that he might attend school.
Then a kind of compromise was made, and without the work being entirely
suspended, he was allowed to pass some portion of each day at the
school. Having thus risen to this respectable standing, he found it
desirable to wear a cap which his mother made for him; for it would seem
that a Virginian planter no more thought of providing such head-dress
for boy slaves than he would of clothing his colts or calves. It was
then, moreover, that he gave himself the name which he has ever since
retained and honoured. He had been called Booker as a child-slave; for
some reason his mother had added Taliaferro, but the final Washington
was a becoming euphonism of his own.

With so much manual labour to be done, the difficulties in the way of
education were continually becoming intensified. Soon it became
impossible to continue in attendance at the day school, and he had to be
content with attending an evening class after completing the day's toil.
Under the most favourable circumstances this was exhausting; and his
experience proved still more trying when he was removed from the salt
works to serve in a coal mine, which supplied the furnaces with fuel.
Booker Washington has very vivid recollections of the horrors and even
constant dangers attending such subterranean work. The darkness alone
was almost such as might be felt; and the mishaps, through taking a
wrong path, through falling coal, or a candle getting extinguished, were
ever threatening those engaged in the works. It was in such an
atmosphere and amid such surroundings, however, that the dawn of a new
era sent its beams across his chequered pathway. It was there that he
heard for the first time of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural
Institute, which was destined to shape for him his life-course. The
institution in question is near to the small town and bathing resort of
Hampton, in Virginia, and the channel, commanded by Fortress Monroe, was
the scene of some lively naval fights during the Civil War. The
institution was founded in 1868 by General S. C. Armstrong, and two
years later was incorporated by the State of Virginia. Its object is
stated to be "to train young men and women of the negro and Indian races
to become teachers among their own people." Booker Washington happened
to overhear two men in the coal mine conversing together about this
school, and he resolved to find out everything possible about it. The
revelation had for him something more than passing interest; strange new
hopes had been kindled in his soul. If he had asked, Who was Samuel
Chapman Armstrong? he might have learned that he was an officer who had
served in the Civil War, and that he was born in the Hawaiian Islands in
1839. The General was a genuine, warm-hearted friend of the coloured
races, and as he became to Booker Washington an exemplar, or even
something like an apostle, who did more than any other human teacher to
mark out his pathway of life, some reference may be made to the
pressing needs of the freed negroes in the years which immediately
followed the close of the Civil War. There are now some ten million
coloured people in the Southern States, but at the time in question
there were less than half of this number. Nevertheless, the crisis was
sufficiently serious to be even alarming. Thus a contemporary writer
says:--

"Such sudden emancipation, on so vast a scale, is unequalled in the
annals of history. The nearest parallel to it is the deliverance of the
Israelites from Egyptian bondage. A nation, numbering about two
millions, was then suddenly emancipated. But as for their sustenance and
preservation a succession of miracles took place, it is not necessary
for our present purpose to pursue the parallel. No instance in secular
history equals the present position of the freed negroes of North
America. The crisis has come in a manner and at a time that could hardly
have been anticipated by the wisest forecaster of political events."

Great as was the need for earnest effort after hostilities ceased,
however, the want and suffering had been far more acute in days that had
gone before. The contemporary writer just quoted adds:--

"From the very beginning of the war hundreds have suddenly poured in, as
at an hour's notice, upon the cities of the Northern States. One of the
camps was inundated by a thousand of these naked and starving fugitives
in a single day, and this whilst the snow was coldly and silently
covering the surrounding landscape. After the Federals had gained
possession of Memphis, there speedily turned into it a long train of
negroes, so miserably destitute that, having nothing whatever with them
of food or clothing but the rags of two or three years' wear, and only
the clouds and the trees to shelter them, these human multitudes were
far worse off than the comfortably-kennelled dogs of their white
brethren. When General Sherman passed through Georgia, he was asked how
many negroes had followed his army. The reply was, 'Ten miles of them.'"

Charitable and Christian people were moved to do what lay in their power
not only to relieve present sufferings, but to enable the coloured folk
to make a new start in the world. Associations were formed, money was
collected, even the Government took care that rations should be
distributed. The result was that the outlook soon showed signs of
improvement. At one time Levi Coffin of Cincinnati reported that there
were thirty-five camps in the Mississippi Valley which contained about
650,000 coloured fugitives, but these camps soon became self-supporting.
The more acute want and suffering were soon relieved, but it soon became
more and more apparent that service of a more permanent kind would have
to be undertaken if the coloured people were to be raised from the low
condition into which slavery had reduced them. People of the shrewder
sort clearly saw that great results might be expected from education and
industrial training. Although the prevailing ignorance was of the
densest kind, all were most anxious to learn. Wherever a camp appeared
it was certain that schools would speedily follow; and in what must
have appeared an incredibly short space of time no less than 250 schools
were established in that Mississippi Valley alone. The contemporary
anonymous writer in the _Leisure Hour_ who has already been quoted, and
who appears to have been thoroughly well acquainted with the negroes'
characteristics and condition in their transition state, adds this
word-picture of the general outlook at the time to which reference is
being made:--

"They are most anxious to be taught, and most docile under direction.
Their ignorance previously was universal and extreme. It is no wonder
that their religious camp-meetings had become associated with the most
grotesque ideas and narrations. It is no wonder that their phraseology
was a caricature of civilised language. For how could they be expected
to manifest intelligence without any education? So deplorably destitute
of instruction were they that very few even of their preachers could
read the simplest words. Old men amongst them who had preached the
Gospel to their black congregations for upwards of forty years, were
found totally ignorant of the alphabet, and, of course, had never read a
verse of Scripture. How could the Sermons, the prayers and the religious
ideas of such 'pastors' be other than grievously deficient?"

When the depressed conditions under which these coloured people had
previously lived were duly taken into account, the most wonderful thing
of all was seen in the rapid strides they made in the betterment of
their temporal condition or outward surroundings. The days no longer
passed in dull or even painful monotony. Labour, which had hitherto been
to them hard bondage, not easy to bear, had become a privilege and a
pleasure. Having survived the too exaggerated notions of what the new
era might mean for them, and the inevitable reaction of disappointment
which followed, they could now take stock of life and realise that they
had been enormous gainers by at last coming into that inheritance for
which their forefathers had so earnestly longed and prayed. The
responsibilities, and even the commonplace things associated with
freedom, were intensely prized. In contrast with the loose and
demoralising customs which had been characteristic of slave-worked
plantations, marriage became a bond not to be dissolved. Now that they
were becoming able to read it for themselves, the Bible became a prized
book, which the negroes regarded as being peculiarly their own. So far
from disappointing those who sought to aid them, now that their
ex-owners, the planters, were so greatly impoverished, or even ruined,
the negroes surprised their friends by the readiness with which they
adapted themselves to their new life. The way in which habits of
industry and economy were formed struck observers with peculiar force,
as being an exceedingly hopeful sign. Nor did the freer air, which they
now breathed, in any measure weaken those Christian ties which had held
them together in their days of bondage. Their religious meetings were
well maintained, but of course under happier conditions. The sad or even
strangely weird songs which had been sung by night with bated breath, as
it were, in the slave-cabins could now be superseded by more cheerful
hymns. The former had been the natural expression of bond-slaves, to
whom life on earth was without hope; at last they were able to sing the
triumphant note of freemen. He was a very representative member of the
negro race who at that time remarked to a friend, "I'se afeard I'll work
myself to death now. I'se so glad to work for myself and the family that
I can't stop nohow." Even in the United States, where towns and large
communities have often risen rapidly in what had but just before been
the wilderness, this new reformation, which the negroes now proved
themselves to be capable of keeping pace with, must have struck many
observers as a phenomenon for which they had hardly been prepared.
Schoolhouses and churches, as well as cottages, which were a grateful
contrast to the squalid cabins of the plantations, were in many
instances supplemented by savings banks. At the same time a disposition
towards self-reliance showed itself, which led the main body, whenever
possible, to keep aloof from the alms-houses, in which pauper poor were
sheltered, by working hard and bravely to support themselves and their
households.

While this transition age was in progress, Booker Washington was growing
up apace. He had been fortunate enough to sever his connection with the
Malden salt-furnaces and their squalid and immoral surroundings, and,
what was still better, he had escaped from the coal mine never to
return, and had found more genial employment in the household of a
military officer and his wife. He now worked more ardently than ever
towards the Hampton Institute.



                         CHAPTER III

         OFF TO HAMPTON--WAS HE A LIKELY CANDIDATE?


Those who read the American newspapers will be aware that there is great
diversity of opinion in regard to the manner in which the education of
the coloured people should be conducted. Those who have grown up amid
the traditions of the Southern States, where, under the old order of
things, the education of slaves was a legal offence, do not readily
favour that higher training of negroes to which, in Great Britain, no
one would ever think of offering any objection. The feeling referred to
prevails in the Northern States as well as in the Southern; and more or
less throughout the Republic it is strongly held that, whether educated
or uneducated, the coloured race are socially on a lower plane and can
never associate on terms of equality with white people. The readiness
with which he has acknowledged this fact, while acting accordingly, has
in no small measure contributed to Booker Washington's success and
popularity. He has undoubtedly stimulated the interest which is now
shown in efficient negro training, as is self-evident from the newspaper
and magazine articles which from time to time appear upon the subject.
Thus, in course of an article on "The Function of the Negro College,"
in the _Dial_ of Chicago, Mr Kelly Miller, of Howard University,
Washington, remarks:--

"The groundwork of education cannot be modified to meet the variant
demands of race or colour, previous conditions or present needs. The
general processes of discipline and culture must form a fixed and
unalterable part of any adequate educational programme. On the other
hand, there is quite a wide latitude of accommodation for special needs
and social circumstances in what might be called the practical aspect of
education. There has recently sprung up a class of educational
philosophers who would restrict the term practical education to those
forms of knowledge or formulas of information which can be converted
into cash equivalent on demand. The truth is, that all knowledge which
enables the recipient to do with added efficiency the work which falls
to his lot in this world, whether that work be tilling the soil or
plying a handicraft, healing the sick or enlightening the ignorant,
uplifting the lowly or administering spiritual solace, is 'practical' in
the highest and best significance of that term.... Traditional branches
of study have lost much of their talismanic value. The so-called higher
education is no longer confined to the classic tongues of two famous
far-off peoples. The pedagogical watchword is _method_ rather than
subject-matter. The higher method of inquiry and investigation can be
applied to the growing roots of living plants as well as to the dry
stems of a dead language. The problems growing out of the population of
Alabama or Florida are as intricate in their relation, and as
far-reaching in their consequence, and, withal, as important a subject
for study, as any ever involved in the European peninsulas."

It seems to be generally held by such writers and their readers that the
mission of negroes who have received a good college training is to be
teachers and leaders to the more commonplace members of their own race,
and it is thought that a proportion of one in two hundred needs to have
the knowledge which will enable him to lead, and so benefit his fellows.
There must be tact, however; the negro student must have his craft well
ballasted or he may lose self-control, which may possibly lead to
somewhat comical results. Thus, Mr Miller tells of "A circular issued by
a young man, scarcely thirty years of age, the sum-total of whose
knowledge would be scarcely equal to that of a Yale sophomore, who
advertises himself as Rev. ----, A.M., B.D., Ph.D., D.D. It is more than
likely that the majority of the congregation of this over-bedecked
preacher can neither read nor write. What these humble people need is
sound knowledge and simple sense.... The negro race is characterised by
boisterousness of manners and extravagant forms of taste. As if to
correct such deficiencies, their higher education hitherto has been
largely concerned with Greek and Latin literature, the norms of modern
culture. The advanced negro student became acquainted with Homer and
Virgil before he had Shakespeare and Milton. It is just here that our
educational critics are apt to become excited. The spectacle of a negro
wearing eyeglasses, and declaiming in classic phrases about 'the walls
of lofty Rome,' and 'the wrath of Achilles,' upsets their critical
balance and composure. We have so often listened to the grotesque
incongruity of a Greek chorus and a greasy cabin, and the relative value
of a piano and a patch of potatoes, that if we did not join in the smile
in order to encourage the humour, we should do so out of sheer
weariness."

Their utterances show in what light the college training of negroes is
regarded by ordinary citizens of the United States; and it may be noted
that Mr Kelly Miller, the writer, hails from Howard University, which is
intended chiefly for coloured students. As slavery only disappeared a
generation ago, it can hardly be expected that such a matter can be
discussed without some show of extravagance or of exaggeration
appearing. We even find a well-known Doctor of Divinity venturing the
opinion, in an influential weekly journal, that the education of one
white student is worth more to the negroes than the education of ten
blacks. All tends to clear the air, however; and what is done at Howard
and Atlanta Universities and elsewhere, in the way of providing
education for coloured youths, shows that advances are being made, and
that better times are coming.

We left Booker Washington still looking forward with confidence to being
admitted as a student at Hampton College and Industrial Institute. The
resolution thus taken was the more extraordinary because the negro
aspirant was still a mere boy, practically without means for such an
ambitious enterprise, while he had no friends who could assist him in
any adequate manner. He was also quite unused to travelling, and was so
unacquainted with the map of his native State that he could not have
pointed out the direction in which the town of Hampton lay. In point of
fact, a cross-country journey would have to be taken, representing a
distance about corresponding with that between London and Aberdeen.
Under such unfavourable conditions even his hitherto heroic mother,
whose strength seemed now to be declining, hardly thought that the thing
could successfully be carried out. On the other hand, others rather
encouraged the lad, at least to make the endeavour. Then, for some
considerable time before the start was made, the outlook at Malden, so
far as Booker Washington was himself personally concerned, had
considerably improved. Instead of having to continue at the rough, or
even dangerous, labour in which he had been compelled to engage, he
obtained a situation in the household of a military officer, whose wife
had gained the reputation of being a domestic martinet, the family
otherwise being one of the chief in the town. The sequel proved,
however, that common report is oftentimes not to be trusted; for while
the ex-slave boy made an excellent house-servant, the discipline he
underwent in the officer's house was just such as he needed, and could
not fail to be beneficial to him.

Having resolved to resign a situation which he valued, and which, most
probably, his mother would have been well content for him to retain, the
would-be student prepared to start, being unhampered by anything in the
way of luggage beyond a bundle that could easily be carried in one hand.
The journey alone was a very formidable undertaking, much more so at
that time than would be the case to-day. As might have been expected,
the ambitious youth soon made the painful discovery that he was very
inadequately equipped for his journey. The difficulties of the way were
also greatly increased by the fact that he belonged to a proscribed
race. The distance was so great that money was wanted for food and for
travelling fares; but the scant available supply very speedily ran out.
Of course, there were roadside houses of rest and of refreshment into
which negroes could not gain admittance, even though he might carry a
good supply of cash. He soon found out that a boy of colour could not
hope to find lodging in an hotel intended for white people; and on
reaching Richmond, footsore and famished with hunger, he was so utterly
impecunious that, for some nights in succession, after earning a little
by day, he had to repeat the experience of "sleeping out." The wonder is
that, in the case of so young a boy, all of this suffering did not damp
his ardour and discourage his still persevering. So far as can be
discovered, however, he never did lose his hold of the anchor of hope.
Is it not a singular and a suggestive thing that quite a number of
well-known men, who afterwards won literary fame or distinguished
commercial success, were correspondingly adventurous in having to "sleep
out," or to walk the streets through the livelong night in order to keep
themselves warm, because they lacked the money wherewith to pay for a
bed? Dr Johnson went through this experience before he became the
literary autocrat of the eighteenth century. So also did John Cassell
when he came to London, with only a few pence in his pocket, not so very
long before the founding of that printing and publishing house, still
named after him, which ranks as one of the greatest establishments of
the kind in the British Isles.

No youthful aspirant thirsting for an education ever completed a more
toilsome, and even painful, journey in order to reach the college he
desired to enter than Booker Washington, when he actually got over the
five hundred miles between Malden and Hampton. It is still more
remarkable that, although he was undoubtedly one of the most daring and
doggedly persevering youths that could have been found among the
coloured people, he was still not a solitary example of a negro boy
literally making stepping-stones of difficulties. There were other black
youngsters who were quite as determined, and their efforts were also
destined to be crowned with success.

Still, our wonder is increased when we remember that this journey, with
its formidable difficulties, was boldly hazarded without there being any
certainty of his being received as a student in the institution. No one
in the house even knew that he was on the road and was about to present
himself as a candidate for admission. When at length he arrived and
confronted the chief matron, a less shrewd and sympathetic person than
she was would hardly have been impressed in Booker Washington's favour.
Footsore, travel-stained, hungry, with not more than two shillings in
his pocket, he was, in point of fact, so completely, though
unintentionally, disguised, that an ordinary observer would have had
difficulty in deciding what he was. He might have been one of that
class, who abound in the United States, who prefer a wandering vagabond
life to honest work, and who thus thought that a brief acquaintance
with the college might add to the diversity or excitement of life. But,
happily, there is something in the human eye which surely betokens
character. Cheats and impostors of all kinds cannot control their eyes.
It would seem that the chief matron thought that there might be
something in the adventurous applicant. At all events she decided that
he might be tested, and, as the training included the teaching of
various industries, what more effective test could be applied than the
"doing up" of a room. The work was so perfectly done that Booker
Washington was found to have something in him.

We may naturally infer that this aspiring negro lad now began fully to
reap the benefit of having been for many months subjected to the
uncompromising discipline of the domestic martinet--the general's
wife--at Malden. If it had not been for this preliminary household
education we can hardly suppose that he would, even imperfectly, have
understood how to do certain things which were now done well, the
knowledge thus acquired being of the greatest possible value to one who
had to make a favourable impression on those from whom he was hoping to
obtain an education. He was admitted into the institution as a student;
but as there were still certain expenses for board and teaching to be
met, difficulties looming in the future were not as yet altogether
overcome. It was quite impossible for him to find any money at all for
current expenses unless it was first earned, all of his family
connections being too poor to send even the smallest contribution. The
most ready way out of such difficulties was for the student to give his
labour during certain hours of each day in return for his board. He was
such an efficient house-servant that such an arrangement promised to be
of advantage to both sides. He was appointed to the position of what we
should call handy-man in the institution--doorkeeper, porter,
room-cleaner, man-of-all-work. The burden of labour, in addition to
onerous class-work, which all this involved through each successively
long working day, was, of course, formidable; but such things were now
made light of because the goal, so long looked forward to when seen from
afar, had been reached at last. The ex-slave boy not only breathed the
air of freedom, he was getting an education which was best adapted to
his needs and future plans. General Armstrong, the founder of such a
school-paradise, was naturally looked upon as an ideal man. Until the
good General died in middle age, Booker Washington never lowered his
estimate of this distinguished benefactor of the coloured race; and, if
questioned at the present time concerning his late friend, the master of
the Tuskegee institution would probably not hesitate to say that the
General was worthy of being compared with Greatheart in the _Pilgrim's
Progress_.

During those early days at Hampton there were, at times, hardships to be
borne, but even these seem to have had a bracing effect. The number of
students became so great that those who had to be lodged in tents might
occasionally suffer from the weather. Notwithstanding, coloured students
made light of privations which might reasonably have damped the ardour
of others.



                         CHAPTER IV

GENERAL ARMSTRONG--HIS PREDECESSORS AND COLLABORATORS--PIONEERS
                       OF THE NEW ERA


When in 1868, some years after the close of the Civil War, General
Armstrong proceeded to give practical expression to his idea of founding
a normal and industrial institute for the coloured races, which are
found within the boundaries of the great American Republic, the new era
of education for such peoples, which had been made possible by the
emancipation of the slaves in the Southern States, was fast coming on.
Of course, General Armstrong was not the original pioneer in such
service; but it may probably come to pass that he will be the best
remembered on account of his having trained such a distinguished pupil
as Booker Washington. But for years prior to his making the acquaintance
of this Virginian boy, the work carried on by the General must have won
for him some considerable amount of popularity; otherwise, what was
being done would hardly have become a matter of conversation between
miners in a coal-mine. Had that talk not taken place, the institution at
Tuskegee might possibly not have been quite what it is to-day.

What has been effected, and what is still being done, is seen to be all
very wonderful when it is compared with the state of things, as well as
the kind of popular sentiment which formerly existed, not only in the
South, but even in the Northern States. There was a time when public
prejudice made it impossible, or almost impossible, to educate coloured
pupils at all whether they were free or otherwise. Such far-reaching
institutions as General Armstrong founded at Hampton, and, still more
notably, the one which his pupil and disciple has planted and built up
with a masterly hand at Tuskegee, are nothing less than signs of the
times, which indicate to the American people, and to the world, that a
mighty revolution has taken place, and is still working out its
beneficent purposes.

Some time ago an article in _Scribner's Magazine_ revived the memories
which cluster around the name of Prudence Crandall, of Windham County,
Connecticut. Who was this woman? In a volume of autobiographical
recollections and reminiscences published in 1887, Laura S. Haviland
thus answers this question:--

"She opened a school in Canterbury Green for girls, and was patronised
by the best families, not only of that town, but of other counties and
states. Among those who sought advantages of her school was a coloured
girl. But Prudence was too thorough a Quaker to regard the request of
bitter prejudice on the part of her other patrons to dismiss her
coloured pupil. But she did not wait for them to execute their threat to
withdraw their children. She sent them home. Then she advertised her
school as a boarding-school for young ladies of colour. The people felt
insulted, and held indignation meetings and appointed committees to
remonstrate with her. But she stood to her principles regardless of
their remonstrance. The excitement in that town ran high. A town meeting
was called to devise means to remove the nuisance.... Miss Crandall
opened her school against the protest of an indignant populace. Another
town meeting was called at which it was resolved, 'That the
establishment of a rendezvous, falsely denominated a school, was
designed by its projectors as the theatre to promulgate their disgusting
theory of amalgamation, and their pernicious sentiments of subverting
the Union. These pupils were to have been congregated here from all
quarters under the false pretence of educating them, but really to
scatter firebrands, arrows and death among brethren of our own blood.'"

In the darkest days the above would appear to reflect the popular
sentiment in regard to negro education even in the Northern States,
although there were still thousands of persons to be found who had no
manner of sympathy with such views. Neither the teacher nor her coloured
pupils were allowed to attend the ordinary religious service at the
Congregational Church; her parents were forbidden to visit Miss
Crandall; she was threatened with arrest as a criminal; her windows and
doors were destroyed with crowbars, and the house was set on fire. The
school had to be given up; but the example of the heroic teacher had not
been in vain. As Laura Haviland remarks, "her name became a household
word in thousands of Northern homes." A similar revolution for the
better will surely be brought about in the Southern States also, and is
even now in progress. We can hardly doubt that after some further
progress has been made there will be nothing within their power that the
good old families of the South will not do for the negroes when they
find that the coloured race is amenable to civilising influences, and
that commercially they will well repay for all the money and trouble
that may be expended upon them. At the outset of this reformation this
must have been the hope of General Armstrong; and it would seem to be
that of Booker Washington at Tuskegee to-day.

In some instances the pioneer teachers had to carry on their service
amid the lowest depths of squalor and wretchedness, even more repellent
than ragged-school work in the worst quarters of a great town. Thus, Mrs
Haviland, in her autobiography, tells how Dr Emily P. Newcomb, who was
said to come of a family of educators, bravely founded a station at
Kansas City, and herself superintended the work:--

"At this point there is massed a large population of exceedingly
ignorant, destitute and superstitious people of every colour and
condition--men, women and children--crowded together in rickety hovels,
where stagnant water stood the year round, the very air impregnated with
the heavy sickening odour of the packing-houses. No tongue or pen can
describe the wretchedness that existed in that locality, known and
appropriately designated as Hell's Half Acre, which embraced a large
area on either side of the State line. At that time no mission work had
been attempted or suggested for the elevation of this seething mass by
either Church or State."

For bravery in her work and devotion, we find Emily Newcomb, M.D.,
compared to a general on the battlefield. From such a woman's working
experience, as well as from that of others who were like-minded, we can
in some measure estimate the magnitude of the work which required to be
done. The suddenness of their emancipation, and the consequent
disorganisation of their social life, could not but involve a good deal
of suffering. In regard to the general condition of the coloured people
at the time in question, Mr F. J. Loudin says: "They were homeless,
penniless, ignorant, improvident--unprepared in every way for the
dangers as well as the duties of freedom. Self-reliance they had never
had the opportunity to learn, and, suddenly left to shift for
themselves, they were at the mercy of the knaves who were everywhere so
ready to cheat them out of their honest earnings." They were a people
who were too often despised on the one hand, and yet as often showing
extraordinary traits of character on the other. There were gems of the
first water among them; and now and then an individual, showing in one
person the best attributes of both races, came to the front. It became
more and more evident that the chief kind of aid which these people
wanted was being taught how to help themselves. One of the mettle of
Booker Washington could push his way upward, braving and overcoming
obstacles and difficulties such as might well have cowed a youth who
possessed the courage and perseverance of a dozen men; but he was one of
a thousand, one who was destined to become a pioneer who would make the
way plainer and easier for those who followed after. However low down
they might be, the coloured race showed no disposition to remain where
they were; all along the line were seen signs of advancement. As
regarded the proportion who attended religious worship, and who were
Church communicants, the negroes compared favourably with the whites.
Persons who carefully took notice of the different phases of the new
reformation in progress were often having some new surprise. Thus, the
manner in which the funds were raised for the building and endowment of
Fisk University seems almost to belong to the region of romance, as is
proved from this opening passage in the popular volume which contains
the narrative:--

"The story of the Jubilee Singers seems almost as little like a chapter
from real life as the legend of the daring Argonauts who sailed with
Jason on that famous voyage after the Golden Fleece. It is the story of
a little company of emancipated slaves who set out to secure, by their
singing, the fabulous sum of twenty thousand dollars for the
impoverished and unknown school in which they were students. The world
was as unfamiliar to these untravelled free people as were the countries
through which the Argonauts had to pass; the social prejudices that
confronted them were as terrible to meet as fire-breathing bulls or the
warriors that sprang from the land sown with dragons' teeth; and no seas
were ever more tempestuous than the stormy experiences that for a time
tested their faith and courage. They were at times without the money to
buy needed clothing. Yet in less than three years they returned,
bringing back with them nearly one hundred thousand dollars. They had
been turned away from hotels and driven out of railway waiting-rooms
because of their colour. But they had been received with honour by the
President of the United States; they had sung their slave-songs before
the Queen of Great Britain, and they had gathered, as invited guests,
about the breakfast-table of her Prime Minister. Their success was as
remarkable as their mission was unique."

The University for coloured students, on behalf of which these efforts
were made, is situated at Nashville, a town which, on account of the
number and quality of its educational institutions, has come to be
called the Athens of the South. Its first students consisted of those
who had actually been slaves; and the earnestness of most of the
students had to bear the test of having to earn their own livelihood
while receiving their education. Outside aid was given in the hope that
an endowment would be provided. The college, including its Jubilee Hall
and Livingstone Hall, occupies a healthy site, and has grounds of
twenty-five acres. The negroes are in a minority at Nashville; but it is
there that one may profitably study their characteristic traits and
capacities, and thus form some tolerably correct estimate of what the
vast national gain would be if the entire coloured race were raised by
adequate education and industrial training.

In aiming at what he does in founding and carrying on his great
institution at Tuskegee, is Booker Washington warranted by the past
successes of those who have worked to raise and train negroes for the
best service of which they are capable, in harbouring the sanguine
anticipations he does for more perfect achievements in the future? As he
is happily only one, though the chief, worker among many, it will be
necessary, while proceeding with our story, to give convincing testimony
from outsiders concerning the reasonableness and practicableness of his
aims and hopes. In giving some interesting and striking illustrations by
way of proof that he is no visionary, but a cool-headed, hard-working
calculator who well knows that the capital he is working with will yield
a high percentage, we may have to tell of what is in progress in
Nashville itself.



                          CHAPTER V

  UPS AND DOWNS--PROGRESS AS A STUDENT--BEGINNING TO TEACH


Probably one reason why youths who are educated in such a school as the
Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute so commonly turn out to be of
use to themselves and to others in the world is, that only young people
of mettle and perseverance would endure the labour and hardship which
form part of the discipline. What was done for the students was not
altogether gratuitous; they were supposed either to have means or to be
able to earn money, and to be too hard driven to be able to pay the
merest trifle may often have been an experience which might have damped
the ardour of any save enthusiasts of the most dogged perseverance.
Among the large company of poor students, it would almost seem that
Booker Washington was the poorest. Do what he would, he could not help
small arrears of college dues accumulating; and when vacation time came
round, he might be the only one of the household who could not afford to
rejoin his friends at home. Instead of thinking of doing this, there was
pressing necessity for finding work in the town which would bring in
supplies towards paying off old scores, and which would help him to
tide over the next term. Education under such conditions would have a
deadening effect, or it would prove a discipline of the most bracing
kind, fostering habits of independence and self-reliance. To Booker
Washington it was of the latter kind. He formed good habits; he was a
ready learner; he was thankful for any advice which those above him
could impart. Reverence for Scripture is a very characteristic trait of
the negro race; and the habit of reading daily a portion of the Bible
which was formed at Hampton has never since been given up. While making
progress at ordinary school or college work, he also added to his
knowledge of certain outdoor industries, which was a valuable
acquisition to be turned to account in future days. Then, the
enlargement of his knowledge of human nature was likely to be of no
small advantage to him. He may not have known before that the desire for
education was so general among his own people, nor that the capacity for
turning it to good account was so self-evident. He learned still
further, that white men and women of social standing and high culture
were willing to make personal self-sacrifices on behalf of the coloured
race by becoming their teachers and their helpers. From such persons of
culture and refinement he even learned the dignity of labour. He learned
from their everyday example that education did not merely mean settling
down into a more genteel life, but meant larger responsibilities and
harder work. In other words, he came to see that the sharpening of the
mental faculties was to ensure the hands working more efficiently, while
it might be necessary to spend strength and talent for the benefit of
others.

The all-round work at the Institute continued as it had begun. As
regarded the general studies, every hour was turned to full account. The
housework expected of the janitor was never either neglected or half
done; and when each vacation time came round outside service had to be
procured. During all this time both his mother and his brother stood by
him, and not only gave him their sympathy, but all the help that was
possible. At the present moment that brother, as well as a friend, who
as a child was adopted by the family, are valued assistants in the
Tuskegee Institution.

As the college course came to an end, and Booker Washington returned to
his old haunts with their memories of coal mining and salt production,
he was now a man of education to be looked up to and respected; and as
the coloured people were ambitious of having a school established with a
competent master, a fully-equipped graduate from Hampton Institute was
no small acquisition. When the school was established the classes were
soon crowded by those who, on account of their anxiety to improve,
deserved to be distinguished as the most diligent and persevering of
learners. There were a host of others also who, through having to attend
to their daily labour were unable to attend school by day, were still
not content to remain uninstructed in such good times as had dawned upon
them. For these evening classes were provided, so that the tutor's time
was occupied from early morning until late at night.

While at Malden he saw something of the doings of the members of the
somewhat mysterious Ku-Klux Klan, which in the _Cyclopædia of Names_ is
thus described:--"A former secret organisation in the Southern United
States, of which the object was to intimidate the negroes,
carpet-baggers and 'scalawags,' and to prevent them from political
action. It arose probably in 1867; was guilty of numerous outrages; and
was suppressed in consequence of an Act of Congress--the Force
Bill--passed in 1871." Street fights occurred, and the progress made
since that day is seen in the fact that even the best part of the
Southern public sentiment would not now tolerate the existence of such
an association.

Had the policy of the Ku-Klux Klan been continued, and had public
sympathy been accorded to its warfare, the cause of the negroes must
have gone down until the race became a very genuine danger to the
Government. The change in public opinion in the South is not only one of
the most cheering signs of the times, but many of Booker Washington's
most earnest sympathisers and helpers are actually found in the former
slave States. In the _Southern Letter_ for May 1901, a little monthly
newspaper which the founder of the Tuskegee Institution issues from his
headquarters, a Southern lady of position, who was formerly a
slave-owner, writes:--

"God speed you in your noble work! Whenever I hear it said, 'The
Caucasian blood in Booker Washington is the cause of his success and
perseverance,' I answer, 'It is Principle.' I am a Southern white woman,
once a slave-owner, educated to think it right, and to believe that
coloured people could not provide for themselves, but would return to
cannibalism if brought from under their masters, and so I thought it
would be an awful thing for both races if they should be emancipated. I
have long ago seen the folly of such opinions, and have seen that
slavery was a horrible thing, and no one is more rejoiced than I am to
see the progress and prosperity and enlightenment of the coloured
people. Though a stranger in person, I am your true friend."

During the twelve years which followed the close of the Civil War, the
Southern States were in a condition of unrest, which was natural,
however, and was such as might have been expected after such a crisis as
that which had shaken and threatened the very existence of the Republic.
Considering what the relationship between the whites and the blacks had
been, and what kind of traditional views the former had been trained to
receive concerning the inferiority of the coloured race, we cannot
wonder that the planters, and those who were with them, should have been
appalled at the outlook. The situation became more anomalous, or even
dangerous, through the mistakes of the Northern politicians, quite as
much as through any want of charity, whether real or imaginary, on the
part of the Southern statesmen. There were wounds to be healed on both
sides, and there was too much of a disposition to maintain the
vindictive war spirit after the war was over. Those who aimed at
reconstruction certainly endangered their cause when they suddenly gave
to the negroes greater political privileges than they understood, or
would be able to use with any advantage to themselves. It would seem
that some ludicrous instances occurred of even the lower kind of negroes
being installed in important State offices. The result of this and many
more indiscretions was naturally to foment feelings of great bitterness
on both sides. If many in the North were disposed to make the
emancipated slaves a bone of contention--a means of punishing the States
which had wished to secede and to found a Commonwealth of their
own--they missed their mark and involved the coloured race in much
additional suffering which they might well have been spared. If we look
through such a record as the autobiography of Laura Haviland, we find
mention made of a number of atrocities belonging to this unsettled
period of the kind which, under the circumstances, were pretty sure to
happen. In a sense, Southern society was in a condition of that kind of
chaos which has often marked similar transition periods. Never before
were leaders more urgently needed who would work for peace and
advancement by showing those, whose interests were supposed to be at
variance, that their cause was one. Who could have prophesied at that
time that the coloured people were destined to find some of their best
friends among the whites of the south?

It has also to be confessed, that the outlook among the emancipated
people themselves was such as might be expected to inspire misgiving, or
even some alarm. They neither comprehended the situation nor could they
properly understand what was the true aim of education. Booker
Washington himself had been so thoroughly well trained in the best
school that then existed, that of General Armstrong at the Hampton
Institute, that he saw at a glance the kind of obstacles which
threatened to bring disaster to his race by hindering their progress. In
large measure the squalor and superstition which naturally come of
generations of the darkest ignorance prevailed. It was seen that the
training which was imperatively needed would have to be mainly
industrial, while there must be no aspiration for equality with the
whites by attempting to come into competition with them in the common
avocations of everyday life. This was actually happening, however, so
that while he studied for a time at Washington, the future founder of
the great institute at Tuskegee saw that there were breakers ahead
unless certain errors could be corrected. The negroes became too much
disposed to look to the Government to make full provision for them,
especially when they attained to the distinction of being able to read
and write. Many would indulge in extravagant habits in order to make it
appear that they were better off than they really were. Then there were
an extraordinary number who aspired to the rare distinction of shining
as divines and as admired preachers of the Gospel. Young men sought to
become instructors of others before they had any ballast of character of
their own. It was a time of danger and of the threatened loss of great
opportunities, making it all the more remarkable that, in the way of
social, educational and industrial progress, the negroes are where they
are to-day. In those days of uncertainty the prophets of evil made their
voices heard. As Booker Washington recently remarked in the
_International Monthly_: "There were not a few who predicted that, as
soon as the negro became a free man, he would not only cease to support
himself and others, but he would become a tax upon the community."
Persons who held notions of this kind doubtless supposed that negroes
had some physical kinship with the native American Indians, who have
never shown any disposition to take to field labour; and while they
involve the Government in no small annual expense, their tribes are
gradually dying out. The negroes, on the contrary, are fast multiplying,
and their value as field labourers, and as workers in other departments
of service, is a grateful contrast to the general incapacity of the
Indians. In the article just referred to, Booker Washington is able to
bear this high testimony to the general worth of his own people:--

"Few people in any part of our country have ever seen a black hand
reached out from a street corner asking for charity. In our Northern
communities a large amount of money is spent by individuals and
municipalities in caring for the sick, the poor, and other classes of
unfortunates. In the South, with very few exceptions, the negro takes
care of himself, and of the unfortunate members of his race. This is
usually done by a combination of individual members of the race, or
through the churches or fraternal organisations. Not only is this true,
but I want to make a story illustrate the condition that prevails in
some parts of the South. The white people in a certain Black Belt county
in the South had been holding a convention, the object of which was to
encourage white people to emigrate into the county. After the
adjournment of the convention an old coloured man met the president of
the meeting on the street and asked the object of the convention. When
told, the old coloured man replied, ''Fore God, Boss, don't you know
that we niggers have just as many white people in this county as we can
support?'"

The more we become acquainted with the general character and capacity of
the negro, the more are we likely to become convinced that, instead of
these people being any drawback to life in the South, those States, so
favoured by Nature, could not do without them. It is true that a number
of white persons in the States chiefly concerned have boldly testified
that the coloured race have proved the best labourers which the country
has ever had for its peculiar needs, and better than are likely to be
forthcoming in the future. This fact is now being recognised by those
whose interests are chiefly affected. Thus we even find it stated, "The
greatest excitement and anxiety has been recently created among the
white people in two counties in Georgia, because of the fact that a
large proportion of the coloured people decided to leave. No stone has
been left unturned to induce the coloured people to remain in the
country and prevent financial ruin to many white farmers." The 8,900,000
bales of cotton grown in 1899, under free labour, is nearly fourfold
greater than was produced in 1850 by slave labour.

During the transition or reconstruction time, especially during the
period when he was completing his college training at Washington, Booker
Washington was a keen observer of his own people, the result being that
he probably understands their needs, idiosyncrasies and tendencies
better than any other living authority. He also eagerly reads what
others who are not members of his own race say upon the subject. What he
considers the most valuable testimony under this head appeared about two
years ago in an article in _Appleton's Popular Science Monthly_, written
by Professor N. S. Shaler of Harvard University, and Dean of the
Scientific School. Take this passage:--

"The negroes who came to North America had to undergo as complete a
transition as ever fell to the lot of man, without the least chance to
undergo an acclimatising process. They were brought from the hottest
part of the earth to the region where the winter's cold is almost of
arctic severity; from an exceedingly humid to a very dry air. They came
to service under alien taskmasters, strange to them in speech and in
purpose. They had to betake themselves to unaccustomed food, and to
clothing such as they had never worn before. Rarely could one of the
creatures find about him a familiar face of friend, parent or child, or
an object that recalled his past life to him. It was an appalling
change. Only those who know how the negro cleaves to all the dear,
familiar things of life, how fond he is of life and friendliness, can
conceive the physical and mental shock that this introduction to new
conditions meant to them. To people of our own race it would have meant
death. But these wonderful folk appear to have withstood the trials of
their deportation in a marvellous way. They showed no particular
liability to disease. Their longevity or period of usefulness was not
diminished, or their fecundity obviously impaired. So far as I have
been able to learn, nostalgia was not a source of mortality, as it would
have been with any Aryan population. The price they brought in the
market and the satisfaction of their purchasers with their qualities
show that they were from the first almost ideal labourers."

When Booker Washington took up his residence in the town which the first
President of the United States called the Federal City, but which was
destined to take the name of that great patriot himself, a large number
of negroes were found there. As a town, Washington has made wonderful
strides since the close of the Civil War. The schools or colleges for
coloured students, which are provided, of course have attraction for
negroes, while other characteristics of the city also have strong
fascination for such susceptible folk. If we may say so, in connection
with a Republic, Washington is the seat of the Court and of the
Legislature. The population may be a quarter of a million or more; but
though not a very large town, it has recently developed into a beautiful
place, fine buildings of wide thoroughfares and charming recreation
grounds. Booker Washington seems to have discovered that such a place
failed to exercise the best of influence on negro students. It is not in
any sense an industrial centre; the people are for the most part
Government officials, professional people, and persons of means who
settle there because the surroundings and society are congenial. The
temptation to coloured students was to assume too lofty airs, to despise
any occupation other than a profession, and to think that the President
and his Government were bound to find openings for them.



                         CHAPTER VI

              AMERICAN INDIANS--WORK AT HAMPTON


Just about the time that he completed his education at the capital city,
Booker Washington seems to have been tempted in a strange and unexpected
way to give his life and energy to public speaking and politics. He took
part in the agitation as a representative of a committee--which resulted
in Charleston taking the place of Wheeling as capital of West Virginia.
By effective platform work he no doubt was a chief agent in bringing
about this change. Thus early, although he was hardly more than a youth
himself, the future Professor of Tuskegee seems to have seen in what
direction lay his pathway of life. Rightly guided, and taught to turn
their energies and gifts to the best account, the negroes are a very
capable race; but it was being proved on every hand that when left to go
their own way without check or control they were liable to be captivated
by very high-flown notions. As legislators, poets, jurists, artists and
musicians their services were not pressingly in request; but in the
world of a hundred industries there were magnificent openings for all
who were adequately trained. It was fortunate both for himself and his
own people that Booker Washington saw his opportunity and determined
not to be diverted from it by any considerations of self-interest.

Under these conditions it was something like a special providence when
he received an urgent message from General Armstrong asking him to
revisit Hampton to address the students. It had become a custom for some
one of the graduates who had passed through the institution to undertake
this duty periodically, and the request was understood to be one of the
greatest of compliments. The request was, of course, gladly complied
with; and a revisit to the Institute showed that, under General
Armstrong's capable and sympathetic control, the all-round educational
work, and especially the industrial training, which was ever considered
to be of first importance, had made great progress. The General had a
quick eye to see where improvement could be introduced, and his energy
never flagged. Until that time the negro race had not had such a friend,
one who had a genius for seeing in what direction the coloured people
would find that their best interests lay. Thus early he also probably
saw that in his quondam pupil, Booker Washington, he had a comrade who
was in every way fitted to extend the great enterprise. Certain students
who had been prepared by this coloured tutor before being sent on to
Hampton, had done exceedingly well, and this suggested that operations
should be carried on in other directions.

It was characteristic of General Armstrong that he believed the American
Indians, in common with the negroes, were capable of being raised to a
condition of honour and usefulness by education and adequate training.
The institute at Hampton was specially intended for Indians as well as
for ex-slaves; and when it was decided to extend the accommodation for
such pupils, where could so competent a teacher be found for them as
Booker Washington? The acceptance on the part of the latter of such an
office of course made it necessary for other connections of
comparatively long standing to be severed, but the path of duty seemed
to be clearly marked out, though the coloured pupils in the school in
West Virginia would sorely miss their greatly-valued teacher.

Booker Washington's situation was now strangely anomalous. In their own
eyes, and even in the eye of United States law, the Red folk were quite
above those who happened to be black. In ante-emancipation days the Reds
had actually been the owners of a number of Blacks as slaves. We believe
that it may be assumed that even in the present day a Red man would be
cordially welcomed at many hotels where negroes would be refused
accommodation. Thus Booker Washington's large class of some scores of
Indians would regard themselves as being socially quite superior to
their tutor! A thoroughly well-educated negro had now to seek the
improvement of a semi-wild assembly who might be disposed to resent such
innovations as white people's civilisation suggested. Why should they
have shorter hair? Why should the ancestral blanket be superseded by the
conventional dress sanctioned by the United States President and the
people he governed? On the whole, however, Booker Washington found
these strange pupils to be amenable to reason; they were quite
tractable when kindly treated.

The American Indians are an interesting nation of aborigines, and in
course of an admirable article on their characteristics, habits and
present condition, by Dr C. W. Greene, in _Chambers's Encyclopædia_, it
is remarked that "their physical and mental characters are much the same
from the Arctic Ocean to Fuegia." The tribes differ somewhat, some being
devoted to hunting, according to the ancient, uncivilised way, others
take to the tilling of the ground. One tribe may be warlike, another
will be more effeminate, while both sexes appear to have a liking for
athletic exercises. The following descriptive passage is borrowed from
Dr Greene's article:--

"Their physical characters are a certain tallness and robustness, with
an erect posture of the body; a skull narrowing from the eyebrows
upward; prominence of the cheek-bones; the eyes black, deep-set, and
having, it is thought, a slight tendency, in many cases, to strabismus;
the hair coarse, very black, and perfectly straight; the nose prominent
or even aquiline; the complexion usually of a reddish, coppery, or
cinnamon colour, but with considerable variations in this respect. They
have seldom much beard. In physical qualities the Indians thus make a
somewhat close approximation to the Mongolian type. There is also a
certain remarkable feebleness of constitution, combined, it may be, with
vigour, suppleness and strength of body. At least, the aboriginal races
do not resist well the epidemics introduced by the whites; and many
tribes have been exterminated by the effects of the 'firewater' and the
vicious habits brought in by more civilised men. The Red man is usually
proud and reserved; serious, if not gloomy, in his views of life;
comparatively indifferent to wit or pleasantry; vain of personal
endowments; brave and fond of war, yet extremely cautious and taking no
needless risks; fond of gambling and drinking; seemingly indifferent to
pain; kind and hospitable to strangers, yet revengeful and cruel, almost
beyond belief, to those who have given offence.... They often excel in
horsemanship, and, as a rule, sight and hearing are wonderfully acute."

Such was the remnant of the aborigines whom Booker Washington now
endeavoured to educate and to drill into civilised habits. A master
difficulty consisted in teaching them the English language. All in the
institute showed them great kindness and evidently won their gratitude.
The strangest thing of all was that if the devoted tutor had occasion to
go abroad with one of his pupils the Red man was eligible for reception
anywhere, while in a steam-boat dining-room, or at the clerk's desk of
an hotel, the Black one was ostracised. Apart from this there appeared
to be some promise of success in the work of training the Indians; but
it may be feared that through his kindness of heart their teacher
harboured expectations which were too sanguine to be realised.

In the fall of 1900, as he himself explains in course of an article on
"The Economic Value of the Negro," in _The International Monthly_ for
December of that year, Booker Washington received letters showing that
openings for negro labourers existed in Cuba, the Sandwich Islands and
elsewhere. This naturally led him to think closely on the subject
mentioned, and to compare the negro with the Red race, _e.g._:--

"When the first twenty slaves were landed at Jamestown, Virginia, in
1619, it was this economic value which caused them to be brought to this
country. At the same time that these slaves were being brought to the
shores of Virginia from their native land, Africa, the woods of Virginia
were swarming with thousands of another dark-skinned race. The question
naturally arises, Why did the importers of negro slaves go to the
trouble and expense to go thousands of miles for a dark-skinned people,
to hew wood and draw water for the whites, when they had right about
them a people of another race who could have answered this purpose? The
answer is that the Indian was tried and found wanting in the commercial
qualities which the negro seemed to possess. The Indian would not submit
to slavery as a race, and in those instances where he was tried as a
slave his labour was not profitable, and he was found unable to stand
the physical strain of slavery. As a slave, the Indian died in large
numbers. This was true in San Domingo and other parts of the American
continent.... The Indian refused to submit to bondage and to learn the
white man's ways. The result is that the greater portion of American
Indians have disappeared, and the greater portion of those who remain
are not civilised. The negro, wiser and more enduring than the Indian,
patiently endured slavery; and the contact with the white man has given
the negro in America a civilisation vastly superior to that of the
Indian."

To this may be added the testimony of Professor Shaler, of Harvard
University, in _Appleton's Popular Science Monthly_:--"If we compare the
Algonquin Indian, in appearance a sturdy fellow, with these negroes, we
see of what stuff the blacks are made. A touch of housework and of
honest toil took the breath of the aborigines away, but these tropical
exotics fell to their tasks and trials far better than the men of our
own kind could have done."

It has also to be remembered that the nearly ten million negroes in the
Southern States show that the total has more than doubled since the
close of the Civil War, and are still capable of being turned to vast
profitable account. The Indians show a decrease, and cost the Government
about £2,500,000 a year.

The attention thus given to the Indians' school at Hampton was an
interesting passage in Booker Washington's experience; but even while
that work was in progress he was gradually drifting into the course
which would represent the main service of his life. When the discoverers
of America first came in contact with the Red Men they may have thought
them to be superior to the negroes; but from that day to this they have
practically made no progress, and to-day appear to be more than ever a
dying nation. It was quite in keeping with the philanthropic General
Armstrong to attempt to befriend and raise such tribes, but even he must
have realised how vastly greater was the return in the case of the
negroes.

As has been shown, in the years which followed the general emancipation,
the coloured people showed the most eager desire to obtain some kind of
education. It happened that at Hampton there was a large number outside
of the Institute who were of this class, and when it was resolved to
found a night school for their benefit Booker Washington was requested
to undertake its superintendence. These evening classes were to be a
kind of preparatory school for such as might afterwards attend the day
school of the Institute, and the conditions of their receiving two
hours' nightly instruction were sufficiently onerous to deter any from
coming forward but the most determined enthusiasts. A long, hard day's
work had to be fulfilled before they could think of joining their class.
It is no wonder that such scholars are now doing well in the world. The
school is still continued at Hampton, but the scholars have increased
from tens to hundreds.

So far throughout the course of his working life Booker Washington has
never lost faith in his own people, and, while using his opportunities
to benefit them, no hard-working leader has ever had fewer
disappointments. While American politicians, sometimes with bated
breath, have been talking about the problems of the Southern Black Belt,
this far-sighted negro has clearly seen that ten millions of the
coloured race in the wide territory of the South is rather an advantage
to be thankful for than "a problem" to create dismay. How readily the
young negro men and women can adapt themselves to circumstances, and
benefit others of their own race while making a position for themselves,
is constantly being proved. The fact is confirmed by many independent
witnesses hailing from different quarters. We close this chapter by
another passage on this subject by Professor Shaler, in _Appleton's
Popular Science Monthly_, and quoted, with admiration, by Booker
Washington himself in _The International Monthly_:--

"Moreover, the production of good tobacco requires much care, which
extends over about a year from the time the seed is planted. Some parts
of the work demand a measure of judgment such as intelligent negroes
readily acquire. They are, indeed, better fitted for the task than white
men, for they are commonly more interested in their task than whites of
the labouring class. The result was that, before the period of the
revolution, slavery was firmly established in the tobacco planting
colonies of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina; it was already the
foundation of their only considerable industry.... This industry
(cotton), even more than that of raising tobacco, called for abundant
labour which could be absolutely commanded and severely tasked in the
season of extreme heats. For this work the negro proved to be the only
fit man, for, while the whites can do the work, they prefer other
employment. Thus it came about that the power of slavery in this country
became rooted in its soil. The facts show that, based on an ample
foundation of experience, the judgment of the Southern people was to the
effect that this creature of the tropics was a better labourer in their
fields than the men of their own race.

"Much has been said about the dislike of the white man for work in
association with negroes. The failure of the whites to have a larger
share in the agriculture of the South has been attributed to this cause.
This seems to be clearly an error. The dislike to the association of
races in labour is, in the slaveholding States, less than in the North.
There can be no question that, if the Southern folk could have made
white labourers profitable, they would have preferred to employ them,
for the reason that the plantations would have required less fixed
capital for their operation. The fact was, and is, that the negro is
there a better labouring man in the field than the white. Under the
conditions he is more enduring, more contented and more trustworthy than
the men of our own race."

The negroes have many qualities such as are sure to heighten their value
in the eyes of employers and business men. On the whole, they are a
contented race when fairly used. We can hardly think of them as becoming
political agitators. They know too well where their interest lies to
favour strikes, and so become the victims of those who professionally
foment them. It would also seem that they generally contract a kind of
affection for those who employ them and who use them well. Complaint is
made of more crime showing itself among negroes in certain centres; but
when it is considered that only a generation ago the whole race was in
bondage, the wonder is that so little crime has been manifest. Provide
good schools and an industrial training, and the coloured folk will
prove to be a law-abiding race.



                         CHAPTER VII

                THE BEGINNING OF A LIFE WORK


The singular way in which Booker Washington proceeded from one thing to
another, until, at length, he found himself beginning the great work of
his life before he was himself quite aware of the fact, strongly tends
to prove that he was destined to be a leader of his own people. We
believe that he would himself acknowledge that the chain of
circumstances which led up to his being landed at Tuskegee in 1881 was
entirely providential. He did not himself seek the opening; it came to
him unsought at a time when his services were still urgently needed at
Hampton, where he had become General Armstrong's right-hand man, or his
most efficient assistant. He was still fully occupied with the large
class of Indian boys during the day, and then, until a late hour every
night, with the more enthusiastic coloured pupils of his own people. At
the same time, he was pursuing his own studies for self-improvement with
characteristic ardour. Probably neither the good General Armstrong nor
this chief officer of his staff as yet thought the arrangements at the
Institute, which were found to work so well, were other than permanent.

A great change, which was nothing less than a great forward movement,
was at hand, however. It came to pass that, at a time when he was least
expecting it, the General received an urgent message for help from the
darkest part of the Black Belt of Alabama. The missive in question came
from white people, who were genuine friends of the negroes, and, as
such, were representative of large numbers of others in the Southern
States who were like minded. It occurred to these good souls that a
large proportion of the coloured people--admirable human material, if
turned to good account--was running to waste through lack of that
knowledge which could only come of education or training suitable to
their needs. The blacks greatly outnumbered the whites, and by very many
their capacities for service to the State were not understood. It was
thought by those who had put themselves in communication with General
Armstrong that an institute, similar to the one which had proved so
successful at Hampton, might be founded in the little town of Tuskegee,
which stood aside from the main railway line, but had a branch for its
accommodation. It had not entered into anybody's day-dreams to suppose
that anyone, save an accomplished white man, would be competent to
undertake so arduous an enterprise; but when the General received the
application, and had thought about it, he clearly saw, to his own
satisfaction, that Booker Washington was the man most likely to make
such a school as the one suggested a success. The following passage from
an open letter in the _Century Magazine_ for September 1895, by Mr G. T.
Speed, affords some notion of what the general outlook was in Alabama
at the date in question:--

"When the attention of philanthropists was first directed to the
ignorant condition of the freedmen in the South, in nine cases out of
ten the practical effort to do something for their improvement was
controlled by clergymen, and was largely influenced by sentimental
considerations. The chief object seemed to be to grow a great crop of
negro preachers, lawyers and doctors. The result was so disheartening
that, fifteen years after the war was over, there were grave doubts
whether the coloured race in the South was not lapsing into a barbarism
worse than that of slavery. Fortunately, among those educators and
philanthropists there was at least one sane man, the late General S. C.
Armstrong, of Hampton. His main idea was to train workmen and teachers.
Mr Washington was one of these teachers. Of him and his work General
Armstrong, shortly before his death, said:--'It is, I think, the noblest
and grandest work by any coloured man in the land. What compares with it
in general value and power for good? It is on the Hampton plan,
combining labour and study, commands high respect from both races, flies
no denominational flag, but is earnestly and thoroughly Christian, is
out of debt, well managed and organised.'"

Concerning the opinions, the aims and aspirations of General Armstrong's
disciple, the same friend says:--

"Mr Booker T. Washington had become persuaded that most of the efforts
at training his people in purely academic directions were almost
entirely thrown away. He held that the time was not ripe, and his people
were not prepared for the higher scholastic training of which the Greek
and Latin classics are the basis, but that they needed to be taught how
to work to advantage in the trades and handicrafts, how to be better
farmers, how to be more thrifty in their lives, and, most of all, how to
resist the money-lender's inducements to mortgage their crops before
they were made. It was with these great ideas that he began his work at
Tuskegee."

When Booker Washington acceded to General Armstrong's request to proceed
to Tuskegee to give practical shape to the white people's wishes, he
received as many good wishes and congratulations as if he was going to
accept an enviable appointment in some already founded and flourishing
institution. The fact was, however, that not even the straw was as yet
gathered for the bricks with which the proposed school would have to be
built. Not even a site had been chosen, and no one knew where this might
be found. The most favourable features of the situation were that the
coloured folk were very desirous of obtaining some education, while the
whites were equally anxious that a school should be provided for them.
The cordial greeting accorded to the newcomer on every hand was perhaps
more flattering than reassuring; for the obstacles in the way of success
seemed so formidable that even the sanguine and persevering Booker
Washington might have been excused had he hesitated. Had he not been a
negro, he would probably have declared that the task assigned to him was
impossible.

The blighting effects of the Civil War were still visible; and when a
beginning at teaching was actually made, the class had to be content
with the accommodation of a tumble-down kind of building which was a
very imperfect protection from the weather. In some respects the
ex-slaves appeared to be no better off than when they were in bondage.
In order to become acquainted with the people, and to understand their
general condition and in what degree an effort to raise them promised to
succeed, it was necessary to visit them in their homes in the
surrounding country. In the main, their cabins showed no improvement on
those in which they had been housed in the days of slavery; and some of
their habits were as comical on the one hand as they were improvident on
the other. Practically what we call one-room life was, in a great number
of instances, a chief obstacle to their more complete civilisation.
While in need of better homesteads and of many necessary but commonplace
things, either for use or ornament, which they were, through their
ignorance, quite unable to turn to any account. Their ignorance also led
to superstition and to one-sided views of things, which suggested
mischievous action. False pride would naturally inspire a love of
showing off, which meant a waste of resources, which, in the hands of
better economists, would have gone far towards providing the family with
the comforts of life.

The school teaching commenced just after midsummer, 1881; and the number
of the students who came was at once as many as could be accommodated,
and their eagerness to learn testified to the earnest desire for
education which was common among the coloured race. Had all been taken
who wished to come, the school would have been a very large one at the
outset; but at first the plan was to take only those who were not mere
children and who had already acquired some learning. Some who sat in the
classes were even approaching middle-age. Perhaps a chief drawback was
that the aims of the teacher and the expectations of the learners did
not generally agree. As Mr Speed tells us, Booker Washington's capital
originally consisted of "nothing but ideas, ambition and a few friends,
none of whom could do much in the way of contributions." His ideas were
worth more than gold, however; while his friends were of sterling
quality, one being an ex-slaveholder, who had done more than anyone else
in originating the school. It may seem to be strange that some of the
best and shrewdest friends of negroes in the Southern States at the
present time are ex-slave-owners. Others among the white people would
have preferred that the old-time hewers of wood and drawers of water for
the superior race should remain illiterate, thinking that their coming
in contact with books would have the effect of marring their capacity
for field service. Not a few, especially at that time, in common with
the coloured people themselves, entirely misapprehended in what an
effective education consisted. It was too often supposed that it meant
mere book-learning that would release its possessors from hard, manual
labour. To General Armstrong and Booker Washington education would be of
value to negroes because it would enable them to do more effectively
the labour connected with a number of important industries to which they
were called. This obvious truth is far better understood than it was a
quarter of a century ago. The work done at Hampton, at Tuskegee, and at
the many schools on a similar basis which have since sprung up in the
Southern States, has not only demonstrated that the negro race may be
made to become a source of vast good or profit to the Republic, it has
revolutionised public opinion.

Meanwhile the numbers actually under instruction, and also of those who
were exceedingly anxious to enter the classes, increased daily. At the
same time, the overwhelming need of the coloured race, and the great
opportunities to raise them which offered themselves, made a deep
impression on Booker Washington, as it also did on one who was thus
early an able and sympathetic helper in the work--Miss Olivia Davidson,
afterwards Mrs Booker Washington. The latter was a superior girl, of
coloured ancestry, although personally she was as white as the most
pure-blooded descendant of the Pilgrim Fathers that could have been
found. These two kindred souls were now one in the work, and, of course,
they had many anxious consultations. It did not seem as though the work
of the school could continue to be carried on in the forsaken church and
half-ruinous shed which so far had been the only accommodation.

A short distance outside of the town there was an old plantation of a
hundred acres, and as the house had been burned down, this was to be
secured for the low price of a hundred dollars. If it could possibly be
effected, the removal of the school to such a site promised to be a
great step in advance; and, after overcoming a good many difficulties, a
portion of the money was borrowed and possession was obtained. Having
made such a good beginning, it seemed to be impossible not to go
forward, especially when the enthusiasm of the coloured people was
encouraged by the hearty sympathy and practical help of the whites. The
fact is that, in proportion as the schools prospered, both blacks and
whites were being made to see that they had very much in common; and
friends of the negro will gladly recognise that the continued aid of
friends in the Southern States has made uninterrupted progress possible.
The next thing was to put up a main school building at a cost of six
thousand dollars, the students themselves being the builders. For some
time after this the difficulty in obtaining adequate funds was a cause
of great anxiety; but what at the time seemed to be unsurmountable
obstacles were always overcome, and the way was then open for still
further advances. The first year's work at Tuskegee was, on the whole, a
time of preparation and of founding what was destined to become a
distinguished institute on a solid basis. It was then that Booker
Washington set up a home of his own, into which he was able to receive
his teaching staff. He was united in marriage to Miss Fannie Smith, who,
like himself, had been trained at Hampton. In less than two years the
first Mrs Washington died, leaving an infant daughter. In this early
stage of the work, distinguished aid continued to be given by Miss
Davidson in collecting, in giving shrewd advice, and in other service,
including that of teaching. As will be made to appear, from this date
the progress made and the growth of the Institute was no less rapid than
wonderful.

But while the work was thus extending, the question came to be asked,
even by intelligent and far-seeing people, Is not industrial education
for negroes a craze? The majority were convinced that industrial
training in this case needed to go hand-in-hand with book-learning. It
was thought that men should understand farming and divers handicrafts,
and that women should possess such accomplishments as cooking, sewing
and dressmaking, and other domestic matters. Other friends of the negro,
who in the main agreed with this policy, still thought that there was
danger of its being pushed too far, in which case the movement might
even develop into a craze, and then it was almost certain that the
outcome would be "a less extended and thorough mental and moral
culture." In an open letter in the _Century Magazine_ for 1889, Mr S. W.
Powell referred to such objections:--

"The proposed change implies too great a concession to the widely
prevalent opinion that the negro is, and in the nature of the case must
be, better fitted for manual than for mental labour. They argue also
that the new departure tends to foster materialistic notions of the
value of education, the main object of which should be the ennoblement
of the worker rather than the production of more cotton, sugar, coal,
iron or lumber.... Then, again, the surprising success in some schools,
and notably in one, in mastering the more advanced branches is
profoundly affecting the opinions of many of the most influential
people in the South as to the capacity of the negro, and to do anything
which would make the work in these brigade schools less extensive, or
less thorough, will push him and his friends off this hard-won
vantage-ground."

Still further, we are exhorted to remember that "leaders qualified to
hold their own in the sharp competition of professional life are a
great, if not the greatest, need of the coloured race in this country.
Over wide areas most of their clergy are illiterate, immoral,
self-seeking, bitter sectarians, and the most determined opponents of
every kind of improvement. So, too, the lack of lawyers, editors and
physicians of sufficiently broad and thorough training to be able to
defend their weaker brethren against designers or incapable advisers is
a very discouraging feature of the situation. The negroes do not, as a
rule, seek the leadership or counsel of competent and honest whites in
matters of religion or of business, hence the greater need of
well-qualified men of their own race."

It need hardly be emphasised that those who are favouring the cause of
industrial education, as a means best calculated to raise the coloured
race, are quite as earnest in their desire for negroes to advance to
higher culture when exceptional capacity shows itself. In the nature of
things, however, this higher culture can be extended only to a
comparatively few individuals. Referring to those who are unable to push
their way so far, and yet are aiming at becoming scholars, Mr Powell
adds:--

"If they had the industrial education now given in some schools they
might support themselves in the same communities where they teach,
acquiring decent homes of their own, which would be a much-needed
example and incentive to all about them. The lack of anything worthy to
be called home is the most appalling obstacle to the elevation of the
negro. If these higher schools should furnish this industrial training,
as some of them are beginning to do, nine-tenths, or, in many cases,
nineteen-twentieths, of the pupils who never finish even the
grammar-school course might be put in the way of living for the rest of
their lives like human beings instead of like beasts."

The fact is, that the industrial training is not only becoming more
widely recognised as being what the coloured people most urgently need,
it tends largely to make the students more independent by placing them
in a situation in which they can pay their own way instead of receiving
outside aid. Then, while the negroes have splendid capacities for
service, there is surely no other people who so greatly need to be made
to realise the value and dignity of labour. As Mr Powell further says:--

"It was one of the greatest evils of slavery that manual labour was
considered degrading. This was especially mischievous in its effects on
the poor whites. The South is only slowly coming to believe that one who
works for a living can be qualified for good society. In many of the
industrial schools already established, students are beginning to take
pride in their command of tools, in their well-planned and executed
mechanical work, and in the thorough, clean tillage, the enlarged and
varied products, and the improved stock and buildings of the farms
attached to these schools.... The ability to plan or build a church, a
schoolhouse, or a dwelling, or to carry on a farm as it should be
carried on, gives a man's opinion about purely professional matters
greater weight in all struggling communities. A teacher, minister or
physician could hardly have, aside from his mental and moral qualities,
a more effective passport to the confidence and respect of coloured
people."

It was well both for himself no less than for those who were dependent
upon him for guidance and education, that Booker Washington harboured
the notions he did concerning the worth of labour. Anyone who had
visited the institution he was building up at Tuskegee, during the first
and second year of its struggling existence, would have seen that if the
work eventually succeeded order would have to be brought out of chaos.
This was emphatically true of all things connected with the daily life
of the students on the estate; but beyond that the hereditary prejudices
of the students and their family connections had to be overcome. There
seems to have been a deeply rooted opinion that, if school learning did
not lift a man up above the necessity to labour, it was hardly worth
having. Parents and students alike tenaciously held this notion, so
that, besides looking after his growing institute, Booker Washington had
to travel about the State of Alabama to show that such prejudices were
no less false than mischievous. At the same time he had what would
generally be regarded as his own prejudices, but, come what would, he
was determined to hold his idea, and to give it practical expression.
When buildings had to be put up on the estate, he took care that none
save the students themselves should have any hand in building them.
These coloured aspirants had even to dig the clay, to make and burn the
bricks that were needed; and it was only after three dismal failures in
trying to form a kiln on scientific principles that this enterprise,
which demanded exhausting labour, was crowned with success. As was to be
expected, some of the students grew discouraged while undergoing such
experience; but those who persevered and conquered with their leader at
last found themselves braced or strengthened, rather than injured, by
the difficulties which they had been enabled to conquer. At the present
time the students at Tuskegee are competent to turn out 100,000 bricks
of superior quality a month, and all of the forty buildings on the
ground are their own work. The latest addition in this department is a
magnificent library building, the gift of Mr Andrew Carnegie, which, in
the _Southern Letter_ of December 1901, was spoken of as "now being
rushed to completion." This house has cost Mr Carnegie £4000, and when
finished there was already a large collection of books waiting to be
placed on its shelves.

In proportion as the students increased in the early days of the
Tuskegee Institute, there came the urgent need for additional buildings
and more money, both for providing these and for the general outlay. It
was decided to put up a main building at a cost of £2000, and in order
to raise money Booker Washington had to do a good deal of travelling as
a collector. He found the rich quite willing to respond in a handsome
way when his needs became known; but while the work has often been
stimulated by large gifts, the more numerous small gifts of commonplace
people have from the first been its mainstay. Practically he was
introduced to the people of the Northern States by General Armstrong,
who accompanied him on a collecting tour. On this and other occasions
some striking adventures were met with, and all tended to show that hard
work, perseverance and freedom from worry carried a man over a great
deal of ground, while in a providential way all things seemed in the end
to turn out for the best. Booker Washington had the gift of being able
to impart some of his own energy and enthusiasm to his subordinates, and
even to the students, who generally came round to see in what direction
their best interests lay. A wholesome discipline was maintained
throughout the institution, and thus, while being qualified to become
instructors of their fellows of the coloured race, the students learned
to love and to respect their leader.



                        CHAPTER VIII

         SOME ACTUAL RESULTS--POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS


In the ordinary sense, neither General Armstrong nor Booker Washington
would have been put down as a statesman; but, of course, each had his
own individual sentiments as a citizen of the Republic. Thus each was
well aware that both the North and the South had to deal with a
population problem of an exceptionally difficult kind. The North had an
unceasing tide of foreign immigration; the South had its Black Belt and
a negro population, which appeared to be competent to double itself in
course of a generation. General Armstrong was as large-hearted a friend
of the coloured race as could have been found, and he appears to have
protested against "either coddling the blacks or hampering the whites"
on the part of the North. In an article in _The International Monthly_
on the Southern question, Mr Edward P. Clark tells us that General
Armstrong "opposed alike Federal Election Laws, designed and
administered in the interest of the blacks, and Federal Education Laws,
appropriating money for the South in the same interest. He urged that a
negro could never become an ordinary citizen until he should cease to be
the 'ward of the nation.'" Booker Washington appears to hold views on
this matter which essentially are in close agreement with the policy of
his late master. _E.g._:--

"General Armstrong did not regard it as a serious misfortune for the
negro that he was discouraged and even prevented from voting. He
condemned unfair methods, but he believed that the cure of such methods
might and should be left to local public sentiment. Mr Washington
opposes unjust race legislation, like the recent proposition in Georgia
to disfranchise the black man, as a black man; but he does not urge the
negroes in his own State of Alabama to make voting the chief end of
life. The keynote of the advice given by both of these leaders to the
negro always has been to make himself a good citizen, worthy to share in
the government of town, State and Republic, and trust to his white
neighbour to recognise his right to such share when that time should
come. 'Be a voter, and then think about being a man'; that was long the
only watchword of the Northern Republican politician for the negro. 'Be
a man, and then think about being a voter'; such is the message to him
from the Armstrongs and the Washingtons."

Mr Clark adds this cheerful note:--

"It is easy enough to make a catalogue of outrage and injustice upon the
Southern blacks, so long and gloomy as to justify a feeling of profound
discouragement regarding the future. The most hopeful feature of the
situation is the fact that those friends and champions of the negro who
have studied the question most carefully upon the spot, have grown more
confident all the time that ultimately things would work out right.
General Armstrong died full of faith in the future. Mr Washington grows
more hopeful every year. Outsiders may well feel that there is no
occasion for despair when the voice of cheer is heard from the very
heart of the Black Belt."

We learn from an article by Mr Pitt Dillingham, in _The Outlook_ of New
York (April 12, 1902), that Booker Washington is a trustee of the
Calhoun Coloured School in Lowndes County, a part of the Black Belt in
Alabama, where the negroes greatly outnumber the whites. The school may
possibly take its name from the family of John Caldwell Calhoun
(1782-1850), a well-remembered statesman of the Republic, who was
Vice-President 1825-1832; an uncompromising defender of slavery, and
propounder of the political doctrine of Nullification--the rejection of
any State of any Act which was judged to be unconstitutional. The
students in the Calhoun School receive just such an industrial education
as would be given at Hampton or Tuskegee; but to us the institution is
the more noteworthy because it has become identified with a kind of
land-movement, which may have the most far-reaching consequences, so far
as the coloured race is concerned. Practically, the school is an
illustration of the way in which those who have been trained at Hampton,
or under Booker Washington at Tuskegee, in turn become teachers and
leaders to their own people. Mr Dillingham remarks:--

"The two young women from New England--one from Boston, one from New
Haven--Hampton teachers who first rang a school-bell ten years ago on
the old Shelby plantation in Lowndes County, simply desired to get into
the Black Belt, to identify themselves with a community of
cotton-raisers as neighbours, to know the people at first hand, and then
to meet the human need about them in any way possible; above all,
helping the people to help themselves ... in the Black Belt of Alabama,
a county containing the largest proportion of blacks to whites. The
average ratio for the seventeen counties in Alabama's cotton-belt is
less than three to one. In Lowndes County in 1892 the ratio was seven to
one--28,000 to 4000. This meant maximum conditions of ignorance and
poverty--a county likely to be Africanised if it could not be
Americanised."

The school at Calhoun had 300 students, and its land extended over 100
acres. As there were such great opportunities, if the right means were
taken to secure them, the teachers were moved by a desire to provide
openings for their students in the county instead of their being obliged
to seek uncertain employment in the distance. Why not buy land and
divide it into small holdings, which even negroes could purchase for
their own? That would be to show practical sympathy with the native
sentiment--"I always did want to own something that wouldn't die; your
mule, he'll die, but the land is gwine to live."

That idea gained favour; it was strictly in accordance with the negro's
economic programme; and thus, when a plantation of nearly 1100 acres was
purchased and was divided into over twenty farms, the enterprise was
well in hand. In time other estates were purchased; the movement, which
is favoured by the whites and ex-planters, is so extremely popular with
the blacks that "one man recently sent five cents ten miles by a friend
to go towards his farm!" As might be expected, all this has not been
carried out without there being some failure and discouragement, but, on
the whole, the movement has realised the hopes of its promoters. Mr
Dillingham adds:--

"On the economic side, Calhoun's scheme means buying a plantation at
wholesale price, and breaking up the plantation into small farms, by a
group of men who make advance payments and then finish buying by paying
rent for a term of years. The fifty-acre farm means a basis for a new
agriculture or intensive farming, also sharp, individual responsibility
of buyer, plus family life and labour and friendly co-operation of a
neighbourhood. The plantation, with its 'quarters' and renters and
croppers, who 'stay' to make and pick crops, but have no home--the
plantation, the old, before-the-war, economic unit, is transformed into
an American neighbourhood of farms and homes, within sound of church and
bell. This is the light set on the hill."

This is how the work, commenced at Hampton and Tuskegee, can develop or
expand; and, while benefiting the State, is also found to bring the
white people and the coloured race into friendly contact, the former
doing what lies in their power to advance the cause. Thriving
neighbourhoods of coloured people promise to come into existence, for
"the South is not shutting the industrial door, or the educational door,
or the church or the house door on the negro."

There are doubtless persons in the Republic who are disposed to think
that, so far as education is concerned, Nashville, the capital and
largest town of Tennessee, is the paradise of the negroes. The place is
famous for its schools, churches and colleges, Fisk College and some
others ranking as universities. The coloured race are in the minority.
The fact tends to promote their own peace and happiness, that they are
not overmuch fascinated by politics; and, according to common report,
the coloured people in the town are more eager than others to obtain an
education. Three great colleges, one named after Roger Williams, have
been founded for their special benefit. A certain small proportion of
negroes may advance to higher scholarship, but the main part do not get
beyond what used to be called grammar-learning; while it is a most happy
thing, both for whites and blacks, that the industrial programme of
General Armstrong and Booker Washington is in large measure carried out.
As a writer in the _Century Magazine_ remarks:--

"All boarding pupils are required to devote an hour a day to such forms
of labour as may be required of them, and the cleanest school building I
ever saw is Livingstone Hall of Fisk University, which is kept clean by
the pupils. A certain number of young men at Fisk learn printing every
year, and others will henceforth learn carpentry and other useful
handicrafts; while the young women are taught nursing the sick and the
rules of hygiene, cooking, dressmaking and plain sewing. The course of
industrial training in Central Tennessee College and Roger Williams
University is about the same."

The majority of those who are thus educated become teachers of their
own people, and in this service there are plenty of openings for them.
The negroes seem to be as amenable to the civilising influences of
education as any race with whom they might be compared, and in Nashville
they are peculiarly fortunate in their teachers. You may meet with
thriving negro business men whose honesty and tact are much commended by
the whites. They see that the acquisition of property gives them a good
standing in the world, so that they may sometimes need a little
wholesome advice to check their excessive eagerness to become rich. Then
the character of their well-furnished and comfortable houses shows how
completely they have been raised from the squalid one-room life of their
former cabins. "These well-kept houses," says one who visited a number
of them in the town for purposes of inspection, "are not only the best
proof of the progress in civilisation of the negro race, but they are
also the best security for the welfare of the whites in property and in
morals, and I have never had so much hope for the future of this region
as since I learned these things. Granted that these may be the picked
few, it is most hopeful that there is a picked few, whose example will
inspire others to lift themselves up." In proportion as they advance
they show commendable enthusiasm for embarking in philanthropic
enterprise. Thus, as a writer in the _Century Magazine_ tells us:--

"The only negro church publishing-house in the world" is located at
Nashville, a large building five storeys high. "It was purchased with
the contributions of the children of the African Methodist Episcopal
Church. A home for aged and indigent negroes is the latest enterprise,
while a shop for teaching mechanical trades was opened.... The number of
church societies is, of course, legion."

All this shows how far-reaching was the influence of such institutes as
Tuskegee and Hampton, when their methods were thus copied. To come back
to Booker Washington's own work, however, we find that at the end of
fourteen years the two old buildings in which he had commenced in 1881
had given place to forty buildings on an estate of two thousand acres.
At that time there were rented fifteen cottages not on the school
estate, while many of the teachers had houses of their own. The annual
cost was then under £15,000, the number of persons to be supported
exceeding a thousand. It is not often that the students are able to pay
wholly for their board; and at the time in question less than £2000 in
the year was received under this head. Various funds, including a grant
from the State, supplied near £2000 annually. The cost of each student
is £10 a year, board being paid for partly in money and partly in
labour. £40 suffices one to complete the four years' course, while a sum
of £200 provides a permanent scholarship. A carpenter, a bricklayer, or
a blacksmith must, under all circumstances, pass some part of each day
in the school. The aim is to have all well taught, and to inspire a
laudable ambition, hoping to excel and to succeed by hard work,
perseverance and honest, upright lives. The training is also partly
religious, for to come short of that would not yield satisfaction to the
negro. The following from the article by Mr Speed, already referred to,
gives a word-picture of what takes place on a high public day at
Tuskegee, when friends from far and near assemble to see and hear what
is being done not only in the schools, but by those who also represent
the thirty or more industries which are carried on:--

"At the commencement, held at the end of May, the exercises included not
only music and speaking, but an exhibition of the handiwork of the
pupils, who were called on to show how each kind of work was done. One
showed the method of putting tires on a buggy, another the construction
of a house, another the pinning of the same, and still another the
painting of the structure; the girls showed the process of ironing a
shirt, of cleaning and lighting a lamp, of making bread, cake and pie,
of cutting and fitting a dress, and so on. Other boys illustrated
wheelwrighting, bricklaying, plastering, mattress-making, printing, and
various agricultural processes. To the crowds of interested negroes at
this commencement this seemed something worth while, because it was
practical and within the range of their own experience and
attainment.... Among all the educational efforts among the negroes there
is probably none more interesting, wise or successful than this work of
Mr Washington's at Tuskegee."

To understand what progress has been made, we have to contrast the
present outlook with that of forty years ago, when negroes were
considered to be incapable of living as free people with credit to
themselves, and when certain States actually had laws prohibiting their
being set free.



                         CHAPTER IX

         CONTINUED PROGRESS--POPULARITY AS A SPEAKER


While the now great institution at Tuskegee continued to grow and to
increase in popularity both with the North and the South, there seemed
to be no reason for departure in any measure from the course marked out
by General Armstrong. The number as well as the need of the negroes was
so great that preparatory classes, similar to those which had succeeded
so well at Hampton, were arranged for, and candidates eagerly came
forward for admission--young people whose mettle was sufficiently well
tested by their having to get through a long, hard day's work before
they could enjoy the privilege and luxury of some hours of teaching in
the night school. This kind of service has grown, and at the present
time there are probably not far short of 500 pupils in its classes. Of
course many advance from this stage to get admitted to the day school of
the Institute.

All along Booker Washington has been subjected to the temptation to
excel in public speaking, but he has indulged in this only so far as the
practice would advance his work. He began to make his mark when he gave
an address before the Educational Association at Madison, the capital of
Wisconsin, and the seat of a university. Whenever he spoke the founder
of Tuskegee Institute was recognised as a gifted, natural orator; and
his most famous address, and one which was destined to have most
far-reaching consequences, while it added to the popularity of the man
and his work, was one which he gave in the autumn of 1895 at a Cotton
States Exhibition, which was also to some extent international.

This great show was held at Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, a great
railway centre, and a place of much trade and manufacture. It has also a
university for coloured students. The crowded assembly on such an
occasion was largely representative of the most influential people among
the whites both in the North and the South, as well as those of the
negro race. It was an exciting time, and quidnuncs of all parties were
eagerly anticipating what the dark-skinned professor would say. Of
course the note he struck was one which tended to the doing away of
racial differences. All along Booker Washington has been honest in his
convictions and in his manner of giving utterance to them. Where wrong
is seen to exist he is brave enough to speak of it. He has even been so
honestly outspoken in regard to the shortcomings of his own people as to
earn their resentment, until it was found that what was said was true,
and was no symptom of want of sympathy. Those who listened to the
address at Atlanta would be impressed with his profound sympathy with
his own coloured race, with the high value he set upon their possible
achievements, and with his passionate representations of the interests
which the white and coloured race had in common, each being thus
dependent on the other. The address was the chief thing which took place
in connection with the Exhibition, and Booker Washington received an
autograph letter from President Cleveland thanking him for having said
what he did. A few passages from _The World's_ account of what actually
occurred may best enable us to realise the scene:--

"While President Cleveland was waiting at Grey Gables to send the
electric spark that started the machinery of the Atlanta Exposition, a
negro Moses stood before a great audience of white people and delivered
an oration that marks a new epoch in the history of the South.... When
Professor Booker T. Washington ... stood on the platform of the
auditorium, with the sun shining over the heads of his auditors into his
eyes, and his whole face lit up with the fire of prophecy, Clark Howell,
the successor of Henry Grady, said to me, 'That man's speech is the
beginning of a moral revolution in America. It is the first time that a
negro has made a speech in the South on any important occasion before an
audience composed of white men and women.' It electrified the audience,
and the response was as if it had come from the throat of a
whirlwind.... All this time the eyes of the thousands present looked
straight at the negro orator. A strange thing was to happen. A black man
was to speak for his people, and with none to interrupt him. As
Professor Washington strode to the edge of the stage, the low,
descending sun shot fiery rays through the windows into his face. A
great shout greeted him. He turned his head to avoid the blinding light,
and moved about the platform for relief. Then he turned his wonderful
countenance without a blink of the eyelids and began to speak. There was
a remarkable figure--tall, bony, straight as a Sioux chief, high
forehead, straight nose, heavy jaws, and strong, determined mouth, with
big, white teeth, piercing eyes and a commanding manner. The sinews
stood out on his bronzed neck, and his muscular right arm swung high in
the air, with a lead pencil grasped in the clenched fist. His big feet
were planted squarely, with the heels together and the toes turned out.
His voice rang out clear and true, and he paused impressively as he made
each point. Within ten minutes the multitude was in an uproar of
enthusiasm--handkerchiefs were waved, canes were flourished, hats were
tossed in the air. The fairest women in Georgia stood up and cheered. It
was as if the orator had bewitched them. And when he held his dusky hand
high above his head, with the fingers stretched wide apart, and said to
the white people of the South on behalf of his race, 'In all things that
are purely social we can be separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand
in all things essential to mutual progress,' the great wave of applause
dashed itself against the walls, and the whole audience was on its feet
in a delirium of applause, and I thought that moment of the night when
Henry Grady stood among the curling wreaths of tobacco smoke in
Delmonico's banquet-hall and said, 'I am a Cavalier among
Roundheads.'... A ragged, ebony giant, squatted on the floor in one of
the aisles, watched the orator with burning eyes and tremulous face
until the supreme hour of applause came, and then the tears ran down
his face. Most of the negroes in the audience were crying, perhaps
without knowing just why."

Another notable occasion occurred in the year of Queen Victoria's
Diamond Jubilee, when Booker Washington spoke at Boston in connection
with the dedication of a monument erected to the memory of Colonel
Robert Gould Shaw--1837-1863--who was killed at Fort Wagner while in
command of the first coloured regiment which had been mustered to serve
with the Northern Army. A Boston paper said:--

"The scene was full of historic beauty and deep significance. Rows and
rows of people who are rarely seen at any public function, whole
families of those who are certain to be out of town on a holiday,
crowded the place to overflowing. The city was at her birthright _fête_
in the persons of hundreds of her best citizens, men and women whose
names and lives stand for the virtues that make for honourable, civic
pride."

Some other similar scenes might be referred to; but in a general way
Booker Washington does not value opportunities for platform service
unless they tend to advance the cause of his great work at Tuskegee. Nor
can this be wondered at when it is found that such service alone
necessitates his being away from home during six months in each year. He
married Miss Davidson, to whose efforts the Institute owed so much in
its early days--in 1885; but this second Mrs Washington died about four
years later, leaving two sons. The third wife of the Principal--married
in 1893--was a Miss Murray, who was trained at Fisk University.

The later developments of the work in its many departments at Tuskegee
can best be realised by reference to certain recent numbers of the
Institute's monthly paper, the _Southern Letter_.

We find that the school post-office is now recognised as part of the
postal system of the country, and is responsible to the Government. A
savings bank has been founded on the grounds to encourage thrift habits
by receiving savings from teachers, students and coloured people living
in the vicinity. This year a kindergarten teacher was to carry on a
class in the new training school buildings. Last year (1901) agriculture
was made a special feature; 4000 peach trees were planted, making a
total of 5000 of this kind on the farm. "The students are not only
taught how to plant and care for these trees, but are taught the
principles of fruit-growing in all respects at the same time." There are
fourteen young women in this division, and, like the others, they divide
their time between the college classes and the farm:--

"They are ranked in their labour as they are in their recitations in the
class-rooms. In the dairy they are not only getting instruction in
theory, but are actually assisting in the care and use of the utensils,
in which 120 gallons of milk are handled, twelve gallons of cream are
ripened, and fifty pounds of butter are made each day. They are also
making a comprehensive study of milk and its constituents, weeds and
their harmful effects upon dairy products, general sanitation of dairy
barns, the drawing of plans, etc. In the poultry division the young
women put theory into practice by having individual responsibilities in
the care of over 300 fowls. In this way they get actual experience in
the sanitation of poultry houses, the care of runs and all the
apparatus used, egg-testing, the use of insecticides, and the prevention
and cure of fowl diseases. The increasing interest in fruit-growing all
over the South makes it easy to interest the young women in
horticulture. The school orchard of 5000 trees makes it possible to lay
great stress on the practical side of fruit growing. Special attention
is given to the quality and quantity of peaches, pears, apples and
plums, figs, grapes and strawberries that can be grown in a home
orchard. In the division of floriculture and landscape gardening a study
of our common-door yards and the laying out and beautifying of same is
required. The young women assist in the care of the school grounds by
helping to trim and shape beds and borders and take care of shrubbery
and flowers. One of the things the young women are very proud of is
their market garden. They have helped to plan, and have done all the
work in it this year (1901) except the ploughing. They have planned,
laid out, prepared and planted their seed beds. They have also planned
and constructed a cold frame-house, doing all the carpentry work
themselves. They are required to keep an itemised account of the
expenses incurred in raising and amounts realised from the sale of all
vegetables. Although the young women have only been in this department
two years, many good reports have come to us from communities where they
have carried their improved ideas of these various lines of agriculture.
To fully understand the need of this work, one must travel through the
country districts and towns of the Southern States."

A Tuskegee negro Conference is held annually, and this year (1902) it
assembled on February 19 and following day. Encouraging news from the
distance is continually coming to hand. Thus, two graduates will be
reported as getting on well in a town of Georgia. Then news comes to
hand (December 1901) that the Tuskegee stall at the Charleston
Exhibition attracted unusual attention. Even the Dark Continent itself
comes in for some share of attention; for "we hear very encouraging
reports from our students who went to West Africa to introduce the
raising of cotton under the auspices of the German Government." We find
Mrs Washington attending the meeting of the Coloured Women's Federation
of Clubs at Vicksburg early in 1902, and no doubt she carried some rays
of sunshine with her. The work, as a whole, is on a religious basis; and
this fact is emphasised by such an announcement as that at Tuskegee "the
Week of Prayer was observed with great profit and interest." It is
important also to learn that the Nurse Training Department at Tuskegee
is attracting more students than ever. It appears that both young men as
well as young women are trained for this service; and a letter from one
of the former, written in March 1902, from a town in Alabama, shows how
former students become pioneers in the great work of uplifting their own
race:--

"I am now at this place, and am Principal of a school which opened
December 9 last year. We have bought and paid for fifteen acres of land,
on which a two-storey building now stands. A part of the glass windows
needed we have been able to put in. We are now preparing to build a
dormitory on our grounds for our students next term. We shall be glad
to have you send anything you can in the way of reading matter. We are
trying to establish a library for the people of this community."

In some instances, as, for example, in Nashville, to which reference has
been made, negroes are becoming prosperous men of business. In his
monthly newspaper for February 1902, Booker Washington gave the picture
of a large house of business owned by a coloured trader, and remarked:--

"While there are not many coloured people perhaps, as yet, who own such
valuable pieces of property in the South, still there are many who are
very fast approaching the point Mr ---- has reached. Mr ---- is not only
a successful business man, having the respect and confidence of both
races in Nashville, but he and his wife are leaders in religious and
charitable work in the city of Nashville, and their home is a constant
resort for those who represent all that is best and purest in the life
of the negro race."

The following extract from a letter to Booker Washington from a white
gentleman in the South (December 16, 1901), shows in what light even
ex-planters themselves and their associates regard the work in
progress:--

"Being more and more impressed with the importance of the favourable
opportunity offered in this community for the educational uplift of your
people, I am again prompted to write you and more fully explain the
situation and the need of help to accomplish this important work. This
community is densely populated with negroes--more than ten to one white
person. The white people are moving to the towns. Thirty white persons
in less than two years--none coming in--and negroes occupying the
premises vacated. The few white people here are anxious to see the negro
educated up to a higher standard of citizenship in morality, thrift and
economy, as well as intellectual advancement. The negro school building
is under way, but they have not the means to finish it, and nothing with
which to furnish it, nor sufficient means to pay the teachers necessary
for the school. I know of no community where the needed funds would be
more appreciated or could possibly do more good for advancing the
negroes' interest along educational lines."

Thus, no one can foresee whereunto the ever-developing work at Tuskegee
may extend. The graduates, who are constantly going forth, become
teachers and leaders among their own people; but, large as it is, the
number trained is still too few.



                          CHAPTER X

             VISIT TO EUROPE--RETURN TO TUSKEGEE


In the summer of the year 1899 Mr and Mrs Booker Washington had a sum of
money given them by a number of friends, which was to be spent in making
a tour in Europe. The travellers, after a prosperous voyage, landed at
Antwerp and, after seeing something of Holland and France, came to
England, where they were entertained by a number of friends.

On Monday, July 3, Dr and Mrs Brooke Herford gave a reception to meet Mr
and Mrs Booker Washington, which took place at Essex Hall, Essex Street,
Strand, and after this reception a meeting, at which a number of
well-known and distinguished persons were present, also took place, and
at which Mr J. H. Choate, the United States Ambassador, presided. The
many who attended, and the quality of a large number, gave significance
to this meeting, and testified in no equivocal manner to the esteem in
which Booker Washington and his work were held in Great Britain. The
following summary of the American Ambassador's speech on this occasion
was given in _The Times_:--

"The Chairman expressed the pleasure which he felt at having been asked
to preside and to introduce to the meeting his friend, Mr Booker T.
Washington. There were 10,000,000 coloured persons in the United States
living side by side with some 60,000,000 of whites. The freedom of which
the negroes had been deprived for more than 200 years had been restored
to them, but the question was how best they could be enabled to take
advantage of it. The blacks were an interesting race. Fidelity was their
great characteristic. During the Civil War, when the South was stripped
of every man and almost every boy to sustain their cause in arms, the
women and children were left in the sole care, he might say, of these
slaves, and no instance of violence or outrage that he had been able to
learn was ever reported. He thought it would be admitted, therefore,
that on that occasion they amply manifested their loyalty and fidelity
to their masters. The black people had done much for themselves. About
one-tenth of the men had acquired some portion of land, and they had
made a certain advance. Mr Washington was a pupil of the late General
Armstrong, who devoted many years of his life to the establishment and
maintenance of the leading school at Hampton, Virginia. Mr Washington
had qualified himself to follow in Armstrong's path. He also had founded
a school, or training college, at Tuskegee, Alabama, where the pupils
were not only given a primary education, but were afforded the means of
earning a livelihood. There were now 1100 pupils in the school. About
half the number of those who passed through it went out as teachers to
spread the light and the knowledge they had acquired there among their
own race, and the other half were put into a position to support
themselves by manual trades. The Government of the United States thought
well of the work. It gave the school a grant of 25,000 acres of land in
Alabama only last year. The State of Alabama, in which it was placed,
gave it an annual donation. In addition it derived something from the
funds left by the great philanthropist, George Peabody, and from another
fund founded by an American philanthropist. The remainder of the sum
needed for carrying on the work--some £15,000 a year--was derived from
voluntary contributions, which were stimulated by the appeals made by Mr
Washington, whom he regarded as the leader of his race in America."

There were no long speeches at this reception and after meeting. Booker
Washington himself was brief in his speech while describing the
condition and outlook of the coloured race in the United States. He
said:--

"Immediately after receiving their freedom the negroes, for the most
part, got into debt, and they had not been able to free themselves to
the present day. In many places it was found that as many as
three-fourths of the coloured people were in debt, living on mortgaged
land, and in many cases under agreements to pay interest on their
indebtedness ranging between fifteen and forty per cent. The work of
improving their condition was far from hopeless, and he was far from
being discouraged. If his people got no other good out of slavery they
got the habit of work. But they did not know how to utilise the results
of their labour; the greatest injury which slavery wrought upon them was
to deprive them of executive power, of the sense of independence. They
required education and training, and this was gradually being provided.
Starting in 1881 in the little town of Tuskegee with one teacher and
thirty students, they had progressed until in the present day they had
built up an institution which had connected with it over a thousand men
and women. They had some eighty-six instructors, and in all that they
did they tried to make a careful and honest study of the condition of
the negroes and to advance their material and moral welfare. Industrial
education was a vital power in helping to lift his people out of their
present state. Twenty-six different industries were taught, and every
student had to learn some trade or other in addition to the studies of
the class-room. The coloured students came from upwards of twenty States
and territories, and the labour which they performed had an economic
value to the institution itself. There were thirty-eight buildings upon
the grounds of the college, including a chapel having seating capacity
for 2500 persons, built by the students themselves. The value of the
entire property was about $300,000. Seeing that one-third of the
population of the South was of the negro race, he held that no
enterprise seeking the material, civil or moral welfare of America could
disregard this element of the population and reach the highest good."

Mr Bryce, M.P., also gave a brief speech, and showed that he was in
agreement with what the founder of the institution of Tuskegee had said
in reference to the importance of basing the progress of the negroes on
an industrial training:--

"Having made two or three visits to the South he had got an impression
of the extreme complexity and difficulty of the problem which Mr
Washington was so nobly striving to solve. It was no wonder that it
should be difficult, seeing that the whites had such a long start of the
coloured people in civilisation. He believed that the general sentiment
of white people was one of friendliness and a desire to help the
negroes. The exercise of political rights and the attainment to equal
citizenship must depend upon the quality of the people who exercised
those rights, and the best thing the coloured people could do,
therefore, was to endeavour to attain material prosperity by making
themselves capable of prosecuting these trades and occupations which
they began to learn in the days of slavery, and which now, after waiting
for twenty years, they had begun to see were necessary to their
well-being."

At the present time the institution at Tuskegee represents a value of
£100,000, if we include the endowment fund; and the annual cost of
training 1100 or more students is not less than £16,000. The work
continues to expand, as must ever be the case with all healthy
enterprises of the kind. Perhaps the most hopeful symptom of all is the
sanguine enthusiasm of Booker Washington himself, who, happily for
himself and for those whom he seeks to benefit, is, and must ever be, an
optimist. He believes that his race has a future, and that it is capable
of being so uplifted as to become a benefit to the world. We must all
allow that the right means are being used to bring about this new
reformation; but, at the same time, we need not close our eyes to the
fact that there are observers and even well-wishers of the coloured
people who are not so hopeful. By way of giving what may be regarded as
the more pessimistic view, take the following passage from an article in
the _Daily Mail_ of October 23, 1901:--

"Frederick Douglass was an honoured guest in hundreds of Northern homes;
his career as United States senator was marked with every token of
respect and admiration, and many others like him were expected to
appear. But in the forty years since the war the North has become more
conservative in this respect, although it has been untiring in its
efforts to foster the negro's education, to direct his energy wisely,
and to make him capable of enjoying the liberties of the American
Republic. In the South there may still be oppression to-day and the
restriction of the negro's constitutional rights, but such a charge has
never been made against the North, even by the black man's most
prejudiced apostles. If the North refuses to-day to grant social
equality to the negro, the reasons are that it is considered not only
impossible to accomplish, but dangerous even to attempt. It is
considered impossible because the feeling has deepened instead of being
dispelled since the war, that the negro is greatly inferior by nature
and will never be otherwise. In his forty years of freedom he has
advanced more in crime and lawlessness, according to statistics, than he
has in education or development. Taking the blacks and mulattos together
they form sixteen per cent. of the entire population, and furnish thirty
per cent. of the penitentiary convicts. Crimes against the person
especially constitute a menace from the negro almost unknown before the
war, and Frederick Douglass said, shortly before he died, 'It throws
over every coloured man a mantle of odium, and sets upon him a mark for
popular hatred more distressing than the mark set upon the first
murderer. It has cooled our friends and fired our enemies.' The race
has, as a matter of fact, shown almost no power to fight its own
battles, and its problems hang like a weight of lead around the neck of
the American people, a weight growing heavier and causing more
hopelessness as the years go on."

If the above is not actually too dark a picture, the evil is certainly
one which a great Republic need not regard as an evil incapable of
correction. Booker Washington himself is not so sanguine as to ignore
difficulties; he foresees clearly enough that the earlier half of this
present century must needs be a time of much rough pioneering service on
the part of those who are the most earnest friends of the negro race. As
lookers-on from afar on the European side of the broad Atlantic, we are
able to descry many reassuring signs. Both in the North and the South,
Booker Washington has met with abundance of sympathy, and a good deal of
honest, practical help. When Harvard University bestowed on him the
degree of Master of Arts, he was the first negro who had ever received
that distinction. That good Christian man and enlightened politician,
the late President M'Kinley, paid a visit to Tuskegee at the end of
1899, and on behalf of the nation he was thankful for what was being
done. His successor, President Roosevelt, entertained Booker Washington
at dinner at the White House, thus showing that he was of the same mind
as his predecessor. Thus the great work goes on from the beginning to
the end of each year, the aim of the continued and far-reaching effort
being to bring two races together, one being able to help the other
because both have interests in common.

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