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First edition, 2000
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
(title page) Booker T. Washington Builder of A Civilization
Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe
xx, 331 p.,
Garden City, New York
Doubleday, Page & Company
Call number E185.97 .W27 (Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
Booker T. Washington
Illustrated from Photographs
IN THE passing of a character so unique as Dr. Booker T. Washington, many of us, his friends, were anxious that his biography should be written by those best qualified to do so. It is therefore a source of gratification to us of his own race to have an account of Dr. Washington's career set forth in a form at once accurate and readable, such as will inspire unborn generations of Negroes and others to love and appreciate all mankind of whatever race or color. It is especially gratifying that this biography has been prepared by the two people in all America best fitted, by antecedents and by intimate acquaintance and association with Dr. Washington, to undertake it. Mr. Lyman Beecher Stowe is the grandson of Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose "Uncle Tom's Cabin" had a very direct influence on the abolition of slavery, and Mr. Emmett J. Scott was Dr. Washington's loyal and trusted secretary for eighteen years.
ROBERT R. MOTON.
THIS is not a biography in the ordinary sense. The exhaustive "Life and Letters of Booker T. Washington" remains still to be compiled. In this more modest work we have simply sought to present and interpret the chief phases of the life of this man who rose from a slave boy to be the leader of ten millions of people and to take his place for all time among America's great men. In fact, we have not even touched upon his childhood, early training, and education, because we felt the story of those early struggles and privations had been ultimately well told in his own words in "Up from Slavery." This autobiography, however, published as it was fifteen years before his death, brings the story of his life only to the threshold of his greatest achievements. In this book we seek to give the full fruition of his life's work. Each chapter is complete in itself. Each presents a complete, although by no means exhaustive, picture of some phase of his life.
We take no small satisfaction in the fact that we were personally selected by Booker Washington himself for this task. He considered us qualified to produce what he wanted: namely, a record of his struggles and achievements at once accurate and readable, put in permanent form for the information of the public. He believed that
such a record could best be furnished by his confidential associate, working in collaboration with a trained and experienced writer, sympathetically interested in the welfare of the Negro race. This, then, is what we have tried to do and the way we have tried to do it.
We completed the first four chapters before Mr. Washington's death, but he never read them. In fact, it was our wish, to which he agreed, that he should not read what we had written until its publication in book form.
EMMETT J. SCOTT,
LYMAN BEECHER STOWE.
IT IS not hyperbole to say that Booker T. Washington was a great American. For twenty years before his death he had been the most useful, as well as the most distinguished, member of his race in the world, and one of the most useful, as well as one of the most distinguished, of American citizens of any race.
Eminent though his services were to the people of his own color, the white men of our Republic were almost as much indebted to him, both directly and indirectly. They were indebted to him directly, because of the work he did on behalf of industrial education for the Negro, thus giving impetus to the work for the industrial education of the White Man, which is, at least, as necessary; and, moreover, every successful effort to turn the thoughts of the natural leaders of the Negro race into the fields of business endeavor, of agricultural effort, of every species of success in private life, is not only to their advantage, but to the advantage of the White Man, as tending to remove the friction and trouble that inevitably come throughout the South at this time in any Negro district where the Negroes turn for their advancement primarily to political life.
The indirect indebtedness of the White Race to Booker
T. Washington is due to the simple fact that here in America we are all in the end going up or down together; and therefore, in the long run, the man who makes a substantial contribution toward uplifting any part of the community has helped to uplift all of the community. Wherever in our land the Negro remains uneducated, and liable to criminal suggestion, it is absolutely certain that the whites will themselves tend to tread the paths of barbarism; and wherever we find the colored people as a whole engaged in successful work to better themselves, and respecting both themselves and others, there we shall also find the tone of the white community high.
The patriotic white man with an interest in the welfare of this country is almost as heavily indebted to Booker T. Washington as the colored men themselves.
If there is any lesson, more essential than any other, for this country to learn, it is the lesson that the enjoyment of rights should be made conditional upon the performance of duty. For one failure in the history of our country which is due to the people not asserting their rights, there are hundreds due to their not performing their duties. This is just as true of the White Man as it is of the Colored Man. But it is a lesson even more important to be taught the Colored Man, because the Negro starts at the bottom of the ladder and will never develop the strength to climb even a single rung if he follow the lead of those who dwell only upon their rights and not upon their duties. He has a hard road to travel anyhow. He is certain to be treated with much injustice, and although he will encounter
among white men a number who wish to help him upward and onward, he will encounter only too many who, if they do him no bodily harm, yet show a brutal lack of consideration for him. Nevertheless his one safety lies in steadily keeping in view that the law of service is the great law of life, above all in this Republic, and that no man of color can benefit either himself or the rest of his race, unless he proves by his life his adherence to this law. Such a life is not easy for the White Man, and it is very much less easy for the Black Man; but it is even more important for the Black Man, and for the Black Man's people, that he should lead it.
As nearly as any man I have ever met, Booker T. Washington lived up to Micah's verse, "What more doth the Lord require to thee than to do Justice and love Mercy and walk humbly with thy God." He did justice to every man. He did justice to those to whom it was a hard thing to do justice. He showed mercy; and this meant that he showed mercy not only to the poor, and to those beneath him, but that he showed mercy by an understanding of the shortcomings of those who failed to do him justice, and failed to do his race justice. He always understood and acted upon the belief that the Black Man could not rise if he so acted as to incur the enmity and hatred of the White Man; that it was of prime importance to the well-being of the Black Man to earn the good will of his white neighbor, and that the bulk of the Black Men who dwell in the Southern States must realize that the White Men who are their immediate physical neighbors
are beyond all others those whose good will and respect it is of vital consequence that the Black Men of the South should secure.
He was never led away, as the educated Negro so often is led away, into the pursuit of fantastic visions; into the drawing up of plans fit only for a world of two dimensions. He kept his high ideals, always; but he never forgot for a moment that he was living in an actual world of three dimensions, in a world of unpleasant facts, where those unpleasant facts have to be faced; and he made the best possible out of a bad situation from which there was no ideal best to be obtained. And he walked humbly with his God.
To a very extraordinary degree he combined humility and dignity; and I think that the explanation of this extraordinary degree of success in a very difficult combination was due to the fact that at the bottom his humility was really the outward expression, not of a servile attitude toward any man, but of the spiritual fact that in very truth he walked humbly with his God.
Nowhere was Booker T. Washington's wisdom shown better than in the mixture of moderation and firmness with which he took precisely the right position as to the part the Black Men should try to take in politics. He put the whole case in a nut-shell in the following sentences:
"In my opinion it is a fatal mistake to teach the young black man and the young white man that the dominance of the white race in the South rests upon any other basis than absolute justice to the weaker man. It is a mistake
to cultivate in the mind of any individual or group of individuals the feeling and belief that their happiness rests upon the misery of some one else, or their wealth by the poverty of some one else. I do not advocate that the Negro make politics or the holding of office an important thing in his life. I do urge, in the interests of fair play for everybody, that a Negro who prepares himself in property, in intelligence, and in character to cast a ballot, and desires to do so, should have the opportunity."
In other words, while he did not believe that political activity should play an important part among Negroes as a whole, he did believe that in the interests of the White, as well as in the interests of the Colored, race, the upright, honest, intelligent Black Man or Colored Man should be given the right to cast a ballot if he possessed the qualities which, if possessed by a White Man, would make that White Man a valuable addition to the suffrage-exercising class.
No man, White or Black, was more keenly alive than Booker T. Washington to the threat of the South, and to the whole country, and especially to the Black Man himself, contained in the mass of ignorant, propertyless, semi-vicious Black voters, wholly lacking in the character which alone fits a race for self-government, who nevertheless have been given the ballot in certain Southern States.
In my many conversations and consultations with him it is, I believe, not an exaggeration to say that one-half the time we were discussing methods for keeping out of office, and out of all political power, the ignorant, semi-criminal,
shiftless Black Man who, when manipulated by the able and unscrupulous politician, Black or White, is so dreadful a menace to our political institutions. But he felt very strongly, and I felt no less strongly, that one of the most efficient ways of warring against this evil type was to show the Negro that, if he turned his back on that type, and fitted himself to be a self-respecting citizen, doing his part in sustaining the common burdens of good citizenship, he would be freely accorded by his White neighbors the privileges and rights of good citizenship. Surely there can be no objection to this. Surely there can be no serious objection thus to keep open the door of hope for the thoroughly decent, upright, self-respecting man, no matter what his color.
In the same way, while Booker T. Washington firmly believed that the attention of the Colored race should be riveted, not on political life, but on success sought in the fields of honest business endeavor, he also felt, and I agreed with him, that it was to the interest of both races that there should be appointments to office of Black Men whose characters and abilities were such that if they were White Men their appointments would be hailed as being well above the average, and creditable from every standpoint. He also felt, and I agreed with him, that it was essential that these appointments should be made relatively most numerous in the North--for it is worse than useless to preach virtue to others, unless the preachers themselves practise it; which means that the Northern communities, which pride themselves on possessing the proper attitude
toward the Negro, should show this attitude by their own acts within their own borders.
I profited very much by my association with Booker T. Washington. I owed him much along many different lines. I valued greatly his friendship and respect; and when he died I mourned his loss as a patriot and an American.
A party of friends who accompanied Dr. Washington on one of his educational tours . . . . . 138
IT CAME about that in the year 1880, in Macon County, Alabama, a certain ex-Confederate colonel conceived the idea that if he could secure the Negro vote he could beat his rival and win the seat he coveted in the State Legislature. Accordingly, the colonel went to the leading Negro in the town of Tuskegee and asked him what he could do to secure the Negro vote, for Negroes then voted in Alabama without restriction. This man, Lewis Adams by name, himself an ex-slave, promptly replied that what his race most wanted was education and what they most needed was industrial education, and that if he (the colonel) would agree to work for the passage of a bill appropriating money for the maintenance of an industrial school for Negroes, he (Adams) would help to get for him the Negro vote and the election. This bargain between an ex-slaveholder and an ex-slave was made and faithfully observed on both sides, with the result that the following year the Legislature of Alabama appropriated $2,000 a year for the establishment of a normal and industrial school for Negroes in the town of Tuskegee. On the recommendation of General Armstrong of Hampton Institute a young colored man, Booker T. Washington, a
recent graduate of and teacher at the Institute, was called from there to take charge of this landless, buildingless, teacherless, and studentless institution of learning.
This move turned out to be a fatal mistake in the political career of the colonel. The appellation of "nigger lover" kept him ever after firmly wedged in his political grave. Thus, by the same stroke, was the career of an ex-slaveholder wrecked and that of an ex-slave made. This political blunder of a local office-seeker gave to education one of its great formative institutions, to the Negro race its greatest leader, and to America one of its greatest citizens.
One is tempted to feel that Booker T. Washington was always popular and successful. On the contrary, for many years he had to fight his way inch by inch against the bitterest opposition, not only of the whites, but of his own race. At that time there was scarcely a Negro leader of any prominence who was not either a politician or a preacher. In the introduction to "Up from Slavery," Mr. Walter H. Page says of his first experience many years ago with Booker Washington: "I had occasion to write to him, and I addressed him as 'The Rev. Booker T. Washington.' In his reply there was no mention of my addressing him as a clergyman. But when I had occasion to write to him again, and persisted in making him a preacher, his second letter brought a postscript: 'I have no claim to Rev.' I knew most of the colored men who at that time had become prominent as leaders of their race, but I had not then known one who was neither a politician nor a preacher; and I had not heard of the head of an important colored school
who was not a preacher. 'A new kind of man in the colored world,' I said to myself--'a new kind of man surely if he looks upon his task as an economic one instead of a theological one.['] "
And just because Booker Washington did look "upon his task as an economic one instead of a theological one" he was at first regarded with suspicion by most of the preachers of his race and by some openly denounced as irreligious and the founder of an irreligious school. Like so many men of greater opportunity in all ages and places, many of these Negro ministers confounded theology and religion. Finding no theology about Booker Washington or his school, they assumed there was no religion. Some of them even went so far as to warn their congregations from the pulpit to keep away from this Godless man and his Godless school. To this formidable and at first almost universal opposition from the leaders among his own people was added the more natural opposition of the neighboring white men who assumed that he was "spoiling the niggers" by education. A youth with a high collar, loud necktie, checked suit, and patent-leather shoes, dangling a cane, smoking a cigarette, and loitering impudently on a street corner was their mental picture of an educated Negro.
Among the original group of thirty students with whom Mr. Washington started Tuskegee Institute on an old plantation equipped with a kitchen, a stable, and a hen-house, was a now elderly man who to-day has charge of the spacious and beautiful grounds of the Institute. He was
approaching middle age when he entered this original Tuskegee class. The following is a paraphrase of his account of the early days of the school: "After we'd been out on the plantation three or four weeks Mr. Washington came into the schoolroom and said: 'To-morrow we're going to have a chopping bee. All of you that have an axe, or can borrow one, must bring it. I will try and provide those of you who cannot furnish an axe. We will dismiss school early to-morrow afternoon and start for the chopping bee.' So we came to school next day with the axes, all of us that could get them; we were all excited and eager for that chopping bee, and we were all discussing what it would be like, because we had never been to one before. So in the afternoon Mr. Washington said it was time for that chopping bee, so he put his axe over his shoulder and led us to the woods and put us to work cutting the trees and clearing the land. He went right in and worked harder and faster and handled his axe better than any of us. After a while we found that a chopping bee, as he called it, was no different front just plain cutting down trees and clearing the land. There wasn't anything new about that--we all had had all we wanted of it. Some of the boys said they didn't come to school to cut down trees and clear land, but they couldn't say they were too good for that kind of work when Mr. Washington himself was at it harder than any of them. So he kept with us for some days till everybody had his idea. Then he went off to do something more important.
"Now, in those days he used to go off every Saturday
morning and he wouldn't come back till Monday morning. He'd travel all round the country drumming up students for the school and telling the people to send their children. And on Sunday he'd get the preachers to let him get up in their pulpits and tell the people about the school after they had finished preaching. And the preachers would warn their people against him and his school, because they said it wasn't Methodist, and it wasn't Baptist, and it wasn't Presbyterian, and it wasn't Episcopalian, and it wasn't Christian. And they told the people to keep their children away from that Godless man and his school. But when he came along and asked to speak to the people they had to leave him, just as everybody always did--let him do just what he wanted to do. And when they heard him, the people, they didn't pay no attention to the preachers, they just sent their children as fast as ever they could contrive it.
"Now, in those days Mr. Washington didn't have a horse, nor a mule, nor a wagon, and he wanted to cover more country on those trips than he could afoot, so he'd just go out in the middle of the road and when some old black man would come along driving his mule wagon he'd stop him and talk with him, and tell him about the school and what it was going to do for the black folks, and then he'd say: 'Now, Uncle, you can help by bringing your wagon and mule round at nine o'clock Saturday morning for me to go off round the country telling the people about the school. Now, remember, Uncle Jake, please be here promptly at nine,' and the old man would say, 'Yes, boss,
I sure will be here!' That was how he did it--when he needed anything he'd go out and put his hand on it. First, he could put his hand on anything he wanted round the town; then, he could put his hand on anything he wanted all over the county; then he could put his hand on anything he wanted all over the State; and then finally they do tell me he could put his hand on anything he wanted away up to New York.
"In those days, after we came to live here on the 'plantation,' I used to take the wheelbarrow and go round to the office when Mr. Washington opened up the mail in the morning, and if there was money in the mail then I could go along to the town with the wheelbarrow and get provisions, and if there was no money then there was no occasion to go to town, and we'd just eat what we had left. Most of the white storekeepers wouldn't give us credit, and they didn't want a 'nigger school' here anyhow. Times have changed. Now those storekeepers get a large proportion of their trade here at the Institute, and if there should be any talk of moving, they'd just get up and fight to the last to keep us here and keep our trade.
"And in those days the Negro preachers, or the most of them, and the white folks, or the most of them, were always trying to dispute with Mr. Washington and quarrel with him, but he just kept his mouth shut and went ahead. He kept pleasant and he wouldn't dispute with them, nor argue with them, nor quarrel with them. When the white folks would come round and tell him he was 'spoiling good niggers by education,' he would just ask them to wait
patiently and give him time to show them what the right kind of education would do. And when the colored preachers would come round and tell him he was no Christian, and his school had no religion, he would ask them to just wait and see if the boys and girls were any less Christian because of the education they were getting. But whoever came along and whatever happened Mr. Washington just kept his mouth shut and went ahead.
"After two years of school I went out and rented some land and planted cotton, and just about time to harvest my crop Mr. Washington sent for me one Saturday and said: 'I need you. I want you to come back and work for the school on the farm. I want you to start in Monday morning.' When I told him about my cotton crop just ready to be picked he said: 'Can't help that, we need you. You'll have to arrange with your neighbors to harvest your crop for you.'"
To the inquiry, "Well, did you come?" the old man replied, "Of course I did. When Mr. Washington said come I came same as everybody did what he told them. I got a neighbor to harvest my crop and I lost money on it, but I came to work that Monday morning more than thirty years ago, and I've been here ever since."
The idea of not doing what Mr. Washington wanted him to do, or even arguing the matter, was evidently inconceivable to this old man. He had always obeyed Mr. Washington just as he had obeyed the laws of nature by sleeping and eating. That is the kind of control which
Booker Washington always exercised over his fellow-workers. He accepted their implicit obedience as naturally and simply as they gave it.
As Mr. Page also points out in the introduction to "Up from Slavery," however humble Mr. Washington's origin may have been, what might be termed his intellectual pedigree was of the highest and finest. He may be called, in fact, the spiritual grandson of the great Dr. Mark Hopkins of Williams College. Just as Samuel Armstrong was perhaps the most receptive of Mark Hopkins' pupils, so Booker Washington became the most receptive pupil of Samuel Armstrong. As says Mr. Page: "To the formation of Mr. Washington's character, then, went the missionary zeal of New England, influenced by one of the strongest personalities in modern education, and the wide-reaching moral earnestness of General Armstrong himself." In his autobiography Mr. Washington thus describes General Armstrong's influence and the impression he made upon him: "It has been my fortune to meet personally many of what are called great characters, both in Europe and America, but I do not hesitate to say that I never met any man who, in my estimation, was the equal of General Armstrong. Fresh from the degrading influences of the slave plantation and the coal mines, it was a rare privilege for me to be permitted to come into direct contact with such a character as General Armstrong. I shall always remember that the first time I went into his presence he made the impression upon me of being a perfect man; I was made to feel that there was something about him that
was superhuman. It was my privilege to know the General personally from the time I entered Hampton till he died, and the more I saw of him the greater he grew in my estimation. One might have removed from Hampton all the buildings, classrooms, teachers, and industries, and given the men and women there the opportunity of coming into daily contact with General Armstrong, and that alone would have been a liberal education. (This recalls President Garfield's definition of a university when he said, 'my idea of a university is a log with Mark Hopkins on one end and a boy on the other.') The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women. Instead of studying books so constantly, how I wish that our schools and colleges might learn to study men and things!"
When the young man imbued with these ideas and fresh from these influences found himself responsible for the destinies of a studentless, teacherless, buildingless, and landless school it is significant how he went to work to supply these manifold deficiencies. First, he found a place in which to open the school--a dilapidated shanty church, the A. M. E. Zion Church for Negroes, in the town of Tuskegee. Next he went about the surrounding countryside, found out exactly under what conditions the people were living and what their needs were, and advertised the school among the class of people whom he wanted to have attend it. After returning from these
experiences he said: "I saw more clearly than ever the wisdom of the system which General Armstrong had inaugurated at Hampton. To take the children of such people as I had been among for a month, and each day give them a few hours of mere book education, I felt would be almost a waste of time."
Six weeks after the school was opened, on July 4, 1881, in the shanty Methodist Church with thirty students, Miss Olivia A. Davidson entered the school, the enrollment of which had already grown to fifty, as assistant teacher. She subsequently became Mrs. Washington. The school then had students, a teacher, and a building such as it was, but it had no land. It was succeeding in so far as teaching these eager and knowledge hungry young people what could be learned from books, but little more. Mr. Washington found that about 85 per cent. of the Negroes of the Gulf States lived on the land and were dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood. Hence, he reasoned that it was of supreme importance to teach them how to live on the land to the best advantage. In order to teach the students how to live on the land the school itself must have land. About this time an old plantation near the town of Tuskegee came upon the market. The school had no money. Mr. Washington had no money, and the $2,000 a year from the State Treasury could be used only for the payment of teachers. Accordingly Mr. Washington personally borrowed the $250, from a personal friend, necessary to secure title to the land, and moved the school from the shanty church to the comparative comfort of four aged
Tuskegee in the making. Nothing delighted Mr.
Washington more than to see his students
doing the actual work
of erecting the Tuskegee Institute buildings. A group of students raising the roof of one of the buildings
cabins formerly used as the dining-room, kitchen, stable, and hen-house of the plantation.
And as soon as they were established in their new quarters he organized the "chopping bee" already described and cleared some of the land so that it could be used for crops. He did not clear and plant this land to give his students agricultural training. He did it for the purpose that all land was originally cleared and planted--to get food. He, of course, realized that the educational content of this work was great--greater than any possible textbook exercises in the classroom. He then and there began the long and difficult task of teaching his people that physical work, and particularly farm work, if rightly done was education, and that education was work. To secure the acceptance of this truth by a race only recently emancipated from over two hundred years of unrequited toil--a race that had always regarded freedom from the necessity for work as an indication of superiority--was not a hopeful task. To them education was the antithesis of work. It was the magic elixir which emancipated all those fortunate enough to drink of it from the necessity for work.
He also began to emphasize at this time his familiar dictum that learning to do the common things of life in an uncommon way was an essential part of real education. Probably the reverse of this dictum, namely, learning to do the uncommon things of life in a common way--would have more nearly corresponded to the popular conception of education among most Negroes and many whites.
Mr. Washington later developed a brickyard where,
after a series of failures sufficient to convince any ordinary man of the hopelessness of the enterprise, they finally succeeded in baking creditable bricks which were used by the students in the construction of buildings for the school. He did not start this brickyard for the purpose of vocational training any more than he started the farm for agricultural training. He started it because they needed bricks with which to build buildings in which to live, just as he started the farm to raise food upon which to live. He saw to it, however, that the brickyard was used as an instrument of education and was never allowed to degenerate into a mere brickyard and nothing more, just as he saw to it that the farm was used as a means of education and was not allowed to degenerate into a mere farm and nothing more. It was even more difficult to persuade the students that the hard, heavy, dirty work of the brickyard was education than it had been to persuade them that farm work was education. Mr. Washington wasted no time in arguing this point, however, but merely insisted that without bricks they could not put up proper buildings, and that without buildings they could not have such a school as they must have not only for themselves but for their race.
So this originally landless, buildingless, studentless, and teacherless school came eventually to have all four of these obvious requisites, but it still lacked a fundamental requirement for the effective fulfillment of its purpose. It lacked a boarding department where the students might learn to live. In his tours among the people Mr. Washington had found the great majority in the plantation
Tuskegee Institute students laying the foundation of one of the four Emery buildings--boys' dormitories
districts living on fat pork and corn bread, and sleeping in one-room cabins. They planted nothing but cotton, bought their food at the nearest village or town market instead of raising it, and lived under conditions where the fundamental laws of hygiene and decent social intercourse were both unknown and impossible of application. The young men and women from such homes must be taught how to live in houses with more than one room, how to keep their persons and their surroundings clean, how to sleep in a bed between sheets, how not only to raise but to prepare, serve, and eat a healthful variety of proper food at regular and stated intervals, to say nothing of a trade by which to maintain themselves both during their course and after graduation as well as the usual book learning of the ordinary school. Obviously they could not be taught these things unless they lived day and night on the school grounds instead of boarding about with people whose standards of living were very little if at all higher than those of their homes. Accordingly volunteers were called for, and the students made an excavation under their new brick building which was made into a basement kitchen and dining-room. As Mr. Washington says in "Up from Slavery," "We had nothing but the students and their appetites with which to begin a boarding department." As soon as this boarding department was established it became possible to influence directly the lives of the students during the entire twenty-four hours of the day. From then on each student was required to have and to use a toothbrush. Mr. Washington has since remarked that, in his
opinion, the toothbrush is the most potent single instrument of civilization. Then, too, it was possible for him to begin to enforce this injunction taken from one of his now well-known Sunday night talks, "Make a study of the preparation of food. See to it that a certain ceremony, a certain importance, be attached to the partaking of the food----" This exhortation sounds so commonplace as to be scarcely noticed by the average reader, but just put yourself in the place of one of these boys or girls who came from a one-room cabin and realize what a profoundly revolutionary, even sensational, injunction it is! To the boy or girl who had snatched a morsel of food here, there, or anywhere when prompted by the gnawings of hunger, who had never sat down to a regular meal, who had never partaken of a meal placed upon a table with or without ceremony--imagine what it meant to such a boy or girl "to see to it that a certain ceremony, a certain importance, be attached to the partaking of the food"--not on special occasions but at each one of the three meals of each day!
Finally it came about that this school which had started with a paltry $2,000 a year, a great need, and the invincible determination of one man, came to have land, buildings, teachers, students, and even a boarding department. But in Mr. Washington's view there was still a great fundamental lack in their work. They were doing nothing directly to help those less fortunate than themselves--those about them who could not come and enjoy the advantages of the school. Mr. Washington held that as soon as an individual got hold of anything as useful and
Booker T. Washington "His influence, like that of his school, was at first community wide, then county wide, then State wide, and finally nation wide"
desirable as education he should take immediate means to hand it on to the greatest possible number of those who needed it. He had no patience with those persons who would climb the tree of knowledge and then pull the ladder up after them.
He and his teachers then began to go out on Sundays and give the people homely talks on how to improve their living conditions. They encouraged the farmers to come to the school farm and learn how to grow a variety of crops to supplement the cotton crop which was their sole reliance. They relieved the distress of individual families. Mrs. Washington gathered together in an old loft the farmers' wives and daughters who were in the habit of loafing about the village of Tuskegee on Saturday afternoons and formed them into a woman's club for the improvement of the living conditions in their homes and communities. Mr. Washington and his teachers went right onto the farms and into the homes, and into the churches and the schools, and everywhere showed, for the most part by concrete object-lessons, how they could make their farms more productive, their homes more comfortable, their schools more useful, and their church services more inspiring. All this was done not with an idea of starting an extension department or a social service department, but merely because these people needed help, and Mr. Washington knew that both teachers and students would help themselves in helping them. Finally, chiefly through the efforts of Mrs. Washington, a model country school was established in the district adjoining the Institute's property. This school is
a farm home where the young teacher and his wife, both graduates of Tuskegee, teach the boys and girls who come to them each day how to live on a farm--teach them by practice and object-lesson as well as by precept. They follow the ordinary country school curriculum, but that is a small and relatively unimportant part of what this school gives its pupils. Then, too, the teachers of Tuskegee early started campaigns looking to the extending of the school terms throughout Macon County and the adjoining counties from three to five months, as was customary, to nine months.
And this work of Tuskegee beyond its own borders grew as constantly in volume and extent as the work within its borders, so that Tuskegee soon became the vital force-- the yeast that was raising the level of life and well-being throughout, first, the town and neighborhood of Tuskegee, then the County of Macon, then the surrounding counties and the State of Alabama; and finally, in conjunction with its mother, Hampton, and its children situated at strategic points throughout the South, the entire Negro people of the South, and indirectly the whole nation.
And as the school grew, so grew the man whose life was its embodiment. It is impossible to think of Booker Washington and Tuskegee separately. Just as he typified Tuskegee, so Tuskegee typified him. Just as he made the school, so the school made him. His influence, like that of his school, was at first community wide, then county wide, then State wide, and finally nation wide.
IN 1895, fourteen years after the founding of Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington was selected to represent his race at the opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. On this occasion he mounted the platform, to make the first address which any member of his race had ever made before any representative body of Southern men and women, as an obscure but worthy young colored man who had commended himself to a few thinking persons by building up an excellent industrial school for his people. He came off that platform amid scenes of almost hysterical enthusiasm and was thenceforth proclaimed as the leader of his race, the Moses of his people, and one of America's great men.
In this epoch-making speech Booker Washington had presented a solution of an apparently insoluble problem. He had offered a platform upon which, as Clark Howell said in the Atlanta Constitution, "both races, blacks and whites, could stand with full justice to each." In the course of the speech he told this story: "A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: 'Water, water; we die of thirst!' The answer from the
friendly vessel at once came back: 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' A second time the signal, 'Water, water, send us water!' ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered: 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River." He then appealed to his own people to "cast down their buckets where they were" by making friends with their white neighbors in every manly way, by training themselves where they were in agriculture, in mechanics, in commerce, instead of trying to better their condition by migration. And finally to the Southern white people he appealed "to cast down their buckets where they were" by using and training the Negroes whom they knew rather than seeking to import foreign laborers whom they did not know.
When he reached the crux and climax of the speech--the delicate matter of the relations between the races, socially --he held up his right hand with his fingers outstretched and said: "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." At this remark the audience went wild! Ladies stood on their chairs and waved their handkerchiefs, while men threw up their hats, danced, and catcalled. An old ante-bellum Negro, who had been sitting crosslegged in one of the aisles, wept tears of pride
and joy as he swayed from side to side. By this statement, with what had led up to it, Booker Washington captured the allegiance of all really representative Southern whites, and by consistently adhering to this position he, in an ever-increasing degree, won and held their allegiance till the end.
Frederick Douglass, the great leader of his race during the closing days of slavery, during the War and the Reconstruction period, had died only a few months before. Everywhere, by leading whites, as well as blacks, Washington was acclaimed as the successor of Douglass--the new leader of the Negro race. One of the first colored men so to acclaim him was Emmett J. Scott, who was then editing a Negro newspaper in Houston, Texas, and little realized that he was to become the most intimate associate of the new leader. In an editorial Mr. Scott said of this address: "Without resort to exaggeration, it is but simple justice to call the address great. It was great! Great, in that it exhibited the speaker's qualities of head and heart; great in that he could and did discriminately recognize conditions as they affect his people, and greater still in the absolute modesty, self-respect, and dignity with which he presented a platform upon which, as Clark Howell, of the Atlanta Constitution says: 'both races, blacks and whites, can stand with full justice to each.'" Perhaps the most remarkable feature of Booker Washington's leadership was that from that time on he never deviated one hair's breadth in word or deed from the platform laid down in this brief address.
It was not to be expected, however, that such a radically new note in Negro leadership could be struck without some discord. As was perfectly natural, some more or less prominent Negroes, whose mental processes followed the lines of cleavage between the races engendered by the embittering experiences of the Reconstruction period, looked with suspicion upon a Negro leader who had won the approbation of the South, of leading white citizens, press, and public. In the days of slavery it was a frequent custom on large plantations to use one of the slaves as a kind of stool pigeon to spy upon the others and report their misdeeds. Naturally such persons were hated and despised and looked upon as traitors to their race. Hence, it came about that the praise of a white man was apt to throw suspicion upon the racial loyalty of a black man. This habit of mind, like all mental habits, long survived the system and circumstances which occasioned it. Therefore, it was inevitable that the fact that the white press throughout the South rang with his praises for days and weeks after the sensationally enthusiastic reception of his speech at the exposition should not be accepted as a desirable endorsement of the new leader by at least a few of his own people.
A more or less conspicuous colored preacher summed up this slight undertow of dissent when he said: "I want to pay my respects next to a colored man. He is a great man, too, but he isn't our Moses, as the white people are pleased to call him. I allude to Booker T. Washington. He has been with the white people so long that he has learned to throw sop with the rest. He made a speech at Atlanta the
other day, and the newspapers of all the large cities praised it and called it the greatest speech ever delivered by a colored man. When I heard that, I said: 'There must be something wrong with it, or the white people would not be praising it so.' I got the speech and read it. Then I said, 'Ah, here it is,' and I read his words, 'the colored people do not want social equality.' (This man's interpretation of this sentence in the speech, "The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.") I tell you that is a lie. We do want social equality. Why, don't you want your manhood recognized? Then Mr. Washington said that our emancipation and enfranchisement were untimely and a mistake; that we were not ready for it. (Naturally, Mr. Washington said no such thing.) What did he say that for but to tickle the palates of the white people? Oh, yes, he was shrewd. He will get many hundreds of dollars for his school by it."
Let it not be thought that this attitude represented any large or important body of opinion among the Negroes. The great majority both of the leaders and the rank and file enthusiastically accepted both the new leader and his new kind of leadership. The small minority, however, holding the view of the preacher quoted, continued to cause Booker Washington some annoyance, which, although continuously lessening, persisted in some
degree throughout his life. This numerically small and individually unimportant element of the Negroes in America would hardly warrant even passing mention except that the always carping and sometimes bitter criticisms of these persons are apt to confuse the well-wishers of the race who do not understand the situation.
The Negroes holding this point of view are sometimes pleased to refer to themselves as the Talented Tenth. They are largely city dwellers who have had more or less of what they term "higher education"--Latin, Greek, Theology, and the like. A number of these persons make all or a part of their living by publicly bewailing the wrongs and injustices of their race and demanding their redress by immediate means. Mr. Washington's emphasis upon the advantages of Negroes in America and the debt of gratitude which they owe to the whites, who have helped them to make more progress in fifty years than any other race ever made in a like period, is naturally very annoying to this type of person. In spite of their constant abuse of him Mr. Washington some years ago agreed to confer with the leaders of this faction to see if a program could not be devised through which all could work together instead of at cross purposes. In spite of the fact that the chief exponent of this group opened the first meeting with a bitter attack upon Mr. Washington, such a program was adopted, to which, before the conferences were over, all duly and amicably agreed to adhere. Some of the more restless spirits among the leaders of the Talented Tenth soon, however, broke their pledges,
repudiated the whole arrangement, and started in as before to denounce Mr. Washington and those who thought and acted with him.
After the Atlanta speech Mr. Washington's task was a dual one. While the active head of his great and rapidly growing institution, he was also the generally accepted leader of his race. It is with his leadership of his race that we are concerned in this chapter. His duties in this capacity were vast and ill defined, and his responsibility exceedingly heavy. He said, himself, that when he first came to be talked of as the leader of his race he was somewhat at a loss to know what was expected of him in that capacity. His tasks in this direction, however, were thrust upon him so thick and fast that he had not long to remain in this state of mind. After the Atlanta speech he was in almost daily contact with what was befalling his people in all parts of the country and to some extent all over the world. Through his press clipping service, supplemented by myriads of letters and personal reports, practically every event of any significance to his race came to his notice. When he heard of rioting, lynching, or serious trouble in any community he sent a message of advice, encouragement, or warning to the leading Negroes of the locality and sometimes to the whites whom he knew to be interested in the welfare of the Negroes. When the trouble was sufficiently serious to warrant it he went in person to the scene. When he heard of a Negro winning a prize at a county fair, or being placed in some position of unusual trust and distinction, he wrote him a letter of
congratulation and learned the circumstances so that he might cite the incident by way of encouragement to others.
After the riots in Atlanta, Georgia, some years ago, when infuriated white mobs foiled in their efforts to lynch a Negro murderer, burned, killed, and laid waste right and left in the Negro section of the town, Mr. Washington, who was in the North at the time, boarded the first train for the city, arrived just after the bloody scenes, gathered together his frightened people amid the smoking ruins of their homes, soothed, calmed, and cheered them. He then went to the leading city officials, secured from them a promise of succor for the stricken people and protection against further attack. Next he went to the Governor of the State, secured his sympathy and coöperation, and with him organized a conference of leading State and city officials and other representative men who there and then mapped out a program tending to prevent the recurrence of such race riots--a program which up to the present time has successfully fulfilled its purpose. It is characteristic of Mr. Washington's methods that he turned this disaster into an ultimate blessing for the very community that was afflicted.
Mr. Washington was the kind of leader who kept very close to the plain people. He knew their every-day lives, their weaknesses, their temptations. To use a slang phrase, he knew exactly what they "were up against" whether they lived in country or city. Within a comparatively short period before his death he addressed two audiences as widely separated by distance and environment
as the farmers gathered together for the first Negro Fair of southwestern Georgia at Albany, Georgia, and five thousand Negro residents of New York City assembled in the Harlem Casino. He told those Georgia farmers how much land they owned and to what extent it was mortgaged, how much land they leased, how much cotton they raised, and how much of other crops they raised, or, rather, did not raise; how many mules and hogs they owned, and how they could with profit increase their ownership in mules and hogs; he told them how many drug stores, grocery stores, and banks in the State and county were owned by Negroes; and then, switching from the general to the particular, he described the daily life of the ordinary, easy-going tenant farmer of the locality. He pictured what he saw when he came out of his unpainted house in the morning: that gate off the hinges, that broken window-pane with an old coat stuck into it, that cotton planted right up to the doors with no room left for a garden, and no garden; and, worse than all, the uncomfortable knowledge of debts concealed from the hard-working wife and mother. Then he pictured what that same man's place might be and should become.
It was once said of a certain eminent preacher that his logic was on fire. It might be said of Booker Washington that his statistics were on fire. He marshalled them in such a way that they were dynamic and stirring instead of static and paralyzing, as we all know them to our sorrow. It so happened that Mr. Washington had never before been in southwestern Georgia. After his speech one old farmer
was heard to say as he shook his head: "I don't understan' it! Booker T. Washington he ain't never ben here befo', yit he knows mo' 'bout dese parts an' mo' 'bout us den what eny of us knows ourselves." This old man did not know that one of Mr. Washington's most painstaking and efficient assistants, Mr. Monroe N. Work, the editor of the Negro Year Book, devoted much of his time to keeping his chief provided with this startlingly accurate information about his people in every section of the United States.
On this occasion there were on the platform with Mr. Washington and the officials of the fair the Mayor of Albany and members of the City Council, while in the audience were several hundred whites on one side of the centre aisle and twice as many blacks on the other. And Mr. Washington would alternately address himself to his white and black audience. He would, for instance, turn to the white men and tell them that he had never known a particularly successful black man who could not trace his original success to the aid or encouragement he had received in one form or another from a white friend. He would tell them that without their assistance his race could never have made more progress in the last fifty years in this country than any similar group of people had ever made in a like period of time. After he had raised the white section of his audience to a high degree of self-congratulatory complaisance he would suddenly shift the tenor of his remarks and ask them why they should mar this splendid record by discriminating against the weaker race in matters of education, by destroying their confidence in the
justice of the courts through mob violence, and by the numerous small, mean ways in which race prejudice shows itself and retards and discourages the upward struggle of a weaker people. As he proceeded along these lines one could see the self-congratulatory expression fade from the faces of his white listeners.
He would next turn to his own people and tell them of their phenomenal progress since emancipation and of the great and essential part they had played in the upbuilding of the South--left prostrate by the Civil War. One could see their eager, upturned faces glow with pride and self-satisfaction. But suddenly he would shift the tone of his comments and tell them how sadly those of them who were indolent and shiftless and unreliable and vicious were retarding the upward struggles of the industrious and self-respecting majority and how they were perpetuating the prejudice against the whole race. And as he pictured this seamy side of the situation one could see the glow of pride gradually wilt from the myriads of swarthy upturned faces.
Hardly less successful than his use of statistics was his use of the much-abused funny story. He never told a story, however good, for its own sake. He told it only when it would most effectively drive home whatever point he happened to be making. In this same speech he was saying that a Negro who is lazy and unreliable and does nothing to accumulate property or improve his earning capacity deserves no consideration from whites or blacks and has no right to say that the color line is drawn against
him. By way of illustration he told this story: "A shiftless Southern poor white asked a self-respecting old black man for three cents with which to pay his ferry fare across a river. The old black man replied: 'I's sorry not to commerdate yer, boss, but der fac' is dat a man what ain't got three cents is jest as bad off on one side ob der ribber as der udder.'"
At another point in this speech he was telling his people not to be discouraged because their race has less to point to than other races in the way of past achievements. He said that after all it was the future that was of vital concern and not the past, and that the future was theirs to a peculiar degree because they were a young race. And to illustrate their situation he told of meeting old Aunt Caroline one evening striding along with a basket on her head. He said, "Where are you going, Aunt Caroline?" And she replied: "Lor' bless yer, Mister Washin'ton, I dun bin where I's er goin'." "And so," he concluded, "some of the races of the earth have dun bin where dey was er goin'!" but fortunately the Negro race was not among them.
In making the point that, in spite of race prejudice, the handicaps to which his people were subjected in the South were after all superficial and did not interfere with their chance to work and earn a living, he told the experience of an old Negro who was accompanying him on one of his Southern educational tours. At a certain city they were obliged to wait several hours between trains, so this old man took advantage of the opportunity to stroll about and see the sights of the place. After a while he pulled out his
watch and found he had barely time to get back to the station before the train was due to leave. Accordingly he rushed to a hack stand and called out to the first driver he came to, who happened to be a white man: "Hurry up an' take me to the station, I's gotta get the 4:32 train!" To which the white hack driver replied: "I ain't never drove a nigger in my hack yit an' I ain't goin' ter begin now. You can git a nigger driver ter take ye down!"
To this the old colored man replied with perfect good nature: "All right, my frien', we won't have no misunderstanding or trouble; I'll tell you how we'll settle it: you jest hop in on der back seat an' do der ridin' and I'll set in front an' do der drivin'." In this way they reached the station amicably and the old man caught his train. Like this old Negro, Mr. Washington always devoted his energies to catching the train, and it made little difference to him whether he sat on the front or the back seat.
A few months later, to the five thousand people of his own race in the Harlem Casino in New York City, he described their daily lives, their problems, perplexities, and temptations in terms as homely, as picturesque, and as vivid as he used in talking to the Georgia farmers. He urged them, just as he did the farmers, to stop moving about and to settle down--"to stop staying here and there and everywhere and begin to live somewhere." He urged them to leave the little mechanical job of window washing, or what not, and go into business for themselves, even if they could only afford a few newspapers or peanuts to start with. He told of a certain New York street where he had
found all the people on one side of a row of push carts were selling something, while all the people on the other side were buying something. Those that were selling were white people, while those that were buying were colored people. That, he said, was a color line they had drawn themselves. He reminded them of the high cost of living, and by way of example he commented upon the expense of having to buy so many shoes. He said: "Up here you not only have to have good, expensive shoes, but you have to wear them all the time." And then he reminded them how back in the country down South, before they came to the city, they would buy a pair of shoes at Christmas and after Christmas put them away in the "chist" and not take them out again until "big meeting day," and then wear them only in the meeting and not walking to and from the church. And as he concluded with the words, "Under those conditions shoes last a long time," people all over the audience were chuckling and nudging and winking at one another as people will when characteristic incidents in their past lives are graphically recalled to them.
Then he described the almost innumerable temptations to spend money which the city offers. Some of the store windows are so enticing that, as he said, "the dollars almost jump out of your pockets as you go by on the sidewalk." "Then you men working for rich men here in the city smell the smoke of so many twenty-five-cent cigars that after a while you feel as though you must smoke twenty-five-cent cigars. You don't stop to think that when the grandfathers of those very men first came from
A study in black. Note the tensity of expression with which the group is following his each and every word
the country a hundred years ago they smoked two-for-five cigars." Then he told of a family he had found living on the tenth story of an electric-lighted, steam-heated apartment house with elevator service, and this very family only two years before was living in a two-room cabin in the Yazoo Valley on the Mississippi bottoms. And he commented: "Now, that family's in danger. No people can change as much and as fast as that without great danger!"
Next he touched on the high rents and said: "You mothers know that sooner or later you have to take in roomers to help pay that rent, and after a while you take in Tom, Dick, or Harry, or anybody who's got the money regardless of who or what they are, and you mothers know the danger that spells for your daughters." (At this point he was interrupted by a chorus of "amens" from women all over the great hall.) He continued: "Now, you take the 'old man' aside an' tell him straight, you're not going to have any more roomers hanging round your house-- that he's got to hustle for a better job or go into some little business for himself, or move out into some little cottage in the country, or do something to get rid of those Tom, Dick, and Harry roomers."
In short, in this speech Mr. Washington showed that he knew just as intimately the lives of his people in the flats of Greater New York as on the farms of southwestern Georgia.
In spite of his grasp of details Mr. Washington never became so immersed in them as to lose sight of his ultimate goal, and conversely he never became so blinded by the
vision of his ultimate goal as to overlook details. The solution of the so-called Negro problem in America, he felt, is to be found along these lines: As his people have more and more opportunity for training and become better and better trained they become more and more self-sufficient. They are developing their own carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, farmers, merchants, and bankers as well as lawyers, teachers, preachers, and physicians. These trained people naturally, for the most part, serve their own race, and to them the members of the race naturally turn for the service that each is equipped to render. As they acquire wealth, education, and cultivation, the persons possessing these advantages naturally intermingle socially and build up a society from which the rough, ignorant, and uncouth of their own race are as inevitably excluded as are such persons from all polite social intercourse of whatever people. These Negroes of education and cultivation no more desire to force themselves into the society of the other race than do any persons of real education and cultivation desire to go where they are not wanted. As the race increases in wealth and culture it becomes more and more easy and natural for its successful members to satisfy their social desires and ambitions in their own society. Already in the centres of Negro prosperity and culture it would be almost, if not quite, as impossible for a white man to be received into the best Negro society as it would for a Negro to be received into the best white society. This growing independence and self-sufficiency in the trades, the professions, and social intercourse leads
inevitably, as he pointed out, to a form of natural segregation based upon economic needs and social preferences, and in conformity to the laws of nature, which is a very different matter from the artificial and arbitrary segregation forced upon unwilling people by the laws of men. Under these conditions the disputes as to whether the best society of the blacks is inferior or superior to the best society of the whites becomes as academic and futile as would be similar contentions as to whether the best society of Constantinople is inferior or superior to that of Boston.
While Negroes are more and more drawing apart from the whites into their own section of the city, town, or county they nevertheless find it a source of strength to live near the whites in order that they may have the benefit of their aid in those matters in which the older and stronger race excels. Nor is this an entirely one-sided advantage, as there are not a few matters in which the Negroes have natural advantages over the whites and hence may render them useful service. Thus the two races, socially separated but economically interdependent, may to mutual advantage live side by side.
Some persons claim that any such plan of race adjustment, while theoretically plausible and ideally desirable, is nevertheless practically impossible. They contend that no so radically different races have ever lived side by side in harmony and each aiding the other. However that may be, there remains the fact that such a harmonious and mutually helpful relationship between the two races does already exist in the town of Tuskegee, throughout Macon
County, and in many other of the more progressive localities throughout the South to-day. And at the same time, the lynchings and riots and other manifestations of racial conflict are continuously if slowly growing less frequent. Whatever may be the relative strength of the two theories, the facts are lining up in support of the Booker Washington prophecy at the Atlanta Exposition when he said: "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress."
During the last twenty years of his life Mr. Washington came more and more to be regarded as the representative and spokesman of his race, and was invited to represent and speak for them at such national and international gatherings as the annual conventions of the National Negro Business League, of which he was the president and founder; the great meeting in honor of the brotherhood of man, held in Boston in 1897; the Presbyterian rally for Home Missions, at which President Grover Cleveland presided; the International Sunday-school Convention held in Chicago in 1914; the meeting of the National Educational Association in St. Louis in 1904; the Thanksgiving Peace Jubilee in the Chicago Auditorium at the close of the war with Spain in 1898, with President McKinley and his Cabinet in attendance; the Commencement exercises at Harvard in 1896, when President Eliot conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts; the International Conference on the Negro, held at Tuskegee in 1912, with representatives present from Europe, Africa, the West Indies,
and South America, as well as all sections of the United States. Dartmouth College conferred his Doctorate upon him in 1901.
At Harvard in 1896 President Eliot, with these words, conferred upon Mr. Washington the first honorary degree ever conferred by a great university upon an American Negro: "Teacher, wise helper of his race; good servant of God and country." In his speech delivered at the Alumni Dinner on the same day Mr. Washington brought this message to Harvard: "If through me, an humble representative, seven millions of my people in the South might be permitted to send a message to Harvard--Harvard that offered up on death's altar young Shaw, and Russell, and Lowell, and scores of others, that we might have a free and united country--that message would be: 'Tell them that the sacrifice was not in vain. Tell them that by the way of the shop, the field, the skilled hand, habits of thrift and economy, by way of industrial school and college, we are coming. We are crawling up, working up, yea, bursting up. Often through oppression, unjust discrimination, and prejudice, but through them all we are coming up, and with proper habits, intelligence, and property, there is no power on earth that can permanently stay our progress!'"
The next year at the great meeting in honor of the brotherhood of man held in Music Hall, Boston, which concluded with the unveiling of the monument of Robert Gould Shaw, Booker Washington in concluding his address turned to the one-armed color bearer of Colonel Shaw's regiment and said: "To you, to the scarred and
scattered remnants of the Fifty-fourth, who with empty sleeve and wanting leg have honored this occasion with your presence--to you, your commander is not dead. Though Boston erected no monument, and history recorded no story, in you and the loyal race which you represent Robert Gould Shaw will have a monument which time cannot wear away."
In his speech at the Peace Jubilee exercises after the war with Spain, Mr. Washington said: "When you have gotten the full story of the heroic conduct of the Negro in the Spanish-American War--heard it from the lips of Northern soldiers and Southern soldiers, from ex-abolitionist and ex-master--then decide within yourselves whether a race that is thus willing to die for its country should not be given the highest opportunity to live for its country." And again in the same speech, after rehearsing the successes of American arms, he said: "We have succeeded in every conflict, except the effort to conquer ourselves in the blotting out of racial prejudices. . . . Until we thus conquer ourselves, I make no empty statement when I say that we shall have, especially in the Southern part of our country, a cancer gnawing at the heart of the Republic that shall one day prove as dangerous as an attack from an army without or within." Note this as the language of a man on a great national occasion who has been accused of a time-serving acquiescence in the injustices which his race suffers!
In his address before the National Educational Association in St. Louis, in 1904, he made the following remarks which are typical of points he sought to emphasize when
addressing audiences of white people: "Let me free your minds, if I can, from possible fear and apprehension in two directions: the Negro in this country does not seek, as a race, to exercise political supremacy over the white man, nor is social intermingling with any race considered by the Negro to be one of the essentials to his progress. You may not know it, but my people are as proud of their racial identity as you are of yours, and in the degree that they become intelligent, racial pride increases. I was never prouder of the fact that I am classed as a Negro than I am to-day. . . . I can point you to groups of my people in nearly every part of our country that in intelligence and high and unselfish purpose of their school and church life, and in the purity and sweetness of their home life and social intercourse, will compare favorably with the races of the earth. You can never lift any large section of people by continually calling attention to their weak points. A race, like a child in school, needs encouragement as well as chastisement."
In his address before the annual session of 1914 of the National Negro Business League at Muskogee, Oklahoma, Mr. Washington made the following remarks which are typical of his points of chief emphasis in addressing his own people: "Let your success thoroughly eclipse your shortcomings. We must give the world so much to think and talk about that relates to our constructive work in the direction of progress that people will forget and overlook our failures and shortcomings. . . . One big, definite fact in the direction of achievement and construction will go farther in
securing rights and removing prejudice than many printed pages of defense and explanation. . . . Let us in the future spend less time talking about the part of the city that we cannot live in, and more time in making that part of the city that we can live in beautiful and attractive.
It is characteristic of the kind of criticism to which Mr. Washington was subjected that a certain element of the Negro press violently denounced this comment as an indirect endorsement of the legal segregation of Negroes. Probably the last article written by Mr. Washington for any publication was the one published posthumously by the New Republic, New York City, December 4, 1915, entitled, "My View of Segregation Laws," in which he stated in no uncertain terms his views on the segregation laws which were being passed in the South. In concluding his article, he said:
"Summarizing the matter in the large, segregation is ill-advised because:
1. It is unjust.
2. It invites other unjust measures.
3. It will not be productive of good, because practically every thoughtful Negro resents its injustice and doubts its sincerity. Any race adjustment based on injustice finally defeats itself. The Civil War is the best illustration of what results where it is attempted to make wrong right or seem to be right.
4. It is unnecessary.
5. It is inconsistent. The Negro is segregated from his
white neighbor, but white business men are not prevented from doing business in Negro neighborhoods.
6. There has been no case of segregation of Negroes in the United States that has not widened the breach between the two races. Wherever a form of segregation exists it will be found that it has been administered in such a way as to embitter the Negro and harm more or less the moral fibre of the white man. That the Negro does not express this constant sense of wrong is no proof that he does not feel it.
"It seems to me that the reasons given above, if carefully considered, should serve to prevent further passage of such segregation ordinances as have been adopted in Norfolk, Richmond, Louisville, Baltimore, and one or two cities in South Carolina.
"Finally, as I have said in another place, as white and black learn daily to adjust, in a spirit of justice and fair play, these interests which are individual and racial, and to see and feel the importance of those fundamental interests which are common, so will both races grow and prosper. In the long run, no individual and no race can succeed which sets itself at war against the common good; for in the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim."
In concluding his Muskogee speech he said: "If there are those who are inclined to be discouraged concerning racial conditions in this country we have but to turn our minds in the direction of the deplorable conditions in Europe, growing largely out of racial bitterness and
friction. When we contrast what has taken place there with the peaceful manner in which black people and white people are living together in this country, notwithstanding now and then there are evidences of injustice and friction, which should always be condemned, we have the greatest cause for thanksgiving. Perhaps nowhere else in the world can be found so many white people living side by side with so many of dark skin in so much of peace and harmony as in the United States."
This concluding observation was particularly characteristic of him. Somewhere, or somehow, he always turned to account all significant events for weal or woe from the most trivial personal happenings to the titanic world war.
Like all great leaders, Booker Washington did the bulk of his work quietly in his own office and not on dramatic historic occasions before great audiences. He received every day, for instance, a huge and varied mail which required not only industry to handle, but much judgment, patience, and tact to dispose of wisely and adequately. We will here mention and quote from a sheaf of letters taken at random from his files which partially illustrate the range of his interests and the variety of the calls which were constantly made upon him.
A railroad official in Colorado asked his opinion on the question of separate schools for white and black children apropos of a movement to amend the State constitution so as to make possible such separate schools. In his reply Mr. Washington said: "As a rule, colored people in the Northern States are very much opposed to any plans for
separate schools, and I think their feelings in the matter deserve consideration. The real objection to separate schools, from their point of view, is that they do not like to feel that they are compelled to go to one school rather than the other. It seems as if it was taking away part of their freedom. This feeling is likely to be all the stronger where the matter is made a subject of public agitation. On the other hand, my experience is that if this matter is left to the discretion of the school officials it usually settles itself. As the colored people usually live pretty closely together, there will naturally be schools in which colored students are in the majority. In that case, the process of separation takes place naturally and without the necessity of changing the constitution. If you make it a constitutional question, the colored people are going to be opposed to it. If you leave it simply an administrative question, which it really is, the matter will very likely settle itself."
We next find a courteous reply to the letter of some poor crank who wanted to secure his backing for a preparation which he had concocted for taking the curl out of Negroes' hair. Then comes a letter to a man who wants to know whether it is true that the Negro race is dying out. To him Mr. Washington quoted the United States census figures for 1910, which indicate an increase of 11 3/10 per cent. in the Negro population for the decade.
Next, we come upon a letter written to a man who is interested in an effort of the Freedman's Aid Society to raise a half a million dollars for Negro schools in the South.
Since this letter so well describes an important phase of Booker Washington's leadership we give it almost in full. It was written in 1913 and runs thus:
"I think the most interesting work that Tuskegee has done in recent years is its work in rural schools in the country surrounding the Institute. During the last five or six years forty-seven school buildings have been erected in Macon County by colored people themselves. At the same time the school term has been lengthened in every part of the county from five to eight months. This work has been done under the direction of a supervising teacher working in connection with the extension department of the Institute.
"Among other things that have been attempted to encourage the people to improve their schools has been a model country school started in a community called Rising Star, a few miles from the Institute. The school at Rising Star is an example of the rural school that Tuskegee is seeking to promote. It consists of a five-room frame house in which the teachers--a Tuskegee graduate and his wife--not only teach, but live. All the rooms are used by the school children. In the kitchen they are taught to cook, in the dining-room to serve a meal, in the bedroom to make the beds. In the garden they are taught how to raise vegetables, poultry, pigs, and cows. They recite in the sitting-room or on the veranda, and their lessons all deal with matters of their own every-day life. . . . Instead of figuring how long it will take an express train to reach the moon if it travelled at the rate of forty miles an
hour, the pupils figure out how much corn can be raised on neighbor Smith's patch of land and how much farmer Jones' pig will bring when slaughtered.
"The pupils learn neatness and cleanliness by living in a decent home during their school hours. They carry the lesson home, and the result is seen in cleaner and better farmhouses. The model school has become the pattern on which the farmers and their wives are improving their homes. . . ."
Then comes a letter from a poor woman who wants him in the course of his travels to look up her husband who abandoned her some years before. For purposes of identification she says: "This is the hith of him 5-6 light eyes dark hair unwave shave and a Suprano Voice his age 58 his name Steve. . . ." Even though Mr. Washington did not agree to spend his spare time looking for a disloyal husband with a soprano voice, he sent the poor woman a kind reply and suggested some means of tracing her recreant spouse.
We come next upon a long letter written to a man who wishes to quote for publication in a magazine Booker Washington's opinion on the relation between crime and education. In the concluding paragraphs of his reply Mr. Washington says: "In nine cases out of ten the crimes which serve to unite and give an excuse for mob violence are committed by men who are without property, without homes, and without education except what they have picked up in the city slums, in prisons, or on the chain gang. The South is spending too much money in giving
the Negro this kind of education that makes criminals and not enough on the kind of schools that turn out farmers, carpenters, and blacksmiths. Other things being equal, it is true not only in America, in the South, but throughout the world, that there is the least crime where there is the most education. This is true of the South and of the Negro, just the same as it is true of every other race. Particularly is it true that the individuals who commit crimes of violence and crimes that are due to lack of self-control are individuals who are, for the most part, ignorant. The decrease in lynching in the Southern States is an index of the steady growth of the South in wealth, in industry, in education, and in individual liberty."
Then comes a letter to an individual who desires to know what proportion of the American Negroes can read and write now, and what proportion could at the time of the Civil War. The reply again quotes the 1910 census to the effect that 69.5 per cent. can now read and write as compared with only 3 per cent. at the close of the war. The letter also points out that the rate of illiteracy among American Negroes is now lower than the rate for all the peoples of Russia, Portugal, Brazil, and Venezuela, and almost as low as that of Spain.
There follows a sheaf of correspondence in which Mr. Washington agreed to speak at the unveiling of a tablet in Auburn, New York, to the memory of "Aunt Harriet" Tubman Davis, the black woman, squat of stature and seamed of face, who piloted three or four hundred slaves from the land of bondage to the land of freedom. While
there he also agreed to speak at Auburn prison in response to the special request of some of the prisoners.
Then we find a courteous but firmly negative reply to a long-winded bore who writes a six-page letter urging Mr. Washington to secure the acceptance by the Negro race of a flag which he has designed as their racial flag.
After this follows a group of letters which passed between him and the late Edgar Gardiner Murphy, author of "The Present South," "The Basis of Ascendency," and other important books. In one of these letters Mr. Washington agrees, as requested, to read the proofs of "The Basis of Ascendency," and in another he thus characteristically comments upon Mr. Murphy's fears that a pessimistic book on the status of the Negro written by a supposed authority (a colored man) would do wide-reaching harm: "Of course among a certain element it will have an influence for harm, but human nature, as I observe it, is so constructed that it does not take kindly to a description of a failure. It is hard to get up enthusiasm in connection with a funeral procession. No man, in my opinion, could write a history of the Southern Confederacy that would be read generally because it failed. I am not saying, of course, that the Negro race is a failure. Mr.---- writes largely from that point of view, hence there is no rallying point for the general reader."
In reply to a Western university professor who had asked his opinion of amalgamation as a solution of the race problem he wrote: "I have never looked upon amalgamation as offering a solution of the so-called race problem, and
I know very few Negroes who favor it or even think of it, for that matter. What those whom I have heard discuss the matter do object to are laws which enable the father to escape his responsibility, or prevent him from accepting and exercising it, when he has children by colored women. I think this answers your question, but since there seems to be some misunderstanding as to how colored people feel about this subject, I might say in explanation of what I have already said: The Negroes in America are, as you know, a mixed race. If that is an advantage we have it; if it is a disadvantage, it is still ours, and for the simple reason that the product of every sort of racial mixture between the black man and any other race is always a Negro and never a white man, Indian, or any other sort of man.
"The Negro in America is defined by the census as a person who is classed as such in the community in which he or she resides. In other words, the Negro in this country is not so much of a particular color or particular racial stock as one who shares a particular condition. It is the fact that they all share in this condition which creates a cause of common sympathy and binds the members of the race together in spite of all differences."
To an embarrassing question put by the society editor of some paper Mr. Washington replied by merely telling a funny story the application of which to the impertinent inquiry was obvious. In another letter he summed up his opinion of the much-mooted question of the franchise in these two sentences: "There is no reason why every Negro who is not fitted to vote should not be disfranchised. At
the same time, there is no good reason why every white man who is not fitted to vote should not also be disfranchised."
From the foregoing correspondence it will be seen that one of Booker Washington's many rôles was to act as a kind of plenipotentiary and interpreter between his people and the dominant race. For this part he was peculiarly fitted by his thorough understanding of and sympathy for each race.
Theodore Roosevelt, immediately after taking the oath of office as President of the United States, in Buffalo after the death of President McKinley, wrote Mr. Washington the following note:
Buffalo, N. Y., Sept. 14, 1901.
MY DEAR MR. WASHINGTON.
I write you at once to say that to my deep regret my visit South must now be given up.
When are you coming North? I must see you as soon as possible. I want to talk over the question of possible appointments in the South exactly on the lines of our last conversation together.
I hope that my visit to Tuskegee is merely deferred for a short season.
(Signed) THEODORE ROOSEVELT.Booker T. Washington, Esq.,
This deferred visit finally took place in 1905, not long after Colonel Roosevelt's triumphant election to the Presidency, when he came to Tuskegee accompanied by his secretary, William Loeb, Jr.; Federal Civil Service Commissioner, John McThenny; Collector of Revenue for the Birmingham District, J. O. Thompson; Judge Thomas G. Jones of Montgomery, and a fellow Rough Rider by the name of Greeneway.
In response to the above note Mr. Washington went to the White House and discussed with the President "possible future appointments in the South" along the lines agreed upon between them in a conference which they had had at a time when it had seemed possible that Mr. Roosevelt might be given the Republican Presidential nomination of 1900, that is, while Mr. Roosevelt was Governor of New York and a tentative candidate for the nomination.
Upon his return to Tuskegee after this talk with President Roosevelt, Mr. Washington found that the judgeship for the Southern District of Alabama had just become vacant through the death of the incumbent, Judge Bruce. Here was an opportunity for the President to put into practice in striking fashion the policy they had discussed--namely, to appoint to Federal posts in the Southern States the best men available and to reward and recognize conspicuous merit among Southern Democrats and Southern Negroes as well as among Southern white Republicans. Being unable at the moment to return to Washington, he sent his secretary, Emmett J. Scott, with the following letter:
Tuskegee, Alabama, October 2, 1901.
President Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, D. C.
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I send you the following information through my secretary, Mr. Emmett J. Scott, whom you can trust implicitly.
Judge Bruce, the Judge of the Middle District of Alabama, died yesterday. There is going to be a very hard scramble for his place. I saw ex-governor T. G. Jones yesterday, as I promised, and he is willing to accept the judgeship of the Middle District of Alabama. I am more convinced now than ever that he is the proper man for the place. He has until recently been president of the Alabama State Bar Association. He is a Gold Democrat, and is a clean, pure man in every respect. He stood up in the Constitutional Convention and elsewhere for a fair election law, opposed lynching, and he has been outspoken for the education of both races. He is head and shoulders above any of the other persons who I think will apply for the position.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.P. S.--I do not believe in all the South you could select a better man through whom to emphasize your idea of the character of a man to hold office than you can do through ex-governor Jones.
Mr. Scott described what occurred on his delivery of this letter in the following report to his chief:
Washington, D. C., October 4, 1901.
MY DEAR MR. WASHINGTON: I called to see the President this morning. I found him all cordiality and
brimming over with good will for you. That pleased me much! He had received the telegram and had made an appointment for me. He read your letter, inquired if I knew the contents, and then launched into a discussion of it. Wanted to know if Governor Jones supported Bryan in either campaign. I told him no. He wanted to know how I knew. I told him of the letter wherein he (Governor Jones) stated to you that he was without political ambition because he had opposed Bryan, etc. Well, he said he wanted to hear from you direct as to whether he had or not, and asked me to write you to find out. I am now awaiting that wire so as to call again on him. As soon as I see him again I will wire you and write you as to what he says. He is going to appoint Governor Jones. That was made apparent. While I was waiting to see him Senator Chandler with the Spanish Claims Commission called. They saw him first. I heard the talk, however, which was mostly felicitation. Incidentally, however, Senator Chandler said that the Commission was afraid it would lose one of its members because of the vacancy in Alabama, referring to Hon. W. L. Chambers, who was present and who is a member of the Commission. The President laughed heartily. Said the Senator always sprung recommendations unexpectedly, and so forth and so forth. He did not inquire as to any of the others-- the applicants--seemed interested only to find out about Governor Jones. . . . There were many correspondents there at the door, but I told them I was passing through to Buffalo, but had stopped over to invite the President to include Tuskegee in his itinerary when he goes South again. . . . Will write again when I see the President again.
(Signed) EMMETT J. SCOTT.
As soon as he had received Dr. Washington's telegram in reply, Mr. Scott went again to the White House and wrote thus of his second call:
Washington, D. C., October 5, 1901.
MY DEAR MR. WASHINGTON: You have my telegram of to-day.
I sent it as soon as I had seen the President. I had a
three-hour wait to see him and it was tiresome, but I "camped
with them." When admitted to the general reception room the
President met me and was cordial and asked me to wait awhile,
till he could dismiss two delegations, then he invited me
into the office, or cabinet room, and read very carefully the
telegram received from you last night--Friday night. His
face was a study. He was greatly surprised to learn that the
Governor voted for Bryan, and walked about considerably. At
last he said, "Well, I guess I'll have to appoint him, but I
am awfully sorry he voted for Bryan." He then asked me who Dr.
*This refers to a suggestion made by Mr. Washington in his
telegram recommending the appointment of Dr. W. D. Crum, a
colored physician, to a South Carolina vacancy, so that the
President could thereby announce at the same time the
appointment of a first-grade Southern white Democrat and a
first-class colored man.
is and I told him that he was a clean representative character, and that he was favorably considered by Harrison for the Charleston postmastership, etc. He did not know him and asked me what place was referred to. You had not discussed it with me, but I told him you most likely referred to the place made vacant by the death of Webster. He then called Mr. Cortelyou, Secretary, into the office and asked him if he knew Crum. He said he didn't but that he had heard of
*This refers to a suggestion made by Mr. Washington in his telegram recommending the appointment of Dr. W. D. Crum, a colored physician, to a South Carolina vacancy, so that the President could thereby announce at the same time the appointment of a first-grade Southern white Democrat and a first-class colored man.
him and always favorably. The President then asked Cortelyou what place a man named B. was being considered for, and he said the place made vacant by Webster's death. He then turned to me and said that he was sorry, that he would certainly have considered the matter if he had had your word earlier. He asked me to tell you that if you wish Dr. Crum considered for any other place that he will be glad to have you communicate with him. I then asked him what I should tell you in the Governor Jones' matter, and he said: "Tell Mr. Washington without using my name that party will most likely be appointed--in fact I will appoint him-- only don't make it that strong by wire." So I consider the matter closed.
The colored brethren here are scared. They don't know what to expect, and the word has passed, they say, that you are the "Warwick" so far as they are concerned. I hope to find you well in Chicago.
(Signed) EMMETT J. SCOTT.
This precedent-breaking appointment of a Southern Democrat by a Republican President, made primarily on the recommendation of Booker Washington and Grover Cleveland, was acclaimed with enthusiastic approval by all Democrats everywhere, and in fact there was no dissenting voice except from the office-holding Southern Republicans who naturally resented this encroachment upon what they regarded as their patronage rights. At first appreciation was almost universal of the efforts of the Negro leader in helping a Republican President to make this far-reaching change in
the Federal officeholding traditions of the South. Soon, however, some Southern newspapers began to question the wisdom of allowing a Negro to have even an advisory voice in political matters notwithstanding his advice had in this instance been so acceptable to the South. This criticism grew so insistent that Judge Jones found himself in an uncomfortable position because his appointment had been made, in large part, on the recommendation of a Negro. He tried to soften the situation by giving out a statement to the effect that his endorsement by representative white men would probably have assured his appointment even without the assistance of Booker Washington. Later, however, the Judge expressed to Mr. Scott privately, after listening with deep interest to the recital of all the incidents connected with his appointment, his appreciation of what Booker Washington had done for him.
Aside from this appointment, Booker Washington had a voice in many others, including those of Gen. R. D. Johnson as Receiver of Public Moneys at Birmingham, Colonel Thomas R. Roulhac as United States District Judge, and Judge Osceola Kyle of Alabama as United States District Attorney in the Panama Canal Zone. During the administrations of both Presidents Roosevelt and Taft hardly an office of consequence was conferred upon a Negro without first consulting Mr. Washington. He did not strive through his influence with Presidents Roosevelt and Taft to increase the number of Negro appointees, but rather to raise the personnel of Negro officeholders. During the period when his advice was
most constantly sought at the White House, Charles W. Anderson was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue for the Second District of New York City; J. C. Napier of Nashville, Tenn., became Register of the Treasury; William H. Lewis of Boston was appointed successively Assistant United States District Attorney and Assistant Attorney-General of the United States; Robert H. Terrell was given a Municipal judgeship of the District of Columbia; Whitefield McKinlay was made Collector of the Port for the Georgetown District, District of Columbia; Dr. W. D. Crum was appointed Collector of Customs for the Port of Charleston, S. C.; Ralph W. Tyler, Auditor for the Navy Department at Washington, D. C.; James A. Cobb, Special Assistant U. S. Attorney in charge of the enforcement of the Pure Food Law for the District of Columbia, and Charles A. Cottrell, Collector of Internal Revenue for the District of Hawaii at Honolulu. In all these notably excellent appointments Mr. Washington had a voice.
In 1903, in commenting on a speech of Mr. Washington's in which he had emphasized the importance of quality rather than quantity in Negro appointments, President Roosevelt wrote him as follows:
MY DEAR MR. WASHINGTON: That is excellent; and you have put epigrammatically just what I am doing--that is, though I have rather reduced the quantity I have done my best to raise the quality of the Negro appointments. With high regard,
THE Tuskegee Commencement exercises dramatize education. They enable plain men and women to visualize in the concrete that vague word which means so little to them in the abstract. More properly they dramatize the identity between real education and actual life. On the platform before the audience is a miniature engine to which steam has been piped, a miniature frame house in course of construction, and a piece of brick wall in process of erection. A young man in jumpers comes onto the platform, starts the engine and blows the whistle, whereupon young men and women come hurrying from all directions, and each turns to his or her appointed task. A young carpenter completes the little house, a young mason finishes the laying of the brick wall, a young farmer leads forth a cow and milks her in full view of the audience, a sturdy blacksmith shoes a horse, and after this patient, educative animal has been shod he is turned over to a representative of the veterinary division to have his teeth filed. At the same time on the opposite side of the platform one of the girl students is having a dress fitted by one of her classmates who is a dressmaker. She at length walks proudly from the platform
in her completed new gown, while the young dressmaker looks anxiously after her to make sure that it "hangs right behind." Other girls are doing washing and ironing with the drudgery removed in accordance with advanced Tuskegee methods. Still others are hard at work on hats, mats, and dresses, while boys from the tailoring department sit crosslegged working on suits and uniforms. In the background are arranged the finest specimens which scientific agriculture has produced on the farm and mechanical skill has turned out in the shops. The pumpkin, potatoes, corn, cotton, and other agricultural products predominate, because agriculture is the chief industry at Tuskegee just as it is among the Negro people of the South.
This form of commencement exercise is one of Booker Washington's contributions to education which has been widely copied by schools for whites as well as blacks. That it appeals to his own people is eloquently attested by the people themselves who come in ever-greater numbers as the commencement days recur. At three o'clock in the morning of this great day vehicles of every description, each loaded to capacity with men, women, and children, begin to roll in in an unbroken line which sometimes extends along the road for three miles. Some of the teachers at times objected to turning a large area of the Institute grounds into a hitching-post station for the horses and mules of this great multitude, but to all such objections Mr. Washington replied, "This place belongs to the people and not to us." Less than a third of these eight
Showing some of the teams of farmers attending the Annual Tuskegee Negro Conference
to nine thousand people are able to crowd into the chapel to see the actual graduation exercises, but all can see the graduation procession as it marches through the grounds to the chapel and all are shown through the shops and over the farm and through the special agricultural exhibits, and even through the offices, including that of the principal. It is significant of the respect in which the people hold the Institute, and in which they held Booker Washington, that in all these years there has never been on these occasions a single instance of drunkenness or disorderly conduct.
In his annual report to the trustees for 1914 Mr. Washington said of these commencement exercises: "One of the problems that constantly confronts us is that of making the school of real service to these people on this one day when they come in such large numbers. For many of them it is the one day in the year when they go to school, and we ought to find a way to make the day of additional value to them. I very much hope that in the near future we shall find it possible to erect some kind of a large pavilion which shall serve the purpose of letting these thousands see something of our exercises and be helped by them."
The philosophy symbolized by such graduation exercises as we have described may best be shown by quoting Mr. Washington's own words in an article entitled, "Industrial Education and the Public Schools," which was published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science for September of the year 1913. In this article Mr. Washington says: "If I were asked
what I believe to be the greatest advance which Negro education has made since emancipation I should say that it has been in two directions: first, the change which has taken place among the masses of the Negro people as to what education really is; and, second, the change that has taken place among the masses of the white people in the South toward Negro education itself.
"I can perhaps make clear what I mean by a little explanation: the Negro learned in slavery to work but he did not learn to respect labor. On the contrary, the Negro was constantly taught, directly and indirectly during slavery times, that labor was a curse. It was the curse of Canaan, he was told, that condemned the black man to be for all time the slave and servant of the white man. It was the curse of Canaan that made him for all time 'a hewer of wood and drawer of water.' The consequence of this teaching was that, when emancipation came, the Negro thought freedom must, in some way, mean freedom from labor.
"The Negro had also gained in slavery some general notions in regard to education. He observed that the people who had education for the most part belonged to the aristocracy, to the master class, while the people who had little or no education were usually of the class known as 'poor whites.' In this way education became associated in his mind with leisure, with luxury, and freedom from the drudgery of work with the hands. . . .
"In order to make it possible to put Negro education on a sound and rational basis it has been necessary to
change the opinion of the masses of the Negro people in regard to education and labor. It has been necessary to make them see that education, which did not, directly or indirectly, connect itself with the practical daily interests of daily life could hardly be called education. It has been necessary to make the masses of the Negroes see and realize the necessity and importance of applying what they learned in school to the common and ordinary things of life; to see that education, far from being a means of escaping labor, is a means of raising up and dignifying labor and thus indirectly a means of raising up and dignifying the common and ordinary man. It has been necessary to teach the masses of the people that the way to build up a race is to begin at the bottom and not at the top, to lift the man furthest down, and thus raise the whole structure of society above him. On the other hand, it has been necessary to demonstrate to the white man in the South that education does not 'spoil' the Negro, as it has been so often predicted that it would. It was necessary to make him actually see that education makes the Negro not an idler or spendthrift, but a more industrious, thrifty, law-abiding, and useful citizen than he otherwise would be."
The commencement exercises which we have described are one of the numerous means evolved by Booker Washington to guide the masses of his own people, as well as the Southern whites, to a true conception of the value and meaning of real education for the Negro.
The correlation between the work of farm, shop, and
classroom, first applied by General Armstrong at Hampton, was developed on an even larger scale by his one-time student, Booker Washington. The students at Tuskegee are divided into two groups: the day students who work in the classroom half the week and the other half on the farm and in the shops, and the night students who work all day on the farm or in the shops and then attend school at night. The day school students pay a small fee in cash toward their expenses, while the night school students not only pay no fee but by good and diligent work gradually accumulate a credit at the school bank which, when it becomes sufficiently large, enables them to become day school students. In fact, the great majority of the day students have thus fought their way in from the night school. But all students of both groups thus receive in the course of a week a fairly even balance between theory and practice.
In a corner of each of the shops, in which are carried on the forty or more different trades, is a blackboard on which are worked out the actual problems which arise in the course of the work. After school hours one always finds in the shops a certain number of the teachers from the Academic Department looking up problems for their classes for the next day. A physics teacher may be found in the blacksmithing shop digging up problems about the attractive strength of wires and the expansion and contraction of metals under heat and cold. A teacher of chemistry may be found in the kitchen of the cooking school unearthing problems relating to the chemistry of food for
An academic class. A problem in brick masonry. Mr. Washington always insisted upon correlation: that is, drawing the problems from the various shops and laboratories
her class the next day. If, on the other hand, you go into a classroom you will find the shop is brought into the classroom just as the classroom has been brought into the shop. For instance, in a certain English class the topic assigned for papers was "a model house" instead of "bravery" or "the increase of crime in cities," or "the landing of the Pilgrims." The boys of the class had prepared papers on the architecture and construction of a model house, while the girls' papers were devoted to its interior decoration and furnishing. One of the girls described a meal for six which she had actually prepared and the six had actually consumed. The meal cost seventy-five cents. The discussion and criticism which followed each paper had all the zest which vitally practical and near-at-hand questions always arouse.
When the Department of Superintendence of the National Educational Association met in Atlanta, Ga., in 1904, many of the delegates, after adjournment, visited the Tuskegee Institute. Among these delegates was Prof. Paul Monroe of the Department of History and Principles of Education of the Teachers' College of Columbia University. In recording his impressions of his visit, Professor Monroe says: "My interest in Tuskegee and a few similar institutions is founded on the fact that here I find illustrated the two most marked tendencies which are being formulated in the most advanced educational thought, but are being worked out slowly and with great difficulty. These tendencies are: first, the endeavor to draw the subject matter of education, or the 'stuff' of
schoolroom work, directly from the life of the pupils; and second, to relate the outcome of education to life's activities, occupations, and duties of the pupil in such a way that the connection is made directly and immediately between schoolroom work and the other activities of the person being educated. This is the ideal at Tuskegee, and, to a much greater extent than in any other institution I know of, the practice; so that the institution is working along not only the lines of practical endeavor, but of the most advanced educational thought. To such an extent is this true that Tuskegee and Hampton are of quite as great interest to the student of education on account of the illumination they are giving to educational theory as they are to those interested practically in the elevation of the Negro people and in the solution of a serious social problem. May I give just one illustration of a concrete nature coming under my observation while at the school, that will indicate the difference between the work of the school and that which was typical under old conditions, or is yet typical where the newer ideas, as so well grasped by Mr. Washington, are not accepted? In a class in English composition two boys, among others, had placed their written work upon the board, one having written upon 'Honor' in the most stilted language, with various historical references which meant nothing to himself or to his classmates--the whole paragraph evidently being drawn from some outside source; the other wrote upon 'My Trade--Blacksmithing'--and told in a simple and direct way of his day's work, the nature of the general
course of training, and the use he expected to make of his training when completed. No better contrast could be found between the old ideas of formal language work, dominated by books and cast into forms not understood or at least not natural to the youth, and the newer ideas of simplicity, directness, and forcefulness in presenting the account of one's own experience. Not only was this contrast an illustration of the ideal of the entire education offered at Tuskegee in opposition to that of the old, formal, 'literary' education as imposed upon the colored race, but it gave in a nutshell a concept of the new education. This one experience drawn from the life of the boy and related directly to his life's duration and circumstances was education in the truest sense; the other was not save as Mr. Washington made it so in its failure. . . .'
Among the delegates was also Mr. A. L. Rafter, the Assistant Superintendent of Schools of Boston, who in speaking at Tuskegee said: "What Tuskegee is doing for you we are going to take on home to the North. You are doing what we are talking about." In general, these foremost educational experts of the dominant race looked to Booker Washington and Tuskegee for leadership instead of expecting him or his school to follow them.
Booker Washington not only practised at Tuskegee this close relation between school life and real life--and it is being continued now that he is gone--but preached it whenever and wherever opportunity offered. Some years ago, in addressing himself to those of his own students who expected to become teachers, he said on this subject among
other things: ". . . colored parents depend upon seeing the results of education in ways not true of the white parent. It is important that the colored teacher on this account give special attention to bringing school life into closer touch with real life. Any education is to my mind 'high' which enables the individual to do the very best work for the people by whom he is surrounded. Any education is 'low' which does not make for character and effective service.
"The average teacher in the public schools is very likely to yield to the temptation of thinking that he is educating an individual when he is teaching him to reason out examples in arithmetic, to prove propositions in geometry, and to recite pages of history. He conceives this to be the end of education. Herein is the sad deficiency in many teachers who are not able to use history, arithmetic, and geometry as means to an end. They get the idea that the student who has mastered a certain number of pages in a textbook is educated, forgetting that textbooks are at best but tools, and in many cases ineffective tools, for the development of man. . . .
"The average parent cannot appreciate how many examples Johnny has worked out that day, how many questions in history he has answered; but when he says, 'Mother, I cannot go back to that school until all the buttons are sewed on my coat,' the parent will at once become conscious of school influence in the home. This will be the best kind of advertisement. The button propaganda tends to make the teacher a power in the community. A
few lessons in applied chemistry will not be amiss. Take grease spots, for example. The teacher who with tact can teach his pupils to keep even threadbare clothes neatly brushed and free from grease spots is extending the school influence into the home and is adding immeasurably to the self-respect of the home."*
*From "Putting the Most Into Life," by Booker T. Washington. Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., Publishers.
The idea that education is a matter of personal habits of cleanliness, industry, integrity, and right conduct while of course not original with Booker Washington was perhaps further developed and more effectively emphasized by him than by any other American education. Just as Matthew Arnold insisted that religion was a matter of conduct rather than forms and dogmas so Booker Washington held that education is a matter of character and not forms. He concluded one of his Sunday night talks to his students with these words: "I want every Tuskegee student as he finds his place in the surging industrial life about him to give heed to the things which are 'honest and just and pure and of good report,' for these things make for character, which is the only thing worth fighting for. . . ." In another of these talks he said: "A student should not be satisfied with himself until he has grown to the point where, when simply sweeping a room, he can go into the corners and crevices and remove the hidden trash which, although it should be left, would not be seen. It is not very hard to find people who will thoroughly clean a room which is going to be occupied, or wash a dish which is to be
handled by strangers; but it is hard to find a person who will do a thing right when the eyes of the world are not likely to look upon what has been done. The cleaning of rooms and the washing of dishes have much to do with forming characters."*
*"Sowing and Reaping," by Booker T. Washington. L. C. Page & Co., Boston, Publishers.
This recalls Booker Washington's own experience when as a ragged and penniless youth he applied for admission to Hampton and was given a room to sweep by way of an entrance examination. Indeed, one of Booker Washington's greatest sources of strength as a teacher lay in the fact that his own life not only illustrated the truth of his assertions, but illustrated it in a striking and dramatic manner. His life was, in fact, an epitome of the hardships, struggles, and triumphs of the successful members of his race from the days of slavery to the present time. A great believer in the power of example he lived a life which gave him that power in its highest degree. Because of his inherent modesty and good taste he never referred to himself or his achievements as examples to be emulated, and this merely further enhanced their power.
In concluding another Sunday night talk he said: "As a race we are inclined, I fear, to make too much of the day of judgment. We have the idea that in some far-off period there is going to be a great and final day of judgment, when every individual will be called up, and all his bad deeds will be read out before him and all his good deeds made known. I believe that every day is a day of judgment, that we reap
our rewards daily, and that whenever we sin we are punished by mental and physical anxiety and by a weakened character that separates us from God. Every day is, I take it, a day of judgment, and as we learn God's laws and grow into His likeness we shall find our reward in this world in a life of usefulness and honor. To do this is to have found the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of character and righteousness and peace."*
*From "Putting the Most Into Life," by Booker T. Washington. Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., Publishers.
To quote once more from these Sunday night talks, in another he said: "There is, then, opportunity for the colored people to enrich the material life of their adopted country by doing what their hands find to do, minor duties though they be, so well that nobody of any race can do them better. This is the aim that the Tuskegee student should keep steadily before him. If he remembers that all service, however lowly, is true service, an important step will have been taken in the solution of what we term 'the race problem.' "
As is shown by these quotations Booker Washington used these Sunday night talks to crystalize, interpret, and summarize the meaning and significance of the kind of education which Tuskegee gives. He, the supreme head of the institution, reserved to himself this supremely important task. The heads of the manifold trades are naturally and properly concerned primarily with turning raw boys and girls into good workmen and workwomen. The academic teachers in the school are similarly
interested in helping them as students to secure a mastery of their several subjects. The military commandants are concerned with their ability to drill, march, carry themselves properly, and take proper care of their persons and rooms. The physician is interested in their physical health and the chaplain in their religious training. Important as are all these phases of Tuskegee's training and closely as he watched each Mr. Washington realized that they might all be well done and yet Tuskegee fail in its supreme purpose: namely, the making of manly men and womanly women out of raw boys and girls. As he said in one of the passages quoted, "character is the only thing worth fighting for." Now, while the forming of character is the aim, and in some appreciable degree the achievement, of every worth-while educational institution, it is to a peculiar degree the aim and the achievement of Tuskegee. The ten million Negroes in the United States need trained leaders of their own race more than they need anything else. Whatever else they should or should not have these leaders must have character. Since Tuskegee is the largest of the educational institutions for Negroes, with the man at its head who was commonly recognized as the leader of leaders in his race, naturally the heaviest responsibility in the training of these leaders fell, and will continue to fall, upon Tuskegee. Consequently the task at Tuskegee is not so much to educate so many thousands of young men and women as to train as many leaders for the Negro people as can possibly be done and done well within a given space of time. These Tuskegee graduates lead by
the power of example and not by agitation. One runs a farm and achieves so much more success than his neighbors, through his better methods, that they gradually adopt these methods and with his help apply them to their own conditions. Another teaches a country school and does it so much better than the average country school teacher that his or her school comes to be regarded as a model to be emulated by the other schools of the locality. When a Tuskegee girl marries and settles in a community she keeps her house so much cleaner and in every way more attractive than the rank and file of her neighbors that gradually her house and her methods of housekeeping become the standard for the neighborhood. There is, however, nothing of the "holier than thou" or the complaisant about the true Tuskegee graduate and neither is there anything monopolistic. They have had the idea of service thoroughly drilled into their consciousness--the idea that their advantages of education are, as it were, a trust which they are to administer for the benefit of those who have not had such advantages.
Now such leaders as these must not only be provided if the so-called race problem is to be solved, but they must be provided speedily. In every community in which the black people are ignorant and vicious and without trained leaders among themselves they are likely at any time to come into conflict with the dominant race, and every such conflict engenders bitterness on both sides and makes just so much more difficult the final solution of the race problem. This is why Booker Washington labored so
incessantly to increase the quantity of Tuskegee's output as well as to maintain the quality. He brought Tuskegee to the point where it reached through all its courses including its summer courses, short courses, and extension courses, more than 4,000 people in a single year, not counting the well-nigh innumerable hosts he counseled with on his State educational tours. In short, Booker Washington's task at Tuskegee was not only to turn out good leaders for his people, but to turn them out wholesale and as fast as possible. He was, as it were, running a race with the powers of ignorance, poverty, and vice. This in part accounted for the sense of terrific pressure which one felt at Tuskegee, particularly when he was present and personally driving forward his great educational machine. This also may have accounted for the seeming lack of finesse in small matters which occasionally annoyed critical visitors who did not understand that the great institution was racing under the spur of its indomitable master, and that just as in any race all but essentials must be thrown aside.
Long before the University of Wisconsin had, through its extension courses, extended its opportunities in greater or less degree to the citizens of the entire State, Booker Washington, through similar means, had extended the advantages of Tuskegee throughout Macon County in particular and the State of Alabama and neighboring States in general.
The extension work of Tuskegee began in a small way over twenty years ago. It preceded even the work of the demonstration agents of the United States Department
of Agriculture. There was first only one man who in his spare time went out among the farming people and tried to arouse enthusiasm for better methods of farming, better schools, and better homes. He was followed by a committee of three members of the Tuskegee faculty, which committee still directs the work. One of the first efforts of this committee was to get the farmers to adopt deep plowing. There was not a two-horse plow to be found. There was a strong prejudice against deep plowing which was thus expressed by a Negro preacher farmer whom one of the committee tried to persuade: "We don't want deep plowing. You're fixin' for us to have no soil. If we plow deep it will all wash away and in a year or two we will have to clear new ground." Not long after this a member of the committee with a two-horse plow was practising what he had been preaching when a white planter who was passing stopped and said: "See here, its none of my business of course, but you're new here and I don't want to see you fail. But if you plow your land deep like that you'll ruin it sure. I know. I've been here."
After a time, however, the committee persuaded a few colored farmers to try deep plowing on a small scale as an experiment. One of the first of these was a poor man who had had the hardest kind of a struggle scraping a scant existence out of the soil for himself and his large family. He was desperate and agreed to try the new method. He got results the first year, moved on to better land and followed instructions. In a few years he bought 500 acres of land, gave each of his four sons 100 acres, and kept 100 acres
for himself. Since then father and sons alike have been prosperous and contented and have added to their holdings.
In short, these Negro farmers were no more eager to be reformed and improved in their methods than are any normal people. There is a shallow popular sentiment that unless people are eager for enlightenment and gratefully receive what is offered them they should be left unenlightened. Booker Washington never shared this sentiment. His agent reported that in response to their appeals for the raising of a better grade of cattle, hogs, and fowl the farmers replied that the stock they had was good enough. One of their favorite comments was, "When you eat an egg what difference does it make to you whether that egg was laid by a full-blooded fowl or a mongrel?" Instead of being discouraged or disgusted by this attitude on the part of the people he merely regarded it as what was to be expected and set about devising means to overcome it. As always he placed his chief reliance upon the persuasive eloquence of the concrete. He decided to send blooded stock and properly raised product's around among the farmers so that they might compare them with their inferior stock and products and see the difference with their own eyes. This plan was later carried out through the Jesup Wagon contributed by the late Morris K. Jesup of New York. This wagon was a peripatetic farmers' school. It took a concentrated essence of Tuskegees' agricultural department to the farmers who could not or would not come to Tuskegee.
The wagon was drawn by a well-bred and well-fed mule.
A good breed of cow was tied behind. Several chickens of good breeds, well-developed ears of corn, stalks of cotton, bundles of oats and seeds, and garden products, which ought at the time to be growing in the locality, together with a proper plow, for deep plowing, were loaded upon the wagon. The driver would pull up before a farmhouse, deliver his message, and point out the strong points of his wagonload and would finally request a strip of ground for cultivation. This request granted he would harness the mule to the plow, break the ground deep, make his rows, plant his seeds, and move on to the next locality. With a carefully planned follow-up system he would return to each such plot for cultivation and harvest, and, most important of all, to demonstrate the truths he had sought to impress upon the people by word of mouth. Where the first driver sent out was a general farmer, the second would be, let us say, a dairyman, the third a truck gardener, and finally a poultry raiser would go; usually a woman, since in the South women, for the most part, handle this phase of farming. These agents also distribute pamphlets prepared by the Agricultural Research Department of Tuskegee on such subjects as school gardening, twenty-one ways to cook cowpeas, improvement of rural schools, how to fight insect pests, cotton growing, etc. The constant emphasis upon practice by no means entails any neglect of theory.
Besides this work there is each January for two weeks at Tuskegee the regular Farmers' Short Course. Many of the country schools adjourn for this period so that both teachers and pupils may attend. In this course not only
teachers and pupils, but fathers and mothers, sons and daughters sit side by side in the classrooms receiving instruction in stock raising, canning, poultry raising, and farming in all its branches. There are special courses for the women and girls in the care of children and in housekeeping. The following breezy announcement is taken from the prospectus of this course for the year 1914:
"A creation of the farmer, by the farmers and for the farmer."
"It meets the crying needs of thousands of our boys and girls, fathers and mothers.
"It's free to all--no examination nor entrance fee is required.
"It started 7 years ago with 11 students; the second year we
had 17, the third year we had 70, the fourth year we had 490,
and last year we had nearly 2,000. It is the only thing of
its kind for the betterment of the colored farmers. It lasts
for only 12 days. It comes at a time when you would be
*There is a custom among the colored people, inherited from
the days of slavery, which is fortunately now drying out,
to celebrate Christmas for a period of a week or ten days
by stopping work and giving themselves over to a round of
In previous years the farmers have walked from 3 to 6 miles to attend; many have come on horseback, in wagons, and in buggies. You who live so that you cannot come in daily can secure board near the school for $2.50 per week. We expect 2,000 to 2,500 to enter this year."
*There is a custom among the colored people, inherited from the days of slavery, which is fortunately now drying out, to celebrate Christmas for a period of a week or ten days by stopping work and giving themselves over to a round of sprees.
And then as a further stimulus to attend there comes:
"Prizes will be given as follows:
"A prize of $5 will be given to the person who makes the greatest progress on all subjects taught.
"A prize of $2 will be given to the person who is the best judge of livestock.
"A prize of $1 will be given to the person who shows the best knowledge of the use and application of manures and fertilizers. And so on through a further list of one-dollar prizes for all the major activities of the Course."
It will be noted that there is nothing stilted or academic about this announcement.
Immediately following this Farmers' Short Course comes the Annual Farmers' Conference which holds its session in January of each year. To enforce the lessons in canning, stock raising, gardening, and all the other branches of farming, exhibits of the best products in each activity are displayed before the audience of farmers and their families, who number in all about 2,000. These exhibits are made and explained by the farmers themselves. The man, woman, or child who has produced the exhibit comes to the platform and explains in his or her own way just how it was done. In these explanations much human nature is thrown in. An amazingly energetic and capable woman had explained at one of these gatherings how she had paid off the mortgage on their farm by the proceeds from her eggs, her kitchen garden, and her preserving in her spare moments when she was not helping her husband in the cotton field, washing and dressing her six children, or cooking, mending, washing, and scrubbing for the household.
In conclusion she said:
"Now my ole man he's an' old-fashion farmer an' he don' kere fur dese modern notions, an' so I don't git no
help from him, an' that makes it hard for me 'cause it ain't nat'ral for der woman to lead. If I could only git him to move I'd be happier jest ter foller him." While these explanations are going on the farmers in the audience are naturally saying to themselves over and over again, "I could do that!" or "Why couldn't I do that?"
One of Mr. Washington's chief aims was to increase the wants of his people and at the same time increase their ability to satisfy them. In other words, he believed in fermenting in their minds what might be termed an effective discontent with their circumstances. With this purpose in view he addressed to them at these conferences such questions as the following:
"What kind of house do you live in?"
"Do you own that house?"
"What kind of schoolhouse have you?"
"Do you send your children to school regularly?"
"How many months does your school run?"
"Do you keep your teacher in the community?"
"What kind of church have you?"
"Where does your pastor live?"
"Are your church, school, and home fences whitewashed?
The farmers who were asked these questions would make an inward resolve that they would do what they could to put themselves in a position to answer the same questions more satisfactorily another year.
Another feature of the work of Tuskegee beyond its own borders is that of the Rural School Extension Department.
Mr. Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, one of the trustees of Tuskegee, has offered, through this department, during a stated period of time, to add $300 to every $300 the Negroes in rural communities of the South raise for the building of a new and modern schoolhouse. Under this plan ninety-two modern rural school buildings have already been constructed. At the close of the time set Mr. Rosenwald will probably renew his offer for a further period. The social by-products of this campaign, in teaching the Negroes of these communities how to disregard their denominational and other feuds in working together for a high civic purpose of common advantage to all, and the friendly interest in Negro education awakened among their white neighbors, have been almost if not quite as important as the new schools themselves.
There is also at Tuskegee a summer school for teachers in which last year were registered 437 teachers from fifteen Southern and several other States. Most of these teachers elect such practical subjects as canning, basket-making, broom-making, shuck and pine needlework or some form of manual training, as well as the teacher-training courses. One of these students, who was the supervisor of the Negro schools of an entire county, when she returned from her summer school work proceeded to vivify her dead schools by introducing the making of wash-boards, trash baskets, baskets made of weeping-willow, and pine needle work in its various forms. The registration soared at once, the indifferent Negro parents became interested, and before long the parents of white children complained
to the county superintendent that the colored children were being taught more than their children.
There is at the present time being developed at Tuskegee a unique experiment in the nature of what might be called a post-graduate school in real life for the graduates of the agricultural department. This consists in providing such graduates, who have no property of their own, with a forty-acre farm, on an 1,800-acre tract about nine miles from Tuskegee, known as Baldwin Farms, after the late Wm. H. Baldwin, Jr., who was one of the ablest and most devoted supporters and advisers of Booker Washington and Tuskegee. The land is held by the Tuskegee Farm and Improvement Company which is conducted on a business and not a charitable basis. The company sells the farms at an average price of $15 an acre, and purchasers who move directly on to the land are given ten years in which to pay for it, with the first payment at the end of the first year. If there is no house on the land the company will put up a $300 house so planned as to permit the addition of rooms and improvements as rapidly as the purchaser is able to pay for them; the cost to be added to the initial cost of the land. When the graduate lacks the money and equipment necessary to plant, raise, and harvest crops, for this, too, the company will advance a reasonable sum, taking as security a mortgage on crops and equipment until the loan has been paid off. This mortgage bears interest at 8 per cent. while the interest on the mortgage on the land is not more than 6 per cent. Through coöperative effort within this colony it is
proposed to develop such organizations as coöperative dairy, fruit growing, poultry, and live-stock associations and thus make it possible for the members of the colony to make not only a comfortable living but to lay by something. They will, of course, have also the great advantage of the advice and guidance of the experts of the Institute. Formerly the penniless Negro youth, who graduated even most creditably from the agricultural department of Tuskegee, had before him nothing better than a greater or less number of years of monotonous drudgery as a mere farm or plantation laborer. Now, he may at once take up his own farm at Baldwin and begin immediately to apply all he has learned in carving out his own fortune and future. Thus did Booker Washington plan to carry the benefits of classroom instruction directly into the actual life problems of these graduates as well as bringing the problems of actual life into the classroom.
However much Mr. Washington may have seemed to eliminate non-essentials in the pressure and haste of his wholesale educational task he never neglected essentials, but among essentials he included matters which might on the surface appear to be small and trifling. For instance, he insisted upon good table manners, and no boy or girl could spend any considerable time at Tuskegee without acquiring such manners. Instead of a trivial detail he regarded good table manners as an essential to self-respect and hence to the development of character. In short, he was engaged not so much in conducting a school as educating a race.
BOOKER WASHINGTON was occasionally accused both by agitators in his own race and by a certain type of Northern white men who pose as the special champions of the "downtrodden" black man as encouraging a policy of submission to injustice on the part of his people. He was, for example, charged with tame acquiescence in the practical disfranchisement of the Negro in a number of the Southern States. As a matter of fact, when these disfranchising measures were under consideration and before they were enacted, he in each case earnestly pleaded with the legislators that whatever restrictions in the use of the ballot they put upon the statute books should be applied with absolute impartiality to both races. This he urged in fairness to the white man as well as the black man.
In an article entitled, "Is the Negro Having a Fair Chance?" published in the Century Magazine five years ago, Booker Washington said in illustrating the evil consequences of discrimination in the application of ballot regulations: "In a certain county of Virginia, where the county board had charge of registering those who were to be voters, a colored man, a graduate of Harvard
University, who had long been a resident of the county, a quiet, unassuming man, went before the board to register. He was refused on the ground that he was not intelligent enough to vote. Before this colored man left the room a white man came in who was so intoxicated that he could scarcely tell where he lived. This white man was registered, and by a board of intelligent white men who had taken an oath to deal justly in administering the law.
"Will any one say that there is wisdom or statesmanship in such a policy as that? In my opinion it is a fatal mistake to teach the young black man and the young white man that the dominance of the white race in the South rests upon any other basis than absolute justice to the weaker man. It is a mistake to cultivate in the mind of any individual or group of individuals the feeling and belief that their happiness rests upon the misery of some one else, or that their intelligence is measured by the ignorance of some one else; or their wealth by the poverty of some one else. I do not advocate that the Negro make politics or the holding of office an important thing in his life. I do urge, in the interest of fair play for everybody, that a Negro who prepares himself in property, in intelligence, and in character to cast a ballot, and desires to do so, should have the opportunity."
While Booker Washington did not believe that political activities should play an important part among the Negroes as a whole he did believe that the exceptional Negro who was particularly qualified for holding public
office should be given the opportunity just as he believed in the higher academic education for the relatively small minority capable of profiting by such an education.
In concluding a letter in which he asks Booker Washington to recommend a member of his race for a Federal office in Vicksburg, Miss., President Roosevelt said: "The question of the political importance of the colored man is really of no consequence. I do not care to consider it, and you must not consider it. Give me the very best colored man that you know of for the place, upon whose integrity and capacity we can surely rely."
The man, T. V. McAlister, whom Mr. Washington "gave" the President for this office was of such character and reputation that the white citizens of Vicksburg actually welcomed his appointment. Certainly neither Vicksburg nor any other portion of Mississippi can be accused of over-enthusiasm for conferring civil and political privileges upon Negroes.
Booker Washington's habit of never losing an opportunity to advance constructively the interests of his people is well illustrated by the following letter to President Roosevelt:
March 20, 1904.
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: It has occurred to me that there are a number of ways in which the colored people of the United States could be of service in digging the
Panama Canal, and personally I should be glad to do anything in my power in getting them interested if deemed practicable.
First: I think they can stand the climate better or as well as any other people from the United States.
Second: I have thought that a reasonably satisfactory number of them might be useful as common, or skilled, laborers.
Third: That in the Health Department our well-trained nurses and physicians might be found helpful.
Fourth: If the United States should assume any responsibility as to education, that many efficient colored teachers from our industrial schools, and colleges, might prove of great benefit. And, then, besides the presence of these educated persons would, in my opinion, both by character and example, aid in influencing the morality of the darker-skinned people to be employed at the Isthmus. I believe that these educated colored people could get closer to the masses than white men.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
To President Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, D. C.
Nothing came of this suggestion except an acknowledgment and an assurance that the matter would be considered. About two years ago, however, when Doctor Washington and Surgeon-General Gorgas met on a train the Surgeon-General said to Mr. Washington: "The
biggest man at the canal was the Negro," and he added that when they came to the dedication of the canal at its formal opening some Negro should have a place on the program.
In recent years a certain section of the Republicans in the far Southern States have tried to free themselves of the reputation of being "nigger lovers" by vying with their Democratic rivals in seeking to deprive Negroes of civic and political rights. Republicans of this particular stripe are known colloquially as the "Lily Whites." In this connection the following correspondence is of interest.
Washington, March 21, 1904.
DEAR MR. WASHINGTON: By direction of the President I send you herewith for your private information a copy of letter from the President to Mr.----, dated February 24, 1904. Please return it to me when you have read it.
Yours very truly,
WM. LOEB, JR.,
This was the letter enclosed:
White House, Washington, February 24, 1904.
MY DEAR MR.----: I take it for granted that there is no intention of making the Louisiana delegation all white. I think it would be a mistake for my friends to take any such attitude in any state where there is a considerable Negro population. I think it is a great mistake from the standpoint of the whites; and in an organization composed of men whom I have especially favored it would put me in a false light. As you know, I feel as strongly as any one can that there must be nothing like "Negro domination." On the other hand, I feel equally strongly that the Republicans must consistently favor those comparatively few colored people who by character and intelligence show themselves entitled to such favor. To put a premium upon the possession of such qualities among the blacks is not only to benefit them, but to benefit the whites among whom they live. I very earnestly hope that the Louisiana Republicans whom I have so consistently favored will not by any action of theirs tend to put me in a false position in such a matter as this. With your entire approval, I have appointed one or two colored men entitled by character and standing to go to the National Convention.
In the year 1898 the success of the suffrage amendments in South Carolina and Mississippi in excluding from the
franchise more than nine-tenths of their Negro inhabitants inspired an agitation in Louisiana to cut off the Negro vote by similar means, and this agitation came to a head in the Constitutional Convention of that year. Mr. Washington, assisted by T. Thomas Fortune, the well-known Negro editor, and Mr. Scott, his secretary, prepared an open letter addressed to this convention which was taken to the convention by Mr. Scott and placed in the hands of the suffrage committee as well as the editors of the New Orleans Times-Democrat and the Picayune, the leading daily papers of the State. Extracts from the letter were sent out by the local representative of the Associated Press and widely published throughout the country. These New Orleans editors expressed to Mr. Scott their approval of the letter and their substantial agreement with its main features, and promised to publish it in full, which they not only did, but accompanied it by editorial reviews. This letter stated in part:
"The Negro agrees with you that it is necessary to the salvation of the South that restriction be put upon the ballot. . . . With the sincerest sympathy with you in your efforts to find a way out of the difficulty, I want to suggest that no State in the South can make a law that will provide an opportunity or temptation for an ignorant white man to vote and withhold the same opportunity from an ignorant colored man, without injuring both men. . . . Any law controlling the ballot, that is not absolutely just and fair to both races, will work more permanent injury to the whites than to the blacks.
"The Negro does not object to an educational or property test, but let the law be so clear that no one clothed with state authority will be tempted to perjure and degrade himself by putting one interpretation upon it for the white man and another for the black man. Study the history of the South, and you will find that where there has been the most dishonesty in the matter of voting, there you will find to-day the lowest moral condition of both races. First, there was the temptation to act wrongly with the Negro's ballot. From this it was an easy step to dishonesty with the white man's ballot, to the carrying of concealed weapons, to the murder of a Negro, and then to the murder of a white man and then to lynching. I entreat you not to pass such a law as will prove an eternal millstone about the neck of your children."
Later in the same appeal he said: "I beg of you, further, that in the degree that you close the ballot-box against the ignorant, that you open the schoolhouse. . . . Let the very best educational opportunities be provided for both races: and add to this the enactment of an election law that shall be incapable of unjust discrimination, at the same time providing that in proportion as the ignorant secure education, property, and character, they will be given the right of citizenship. Any other course will take from one half your citizens interest in the State, and hope and ambition to become intelligent producers and tax-payers--to become useful and virtuous citizens. Any other course will tie the white citizens of Louisiana to a body of death."
The New Orleans Times-Democrat, in its editorial accompanying the publication of this letter, said: "We have seen the corrupting influence in our politics and our elections of making fraud an element of our suffrage system. We are certainly not going to get away from fraud by encouraging it, or making it a part of the suffrage system we place in our new constitution." The same editorial further states that impartiality in the use of the ballot can be given Negro and white man not only "with the utmost safety," but "it would have a beneficial effect upon the politics of the State." In fact, the press of both North and South, both of the whites and the blacks, published this letter with practically unanimous editorial endorsement, but in spite of all this the leaders of the convention remained obdurate, the immediate object was lost, and Louisiana followed the example of Mississippi and South Carolina. No one realized, however, better than Booker Washington that the effort was by no means in vain. Owing to the general awakening of intelligent public opinion the convention leaders were forced into the position of driving through the discriminatory amendment not only in the face of the condemnation of the better element throughout the country but even with the disapproval of the better and leading citizens of their own State.
Shortly afterward members of the Georgia Legislature, seeking political preferment for themselves through the familiar means of anti-Negro agitation, introduced a bill which aimed to discriminate against the Negroes of
Georgia by legislative enactment just as the Negroes of Louisiana had been discriminated against by a constitutional amendment. This time Mr. Washington went personally to Atlanta and appealed directly to a number of the members of the Legislature and to the editors of the leading papers in opposition to this bill. In an interview published in the Atlanta Constitution at the time he said:
"I cannot think that there is any large number of white people in the South who are so ignorant or so poor that they cannot get education and property enough to enable them to stand the test by the side of the Negro in these respects. I do not believe that these white people want it continually advertised to the world that some special law must be passed by which they will seem to be given an unfair advantage over the Negro by reason of their ignorance or their poverty. It is unfair to blame the Negro for not preparing himself for citizenship by acquiring intelligence, and then when he does get education and property, to pass a law that can be so operated as to prevent him from being a citizen, even though he may be a large taxpayer. The Southern white people have reached the point where they can afford to be just and generous; where there will be nothing to hide and nothing to explain. It is an easy matter, requiring little thought, generosity or statesmanship to push a weak man down when he is struggling to get up. Any one can do that. Greatness, generosity, statesmanship are shown in stimulating, encouraging every individual in the body politic to make of
himself the most useful, intelligent, and patriotic citizen possible. Take from the Negro all incentive to make himself and his children useful property-holding citizens, and can any one blame him for becoming a beast capable of committing any crime?"
This time the immediate object was attained. The Atlanta Constitution and other leading Georgia papers indorsed Booker Washington's appeal and the Legislature voted down its anti-Negro members. Be it said to the credit of the Georgia Legislature that it has resisted several similar attempts to discriminate against the Negro citizens of the State, and it was not till 1908, ten years after the Louisiana law was passed, that Georgia finally passed a law disfranchising Negro voters.
Booker Washington has been accused of not protesting against the lynching of Negroes. In the article published in the Century Magazine in 1912, from which we have previously quoted, he said on this subject: "When he was Governor of Alabama, I heard Governor Jelks say in a public speech that he knew of five cases during his administration of innocent colored people having been lynched. If that many innocent people were known to the governor to have been lynched, it is safe to say that there were other innocent persons lynched whom the governor did not know about. What is true of Alabama in this respect is true of other states. In short, it is safe to say that a large proportion of the colored persons lynched are innocent. . . . Not a few cases have occurred where white people have blackened their faces and committed
a crime, knowing that some Negro would be suspected and mobbed for it. In other cases it is known that where Negroes have committed crimes, innocent men have been lynched and the guilty ones have escaped and gone on committing more crimes.
"Within the last twelve months there have been seventy-one cases of lynching, nearly all of colored people. Only seventeen were charged with the crime of rape. Perhaps they are wrong to do so, but colored people do not feel that innocence offers them security against lynching. They do feel, however, that the lynching habit tends to give greater security to the criminal, white or black."
Mr. Washington often pointed out how the lynching of blacks leads inevitably to the lynching of whites and how the lynching of guilty persons of either race inevitably leads to the lynching of innocent persons of both races.
Let it not be supposed that Booker Washington confined his condemnation of lynching to the comparatively safe cover of the pages of an eminently respectable Northern magazine. Some years ago when he was on a speaking trip in the State of Florida two depraved Negroes in Jacksonville committed an atrocious murder. The crime aroused such intense race feeling that Mr. Washington's friends foresaw the likelihood of a lynching and, fearing for his safety, urged him to cancel his engagements in Jacksonville, where he was due to speak before white as well as black audiences within a few days. This he refused to do and insisted that because there was special racial friction it was especially necessary that he should
keep his engagements in the city. While he was driving to the hall where he was to address a white audience the automobile of one of his Negro escorts was stopped by a crowd of excited white men who angrily demanded that Booker Washington be handed over to them. When they found he was not in the car they allowed it to pass on without molesting the Negro occupant, who enjoyed to an unusual degree the confidence and respect of both races in the city. What they would have done had they found Booker Washington one may only conjecture. At about the same time the Negro murderers were captured. The howls of the infuriated mob on its way to the jail to lynch the accused murderers could be heard in the distance from the hall where Mr. Washington spoke. Without referring in any way to the event which was taking place at the time Mr. Washington, to the alarm of his friends, launched into a fervid denunciation of lynching and ended with an earnest and eloquent appeal for better feeling between the races. Instead of his words breaking up the meeting in a storm of anger and rioting, this audience composed of Southern whites and colored people vigorously applauded his sentiments. Undoubtedly they were applauding not so much the views expressed as the courage shown in expressing them at that place and under those circumstances.
A somewhat similar experience occurred on a recent speaking tour which he and a party were making through the State of Louisiana. He was accompanied by a company of Negro leaders, including Major Moton of Hampton,
who has since become his successor as Principal of Tuskegee Institute. They were in a portion of the State notorious for its lynchings of Negroes. No one who has ever seen Major Moton, or knows anything about him, would think of accusing him of timidity or cowardice. But when they went before a white audience in this particular district he urged Mr. Washington as a matter of common prudence to "soft pedal" what he had to say about lynching. Just as in Jacksonville Mr. Washington did just the opposite, and made his denunciation particularly emphatic, and just as in Jacksonville there was the same applause and apparent approval of his views.
Booker Washington also protested that in the matter of public education his people are not given a square deal in parts of the South, particularly in the country districts. He continually emphasized the relation between education and crime. Other things being equal the more and the better the education provided the less the number and seriousness of the crimes committed. Also he pointed out that the neglect of Negro school facilities injures the white citizens almost if not quite as much as the Negroes themselves. And conversely that good school facilities for the colored children benefit the whites almost as much as the Negroes. He also insisted that quite aside from all moral and ethical considerations Negro education pays in dollars and cents. As illustrating the relation between Negro education and crime or rather lack of Negro education and crime he related this incident in an article entitled, "Black and White in the South" published in the Outlook of March
14, 1914: "A few weeks ago three of the most prominent white men in Mississippi were shot and killed by two colored boys. Investigation brought to light that the two boys were rough and crude, that they had never been to school, hence that they were densely ignorant. While no one had taught these boys the use of books, some one had taught them, as mere children, the use of cocaine and whiskey. In a mad fit, when their minds and bodies were filled with cheap whiskey and cocaine, these two ignorant boys created a 'reign of murder,' in the course of which three white men, four colored men, and one colored woman met death. As soon as the shooting was over a crazed mob shot the two boys full of bullet-holes and then burned their bodies in the public streets.
"Now this is the kind of thing, more or less varied in form, that takes place too often in our country. Why? The answer is simple: it is dense ignorance on the part of the Negro and indifference arising out of a lack of knowledge of conditions on the part of the white people."
He then pointed out that the last enumeration in Mississippi, where this crime was committed, indicated that 64 per cent. of the colored children had had no schooling during the past year. That in Charleston County, South Carolina, another backward State in Negro education, there was expended on the public education of each white child $20.2; for the colored child $3.12; in Abbeville County $11.17 for the white, 69 cents for the colored child. This 69 cents per capita expense was incurred by maintaining a one-room school for two and one-half
months, with a teacher paid at the rate of $15 a month. In another county the Negro school was in session but one month out of the twelve. Throughout the State, outside the cities and large towns, the school term for the colored children is from two to four months. Thus 200,000 colored children in South Carolina are given only three or four months of schooling a year. "Under these conditions it would require twenty-eight years for a child to complete the eight grades of the public school. . . . But South Carolina is by no means the only State that has these breeding spots for ignorance, crime, and filth which the nation will sooner or later have to reckon with."
In the article in the Century Magazine from which quotations have already been made Mr. Washington cites this statement made by W. N. Sheats, former Superintendent of Education for the State of Florida, in explanation of an analysis of the sources of the school fund of the State: "A glance at the foregoing statistics indicates that the section of the State designated as 'Middle Florida' is considerably behind all the rest in all stages of educational progress. The usual plea is that this is due to the intolerable burden of Negro education, and a general discouragement and inactivity is ascribed to this cause. The following figures are given to show that the education of the Negroes of Middle Florida does not cost the white people of that section one cent. Without discussing the American principle that it is the duty of all property to educate every citizen as a means of protection to the State, and with no reference to what taxes that
citizen may pay, it is the purpose of this paragraph to show that the backwardness of education of the white people is in no degree due to the presence of the Negro, but that the presence of the Negro has been actually contributing to the sustenance of the white schools."
Mr. Sheats then shows that the cost of the Negro schools was $19,467, while the Negroes contributed to the school fund in direct taxes, together with their proper proportion of the indirect taxes, $23,984. He concludes: "If this is a fair calculation the schools for the Negroes are not only no burden on the white citizens, but $4,525 for Negro schools contributed from other sources was in some way diverted to the white schools."
Mr. Charles L. Coon, Superintendent of Schools at Wilson, N. C., is quoted as demonstrating that had there been expended upon the Negro schools the Negro's proportionate share of the receipts from indirect taxes, as well as the direct taxes paid by them, $18,077 more in a given year would have been expended on colored schools in Virginia, $26,539 more in North Carolina, and $141,682 more in Georgia. These figures would seem to show that in these States at least the Negro schools are not only no burden upon the white taxpayers but that the colored people do not get back in school facilities the equivalent of all they themselves contribute in taxes.
In the matter of passenger transportation facilities Booker Washington protested that injustice is done his people by most of the railroads of the South, not in providing separate accommodations for blacks and whites, but in
furnishing the Negroes with inferior accommodations while charging them the same rates. This injustice causes, he believes, more resentment and bitterness among his people than all the other injustices to which they are subjected combined. The Negro or "Jim Crow" compartment is usually half of the baggage car which is usually inadequate for the traffic, badly lighted, badly ventilated, and dirty. The newsdealer of the train uses this coach and increases the congestion by spreading his wares over several seats. White men frequently enter this compartment to buy papers and almost always smoke in it, thus requiring the colored women to ride in what is virtually a smoker. Aside from these matters the Negroes rarely have through cars and no sleeping, parlor, or buffet cars, and frequently no means of securing food on long journeys since many if not most of the station restaurants refuse to serve them.
In the Century article Mr. Washington thus quoted the experience of a sensible and conservative Negro friend of his from Austin, Texas--a man of education and good reputation among both races in his native city: "At one time," he said, in describing some of his travelling experiences, "I got off at a station almost starved. I begged the keeper of the restaurant to sell me a lunch in a paper and hand it out of the window. He refused, and I had to travel a hundred miles farther before I could get a sandwich. At another time I went to a station to purchase my ticket. I was there thirty minutes before the ticket office was opened. When it did finally open I at once appeared at the window. While the ticket agent served the white
people at one window, I remained waiting at the other until the train pulled out. I was compelled to jump aboard the train without my ticket and wire back to get my trunk expressed. Considering the temper of the people, the separate coach law may be the wisest plan for the South, but the statement that the two races have equal accommodations is all bosh. I pay the same money, but I cannot have a chair or a lavatory, and rarely a through car. I must crawl out at all times of night, and in all kinds of weather, in order to catch another dirty 'Jim Crow' coach to make my connections. I do not ask to ride with white people. I do ask for equal accommodations for the same money."
Booker Washington was of course obliged to travel in the South almost constantly and to a great extent at night. He nearly always travelled on a Pullman car, and so when not an interstate passenger usually "violated" the law of whatever State he happened to be passing through. The conductors, brakemen, and other trainmen, as a rule, treated him with great respect and consideration and oftentimes offered him a compartment in place of the berth which he had purchased.
Pullman cars in the South are not as a rule open to members of the Negro race. It is only under more or less unusual conditions that a black man is able to secure Pullman accommodations. Dr. Washington, however, was generally treated with marked consideration whenever he applied for Pullman car reservations. He was sometimes criticised, not only by members of his own race, but by the
unthinking of the white race who accused him of thus seeking "social equality" with the white passengers.
The work he was compelled to do, however, in constantly travelling from place to place, and dictating letters while travelling, made it necessary that he conserve his strength as much as possible. He never believed that he was defying Southern traditions in seeking the comfort essential to his work.
Upon one occasion Dr. Washington went to Houston, Texas, and was invited by the Secretary of the Cotton Exchange, in the name of the Exchange, to speak to the members of the leading business organizations of Houston, upon the floor of the Cotton Exchange Bank. He was introduced by the secretary, who desired to give Dr. Washington the opportunity to put before representative Southern white men the thoughts and ideas of a representative colored man as to how the two races might live together in the South on terms of mutual helpfulness. Such was the impression he made upon the whites that when Dr. Washington's secretary applied for Pullman accommodations for him, returning East, they were not only ungrudgingly but even eagerly granted. In those days it was unheard of for a colored man to travel as a passenger in a Pullman car in Texas.
The injustices mentioned and all others connected with railway passenger service for Negroes Booker Washington sought in characteristic fashion to mitigate by instituting, through the agency of the National Negro Business League, what are known as Railroad Days. On these days each
year colored patrons of railroads lay before the responsible officials the respects in which they believe they are unfairly treated and request certain definite changes. Although started only a few years ago these Railroad Days have already accomplished a number of the improvements desired in various localities.
As an aid to the committees appointed in the various communities Mr. Washington sent out a letter addressed to these committees which was published in the Negro papers. This letter advised that all protests on Railroad Days give: first, "a statement of present conditions," second, "a statement of conditions desired." There followed a sample detailed statement of the present conditions about which there is usually cause for complaint accompanied by a similar statement of the conditions desired.
It was then suggested that these specific recommendations be followed by these general requests:
"1. The same class and quality of accommodations for colored passengers as are provided for the most favored class of travellers.
"2. Such regulations as will protect colored passengers from the rudeness and insults of employees of the railroad.
"3. Some definite authority to whom these matters may be referred, where friction arises, and who will, in good faith, investigate and adjust them."
The letter concluded with this advice:
"All those who are going to act on the suggestions to make a united effort to bring about better railroad and other travelling facilities should not omit to remind our
people that they have a duty to perform as well as the railroads.
"First, our people should try to keep themselves clean and presentable when travelling, and they should do their duty in trying to keep waiting-rooms and railroad coaches clean.
"Second, it should be borne in mind that little or nothing will be accomplished by merely talking about white people who are in charge of railroads, etc. The only way to get any results is to go to the people and talk to them and not about them."
Compare this definite, reasonable, and effective form of protest with the bitter, vague, and futile outcry against the "Jim Crow" car which is frequently heard.
Booker Washington sent a marked copy of the Century Magazine containing the article, "Is the Negro Having a Fair Chance?" to the head of every railroad in the South calling attention to the portion relating to unfair treatment in passenger service for his people. In response he received letters which in almost every case were friendly and in many cases showed an active desire to coöperate in the improvement of the conditions complained of. Mr. Washington published extracts from these letters in the Negro press prior to his Railroad Day proposal in order to show that the railroad officials were for the most part at least willing to give a respectful hearing to the complaints of their Negro patrons if properly approached. President Stevens of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company wrote that he had had one hundred copies of the
article distributed among the officials and employees of his road. Mr. J. M. Parker, Receiver and General Manager of the Arkansas, Louisiana & Gulf Railway Company, wrote: "I have your favor with enclosure. . . I shall take pleasure in reading this article, and from glancing through it I am inclined to think that the statement that the Negro is not getting a square deal in the way of transportation facilities is well founded." Mr. William J. Black, Passenger of the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fé Railway System, wrote in part: "You will, no doubt, be pleased to learn that the Santa Fé has already provided equipment for colored travel in conformity with the plan outlined in your article." From all or most of the Southern railways came letters of the general tenor of those quoted, and thus was the way prepared for the successful inauguration of the Railroad Days.
Constantly as he labored for the rights of his people he never sought to obtain for them any special privileges. Unlike most leaders of groups, classes, or races of people he never sought any exclusive or special advantages for his followers. He did not want the Negro to receive any favors by reason of his race any more than he wanted him to be discriminated against on that account. He wanted all human beings, Negroes among the rest, to receive their deserts as individuals regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, or any other consideration which has nothing to do with the individual's merits. One of his favorite figures was that "one cannot hold another in a ditch without himself staying in the ditch." There is not a single right
for which he contended for his people which if won would not directly or indirectly benefit all other people. Were they in all the States admitted to the franchise on equal terms with white citizens what Mr. Washington termed the "encouragement of vice and ignorance among white citizens" would cease.
Were the lynching of Negroes stopped the lynching of white men would also cease. Both the innocent black man and the innocent white man would feel a greater sense of security while the guilty black man as well as the guilty white man would be less secure. Were the Negroes given their full share of public education the whites would gain not only more reliable and intelligent Negro labor, but would be largely freed so far as Negroes are concerned from the menace of the crimes of violence which are committed almost exclusively by ignorant persons. Finally, were Negro travellers given equal accommodations and treatment for equal rates on all the Southern railways the volume of Negro travel would more rapidly increase, thus increasing the prosperity of the railways and their shareholders which would in turn promote the prosperity of the entire South.
True to his policy of always placing the emphasis upon those things which are encouraging instead of upon those things which are discouraging, Mr. Washington concluded the already much-quoted article, "Is the Negro Having a Fair Chance? with these observations: "Notwithstanding all the defects in our system of dealing with him, the Negro in this country owns more property, lives in better houses,
is in a larger measure encouraged in business, wears better clothes, eats better food, has more schoolhouses and churches, and more teachers and ministers, than any similar group of Negroes anywhere in the world."
ALTHOUGH intensely human and consumingly interested in humanity--both in the mass and as individuals, whether of his own race or any other--Booker Washington thought and acted to an uncommon degree on the impersonal plane. This characteristic was perhaps most strikingly illustrated in his attitude toward race prejudice. When, many years ago, he had charge of the Indian students at Hampton, and had occasion to travel with them, he found they were free to occupy in the hotels any rooms they could pay for, whereas he must either go without or take a room in the servants' quarters. He regarded these experiences as interesting illustrations of the illogical nature of race prejudice. The occupants of these hotels did not resent mingling with members of a backward race whose skin happened to be red, but they did object to mingling on the same terms with members of another backward race whose skin happened to be black. It apparently never entered his head to regard this discrimination with bitterness or as a personal rebuff. One could not, however, make a greater mistake than to assume from this impersonal attitude that he condoned race prejudice, or in any sense stood as an apologist for it. To
dispel any such idea one has only to recall his speech at the Peace Jubilee in Chicago after the Spanish War, from which we have already quoted, and in which he characterized racial prejudice as "a cancer gnawing at the heart of the Republic, that shall one day prove as dangerous as an attack from an army without or within."
Very early in his career Washington worked out for himself a perfectly definite line of conduct in the matter of social mingling with white people. In the South he scrupulously observed the local customs and avoided offending the prejudices of the Southerners in so far as was possible without unduly handicapping his work. For instance, in his constant travelling throughout the South he not only violated their customs, but oftentimes their laws, in using sleeping cars, but this he was obliged to do because he could spare neither the time to travel by day nor the strength and energy to sit up all night. This particular Southern prejudice and the laws predicated upon it he was hence forced to violate, but he did so as a physical necessity to the accomplishment of his work and not in any sense as a defiance of custom or law. While in the South he observed Southern customs and bowed to Southern prejudices, but he declined to be bound by such customs, laws, and prejudices when in other parts of this country or the world. Except in the South he allowed himself whatever degree of social intercourse with the whites seemed best calculated to accomplish his immediate object and his ultimate aims. He never accepted purely social invitations from white persons. He always claimed that he could best
satisfy his social desires among his own people. He believed that the question of so-called "social equality" between the races was too academic and meaningless to be worthy of serious discussion.
Probably he never made a more well-considered or illuminating statement of his personal attitude toward social intercourse with the dominant race than in a letter to the late Edgar Gardiner Murphy, a Southerner "of light and leading," author of "The Present South," "The Basis of Ascendancy," and other notable books on the relations between the races. Mr. Murphy, as a Southerner, became alarmed at the attacks upon Booker Washington by certain Southern newspapers and public men because of his appearance at so-called social functions in the North. Mr. Murphy, rightly regarding the retention of the favorable opinion of representative Southern whites as essential to the success of Washington's work, very naturally feared any course of action which seemed to threaten the continuance of that favorable opinion. In response to a letter in which Mr. Murphy expressed these fears and asked for an opportunity to discuss the situation with him Mr. Washington replied as follows:
MY DEAR SIR: I have received your kind letter, for which I thank you very much. I was very much disappointed that I did not have an opportunity of meeting you, as I had planned the other day, so as not to be so hurried in talking with you as I usually am. I shall be very glad, however, the very first time I can find another spare hour
when in New York (Mr. Murphy was then living in New York City) to have you talk with me fully and frankly about the matters that are in your mind.
However we may differ in our view regarding certain matters, there is no man in the country whose frankness, earnestness, and sincere disinterestedness I respect more than yours, and whatever you say always has great weight with me.
Your letter emphasizes the tremendous difficulty of the work at the South. In most cases, and in most countries where a large section of the people are down, and are to be helped up, those attempting to do the work have before them a straight, simple problem of elevating the unfortunate people without the entanglement of racial prejudice to be grappled with. I think I do not exaggerate when I say that perhaps a third or half of the thought and energy of those engaged in the elevation of the colored people is given in the direction of trying to do the thing or not doing the thing which would enhance racial prejudice. This feature of the situation I believe very few people at the North or at the South appreciate. What is true of the Negro educator is true in a smaller degree of the white educator at the South. I am constantly trying, as best I can, to study the situation as it is right here on the ground, and I may be mistaken, but aside from the wild and demagogical talk on the part of a few I am unable to discover much or any change in the attitude of the best white people toward the best colored people. So far as my own individual experience and observation are concerned, I am treated about the same as I have always been. I was in Athens, Georgia, a few days ago, to deliver an address before the colored people at the State Fair, and the meeting was attended by the best class of whites and the best class of
colored people, who seemed to be pleased over what I said.
Mr. Blank, a Southern Congressman, just now is making a good deal of noise, but you will recall that Mr. Blank spoke just as bitterly against me before Mr. Roosevelt became President as he has since. I do not want to permit myself to be misled, but I repeat that I cannot see or feel that any great alienation has taken place between the two classes of people that you refer to.
For the sake of argument I want to grant for the moment a thing which I have never done before, even in a private letter, and which is very distasteful to me, and that is, that I am the leader of the colored people. Do you think it will ever be possible for one man to be set up as the leader of ten millions of people, meaning a population nearly twice as large as that of the Dominion of Canada and nearly equal to that of the Republic of Mexico, without the actions of that individual being carefully watched and commented upon, and what he does being exaggerated either in one direction or the other? Again, if I am the leader and therefore the mouthpiece for ten millions of colored people, is it possible for such a leader to avoid coming into contact with the representatives of the ruling classes of white people upon many occasions; and is it not to be expected that when questions that are racial, and national and international in their character are to be discussed, that such a representative of the Negro race would be sought out both by individuals and by conventions? If, as you kindly suggest, I am the leader, I hardly see how such notoriety and prominence as will naturally come can be wholly or in any large degree avoided.
Judging by some of the criticisms that have appeared recently, mainly from the class of people to whom I have
referred, it seems to me that some of the white people at the South are making an attempt to control my actions when I am in the North and in Europe. Heretofore, no man has been more careful to regard the feelings of the Southern people in actions and words than I have been, and this policy I shall continue to pursue, but I have never attempted to hide or to minimize the fact that when I am out of the South I do not conform to the same customs and rules that I do in the South. I say I have not attempted to hide it because everything that I have done in this respect was published four years ago in my book, "Up from Slavery," which has been read widely throughout the South, and I did not hear a word of adverse criticism passed upon what I had done. For fifteen years I have been doing at the North just what I have been doing during the past year. I have never attended a purely social function given by white people anywhere in the country. Nearly every week I receive invitations to weddings of rich people, but these I always refuse. Mrs. Washington almost never accompanies me on any occasion where there can be the least sign of purely social intercourse. Whenever I meet white people in the North at their offices, in their parlors, or at their dinner tables, or at banquets, it is with me purely a matter of business, either in the interest of our institution or in the interest of my race; no other thought ever enters my mind. For me to say now, after fifteen years of creating interest in my race and in this institution in that manner, that I must stop, would simply mean that I must cease to get money in a large measure for this institution. In meeting the people in this way I am simply doing what the head of practically every school, black and white, in the South is constantly doing. For purely social pleasure I have always found all my ambitions
satisfied among my own people, and you will find that in proportion as the colored race becomes educated and prosperous, in the same proportion is this true of all colored people.
I said a minute ago that I had tried to be careful in regard to the feelings of the Southern people. It has been urged upon me time and time again to employ a number of white teachers at this institution. I have not done so and do not intend to do so, largely for the reason that they would be constantly mingling with each other at the table. For thirty years and more, in every one of our Southern States, white and colored people have sat down to the table three times a day nearly throughout the year, and I have heard very little criticism passed upon them. This kind of thing, however, at Tuskegee I have always tried to avoid so far as our regular teaching force is concerned. But I repeat, if I begin to yield in the performance of my duty when out of the South in one respect, I do not know where the end will be. It is very difficult for you, or any other person who is not in my place, to understand the difficulty and embarrassment that I am confronted with. You have no idea how many invitations of various kinds I am constantly refusing or trying to get away from because I want to avoid embarrassing situations. For example, over a year ago Mr. S----invited me to go to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, near Lenox, to deliver an address on General Armstrong's life and work. When I reached Stockbridge an hour or so before the time of delivering the address, I found that Mr. S----, who had invited me, had also invited five or six other gentlemen to meet me at luncheon. The luncheon I knew nothing about until I reached the town. Under such circumstances I am at a loss to know how I could have avoided accepting the invitation. A few
days afterward I filled a long-standing invitation to lecture at Amherst College. I reached the town a few hours before dinner and found that a number of people, including several college presidents, had been invited to meet me at dinner. Taking still another case: over a year ago I promised a colored club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that I would be their guest at a banquet in October. The banquet was held on the third of the month, and when I reached Cambridge I found that in addition to the members of the colored club, the Mayor of the city and a number of Harvard professors, including President Eliot, had been invited; and I could go on and state case after case. Of course, if I wanted to make a martyr of myself and draw especial attention to me and to the institution, I could easily do so by simply writing whenever I receive an invitation to a dinner or banquet that I could not accept on account of the color of my skin.
Six years ago at the Peace Jubilee in Chicago, where I spoke at a meeting at which President McKinley was present, I took both luncheon and dinner in the same dining-room with President McKinley and was the guest of the same club that he was a guest of. There were Southern men present, and the fact that I was present and spoke was widely heralded throughout the South, and so far as I know not a word of adverse comment was made. For nearly fifteen years the addresses which I have been constantly making at dinners and banquets in the North have been published throughout the South, and no adverse comment has been made regarding my presence on these occasions.
Practically all of the invitations to functions that are of even a semi-social character are urged upon me by Northern people, and very often after I have refused to accept invitations pressure is brought to bear on special
friends of mine in order to get me to accept. Notwithstanding all this, where I accept one invitation I refuse ten; in fact, you have no idea how many invitations to dinner I refuse while I am in the North. I not only do so for the reason that I do not care to excite undue criticism, but for the further reason that if I were to accept any large proportion of such invitations I would have little time left for my legitimate work. In many cases the invitations come from people who do not give money but simply want to secure a notoriety or satisfy curiosity.
I have stated the case as I see it, and with a view of having you think over these matters by the time that we meet.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
There were two particularly notable occasions upon which Mr. Washington unwittingly stirred the prejudices of the South. The first was when in 1901 he dined with President Roosevelt and his family at the White House; the second, when four years later he dined with Mr. John Wanamaker and his daughter at a hotel in Saratoga, New York.
The truth of his dining at the White House, of which so many imaginary versions have been given, was this: having received so many expressions of approval from all sections of the country on his appointment of ex-Governor Jones to a Federal judgeship in Alabama, which appointment was made, as described in a previous chapter, on the recommendation of Booker Washington and Grover Cleveland, President Roosevelt asked him to come to the
White House and discuss with him some further appointments and other matters of mutual interest.
On arriving in Washington he went to the home of his friend, Whitefield McKinlay, a colored man with whom he usually stopped when in the Capital. The next morning he went to the White House by appointment for an interview with the President. Since they did not have time to finish their discussion, the President, in accordance with the course he had often followed with others under similar circumstances, invited Washington to come to dinner so that they might finish their discussion in the evening without loss of time.
In response to this oral invitation he went to the White House at the appointed time, dined with the President and his family and two other guests, and after dinner discussed with the President chiefly the character of individual colored office holders or applicants for office and, as says Colonel Roosevelt, "the desirability in specific cases, notably in all offices having to do with the administration of justice, of getting high-minded and fearless white men into office--men whom we could be sure would affirmatively protect the law-abiding Negro's right to life, liberty, and property just exactly as they protected the rights of law-abiding white men." Also they discussed the public service of the South so far as the representatives of the Federal Administration were concerned--the subject upon which President Roosevelt had wished to consult him. The next day the bare fact that he had dined with the President was obscurely announced by the
Washington papers as a routine item of White House news. Some days later, however, an enterprising correspondent for a Southern paper lifted this unpretentious item from oblivion and sent it to his paper to be blazoned forth in a front-page headline. For days and weeks thereafter the Southern press fairly shrieked with the news of this quiet dinner. The very papers which had most loudly praised the President for his appointment of a Southern Democrat to a Federal judgeship now execrated him for inviting to dine with him the man upon whose recommendation he had made this appointment.
Mr. Washington was also roundly abused for his "presumption" in daring to dine at the White House. This was a little illogical in view of the well-known fact that an invitation to the White House is a summons rather than an invitation in the ordinary sense. Neither President Roosevelt nor Mr. Washington issued any statements by way of explanation or apology. While it was, of course, farthest from the wishes of either to offend the sensibilities of the South, neither one--the many statements to the contrary, notwithstanding--ever indicated subsequently any regret or admitted that the incident was a mistake.
During the furore over this incident both the President and Mr. Washington received many threats against their lives. The President had the Secret Service to protect him, while Mr. Washington had no such reliance. His coworkers surrounded him with such precautions as they could, and his secretary accumulated during this period enough threatening letters to fill a desk drawer. It was
not discovered until some years after that one of these threats had been followed by the visit to Tuskegee of a hired assassin. A strange Negro was hurt in jumping off the train before it reached the Tuskegee Institute station. There being no hospital for Negroes in the town of Tuskegee he was taken to the hospital of the Institute, where he was cared for and nursed for several weeks before he was able to leave. Mr. Washington was absent in the North during all of this time. Many months later this Negro confessed that he had come to Tuskegee in the pay of a group of white men in Louisiana for the purpose of assassinating Booker Washington. He said that he became so ashamed of himself while being cared for by the doctors and nurses employed by the very man he had come to murder that he left as soon as he was able to do so instead of waiting to carry out his purpose on the return of his victim, as he had originally planned to do.
Booker Washington, with all his philosophy and capacity for rising above the personal, was probably more deeply pained by this affair than any other in his whole career. His pain was, however, almost solely on Mr. Roosevelt's account. He felt keenly hurt and chagrined that Mr. Roosevelt, whom he so intensely admired, and who was doing so much, not only for his own race but for the whole South as he believed, should suffer all this abuse and even vilification on his account. President Roosevelt evidently realized something of how he felt, for in a letter to him written at this time he added this postscript: "By the way, don't worry about me; it will all come right in time,
and if I have helped by ever so little 'the ascent of man' I am more than satisfied."
Probably no single public event ever gave Booker Washington greater pleasure than Colonel Roosevelt's triumphant election to the Presidency in 1904. The day after the election he wrote the President the following letter:
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama,
November 10, 1904.
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I cannot find words in which to express my feeling regarding the tremendous outcome of Tuesday's election. I know that you feel the sacred and almost divine confidence imposed. In my opinion, no human being in America since Washington, perhaps, has been so honored and vindicated. The result shows that the great heart of the American people beats true and is in the direction of fair play for all, regardless of race or color. Nothing has ever occurred which has given me more faith in all races or shows more plainly that they will respond to high ideals when properly appealed to.
I know that you will not misunderstand me when I say I share somewhat the feeling of triumph and added responsibility that must animate your soul at the present time because of the personal abuse heaped upon you on account of myself. The great victory and vindication does not make me feel boastful or vainglorious, but, on the other hand, very humble, and gives me more faith in humanity and makes me more determined to work harder in the interest of all our people of both races regardless of race or color. I shall urge our people everywhere to manifest their gratitude by showing a spirit of meekness and
added usefulness. The election shows to what a great height you have already lifted the character of American citizenship. Before you leave the White House I am sure that the whole South will understand you and love you.
God keep you and bless you.
Yours most sincerely,
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.To President Theodore Roosevelt, White House, Washington.
President Roosevelt expressed great appreciation of this letter and said that Mr. Washington had taken the election in just the way he would have wished him to take it.
About two years later Mr. Washington wrote President Roosevelt another letter which throws light upon the relations between the two men as well as upon the illogicality of racial prejudice:
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama,
June 19, 1906.
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: It will interest you to know that the Cox family, over whom such a disturbance was made in connection with the Indianola, Miss., post-office, have started a bank in that same town which direct and reliable information convinces me is in a prosperous condition. The bank has the confidence of both races. It is a curious circumstance that while objection was made to this black family being at the head of the post-office no objection is made to this black man being president of a bank in the same town.
A letter just received from a reliable banker in Mississippi contains the following sentences:
"Now, with reference to Mr. W. W. Cox, of Indianola, Miss., I beg to advise that no man of color is as highly regarded and respected by the white people of his town and county as he. It is true that he organized and is cashier of the Delta Penny Savings Bank, domiciled there. I visited Indianola during the spring of 1905 and was very much surprised to note the esteem in which he was held by the bankers and business men (white) of that place. He is a good, clean man and above the average in intelligence, and knows how to handle the typical Southern white man. In the last statement furnished by his bank to the State Auditor, his bank showed total resources of $46,000. He owns and lives in one of the best resident houses in Indianola, regardless of race, and located in a part of the town where other colored men seem to be not desired. The whites adjacent to him seem to be his friends. He has a large plantation near the town, worth $35,000 or $40,000. He is a director in Mr. Pettiford's bank at Birmingham, Ala., and I think is vice-president of the same. He also owns stock in the bank of Mound Bayou."
Yours very truly,
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.To President Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, D. C.
In August, 1905, Booker Washington spoke one Sunday morning before a large audience in Saratoga Springs, N. Y. After his address Mr. John Wanamaker and his daughter were among those who came forward to greet him. They also invited him to dine with them at the United States Hotel that afternoon. Mr. Wanamaker had been particularly interested in Booker Washington
and his work for many years. Mr. Washington accepted this invitation without the least thought of reawakening the clamor caused by the Roosevelt dinner. The dinner itself passed off quietly, pleasantly, and without particular event. It was not until he took up the papers at his little hotel in New York the next morning that he found that he had again stirred up a hornet's nest similar to that of four years before. The denunciation was if anything more violent; for, as many of his assailants said, he should have profited by the protests of four years before. In an editorial entitled, "Booker Washington's Saratoga Performance" a Southern newspaper said: "Since the fateful day when Booker T. Washington sat down to the dinner table in the White House with President Roosevelt he has done many things to hurt the cause of which he is regarded as the foremost man. . . . Leaving out of the question the lack of delicacy and self-respect manifested by Wanamaker and his family, blame must rest upon Washington, because he knows how deep and impassable is the gulf between whites and blacks in the South when the social situation is involved. He deliberately flaunts all this in the face of the Southern people among whom he is living and among whom his work has to be carried on. He could have given no harder knock to his institution than he gave when he marched into that Saratoga dinner room with a white woman and her father."
These sentiments were expressed editorially by another Southern paper: "Wanamaker is unworthy to shine the shoes of Booker Washington. He is not in Washington's
class. If the truly smart set of Saratoga was shocked that Booker should have been caught in this man's company and as his guest we are not surprised. But still Booker Washington could not eat dinner with the most ordinary white man in this section. He wouldn't dare intimate that he sought such social recognition among whites here"; and in conclusion this editorial said: "The South only pities the daughter that she should have allowed herself to be used by a father whose sensibilities and ideas of the proprieties are so dulled by his asinine qualities that he could not see the harm in it."
This vituperation of Mr. Wanamaker, and the scoring him for his part in the affair even more than Washington, recalls an incident which Mr. Washington himself relates in his book entitled, "My Larger Education." When he was making a trip through Florida, a few weeks after his dinner with President Roosevelt, at a little station near Gainesville, "A white man got aboard the train," he says, "whose dress and manner indicated that he was from the class of small farmers in that part of the country. He shook hands with me very cordially, and said: 'I am mighty glad to see you. I have heard about you and I have been wanting to meet you for a long while.'
"I was naturally pleased at this cordial reception, but I was surprised when, after looking me over, he remarked: 'Say, you are a great man. You are the greatest man in this country.'
"I protested mildly, but he insisted, shaking his head
and repeating, 'Yes, sir, the greatest man in this country.' Finally I asked him what he had against President Roosevelt, telling him at the same time that, in my opinion, the President of the United States was the greatest man in the country.
"'Huh! Roosevelt?' he replied, with considerable emphasis in his voice, 'I used to think that Roosevelt was a great man until he ate dinner with you. That settled him for me.'"
Mr. Washington goes on to say: "This remark of a Florida farmer is but one of the many experiences which have taught me something of the curious nature of this thing that we call prejudice--social prejudice, race prejudice, and all the rest. I have come to the conclusion that these prejudices are something that it does not pay to disturb. It is best to 'let sleeping dogs lie.' All sections of the United States, like all other parts of the world, have their own peculiar customs and prejudices. For that reason it is the part of common sense to respect them. When one goes to European countries, or into the Far West, or into India or China, he meets certain customs and certain prejudices which he is bound to respect and, to a certain extent, comply with. The same holds good regarding conditions in the North and in the South. In the South it is not the custom for colored and white people to be entertained at the same hotel; it is not the custom for black and white children to attend the same school. In most parts of the North a different custom prevails. I have never stopped to question or quarrel with the customs
of the people in the part of the country in which I found myself."
And so he acted in the case of the Wanamaker dinner. He accepted Mr. Wanamaker's invitation because he was in the North and his host was a Northerner. In so doing he felt that he was not violating any generally accepted custom or universally entertained prejudice of the part of the country in which he found himself. Had the inconceivable occurred, and had a Southerner invited him to dine in the South, under conditions in all other respects identical, he would not have accepted. He would not have been willing to incur the resentment of the South even had his host been willing to defy local prejudices by inviting him. On the other hand, he felt that the attitude of those who would seek to control him in matters of social custom when he was not in the South or among Southerners was unfair and unreasonable.
An incident which occurred while he was stopping at the English Hotel in Indianapolis in 1903 furnished copy for the more or less sensational press of the country. This hotel does not as a rule accept Negroes as guests, but Mr. Washington was always a welcome visitor there just as he was at many other hotels where less-favored members of his race were excluded. He never patronized this hotel or any other for the purpose of asserting his rights, but merely to obtain the comforts and the seclusion so essential to a man who always worked up to the limits of even his great strength and usually a little beyond such limits. It is, indeed, quite possible that he might have lived longer had he
been free to stop at hotels in the South instead of undergoing the constant wear and tear of being entertained in the private homes of the all-too-kind hosts of his own race. All public men and lecturers, in a large way of business, learn early in their careers that they must decline practically all proffers of private hospitality if they are to preserve their health.
On this occasion the white chambermaid assigned to care for the room he occupied refused to perform her duties so far as his room was concerned on the ground, as she stated, that she "would not clean up after a nigger." For this refusal to do her work the management discharged her. The Springfield Republican of that date thus describes what followed: "A hotel at Houston, Texas, immediately offered her a place there, which she accepted, but as matters are now going she is more likely to retire from the business as a grand lady living on an independent income. Her name is upon all tongues in the Southland, and the newspapers print long and complimentary accounts of her life and the one great deed that has made her famous. Citizens and communities vie with each other in contributing money. . . . Captain John W. Johnson of Sheffield, Ala., is organizing a general subscription fund from that and neighboring towns. A meeting at Houston, Texas, raised $500 for her in the name of a 'self-respecting girl.' The Houston Chronicle is conducting another popular subscription. Contributions are coming into it from all parts of Texas. Citizens of New Orleans have raised $1,000. About twoscore Southern towns and
a dozen cities so far figure in the contributions. The movement extends to Indianapolis, where a gold watch has been contributed." The hysterical lauding of this "heroine" was subsequently wet blanketed by the discovery that she had cared for Mr. Washington's room for the first day or two of his stay without protest, and by the further discovery that her second or third husband had recently obtained a divorce from her.
It is only fair to add that many of the leading citizens of the South strongly deprecated the sensational magnifying of this trivial incident by a certain section of the Southern press. Mr. Washington declined to make any comment for publication during or after this petty tumult.
In spite of the three events described, and others of a like nature that might be mentioned, no Negro was ever so liked, respected, admired, and eulogized by the Southern whites as Booker Washington. The day following his great speech before the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta in 1895 when he went out upon the streets of the city he was so besieged by white citizens from the highest to the lowest, who wanted to shake his hand and congratulate him, that he was fairly driven in self-defense to remain indoors. Not many years after that it had become a commonplace for him to be an honored guest on important public occasions throughout the South. On occasions too numerous even to note in passing he was welcomed, and introduced to great audiences, by Southern Governors, Mayors, and other high officials, as well as by eminent
private citizens. Such recognition came partly as a spontaneous tribute to the great work he was doing and partly because of his constantly reiterated assurance that the Negro was not seeking either political domination over the white man or social intercourse with him. He reasoned that the more Southern whites he could convince that his people were not seeking what is known as social equality or political dominance, the less race friction there would be.
It has already been mentioned that at the opening of the first Negro agricultural fair in Albany, Georgia, in the fall of 1914, the Mayor of the city and several members of the City Council sat on the platform during the exercises and listened to his speech with most spontaneous and obvious approval. In this part of Georgia the Negroes outnumber the whites by at least six to one. The afternoon of the same day the Mayor invited Booker Washington and his party to come to the city hall and confer with himself, the other city officials, and a group of prominent private citizens on the relations between the races in that city and locality. At this conference there was a friendly, easy interchange of ideas interspersed with jokes and laughter, but all the time Mr. Washington was leading them step by step to see that by giving the Negroes proper educational opportunities they were helping themselves as well as the Negroes. Mr. Stowe, who was present at this conference, noticed to his surprise that some of the arguments advanced by Dr. Washington, which seemed to him to be almost worn-out truisms, although freshly and strongly
expressed, were seized upon by his auditors as new and original ideas. When he made this observation to Mr. Washington after the meeting he said that several other Northerners had under similar circumstances made the same observation and then he added: "I only wish that it were possible for me to spend several months of each year talking with just such groups of representative Southern men. They are always responsive, eager to understand what we are driving at, and sympathetic when they do understand. The necessity for raising money has forced us to devote the bulk of our time to educating the Northern public to the needs of the situation to the neglect of our Southern white neighbors right here about us."
It was an interesting illustration of the illogical workings of race prejudice that this man to whom the city fathers from the Mayor down gave up practically their entire day-- this man to whom the city hall was thrown open and at whose feet sat the leading citizens as well as the officials of the city, could not have found shelter in any hotel in town. This man whom the officials and other leading citizens delighted to honor arrived at night on a Pullman sleeping car in violation of the law of the State; and, after all possible honor had been paid him, save allowing him to enter a hotel, departed the next night by a Pullman sleeper in violation of the law!
This constant "law-breaker" was welcomed and introduced to audiences by Governor Blanchard of Louisiana at Shreveport, La.; by Governor Candler at Atlanta,
Ga.; by Governor Donaghey at Little Rock, Ark.; by Governor McCorkle of West Virginia, and successively by Governors Jelks and O'Neil of his own State of Alabama. Still other Southern Governors spoke from the same platform with him at congresses, conventions, and meetings of various descriptions.
Next to South Carolina and Georgia, perhaps no State in the Union has shown as much hostility to the progress of the Negro as Mississippi. In 1908, in response to the urgent appeals of Charles Banks, the Negro banker and dominating force of the Negro town of Mound Bayou, Mr. Washington agreed to make a tour through Mississippi such as he had made three years before through Arkansas and what were then Oklahoma and Indian Territories. At Jackson, Miss., the management of the State Fair Association offered the local committee of Negroes the great Liberal Arts Building for Mr. Washington's address. In the audience were not less than five thousand persons, among them several hundred white citizens. Among the whites who sat on the platform were Governor Noel, Lieutenant-Governor Manship, Bishop Charles B. Galloway of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, Mr. Milsaps, the richest citizen of the State; the postmaster of Jackson, the United States Marshal, Hon. Edgar S. Wilson, and a considerable number of other prominent white citizens.
At Natchez, a few nights later, the audience literally filled every available space in the Grand Opera House and overflowed into the adjoining streets. This audience was
in many respects the most remarkable that the city had ever seen. The entire orchestra was given over to the white citizens of Natchez and Adams County, and still there was not room to accommodate them, for they were packed in the rear and stood three and four deep in the aisles. The colored people were crowded into the balcony and the galleries. When Booker Washington arose to speak, he was greeted by a perfect whirlwind of applause and cheering. He was visibly affected by the reception given him by whites as well as blacks.
When he finished speaking a large delegation headed by the Mayor of the city made their way to the platform, welcomed him to the city, thanked him for his address, and stated that his influence for good in the city and county could not be estimated.
Mr. J. T. Harahan, of the Illinois Central Railroad, provided the Pullman tourist car in which Mr. Washington and his party toured the State. It was estimated that from sixty to eighty thousand people saw and heard him during his seven days' trip. On the conclusion of the tour one paper said, "No more popular man ever came into the State, white or black, and no man ever spoke to larger audiences than he did. He is the only speaker who ever filled the Jackson, Miss., Coliseum."
Only six months before his death Booker Washington made a similar tour through Louisiana. Louisiana has always been reputed to be in the same category as Mississippi in opposing Negro progress. To some of his audiences Mr. Washington said that he and his party of twenty-five
colored men had felt before they started very much like the little girl who was about to go on a trip to Louisiana with her parents. The night before they started she said her prayer as usual:
"Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take."
With a deep sigh she then added, "Good-bye, Lord, for two weeks. We are going down to Louisiana."
In introducing Mr. Washington to a great audience in New Orleans, made up of both races, Mayor Berhman said, turning to Booker Washington:
"The work you are doing for the uplift of your people means untold good to the great State of Louisiana and to the whole country. Nowhere has your race greater opportunities than in Louisiana. If the people of the Negro race will follow your teachings, they will help materially to bring about a condition that will mean much for Louisiana, the South, and the nation."
At Shreveport former Governor N. C. Blanchard, in introducing Dr. Washington to an audience of over 10,000 white and colored citizens, said: "I am glad to see this goodly attendance of white people, representative white people at that, for his Honor, the Mayor, is here, and with him are members and officials of the city government and
other prominent citizens of our community. They are here to give encouragement to Mr. Washington, to hold up his hands, for they know that he is leading his people along right lines--lines tending to promote better feeling and better understanding between the two races. . . .
"Our country needs to have white and black people, sober, honest, frugal, and thrifty. Booker T. Washington stands for these things. He advises and counsels and leads toward these goals. Hear him and heed his words."
At the invitation of Superintendent Gwinn the colored school children of New Orleans were given a half-holiday to hear Dr. Washington. He addressed them in an arena seating more than five thousand people, which was given for the occasion by its white owner.
To one of these Louisiana audiences Mr. Washington said: "Both races in the South suffer at the hands of public opinion by reason of the fact that the outside world hears of our difficulties, of crimes, mobs, and lynchings, but it does not hear of or know about the evidences of racial friendship and good-will which exist in the majority of communities in Louisiana and other Southern States where black and white people live together in such large numbers. Lynchings are widely reported by telegraph. The quiet, effective work of devoted white people in the South for Negro uplift is not generally or widely reported. The best white citizenship must take charge of the mob and not have the mob take charge of civilization. There is enough wisdom, patience, forbearance, and common
sense in the South for white people and black people to live together in peace for all time."
In short, Booker Washington met race prejudice just as he did all other difficulties, as an obstacle to be surmounted rather than as an injustice to be railed at and denounced regardless of the consequences.
ONE secret of Booker Washington's leadership was that he always had his ear to the ground and his feet on the ground. Some one has said that "a practical idealist is a man who keeps his feet on the ground even though his head is in the clouds." Booker Washington was that kind of an idealist. He kept in constant and intimate touch with the masses of his people, particularly with those on the soil. Like the giant in the fable who doubled his strength every time he touched the ground, Booker Washington seemed to renew his strength every time he came in contact with the plain people of his race, particularly the farmers. No matter how pressed and driven by multifarious affairs, he could always find time for a rambling talk, apparently quite at random, with an old, uneducated, ante-bellum black farmer. Sometimes he would halt the entire business of a national convention in order to hear the comment of some simple but shrewd old character. He had a profound respect for the wisdom of simple people who lived at close grips with the realities of life.
At the 1914 meeting of the National Negro Business League at Muskogee, Okla., a Mr. Jake----, who had
started as an ignorant orphan boy, delighted Mr. Washington's heart when he testified: "When I first started out I lived in a chicken house, 12 x 14 feet; now I own a ten-room residence, comfortably furnished, and in a settlement where we have a good school, a good church, and plenty of amusement, including ten children."
After the laughter and applause had subsided Mr. Washington asked: "Do you think there is the same kind of an opening out here in Oklahoma for other and younger men of our race to do as you have done and to succeed equally as well?"
To which Mr. Jake replied: " . . . I think I have succeeded with little or no education, and it stands to reason that some of the graduates from these industrial and agricultural schools ought to be able to do better than I have done."
Which was, of course, just the answer Mr. Washington hoped he would make.
Mr. Washington's instinct for keeping close to the plain people was perhaps best illustrated by his tours through the far Southern States for the improvement of the living conditions of his people, the tours to which allusion has several times been made. His insistence upon cleanliness, neatness, and paint became so well known that his approach to a community frequently caused frantic cleaning up of yards, mending of gates, and painting of houses. These sudden converts to paint sometimes found out from which side the great man was to approach their house and painted only that side and the front.
Mr. Washington in characteristic pose addressing
Mr. Washington silhouetted against the crowd upon one of his educational tours.
Mr. Washington in typical pose speaking to an audience at Shreveport, La.
When he spoke to his people on these trips he had the faculty of becoming one of them. He described their daily lives in their own language. He told them how much land they owned, how much of it was mortgaged, how much and what they raised, and in fact every vital economic and social fact about their lives and the conditions about them. He praised them for what was creditable, censured and bantered them for what was bad, and told them what conditions should be and how they could make them so.
He made these tours through Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and portions of Alabama and Georgia.
Besides these State tours he would, whenever he could take the time, shoot out into the country surrounding Tuskegee Institute to encourage and promote the efforts of his neighbors of his own race. In July, 1911, accompanied by some guests and members of his faculty, he made such a visit to Mt. Olive, a village on the east of Tuskegee. The party was first taken to the village church where they found a teeming congregation to greet them. Here Mr. Washington was introduced by the principal of the "Washington School" who said that since Mr. Washington's visit eighteen months ago the colored people had purchased forty-one lots, built several new houses, whitewashed or painted the old ones, and increased their gardens to such an extent that few, if any, had still to buy their vegetables.
Mr. Washington opened his talk by saying: "It is an
inspiration simply to drive through and see your pleasant houses surrounded by flowers and gardens and all that goes to make life happy." He then appealed to the women to make their homes as attractive on the inside as the gardens had made them on the outside. He told them the best receipt for keeping the men and the children at home and out of mischief was to make the homes so attractive that they would not want to go away. Then, as always, before he closed he put in his warnings and injunctions to the derelict: "Paint your houses; if you can't paint them, whitewash them. Put the men to work in their spare hours repairing fences, gates, and windows. Get together in your church, as you have in your schoolwork, settle on a pastor and get him to live in your community. Pay him in order that he may live here and become a part of your community."
On another such trip through the southwestern part of Macon County, the county in which Tuskegee is located, he was once accompanied by Judge Robert H. Terrell, the Negro Judge of the District of Columbia; the Hon. Whitefield McKinlay, the Negro Collector of Customs for the District of Columbia; George L. Knox, owner and editor of the Indianapolis Freeman, a Negro newspaper; W. T. B. Williams, agent for the Anna T. Jeanes Fund and the Slater Board; Dr. Thomas Jesse Jones of the United States Census Bureau, and Lord Eustace Percy, one of the Secretaries of the British Embassy at Washington.
One can well imagine with what pride the simple black farmers of Macon County displayed their products and
A party of friends who accompanied Dr. Washington on one of his educational tours through the state of Mississippi. In the party are Charles Banks, a leading negro banker and business man of Mississippi; Bishop E. Cottrell, and on Dr. Washington's right, Robert R. Moton, his successor in the work at Tuskegee Instuitute
their live stock to these distinguished representatives of both races headed by their own great neighbor and leader. At Mt. Andrew, one of the communities visited, the Farmers' Improvement Club had prepared an exhibit consisting of the best specimens of vegetables, fruits, and meats raised in the community. A report stated that the Negro people of the town owned over two hundred head of live stock and had over thirty houses which were either whitewashed or painted. When called upon for remarks, Mr. Washington expressed himself as greatly encouraged by what he had seen and said in conclusion, "Here in Macon County you have good land that will grow abundant crops. You have also a good citizenship, and hence there is every opportunity for you to make your community a heaven upon earth."
Booker Washington was always emphasizing the necessity of better conditions right here and now instead of in a distant future or in heaven. He was constantly combating the tendency in his people--a tendency common to all people but naturally particularly strong in those having a heritage of slavery--to substitute the anticipated bliss of a future life for effective efforts to improve the conditions of this present life. He was always telling them to put their energies into societies for the preservation of health and improvement of living conditions, instead of into the too numerous and popular sick benefit and death benefit organizations.
At the next stop of the party Mr. Washington was introduced to the assembled townspeople by a graduate
of Tuskegee Institute, who was one of their leading citizens and most successful farmers. In this talk he urged the people to get more land and keep it and to grow something besides cotton. He said they should not lean upon others and should not go to town on Saturdays to "draw upon" the merchants, but should stay at home and "draw every day from their own soil corn, peas, beans, and hogs." He urged the men to give their wives more time to work around the house and to raise vegetables. (This, of course, instead of requiring them to work in the fields with the men as is so common.) He urged especially that they take their wives into their confidence and make them their partners as well as their companions. He assured them that if they took their wives into partnership they would accumulate more and get along better in every way.
There was no advice given by him more constantly or insistently in speaking to the plain people of his race, whether in country or city, than this injunction to the men to take their wives into their confidence and make them their partners. He recognized that the home was the basis of all progress and civilization for his race, as well as all other races, and that the wife and mother is primarily the conservator of the home.
One of the stops of the trip was at a little hamlet called Damascus. Here, in characteristic fashion, he told the people how much richer they were in soil and all natural advantages than were the inhabitants of the original Damascus in the Holy Land. He then argued that having these great natural advantages, much was to be expected
of them, etc. Like all great preachers, teachers, and leaders of men he seized upon the names, incidents, and conditions immediately about him and from them drew lessons of fundamental import and universal application.
The efforts of the Negro farmers on these trips to get a word of approval from their great leader were often pathetic. One old man had a good breed of pigs of which he was particularly proud. He contrived to be found feeding them beside the road just as the great man and his party were passing. The simple ruse succeeded. Mr. Washington and his companions stopped and everyone admired the proud and excited old man's pigs. And then after the pigs had been duly admired, he led them to a rough plank table upon which he had displayed in tremulous anticipation of this dramatic moment a huge pumpkin, some perfectly developed ears of corn, and a lusty cabbage. After these objects had also been admired the old man decoyed the party into the little whitewashed cottage where his wife had her hour of triumph in displaying her jars of preserves, pickles, cans of vegetables, dried fruits, and syrup together with quilts and other needlework all carefully arranged for this hoped-for inspection.
The basic teaching of all these tours was: "Make your own little heaven right here and now. Do it by putting business methods into your farming, by growing things in your garden the year around, by building and keeping attractive and comfortable homes for your children so they will stay at home and not go to the cities, by keeping your bodies and your surroundings clean, by staying in one
place, by getting a good teacher and a good preacher, by building a good school and church, by letting your wife be your partner in all you do, by keeping out of debt, by cultivating friendly relations with your neighbors both white and black."
Mr. Washington was constantly bringing up in the Tuskegee faculty meetings cases of distress among the colored people of the county, which he had personally discovered while off hunting or riding, and planning ways and means to relieve them. Apparently it never occurred to him that technically, at least, the fate of these poor persons was not his affair nor that of his school. At one such meeting he told of having come upon while hunting a tumbledown cabin in the woods, within it a half-paralyzed old Negro obviously unable to care for his simple wants. Mr. Washington had stopped, built a fire in his stove, and otherwise made him comfortable temporarily, but some provision for the old man's care must be made at once. One of the teachers knew about the old man and stated that he had such an ugly temper that he had driven off his wife, son, and daughter who had until recently lived with him and taken care of him. The young teacher seemed to feel that the old man had brought his troubles upon his own head and so deserved little sympathy. Mr. Washington would not for a moment agree to this. He replied that if the old fellow was so unfortunate as to have a bad temper as well as his physical infirmities that was no reason why he should be allowed to suffer privation. He delegated one of the teachers to look up the old man's
family at once and see if they could be prevailed upon to support him and to report at the next meeting what had been arranged. In the meantime he would send some one out to the cabin daily to take him food and attend to his wants.
At another faculty meeting he brought up the plight of an old woman who was about to be evicted from her little shack on the outskirts of the town because of her inability to pay the nominal rent which she was charged. He arranged to have her rent paid out of a sum of money which he always had included in the school budget for the relief of such cases. In such ways he was constantly impressing upon his associates the idea that was ever a mainspring of his own life--namely, that it was always and everywhere the duty of the more fortunate to help the less fortunate.
While he was sometimes severe with his more prosperous and better educated associates he was always considerate and thoughtful of the ignorant, the old, and the weak. He was never too busy to delight the heart of a white-haired old man who had been the original cook of the school by listening to his stories about the early days, or to discuss with another old man his experiences in the Civil War. He would never betray the least impatience in listening to these old men tell him the same story for the five hundredth time. Although the real usefulness of both these old fellows had long passed he never showed them by word or deed that he did not regard them as useful and valuable members of his staff.
Another old character to whom he invariably showed kindness and patience was a crack-brained old itinerant preacher who kept up an endless stream of unintelligible pious jargon. This old fellow would harangue the air for hours at a time right outside the Principal's busy office, but he would never allow him to be stopped or sent away and always sent or gave him a small contribution at the conclusion of his tirades, if indeed they could be said to have any conclusion.
Booker Washington had a weakness for the picturesque ne'er-do-wells of his race. One such old fellow, who lived near Tuskegee and who had always displayed great ingenuity in extracting money from him, one day, when he was driving down the main street of Tuskegee behind a pair of fast and spirited horses, rushed out into the street and stopped him as though he had a matter of the greatest urgency to impart to him. When Mr. Washington had with difficulty reined in his horses and asked him what he wanted the old man said breathlessly, "I'se got a tirkey for yo' Thanksgivin'!"
"How much does it weigh?" inquired Mr. Washington.
"Twelve to fifteen poun'."
After thanking the old man warmly, Mr. Washington started to drive on when the old fellow added, "I jest wants to borrow a dollar for to fatten yo' turkey for you!"
With a laugh Mr. Washington handed the old man the dollar and drove on. He never could be made to feel that by these spontaneous generosities he was encouraging
thriftlessness and mendicancy. He was incorrigible in his unscientific open-handedness with the poor, begging older members of his race.
At the time of the Tuskegee teachers' annual picnic, usually held in May, many of these old darkies would attend uninvited and armed with huge empty baskets. Mr. Washington always greeted them like honored guests and allowed them to carry off provisions enough to feed large families for days. He would also introduce them to the officers and teachers of the school and to any invited guests who might be present.
Old man Harry Varner was the night watchman of the school in its early days and a man upon whom Mr. Washington very much depended. He lived in a cabin opposite the school grounds. After hearing many talks about the importance of living in a real house instead of a one or two room cabin, old Uncle Harry finally decided that he must have a real house. Accordingly he came to his employer, told him his feeling in the matter, and laid before him his meagre savings, which he had determined to spend for a real house. Mr. Washington went with him to select the lot and added enough out of his own pocket to the scant savings to enable the old man to buy a cow and a pig and a garden plot as well as the house. From then on for weeks he and old Uncle Harry would have long and mysterious conferences over the planning of that little four-room cottage. It is doubtful if Dr. Washington ever devoted more time or thought to planning any of the great buildings of the Institute. No potentate was ever half as
proud of his palace as Uncle Harry of his four-room cottage when it was finally finished and painted and stood forth in all its glory to be admired of all men. And Booker Washington was scarcely less proud of it than Uncle Harry.
With Uncle Harry Varner, Old Man Brannum, the original cook of the school to whom reference has already been made, and Lewis Adams of the town of Tuskegee, whom Mr. Washington mentions in "Up from Slavery" as one of his chief advisers, all unlettered-before-the-war Negroes, his relationship was always particularly intimate. These three old men enjoyed the confidence of the white people of the town of Tuskegee to an unusual extent and often acted as ambassadors of good-will between the head of the school and his white neighbors when from time to time the latter showed a disposition to look askance at the rapidly growing institution on the hill beyond the town.
Another intimate friend of Mr. Washington's was Charles L. Diggs, known affectionately on the school grounds as "Old Man Diggs." The old man had been body servant to a Union officer in the Civil War and after the war had been carried to Boston, where he became the butler in a fashionable Back Bay family. When Mr. Washington first visited Boston, as an humble and obscure young Negro school teacher pleading for his struggling school, he met Diggs, and Diggs succeeded in interesting his employers in the sincere and earnest young Negro teacher. When years afterward the Institute had grown
to the dignity of needing stewards, Mr. Washington employed his old friend as steward of the Teachers' Home. In all the years thereafter hardly a day passed when Mr. Washington was at the school without his having some kind of powwow with Old Man Diggs regarding some matter affecting the interests of the school.
To the despair of his family Booker Washington seemed to go out of his way to find forlorn old people whom he could befriend. He sent provisions weekly to an humble old black couple from whom he had bought a tract of land for the school. He did the same for old Aunt Harriet and her deaf, dumb, and lame son, except that to them he provided fuel as well. On any particularly cold day he would send one or more students over to Aunt Harriet's to find out if she and her poor helpless son were comfortable. Also every Sunday afternoon, to the joy of this pathetic couple, a particularly appetizing Sunday dinner unfailingly made its appearance. And these were only a few of the pensioners and semi-pensioners whom Booker Washington accumulated as he went about his kindly way.
One means of keeping in touch with the masses of his people which he never neglected was through attending the annual National Negro Baptist Conventions. At these great gatherings he came in touch with the religious leaders of two million Negroes. Notwithstanding the fact that he practically collapsed at the annual meeting of the National Negro Business League held in Boston in August, 1915, and had to be nursed for some weeks
following before he was even strong enough to return to Tuskegee, he insisted in spite of the admonitions of physicians and the pleadings of friends, family, and colleagues, in keeping his engagement to speak before this great convention in Chicago in September. To all protests he replied, "It would do me more harm to stay away than to go." With these words, and rallying the rapidly waning dregs of his once great strength he went and made an address which ranks with the most powerful he ever delivered to his people. A threatened split in the Baptist denomination in part accounted for his insistence upon attending this convention. In this address, delivered only two months before he died of sheer exhaustion, and the last he made before any great body of his own people, he said in part:
"My only excuse for accepting your invitation to appear before you in these annual gatherings is that I am deeply interested in all that this National Baptist Convention stands for. It is in my opinion the largest and most representative body of colored people anywhere in the world. . . . I believe most profoundly in the work of this convention because it represents the common masses of all our people, those who are the foundation of our success as a race. I believe in you because you do not pretend to represent the classes but the masses of our people. I am here, too, because the Baptist Church among our people throughout the country is affording them an opportunity to get lessons in self-government in a degree that is true of few other organizations.
"You who control this great convention have before you a great opportunity and along with this opportunity a tremendous responsibility. It is given to you, as to all men, to pursue one of two courses, and that is, to be big leaders or little leaders. You can construct or you can destroy. The time is now at hand when in each individual church organization and each district association and each State convention and in this great national convention, the little man must give way and let the big, broad, generous man take his place. Nothing is ever gained in business, in education, or in religious work by being little, narrow, or jealous in our sympathies and activities."
Two days later, after he had left the convention and returned home, Mr. Washington received word that the convention had split, contending leaders holding out for what they termed principles. Immediately on the receipt of this report he dispatched the following telegram to the leaders of the two opposing factions:
I earnestly beg and urge that each convention remain in session until all differences are composed. In the event this cannot be done I hope each convention will empower a small committee or authorize some one to appoint committees that may have power in settling present difficulties so that next year there may be but one convention. It is easier now to bring about reconciliation than it will be later. It will be a calamity to the Baptist Church and to our race for the present split to continue. It will soon spread to all the Baptist churches in all the States. I would urge that each side manifest a broad
liberal spirit and be willing to sacrifice something for the good of the cause. Millions of our humble people throughout the country are depending upon our leaders to settle their difficulties in a Christian spirit and they should not be disappointed. If I may be used at any time in any way my services are at your command. Have sent a similar telegram to Dr.----.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
Unhappily he did not have the satisfaction of bringing the two factions together before he died, but until the last he continued his efforts in this direction.
Largely because of his intimate knowledge of the plain people Booker Washington appealed to the great of the earth. In his books, "Up from Slavery," "The Story of My Life and Work," and "My Larger Education," he tells of taking tea with Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle, of his association with Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, of his introduction to Prince Henry of Prussia, of his dining with the King and Queen of Denmark, and of his long friendships with William H. Baldwin, Jr., Robert C. Ogden, Henry H. Rogers, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie. He was of value and interest to such people largely because of his closeness to his own people. His power to interest such people was largely because he was so close to the rank and file of his own people.
After the death of Henry H. Rogers, Mr. Washington said of him in an interview published at the time in the New York Evening Post: "The more experiences I have of
the world, the more I am convinced that the only proper and the only safe way to judge any one is at first hand and by your actual experience. It seems to me that, outside of the immediate members of my family, I knew the late Henry H. Rogers during the last fifteen years as well as I could know any one. Of all the men that I have ever known intimately, no matter what their station in life, Mr. Rogers always impressed me as being among the kindest and gentlest. That was the impression he made upon me the first time I ever met him, and during the fifteen years that I knew him that impression was deepened every time I met him." (And this was Booker Washington's impression of the second greatest figure in the building up of the huge, world-powerful corporation whose methods during its period of rapid expansion had at that time been only recently described in McClure's Magazine by Ida M. Tarbell.) "I am sure that the members of his family will forgive me for telling, now that he has laid down his great work and gone to rest, some things about him which I feel that the public should know but which he always forbade me to mention while he lived.
"The first time I ever met Mr. Rogers was in this manner: about fifteen years ago a large meeting was held in Madison Square Garden concert hall, to obtain funds for the Tuskegee Institute. Mr. Rogers attended the meeting, but came so late that, as the auditorium was crowded, he could not get a seat. He stood in the back part of the hall, however, and listened to the speaking.
"The next morning I received a telegram from him asking me to call at his office. When I entered he remarked that he had been present at the meeting the night previous, and expected the 'hat to be passed,' but as that was not done he wanted to 'chip in' something. Thereupon he handed me ten one-thousand-dollar bills for the Tuskegee Institute. In doing this he imposed only one condition, that the gift should be mentioned to no one. Later on, however, when I told him that I did not care to take so large a sum of money without some one knowing it, he consented that I tell one or two of our Trustees about the source of the gift. I cannot now recall the number of times that he has helped us, but in doing so he always insisted that his name be never used. He seemed to enjoy making gifts in currency."
In an article published in McClure's Magazine in May, 1902, Rear-Admiral Robley D. Evans thus describes the occasion on which he presented Booker Washington to Prince Henry of Prussia: "The first request made by Prince Henry, after being received in New York, was that I should arrange to give him some of the old Southern melodies, if possible, sung by Negroes; that he was passionately fond of them, and had been all his life--not the ragtime songs, but the old Negro melodies. Several times during his trip I endeavored to carry out his wishes, with more or less success; but finally, at the Waldorf-Astoria, the Hampton singers presented themselves in one of the reception rooms and gave him a recital of Indian and Negro melodies. He was charmed. And while I was talking to
him, just after a Sioux Indian had sung a lullaby, he suddenly turned and said: 'Isn't that Booker T. Washington over there?' I recognized Washington and replied that it was, and he said: 'Evans, would you mind presenting him to me? I know how some of your people feel about Washington, but I have always had great sympathy with the African race, and I want to meet the man I regard as the leader of that race.' So I went at once to Washington and told him that the Prince wished him to be presented, and took him, myself, and presented him to the Prince. Booker Washington sat down and talked with him for fully ten minutes, and it was a most interesting conversation, one of the most interesting I ever heard in my life. The ease with which Washington conducted himself was very striking, and I only accounted for it afterward when I remembered that he had dined with the Queen of England two or three times, so that this was not a new thing for him. Indeed, Booker Washington's manner was easier than that of almost any other man I saw meet the Prince in this country. The Prince afterward referred to President Roosevelt's action in regard to Booker Washington, and applauded it very highly."
In 1911 Mr. Washington visited Denmark with the particular purpose of observing the world-famed agricultural methods of that country. While in Copenhagen he was presented to the King and Queen. This experience he described on his return to this country in an article published in the New York Age, the well-known Negro paper, in December of the same year. The portion of the article
describing his meeting with the King and Queen reads as follows:
"Soon after I entered, the Chamberlain went in and presently returned to tell me the King would be ready to see me in about five minutes. At the end of the five minutes exactly the door was opened and I found myself in the King's chamber. I had expected to see a gorgeously fitted apartment, something to compare with what I had seen elsewhere in the palace. Imagine my surprise when I found practically nothing in the room except the King, himself. There was not a chair, a sofa, or, so far as I can recall, a single thing in the way of furniture--nothing except the King and his sword. I was surprised again, considering the formality by which he was surrounded, by the familiar and kindly manner in which the King received me, and by his excellent English. Both of us remained standing during the whole interview, which must have lasted twenty minutes. I say we remained standing, because, even had etiquette permitted it we could not have done anything else because there was nothing in the room for either of us to sit upon.
"I had been warned by the American Minister and Mr. Cavling, however, as to what might be the result of this interview. Among other things in regard to which I had been carefully instructed by the American Minister was I must never turn my back upon the King, that I must not lead off in any conversation, that I must let the King suggest the subjects to be discussed, and not take the initiative in raising any question for discussion. I tried to follow Minister Egan's instructions in this regard as well as I could, but I fear I was not wholly successful.
"I had not been talking with the King many minutes
before I found that he was perfectly familiar with the work of the Tuskegee school, that he had read much that I had written, and was well acquainted with all that I was trying to do for the Negroes in the South. He referred to the fact that Denmark was interested in the colored people in their own colony in the Danish West Indies, and that both he and the Queen were anxious that something be done for the colored people in the Danish possessions similar to what we were doing at Tuskegee. He added that he hoped at some time I would find it possible to visit the Danish West Indian Islands.
"As I have said, I had been warned as to what might be the result of this visit to the King and that I had best be careful how I made my plans for the evening. As the interview was closing, the King took me by the hand and said, 'The Queen would be pleased to have you dine at the palace to-night,' at the same time naming the hour.
"The Minister had told me that this was his way of commanding persons to dine, and that an invitation given must be obeyed. Of course I was delighted to accept the invitation, though I feared it would wreck my plans for seeing the country people. The King was so kind and put me so at my ease in his presence that I fear I forgot Minister Eagan's warning not to turn my back upon him, and I must confess that I got out of the room in about the same way I usually go out of the room when I have had an audience with President Taft.
"Leaving the King and the palace, I found out on the street quite a group of newspaper people, most of them representing American papers, who were very anxious to know, in the usual American fashion, just what took place during the interview, how long I was with the King, what we talked about, and what not. They were especially
anxious to know if I had been invited to the palace for dinner."
And further on he thus describes the dinner:
"The dinner was not at the palace where I was received in the morning, but at the summer palace several miles out of Copenhagen. When I reached the hotel from the country it soon dawned upon me that I was in great danger of being late. To keep a King and Queen and their guests waiting on one for dinner would of course be an outrageous offense. I dressed as hastily as I was able, but just as I was putting on the finishing touches to my costume my white tie bursted. I was in a predicament from which for a moment I saw no means of rescuing myself. I did not have time to get another tie, and of course I could not wear the black one. As well as I could, however, I put the white tie about my neck, fastened it with a pin, and earnestly prayed that it might remain in decent position until the dinner was over. Nevertheless, I trembled all through the dinner for fear that my tie might go back on me.
"I succeeded in reaching the summer palace about ten minutes before the time to go into the dining-room. Here again I was met by the King's Chamberlain by whom I was conveyed through a series of rooms and, finally, into the presence of the King, who, after some conversation, led me where the Queen was standing and presented me to her. The Queen received me graciously and even cordially. She spoke English perfectly, and seemed perfectly familiar with my work. I had, however, a sneaking idea that Minister Egan was responsible for a good deal of the familiarity which both the King and Queen seemed to exhibit regarding Tuskegee.
"As I entered the reception-room there were about twenty or twenty-five people who were to be entertained at dinner. I will not attempt to describe the elegance, not to say splendor, of everything in connection with the dinner. As I ate food for the first time in my life out of gold dishes, I could not but recall the time when as a slave boy I ate my syrup from a tin plate.
"I think I got through the dinner pretty well by following my usual custom, namely, of watching other people to see just what they did and what they did not do. There was one place, however, where I confess I made a failure. It is customary at the King's table, as is true at other functions in many portions of Europe, I understand, to drink a silent toast to the King. This was so new and strange to me that I decided that, since I did not understand the custom, the best thing was to frankly confess my ignorance. I reassured myself with the reflection that people will easier pardon ignorance than pretense.
"At a certain point during the dinner each guest is expected, it seems, to get the eye of the King and then rise and drink to the health of the King. When he rises he makes a bow to the King and the King returns the bow. Nothing is said by either the King or the guest. I think practically all the invited guests except myself went through this performance. It seemed to me a very fitting way of expressing respect for the King, as the head of a nation and as a man, and now that I know something about it, I think if I had another chance I could do myself credit in that regard.
"During the dinner I had the privilege of meeting a very interesting old gentleman, now some eighty years of age, the uncle of the King, Prince----, who spoke good English. I had a very interesting conversation with him,
and since returning to America I have had some correspondence with him.
"As I have already said, the Queen Mother of England was at this time in Copenhagen, and as I afterward learned, her sister, the Queen Mother of Russia, was also there. As both of these were in mourning on account of the recent death of King Edward, they did not appear at this dinner. I was reminded of their presence, however, when as I was leaving the King's palace after my interview in the morning, one of the marshals presented me with two autograph books, with the request that I inscribe my name in them. One of the books, as I afterward learned, belonged to the Queen Mother of England; the other belonged to the Queen Mother of Russia.
A mere catalogue of the principal organizations which Booker T. Washington founded for the purpose of helping his people to help themselves tells a story of constructive achievement more impressive than any amount of abstract eulogy.
The following is a list of such organizations given in chronological order with a few words of description for the purpose of identifying each:
In 1884 he founded the Teachers' Institute, consisting of summer courses, conferences, and exhibits having as their main purpose the extension of the advantages of Tuskegee Institute to the country school teachers of the surrounding country. The work of this Institute is described in the chapter: "Washington, the Educator."
In 1891 he established the Annual Tuskegee Negro Conference. He decided that the school should not only help
directly its own students, but should reach out and help the students' parents and the older people generally in the country districts of the State. He started by inviting the farmers and their wives in the immediate locality to spend a day at the school for the frank discussion of their material and spiritual condition to the end that the school might learn how it could best help them to help themselves. From this simple beginning the Conference has grown until it now consists of delegates from every Southern State, besides hundreds of teachers and principals of Negro schools, Northern men and women, publicists and philanthropists, newspaper and magazine writers, Southern white men and Southern white women, all interested in helping the simple black folk in their strivings to "quit libin' in de ashes," as one of them fervently expressed it. At one of these conferences an old preacher from a country district concluded an earnest prayer for the deliverance of his people from the bondage of ignorance with this startling sentence: "And now, O Lord, put dy foot down in our hearts and lif' us up!"
The year following Mr. Washington established a hospital in Greenwood village, the hamlet adjoining the Institute grounds where live most of the teachers, officers, and employees. It was at first hardly more than a dispensary, but when the Institute acquired a Resident Physician two small buildings were set aside as hospitals for men and women, respectively. Later a five-thousand-dollar building was given which served as the hospital until, in 1913, Mrs. Elizabeth A. Mason, of Boston, presented Tuskegee
with a fifty-thousand-dollar splendidly equipped modern hospital, in memory of her grandfather, John A. Andrew, the War Governor of Massachusetts. While these hospitals, from the first humble dispensary to the fine hospital of to-day, were of course primarily for the Institute they were in true Tuskegee fashion thrown open to all who needed them. And since the town of Tuskegee has no hospital they have always been freely used by outside colored people. Mr. Washington, himself, on his riding and hunting trips would from time to time find sick people whom he would have brought to the hospital for care.
The next year, 1893, he started the Minister's Night School. This is conducted by the Phelps Hall Bible Training School of the Institute. Here country ministers with large families and small means are given night courses in all the subjects likely to be of service to them from "Biblical criticism" to the "planting and cultivating of crops."
The year following Mrs. Washington began the Tuskegee Town Mothers' Meetings. Both she and Mr. Washington had long been distressed at seeing the women and young girls loafing about the streets of the town of Tuskegee when they came to town with their husbands and fathers on Saturday afternoons. Now, instead of loafing about the streets these women attend the Mothers' Meetings where Mrs. Washington and the various women teachers give them practical talks on all manner of housekeeping and family-raising problems from the making of preserves to proper parental care.
In 1895 the Building and Loan Association was established. The Institute's chief accountant is its president, and the Institute's treasurer its secretary and treasurer. This Association has enabled many scores of people to secure their own homes who without its aid could not have done so.
The next year the Town Night School was started. This school has as its purpose giving instruction to the boys and girls who have positions in the town which make it impossible for them to attend the Institute, and to the servants in the white families. This school has become one of the best and strongest forces in the life of the community. As an outgrowth of it came later the Town Library and Reading Room, for which Mr. Washington personally provided the room. There is now in this school a cooking class for girls and several industrial classes for boys. At the same time Mr. Washington established a Farmers' Institute which is described in the chapter "Washington and the Negro Farmer."
In 1898 he started a County Fair to spur the ambition of the Negro farmers of the county. This Negro County Fair under his guidance grew and flourished from year to year. The whites maintained a separate County Fair. Finally, the two fairs were combined, and now one of the most flourishing County Fairs in all the South is conducted, both races supporting it by making exhibits, and sharing in the success and profits of the enterprise, as well as in its general management.
In 1900 he organized the National Negro Business
League, as described in the chapter, "Washington and the Negro Business Man."
Two years later he established the Greenwood Village Improvement Association for the little community which has grown up around the school. Taxes are collected from the property holders as well as the renters for the upkeep of the roads, bridges, and fences, and a park in the centre of the village, which was introduced in emulation of the typical New England village. Just as in New England, also, this central park, or "green," is surrounded by a number of churches. An elective Board of Control presides over this village, settles disputes, and keeps the community in good repair morally and spiritually, as well as physically. On the Monday immediately following the close of a regular school term a town meeting is held at which reports are read and discussed covering every phase of the life of the community. Mr. Washington particularly enjoyed presiding at these meetings because they demonstrated what the people of his race could accomplish under a favorable and stimulating environment. He always contrived to have the meetings followed by simple refreshments and a social hour.
In 1904 he started the Rural School Improvement Campaign and the Farmers' Short Course at the Institute, both of which are described in the chapter, "Washington, the Educator." In the same year he started a systematic effort to improve the conditions in the jails and the chain gangs and for the rehabilitation of released prisoners.
The next year he founded a weekly farm paper, a
circulating library, and a Ministers' Institute. The year after, 1906, the Jesup Agricultural Wagon--the agricultural school on wheels, which is described in the chapter, "Washington, the Educator"--was started. In 1907 the farmers' coöperative demonstration work, which has also been mentioned, was inaugurated. In 1910 the rural improvement speaking tours began. And finally, in 1914, he established "Baldwin Farms," the farming community for the graduates of the agricultural department of Tuskegee, which also has been previously described.
These, then, are some of the tangible means which Booker Washington developed during a period of thirty years for keeping in touch with his people and for keeping his people in touch with one another and with all the things which go to make up wholesome and useful living.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON was a great believer in the experience meeting, and the Tuskegee Negro Conference, which he started in 1891, is nothing more nor less than an agricultural experience meeting. He placed his faith in the persuasive power of example--in the contagion of successful achievement. He once said: "One farm bought, one house built, one home sweetly and intelligently kept, one man who is the largest taxpayer or has the largest bank account, one school or church maintained, one factory running successfully, one truck garden profitably cultivated, one patient cured by a Negro doctor, one sermon well preached, one office well filled, one life cleanly lived--these will tell more in our favor than all the abstract eloquence that can be summoned to plead our cause. Our pathway must be up through the soil, up through swamps, up through forests, up through the streams, the rocks, up through commerce, education, and religion."
Nothing delighted Mr. Washington more than the successful Negro farmers who had started in life without money, friends, influence, or education--with literally nothing but their hands. At one of the Tuskegee conferences
not many years ago his keen eyes spotted such a man in the audience and he called to him in his straight from the shoulder manner: "Get up and tell us what you have been doing as a farmer."
A tall, finely built, elderly man, looking almost like a Nubian giant, arose in his place, his face wreathed in smiles, and showing his white teeth as he spoke: "Doctor, I done 'tended one o' yore conferences here 'bout ten year ago. I heard you say dat a man ain't wurth nuthin' as a man or a citizen 'less he owns his home, 'least one mule, and has a bank account, an' so I made up my mind dat warn't wuth nuthin', an' so I went home an' talked de whole matter over wid de ol' woman. We decided dat we would make a start, an' now I's proud to tell you dat I's not only got a bank account, but I's got two bank accounts, an' heah's de bank books (proudly holding on high two grimy bank books); I also own two hun'ed acres of land an' all de land is paid for. I also own two mules, an' bofe dem mules is paid for. I also own some other property, an' de ole woman an' me an' de chilluns lives in a good house an' de house is paid for. All dis come 'bout from my comin' to dis heah conference."
Another old fellow, when called upon to tell what he had accomplished, dexterously evaded the direct inquiry for some minutes, and when Mr. Washington finally succeeded in pinning him down, said: "All I's got to say, Doctah Washington, is dat dis heah conference dun woke me up an' I'll be back heah next year wid a report gist like dese oder fellers.
Mr. Washington was a great believer in his favorite animal, the pig, as a mortgage lifter and general aid to prosperity. At one of the conferences, after he had paid a particularly warm eulogy to the economic importance of the pig, an old woman got up and said: "Mr. Washington, you is got befo' you now Sister Nelson of Tallapoosa County, Alabama. All I has I owes to dis conference and one little puppy dog."
Mr. Washington challenged: "How's that?"
The old woman continued: "I got a little pig from dat little puppy dog an' I got my prosperity from dat pig!"
Mr. Washington and the whole company in amazement hung upon the old woman's words as she continued: "It was dis way: Dat little puppy dog when she growed up had some little puppies herself. One day one o' my fren's come by an' as' me for one o' dem puppies. I tol' him 'No,' I would not gib him dat puppy, but dat he had a little pig an' I would 'change a puppy for a pig. I had heard you tell ober heah so much 'bout hogs an' pigs dat I thought dis was a good chance to get started. He give me de pig an' I give him de puppy. In de course o' time dat little pig dun bring me in some mo' pigs. I sol' some an' kep' some. I had to feed de pig, so I had begun savin'. I den begun to find out dat I could git on wid less den I had ben gettin' on wid, an' so I kep' on savin' an' kep' on raisin' pigs 'til I was able to supply most o' my neighbors wid pigs, an' den I got me a cow, an den I begun to supply my neighbors wid milk, an' den I started me a little garden. Den I sol' my neighbors greens an' onions, an' so I went
on fum time to time 'til I dun paid for de lot an' de house in which I lib, an' I keeps my pigs about me an' keeps my garden goin', an' dat's why I says all I is I owes to dat little puppy dog an' to dis heah conference."
At these conferences the most elementary subjects are discussed. Booker Washington would tell and have told to these farmers matters which one would naturally assume any farmers, however ignorant, must already know. He never tried to deceive himself as to the woful ignorance of the Negro masses, and still he was never discouraged, but always said ignorance was not a hopeless handicap because it could be overcome by education. While he frankly although sadly acknowledged the lamentable ignorance of the rank and file of his race, particularly those on the soil and dependent for education upon the short-term, ill-equipped, and poorly taught rural Negro school, he as stoutly denied and constantly disproved the assertion that these ignorant masses were not capable of profiting by education. He earnestly strove and signally succeeded in attracting to these great annual agricultural conferences the most pathetically ignorant of the Negro farmers as well as the leading scientific agriculturists of the race. But he always insisted that the meetings be conducted for the benefit of the ignorant and not in the interests of the learned.
He would, for instance, tell the attendants at the conferences what to plant and when to plant it, and what live stock to keep and how to keep it. He would have printed and distributed among them a "Farmer's Calendar"
which gave the months in which the various standard vegetables should be planted and what crops should be used in rotation. He constantly insisted that the Experiment Station at Tuskegee Institute, supported by the State of Alabama, should not be used for scientific experiments of interest only to experts, but should deal with the fundamental problems with which the Negro farmers of Alabama were daily confronted. The titles of some of the Experiment Station Bulletins selected at random suggest the homely and practical nature of the information disseminated. Half a dozen of them read as follows: "Possibilities of the Sweet Potato in Macon County, Alabama," "How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption," "How to Raise Pigs with Little Money," "When, What, and How to Can and Preserve Fruits and Vegetables in the Home," "Some Possibilities of the Cowpea in Macon County, Alabama," "A New and Prolific Variety of Cotton." And all of these bulletins, so many of which deal with the problems of the home, are written by an old bachelor of pure African descent, without a drop of white blood, who in himself refutes two popular fallacies: the one that bachelors cannot be skilled in domestic affairs, and the other, that pure-blooded Africans cannot achieve intellectual distinction. This man is George W. Carver, who is not only the most eminent agricultural scientist of his race in this country, but one of the most eminent of any race. His work is so well known in scientific circles in his field throughout the world that when leading European scientists
visit this country, particularly the Southern States, they not infrequently go out of their way to look him up. They are usually very much surprised to find their eminent fellow-scientist a black man.
The last of these conferences over which Booker Washington presided was held at Tuskegee, January 20 and 21, 1915. A woman, the wife of a Negro farmer, was testifying when she said: "Our menfolks is foun' out dat they can't eat cotton." As the outburst of laughter which greeted this remark died down, Mr. Washington said in his incisive way: "What do you mean?" The woman replied: "I mean dat we womenfolks been tellin' our menfolks all de time dat they should raise mo to eat."
She then displayed specimens of canned fruits and told how she had put up enough of them to supply her family until summer. She told of having sold thirty-six turkeys and of selling two and three dozen eggs each week, with plenty left over for her family. She said that she and her husband had raised and sold hogs, and still had for their own use more than enough pork to last them until the next hog-killing time.
"How often do you eat chicken?" asked Dr. Washington.
"We can eat chicken every day if we want it," she replied.
When she had finished Mr. Washington explained that all this had been done on 178 acres of the poorest land in Macon County.
In his opening address at this conference Mr. Washington denounced "petty thieving, pistol-toting,
crap-shooting, the patronizing of 'blind tigers,' and unnecessary lawsuits" as some of the weights and encumbrances which are keeping the Negro from running well the race which is set before him.
These are some of the basic questions which Booker Washington placed before the conference for discussion:
"How and why am I so hard hit by the present hard times?"
"What am I doing to meet present conditions?"
"How may I, after all, get some real benefit from present difficulties?"
The most spectacular feature of the exercises was the parade. It extended for almost a mile and included a score or more of floats, hundreds of men and women in appropriate costumes, and dozens of horses, mules, and other live stock.
There were a large number of colored preachers in attendance who showed that they had adopted the Washington slogan of trying to make a heaven on earth and whose testimony showed that they were now giving as much time to soil salvation as to soul salvation. One of them told of a flourishing Pig Club which he had organized among his parishioners after reading Mr. Washington's open letter, "Pigs and Education; Pigs and Debts," the circulating of which will be later described.
After the awarding of prizes for the best floats the declarations of the conference were read by Major R. R. Moton of Hampton Institute, who then little realized that before the year was out he was to be chosen to
This old woman was a regular attendant at the Tuskegee Negro Conference and idolizingly watched Mr. Washington during the whole four hours that he would preside over one of the Conference sessions
succeed the leader of his race as the Principal of Tuskegee Institute.
The following were the especially significant paragraphs of these declarations:
"It is found that for every dollar's worth of cotton we grow, we raise only forty-nine cents' worth of all other crops. An investigation has shown that there are 20,000 farms of Negroes on which there are no cattle of any kind; 270,000 on which there are no hogs; 200,000 on which no poultry is raised; 140,000 on which no corn is grown; on 750,000 farms of Negroes no oats are grown; on 550,000 farms no sweet potatoes are grown, and on 200,000 farms of Negroes there are no gardens of any sort. These hundreds of thousands of farms without cattle, grain, or gardens are for the most part operated by tenants. In their behalf, the Tuskegee Negro Conference respectfully requests of the planters, bankers, and other representatives of the financial interests of the South that more opportunities be given Negro tenants on plantations to grow crops other than cotton."
After the regular conference the usual Conference of Workers was held. This conference is composed of people such as heads of schools and colleges, preachers, teachers, and persons generally holding responsible positions of leadership in their respective communities. These leaders discuss the larger community problems in distinction from individual problems. At this gathering, for instance, the principal of the County High School at Cottage Grove, Ala., explained how through diversified farming the
parents of his students had been able to live while holding their cotton for higher prices.
Some of the principals of schools told how they had accepted cotton as payment of tuition for some of their students. Others had taken in payment barrels of syrup, sacks of corn, and hogs. All the schools reported cutting expenses, by reduction of their dietary, the salaries of teachers, or some other forms of retrenchment, meaning sacrifice for students or teachers, or both, that the work of education might continue and weather the hard times. In concluding the conference Booker Washington explained the terms of the recently enacted Smith Lever Act for Federal aid in the extension of agricultural education throughout the rural districts of the country. Thus ended the twentieth session of the great Tuskegee Negro Conference and the last session presided over by the Founder of the Conference. It was most appropriate that this, his last conference, should have so unanimously and effectively applied one of the leading tenets of Booker Washington's teaching--namely, the winning of lasting profit from the experiences of adversity.
As well as these annual Farmers' Conferences there are held at Tuskegee monthly meetings for the farmers from the locality where they display their products, tell of their successes and failures, and compare notes on their experiences all under the expert leadership, guidance, and advice of the staff of the agricultural department of the Institute. Every month, or oftener, there is an agricultural exhibit in which the best products of the various crops such as potatoes,
corn, and cotton are displayed, and the methods used in their production explained by figures and graphic charts.
As early as 1895 Booker Washington started a campaign to get his people to raise more pigs. This campaign he revived at intervals, and for the last time in the fall of 1914, when the whole country and particularly the South was suffering from the first acute depression caused by the European War. In the Southern States this depression was, of course, especially acute because the European market for cotton was for the time being cut off. As one of the means to aid his people in this trying time he sent the following letter to the entire press of the South of both races:
To the Editor:
Our race is in constant search of means with which to provide better homes, schools, colleges, and churches, and with which to pay debts. This is especially true during the hard financial conditions obtaining on account of the European War. All of this cannot be done at once, but great progress can be made by a good strong pull together in a simple, direct manner. How?
There are 1,400,000 colored families who live on farms or in villages, or small towns. Of this number, at the present time, 700,000 have no pigs. I want to ask that each family raise at least one pig this fall. Where one or more pigs are already owned, I want to ask that each family raise one additional pig this fall.
As soon as possible, I want to ask that this plan be followed by the organization of a Pig Club in every
community where one does not already exist. I want to ask that the matter be taken up at once through families, schools, churches, and societies, Farmers' Institutes, Business Leagues, etc.
The average pig is valued at about $5. If each family adds only one pig, in a few months at the present price for hogs, $10 would be added to the wealth of the owner, and $14,000 to the wealth of the colored people. If each family adds two pigs, it would have in a few months $20 more wealth, and $28,000 would be added with which to promote the welfare of the race during the money stringency created by the European War.
Let us not put it off, but organize Pig Clubs everywhere. Give each boy and girl an opportunity to own and grow at least one pig.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON,Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.
This letter was not only printed by most of the white papers as well as all of the Negro papers, but it was widely endorsed editorially in the white as well as the black press. Many of the newspapers for whites urged that the white farmers also follow the suggestion. The granges and farmers' institutes of both races took up the appeal and urged it upon their members. There can be no doubt that through the publication of this one brief letter, sent out at just the right psychological moment, Booker Washington materially aided the Southern farmers of both races to tide over a serious crisis and materially increased the economic wealth of the entire South. As he well knew, the people were desperate and panicky and hence ready to
follow almost any lead. In any ordinary state of the public mind such a letter could have produced nothing like such an influence. This well illustrated Booker Washington's accurate knowledge of and feeling for the psychology of the public which enabled him almost without exception to speak or remain silent at the right times.
Booker Washington was not only interested in black farmers but white farmers. He always emphasized the responsibility of the farmer as the builder of the foundations of society. He was constantly inviting the white farmers of the surrounding country to visit the school and see what was being done on the school farms and by the Experiment Station. And the white farmers availed themselves freely of this opportunity and profited by it. The school's veterinarian is probably the only one in the county, and this division was established very largely for the purpose of bringing the school and the community-- both white and black--into closer relation. In dealing with farmers, even more perhaps than with other classes of people, Washington would appeal to their pride and even to their vanity. He was fond of telling them that they were the salt of the earth. One of his favorite stories was about the farmer who keeps his best potatoes for himself and his family and sends the speckled ones to town; keeps his tender young chickens and sends the old tough ones to town; keeps his rich milk and sends his skimmed milk to town. While there may never have been quite such a farmer the story had its element of truth, and
helped to make the farmer appreciate his good fortune and his importance in the scheme of things.
In 1910, when the last Federal Census was taken, 503 Negro farm owners in Macon County, Booker Washington's home county, owned 61,689 acres, or an average of more than one hundred and twenty-two and one-half acres of land per man. This is probably the largest amount of land owned by the Negroes of any county in the United States. Certainly this was true at that time. The better class of Negro farmers has greatly increased during the past thirty years until at present from 90 to 95 per cent. of the 3,800 Negro farmers in the county operate their own farms either as cash tenants or owners. The increase in the number of Negroes owning or operating farms has been an important factor in securing a better quality and variety of food. They have diversified their crops and raised a larger amount of their own food supplies, particularly meat and vegetables, and they have produced more milk, butter, and eggs. It will be seen that Booker Washington's voice when he reiterated over and over again, "The man who owns the land will own much else besides," did not fall upon deaf ears.
When Booker Washington came to Macon County and founded Tuskegee Institute, in 1881, the soil was worn out, and cotton, the chief crop, was selling for an almost constantly lowering price. Although there were few counties with a lower yield of cotton per acre, one-quarter of a bale, over 42 per cent. of the tilled land of the county was devoted exclusively to this crop. Very little machinery
was used in the farming, the antique scooter plow and hoe being the main reliance. The soil was rarely tilled more than three or four inches deep. There was, in fact, a superstition among whites as well as blacks that deep plowing was injurious to the soil. Two-horse teams were seldom used. Sub-soiling, fall plowing, fallowing, and rotation of crops were little known and less practised. The county was producing per capita per year only about five pounds of butter, four dozen eggs, and less than three chickens.
The Negroes were with few exceptions shiftless and improvident plantation laborers and renters. Of the almost 13,000 Negroes in the county not more than fifty or sixty owned land. They lived almost exclusively in one-room cabins. Sometimes in addition to the immediate family there were relatives and friends living and sleeping in this one room. The common diet of these Negroes was fat pork, corn bread, and molasses. Many meals consisted of corn bread mixed with salt water. This, then, was the raw material with which Booker Washington had to work and from which has been developed, largely through his influence, one of the most prosperous agricultural counties in the South--a county which has been heralded in the press as feeding itself because of the great abundance and variety of its products. In 1910 the per capita production for the county was: 40 gallons of milk, 11 pounds of butter, 7 dozen eggs, and 5 chickens. It must, of course, do more than this before it will actually feed itself.
Mr. Washington was constantly drumming it into the
consciousness of the Negro farmer that as long as he remained ignorant and improvident he was sure to be exploited and imposed upon. He used to illustrate this by the story of the ignorant Negro who after paying a white man fifty cents a week for six months on a five-dollar loan cheerfully remarked: "Dat Mr.----sho is one fine gen'lman, cause he never has ast me fo' one cent ob dat principal." It may be surmised that this type of money lender is not enthusiastic over Negro education.
It is significant of the importance which Booker Washington attached to agriculture that the first great Federal official whom he invited to visit the school was the National Secretary of Agriculture. In 1897 he got the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture in President McKinley's Cabinet, to visit Tuskegee and attend the dedication of the school's first agricultural building.
Secretary Wilson arrived at night accompanied by Dr. J. L. M. Curry, a Southerner, a leader of the educational thought of the South, and the secretary of the John F. Slater Fund Board. The students lined up on either side of the main thoroughfare through the school grounds with back of them a great gathering of the farmers from the surrounding territory and many from a distance. Each one of this great throng was given a pine torch and all these torches were simultaneously lighted as Secretary Wilson entered the school grounds. The Secretary and Doctor Curry, preceded by the Institute Band, rode between these two great masses of cheering people and flaming torches.
The next day the dedication exercises were held on a specially constructed platform piled high with the finest specimens of every product known to that section of the South. On this platform, with the Secretary and Doctor Curry, were the State Commissioner of Agriculture and several other high State officials and many other prominent white citizens. This was the formal launching of the Agricultural Department of the school. George W. Carver, the full-blooded African and eminent agricultural scientist, of whom mention has already been made, had recently been placed in charge of this department. He had come from the Agricultural Department of Iowa State College, of which Secretary Wilson had been the head.
The annual budget of this department alone is now nearly fifty thousand dollars a year, and more than a thousand acres of land are cultivated under the supervision of the agricultural staff. The modest building which Secretary Wilson helped to dedicate has long since been outgrown and the department is now housed in a large, impressive brick building known as the Millbank Agricultural Building.
Under the provisions of the Smith-Lever Act, passed by Congress in 1914 for the purpose of aiding the States in Agricultural Extension Work, Booker Washington secured for Tuskegee a portion of the funds allotted to the State of Alabama for such work. With the aid of these funds Agricultural Extension Schools have been organized. These schools are conducted in coöperation with the
Agricultural Department of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute and the farm demonstration work of the United States Department of Agriculture. They are really a two days' Short Course in Agriculture carried out to the farmers on their own farms. These schools have the advantage over the Short Course given to the farmers on the Institute grounds in that they have the farmers' problems right before them, to be diagnosed and remedies applied at once. Through such schools farm instruction is being carried to the Negroes of every Black Belt County of Alabama.
T. M. Campbell of the Tuskegee Institute, the District Agent in charge of these Extension Schools for the Negro Farmers of Alabama, reports that among the subjects taught the men are home gardening, seed selection, repair of farm tools, the growing of legumes as soil builders and cover crops, best methods of fighting the boll-weevil, poultry raising, hog raising, corn raising, and pasture making. The women are instructed in sewing, cooking, washing and ironing, serving meals, making beds, and methods for destroying household pests and for the preservation of health. At all the meetings the names and addresses of those present are taken for the purpose of following them up by correspondence from the district agent's office, so that the benefits of the instruction shall not be lost from one year to another. The slogan for these Alabama schools is: "Alabama Must Feed Herself." Practically all the black farmers have shown a pathetic eagerness to learn and the white farmers and the white
demonstration agents everywhere have heartily coöperated. Churches, schoolhouses, and courthouses have been placed at the district agent's disposal for the Extension School session. One of the most hopeful features of the experiment has been the great interest in this new and better farming aroused among the boys and girls--an interest which the ordinary rural school sadly fails even in attempting to arouse. All told throughout the State 3,872 colored people attended these schools the first year. The sessions were usually opened by a prayer offered by one of the rural preachers. In one such prayer the preacher said among other things: "O Lord, have mercy on dis removable school; may it purmernate dis whole lan' an' country!" At another meeting, after the workers had finished a session, some of the leading colored farmers were called on to speak. One of them opened his remarks with the words: "I ain't no speaker, but I jes wan' a tell you how much I done been steamilated by dis my only two days in school!"
A report of one of these schools held recently at Monroeville, Ala., reads: "Only subjects with which the rural people are directly concerned are introduced and stressed by the instructors, such as pasture making, necessary equipment for a one and two horse farm, care of farm tools, crop rotation, hog raising, care of the cow, seed selection, diversified farming, how to make homemade furniture, fighting the fly, and child welfare.
"The home economics teacher attracted the attention of all the colored farmers and also the white visitors by
constructing out of dry goods boxes an attractive and substantial dresser and washstand, completing the same before the audience, even to the staining, varnishing, hanging the mirrors and attaching the draperies." One paper, in estimating the value of these Movable Agricultural Schools said: "Given ten years of good practical agricultural instruction of the kind that was imparted to the Negro farmers, their wives and children, for the past three weeks in Wilcox, Perry, and Lowndes counties, there is no reason why every Negro farmer in the State should not only help 'Alabama feed herself,' but so increase the yield of its marketable products that the State will be able to export millions of dollars' worth of food and foodstuffs each year."
These Extension Schools are advertised by posters just like a country circus, except that the language is less grandiloquent. On the following page is a typical announcement presented in heavy black type on yellow paper.
Thus did Booker Washington in the very year of his death, with the aid of the National Government, launch the last of his many means for helping the people whose welfare lay ever nearest his heart--the Negro farmers. These Extension Schools are literally "going out 'into the by-ways and hedges' " carrying to those who most need it Booker Washington's gospel of better farming.
One of the great secrets of Mr. Washington's success was his unerring instinct for putting first things first. In nothing that he did was this trait better illustrated than in the unceasing emphasis which he placed upon the
fundamental importance of agriculture. He never forgot that over 80 per cent. of his people drew their living directly from the soil. He never ceased to impress upon the business and professional men of his race that their success was dependent upon the success of the farmers; and upon the farmers that unless they succeeded the business and professional men could not succeed. In short, he made Tuskegee first and foremost an agricultural school because the Negro race is first and foremost an agricultural race.
IN 1900 Booker Washington founded the National Negro Business League. He was president of this league from its foundation until his death.
During the winter of 1900, after reviewing the situation at length with his friend T. Thomas Fortune, the nestor of Negro journalism, and at that time the dominant influence in the New York Age, who was spending the winter at Tuskegee, with Mr. Scott and others of his friends, he came to the conclusion that the time had come to bring the business men and women of his race together in a great national organization, with local branches throughout the country. He decided that such an organization might be a powerful agency in creating the race consciousness and race pride for which he was ever striving. All the then-existing organizations, other than the sick and death benefit societies and the purely social organizations, had as their main purpose the assertion of the civil and political rights of the Negro. There was no organization calculated to focus the attention of the Negroes on what they were doing and could do for themselves in distinction from what was being done for them and to them. All the existing
associations laid their chief emphasis upon the rights of the Negro rather than his duties. Mr. Washington held that without in any degree sacrificing their just demands for civil and political rights a more wholesome and constructive attitude could be developed by stressing the duties and the opportunities of the race. He believed it would be helpful to emphasize in an organized way what they had done and could do in the way of business achievement in spite of race prejudice rather than what they had not done and could not do because of racial discrimination. He believed they needed to have brought home to them not how many of them had been held down, but how many of them had come up and surmounted obstacles and difficulties. He believed that they should have it impressed upon them that the application of business methods would bring rewards to a black man just as to a white man.
The first meeting of the National Negro Business League was held in Boston, August 23 and 24, 1900. After these sessions Booker Washington made the following statement of the purpose in calling the meeting and the results obtained:
"As I have travelled through the country from time to time I have been constantly surprised to note the number of colored men and women, often in small towns and remote districts, who are engaged in various lines of business. In many cases the business was very humble, but nevertheless it was sufficient to indicate the opportunities of the race in this direction. My observation in this regard led me to believe that the time had come for the bringing
together of the leading and most successful colored men and women throughout the country who are engaged in business. After consultation with men and women in various parts of the country it was determined to call a meeting in the city of Boston to organize the National Negro Business League. This meeting was held during the 23d and 24th of August, and it was generally believed that it was one of the most successful and helpful meetings that has ever been held among our people. The meeting was called with two objects in view: first, to bring the men and women engaged in business together, in order that they might get acquainted with each other and get information and inspiration from each other; secondly, to form plans for an annual meeting and the organization of local business leagues that should extend throughout the country. Both of these objects, I think, have been admirably accomplished. I think there has never been a time in the history of the race when all feel so much encouraged in relation to their business opportunities as now. The promoters of this organization appreciate very keenly that the race cannot depend upon mere material growth alone for its ultimate success, but they do feel that material prosperity will greatly hasten their recognition in other directions."
The spirit and purpose of this first national convention of Negro business men may be gathered by this quotation from the speech of J. H. Lewis, a merchant tailor, and perhaps the most successful business man of the race at the time: "But what hope has the Negro to succeed in business?" said Mr. Lewis. "If you can make a better article
than anybody else, and sell it cheaper than anybody else, you can command the markets of the world. Produce something that somebody else wants, whether it be a shoe string or a savings bank, and the purchaser or patron will not trouble himself to ask who the seller is. This same great economic law runs through every line of industry, whether it be farming, manufacturing, mercantile or professional pursuits. Recognize this fundamental law of trade; add to it tact, good manners, a resolute will, a tireless capacity for hard work, and you will succeed in business. I have found in my own experience of thirty years in business that success and its conditions lie around us, regardless of race or color. I believe that it is possible for any man with the proper stuff in him to make a success in business wherever he may be. The best and only capital necessary to begin with is simply honesty, industry, and common sense."
The Boston Herald of August 24, 1900, said of this gathering: "The national convention of colored business men began its sessions in this city yesterday in a businesslike and hopeful manner. This is not a political gathering. It is not a race gathering in the sense of one met to air sentimental grievances that spring from race oppositions. . . . President Washington believes that the security and progress of the colored people in this land depend upon their development of a moral worth commanding respect and an industrial capacity that will make them both useful and independent. He apprehends that these qualities cannot be bestowed as a gift of benevolence, but must be
acquired by individual energy and struggle. 'As I have noted,' he says, 'the condition of our people in nearly every part of our country, I have always been encouraged by the fact that almost without exception, whether in the North or in the South, wherever I have seen a black man who was succeeding in his business, who was a taxpayer, and who possessed intelligence and high character, that individual was treated with the highest respect by the members of the white race. In proportion as we can multiply those examples, North and South, will our problem be solved.' That is the great lesson that the members of the colored race have to learn. It will aid in extending this knowledge for those colored business men who have attained a measurable degree of success in life to meet for mutual encouragement and helpfulness."
Just fifteen years later, in August, 1915, Booker Washington presided over the last session of the league held during his lifetime. This meeting also was held in Boston. There attended it seven hundred delegates from thirty different States. Mr. Washington in his annual address as president summed up what had been accomplished by the race during the fifteen-year interval and projected what they should strive for in the future. He also took occasion publicly to thank his foremost colleagues in developing the work of the league, particularly Mr. Scott, the secretary of the league. Undoubtedly he fully realized that it was his farewell meeting. He practically collapsed before the sessions were over. In less than three months he was dead.
Among other things he said in this speech: "Since the
league met in Boston fifteen years ago, great changes have taken place among our people in property-getting and in the promotion of industrial and business enterprises. These changes have taken place not solely because of the work of the league, but this and similar organizations have had much to do with bringing about this progress. Let me be more specific. . . . The value of the Negro's farm property alone is $1,142,000,000. From 1900 to 1910, the Negro's farm property increased 128 per cent. In 1863 we had as a race 2,000 small business enterprises of one kind and another. At the present time, the Negro owns and operates about 43,000 concerns, with an annual turnover of about one billion dollars. Within fifty years we have made enough progress in business to warrant the operation of over fifty banks. With all I have said, we are still a poor race, as compared with many others; but I have given these figures to indicate the direction in which we are travelling."
Later he said: "A landless race is like a ship without a rudder. Emphasizing again our opportunities, especially as connected with the soil, we now have, for example, 122 poultry raisers; the number should be increased to 1,500. We now have 200 dairymen; the number should be increased to 2,000. . . . We now own and operate 75 bakeries; the number can be increased to 500. From 32 brickmakers the number can be increased to 3,000. From 200 sawmills we can increase the number to 1,000."
And so he continued giving the present achievement and future goal for many more industries. After giving these
estimates he said: "With our race, as it has been and always will be with all races, without economic and business foundation, it is hardly possible to have educational and religious growth or political freedom.
"We can learn some mighty serious lessons just now from conditions in Liberia and Hayti. For years, both in Liberia and Hayti, literary education and politics have been emphasized, but while doing this the people have failed to apply themselves to the development of the soil, mines, and forests. The result is that, from an economic point of view, those two republics have become dependent upon other nations and races. In both republics the control of finances is in the hands of other nations, this being true notwithstanding the fact that the two countries have natural resources greater than other countries similar in size. . . . Mere abstract, unused education means little for a race or individual. An ounce of application is worth a ton of abstraction. We must not be afraid to pay the price of success in business--the price of sleepless nights, the price of toil when others rest, the price of planning to-day for to-morrow, this year for next year. If some one else endures the hardships, does the thinking, and pays the salaries, some one else will reap the harvest and enjoy the reward."
Just before his closing words he said: "No matter how poor you are, how black you are, or how obscure your present work and position, I want each one to remember that there is a chance for him, and the more difficulties he has to overcome the greater will be his success."
Perhaps the most significant speech at this conference, next to that of Booker T. Washington, was that of William Henry Lewis who is probably the foremost lawyer of the Negro race in America. Mr. Lewis is a graduate of Harvard where he distinguished himself on the football field as well as in the classroom. After graduation from the Harvard Law School he served with distinction in the Massachusetts Legislature, was appointed Assistant United States District Attorney for the Boston district by President Roosevelt, and became Assistant Attorney-General of the United States under President Taft.
In opening his speech Mr. Lewis said: "I do not know why my fellow-citizens have chosen me for this honor, except to heap coals of fire upon my head. Fifteen years ago I was not with you. I was one of the critics, one of the scoffers, one of those who asked, 'What is it all about?' 'What does it amount to?' You have lived to confute my judgment, and shame my sneers, and I am now making generous acknowledgment of my error. I claim no merit in doing this, except that I can look backward as far as your great leader can look forward. Booker Washington has always been from fifteen to twenty years ahead of any other leader of his race. . . . While most of us were agonizing over the Negro's relation to the State and his political fortunes, Booker Washington saw that there was a great economic empire that needed to be conquered. He saw an emancipated race chained to the soil by the Mortgage Crop System, and other devices, and he said, 'You must own your own land, you must own your own
farms'--and forthwith there was a second emancipation. He saw the industrial trades and skilled labor pass from our race into other hands. He said, 'The hands as well as the heads must be educated,' and forthwith the educational system of America was revolutionized. He saw the money earned by the hard toil of black men passing into other men's pockets. He said, 'The only way to save this money is to go into business--sell as well as buy.' He saw that if the colored race was to become economically self-sufficient, it must engage in every form of human activity. Himself a successful business man as shown by Tuskegee's millions, he has led his race to economic freedom."
Later Mr. Lewis said: "Just as in Boston three-quarters of a century ago began the movement for Emancipation from Slavery, so fifteen years ago appropriately began the movement for our economical independence. . . . In 1900 there was one league with 50 members, and a few businesses represented. To-day I am told there are 600 leagues, nearly 40,000 members, who represent every branch and variety of business, trade and finance. When one realizes that business rules the world, the possibility of such an organization seems almost unlimited in its power to help the race along other lines of progress."
Such a tribute from one of the most rarely and genuinely talented members of "The Talented Tenth" was indeed a triumph for Booker T. Washington and his policies. In fact, it may fairly be said that this event marked the end of the honest opposition from this element
of the Negro race--the end of the honest opposition of a group or section of the race in distinction from the of course inevitable opposition of individuals here and there.
One of the features of this 1915 meeting was a summary of the economic progress of the race since the organization of the league fifteen years before. This summary brought out the following facts:
In 1900, when the National Negro Business League was organized, there were about 20,000 Negro business enterprises; now there are 45,000.
In 1900 there were two Negro banks; now there are 51.
In 1900 Negroes were running 250 drug stores; now they have 695.
In 1900 there were 450 undertaking businesses operated by Negroes; now there are about 1,000.
In 1900 there were 149 Negro merchants engaged in wholesale businesses; now there are 240.
In 1900 there were 10,000 Negro retail merchants; now there are 25,000.
In the fifteen years since the National Negro Business League was organized, farm property owned by Negroes has made a remarkable increase. From 1900 to 1910, the value of domestic animals owned by Negro farmers increased from $85,216,337 to $177,273,785, or 107 per cent.; poultry from $3,788,792 to $5,113,756, or 36 per cent.; implements and machinery from $18,586,225 to $36,861,418, or 98 per cent.; land and buildings from $69,636,420 to $273,501,665, or 293 per cent. In ten years the total
value of farm property owned by Negroes increased from $177,404,688 to $492,892,218, or 177 per cent.
It is significant of the standing and catholicity of this convention that the Governor of Massachusetts, Hon. David F. Walsh, and Dr. John E. White, a leading white Southern clergyman, both spoke at the opening meeting at Symphony Hall.
The National League is made up of more than 600 local leagues which influence in a direct and practical way almost every community in the United States with any considerable number of Negro inhabitants. These local leagues are all chartered, guided, and supervised by the national organization and with them all the Secretary, Mr. Scott, keeps in touch. From time to time he issues pamphlets setting forth methods of organization, activities that can be undertaken, and subjects that may be discussed under the head of "Some things that it is possible for a local league to do to be of service to the town or city in which it is located" are the following:
"(1) To keep a list of the young men and women who are intelligent, trained, and qualified to fill responsible places as clerks, accountants, salesmen, janitors, porters, etc.; in this way a league can do much in getting suitable occupations for as many as are competent, especially so in Northern States.
"(2) In protecting the community against fraudulent schemes, as false stock companies, that are gotten up solely for the purpose of defrauding colored people.
(3) In fostering an interest in civic affairs, such as
sanitation, clean yards, cultivating pride in making attractive in appearance the home districts of our people, and in other ways showing an interest in everything that may make up a better community life."
In the same pamphlet under the head of "Suggested Subjects for Discussion" comes the following list:
1. How to unify the colored people in the business interests of the community.
2. What the professional men, ministers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc., can do to assist the business men and women.
3. What the business men can do to assist the professional men.
4. Patronizing Negro business enterprises.
5. What new business can be established in the community.
6. How can the business enterprises already established be improved?
7. How to secure additional country trade.
8. If a bank does not exist, can one be established and supported?
9. If a millinery establishment does not exist, can one be established and supported, etc.?
10. If a shoestore or gents' furnishing store does not exist, can one be established and supported?
11. If a drug-store does not exist, can one be established and supported?
In another such pamphlet monthly meetings between the grocers and the clubwomen are suggested. Such meetings
would have as their object the fixing of uniform and mutually satisfactory prices and service. It is also recommended that Negro insurance agents constitute themselves unofficial health inspectors for their sections of the town. In this capacity they would report to the public health committee of the local league all instances of badly ventilated homes or schools, mosquito-breeding spots, accumulations of rubbish and filth, or any other conditions menacing the health of the colored citizens. The suggestion is made that where possible reading-rooms and bureaus of information be opened in connection with the offices of Negro newspapers and that such rooms place the colored papers from all sections of the country at the disposal of the patrons after the editor has finished with them. That several small shopkeepers club together and employ one expert bookkeeper is another idea offered. It is also proposed that small retailers get together for the purpose of purchasing jointly such commodities as can be advantageously secured in this manner. It is finally urged that a committee be appointed each year to make a social survey of the Negro population. This study would show what progress had been made during the year in all lines of endeavor and at the same time furnish a directory of all the business and social activities of the Negroes of the community. It is pointed out that the sale of advertising space in its pages would alone more than pay for such a directory.
It will be noted that these business leagues, like all other organizations founded or moulded by Booker
Washington, do not stick to their lasts in any narrow sense. Mr. Washington never lost sight of the fact that the fundamental concern of all human beings was living, and that farming, business, education, recreation, or what not, were only important in so far as they made the whole of life better worth living. The means employed never obscured his vision of the aim sought as is so frequently and unhappily the case with lesser men.
Just as at the agricultural conferences, so at these business gatherings, Booker Washington used the methods employed by the revivalist at the experience meeting. By so doing he accomplished the double purpose of encouraging the successful by the tribute of public recognition and spurring on the less successful and the unsuccessful to go and do likewise. Also by means of men and women telling their fellows in open meeting how they achieved their success the race is, as it were, revealed to itself. It was, for instance, through a meeting of the National Negro Business League that it came to light that the man who raises the most potatoes in the United States, and who is commonly known as the Potato King of the West, is a Negro--J. G. Groves of Edwardsville, Kan. Groves' story at one of the annual meetings attracted so much attention that an account of his life later appeared in an illustrated special article in the American Magazine. It was also discovered through a league meeting that Scott Bond, another colored man, was probably the most successful farmer in the State of Arkansas. After he had told his story at the meeting
of the National League held in New York in 1910 he was pursued by cameramen and interviewers for days and weeks and his story was spread all over the United States. At the Chicago meeting of 1912 Watt Terry, a modest and even shrinking colored man of Brockton, Mass., unfolded a remarkable story of success in spite of the hardest and must untoward circumstances. So unbelievable seemed this man's story that the Executive Committee took up with him personally the facts of his recital, and later the Secretary of the League, in response to a demand, had to vouch for his statements in open meeting. To clinch the matter still further Mr. Washington wrote to the Secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association in Brockton, who replied that Terry's story had, if anything, been understated rather than overstated. Booker Washington himself told Watt Terry's story in the pages of the Independent for March 27, 1913. Here it is: ". . . Mr. Terry is a modest-appearing young man about thirty years of age. When he landed at Brockton some twelve years ago he had, according to his own story, a capital of just twelve cents. He found work at first as a coachman. After a time he obtained what he thought was a better position as janitor in the Young Men's Christian Association Building. Some of the members of the association succeeded in getting him a position as a railway porter.
"'Somehow or other,' said Terry, 'I did not care for that sort of work, and after a few months gave it up. I made up my mind that I would rather work at a trade, and
tried to get work in one of the shoe factories in Brockton. As I did not know the trade and there was a good deal of competition for the places open to apprentices it looked rather hopeless at first. Finally, I got the foreman to say he would give me a chance, provided I was willing to work for two weeks without pay. I accepted that offer and made up my mind to make the most of those two weeks.'
"At the end of the two weeks Terry had done so well that he was given a position in which he earned $7 a week. By sticking close to his job and making the most of his opportunities he was gradually promoted until he earned first $10, then $15, $18, and finally $25 a week.
"'I had some difficulties at first,' said Terry. 'The other men did not like me at first and showed it. However, I stuck to the job, kept on smiling, and it was not long before I was on just as good terms with the men in the shop as I cared to be. As I did not have much opportunity to spend my money, I found it easier to save.'
"When Terry reached the point where he was earning $25 a week his wife was earning $9 as matron in the Brockton railway station, and they both saved their money. Meanwhile Terry had begun to buy and sell real estate in a small way. One day he sold a house and lot upon which he cleared as commission $100.
"'That seemed to settle the question of my future,' said Mr. Terry. 'I decided to go into the real estate business.'
"He added that at the present time his gross income
from his houses was between $6,000 and $7,000 per month. Altogether, including several store buildings and two apartment houses containing fifty-four suites of rooms, Mr. Terry owns 222 buildings in Brockton. One of these buildings is leased by the United States Government for the use of the post-office; another is rented for a public library and reading-room by the city.
"I should not, perhaps, have dared to make this statement if I had not confirmed the truth of Mr. Terry's statement by independent inquiry. In a recent letter from Secretary White, of the Brockton Young Men's Christian Association, he says: 'Some weeks ago I wrote you relative to our mutual friend (Watt Terry's) business, but now I want to enclose a clipping from the tax list which you will see is positive evidence that the time the taxes were recorded he was carrying well on to $300,000 and I know that his purchase of $120,000 occurred since that time. It is certainly a most wonderful development within a few years.'
"I ought to add that during all the time that Mr. Terry has been in Brockton he has been connected with the Young Men's Christian Association, and not long ago he contributed $1,000 toward the support of that institution.
"Many persons will, perhaps, feel that money which is acquired in this rapid way is likely to do the person who obtains it as much harm as it does good. I confess that it seems to me that the same amount of money acquired more slowly would mean more to the man who gained it.
On the whole, however, the Negro race has not reached the point where it has been troubled by the number of its millionaires. And if getting slowly and laboriously is a good discipline, the Negro has almost a surplus of that kind of blessing. I ought to add, also, in justice to Mr. Terry, that from all I can learn, his rapid rise has neither injured his character nor destroyed his good sense. I suspect that the effort to keep all those houses rented and the effort to pay interest on his mortgages has had a tendency to make him humble."
Although Watt Terry's success is, of course, phenomenal he is only one of the many notably successful Negro business men who have told their stories at meetings of the National Negro Business League. Neither is Mr. Terry the only Negro who has made a big success in real estate. At the meeting of the league already described, held in Boston in 1915, Mr. Washington introduced Philip A. Payton, Jr., of New York City; E. C. Brown, of Philadelphia, Pa.; and Watt Terry, of Brockton, Mass.; as the three largest real estate operators of the Negro race. Philip A. Payton, Jr., was the pioneer in opening the Harlem district in New York City to settlement by Negroes, who had formerly been excluded from all decent portions of the city and obliged to live on San Juan Hill and in other sections of unsavory reputation. E. C. Brown made money in real estate in Newport News and Norfolk, Va., and headed movements for the establishment of Negro banks in both of these cities. Afterward he moved to Philadelphia, where he has opened a bank, and also
conducts a real estate business on Broad Street--the only Negro, it is said, who conducts a large business enterprise on this important thoroughfare. At the same meeting it was brought out that a Negro by the name of Phillip J. Allston was chemist for the Potter Chemical Company, having risen from bottle-washer to that responsible post. The story of J. S. Trower, caterer, of Philadelphia, showed that he was frequently engaged for the most important functions in the city and had been regularly employed by the Cramps Company, shipbuilders, to take charge of the catering in connection with the ceremonies accompanying the launching of new ships for the Navy. Mrs. Bell Davis of Indianapolis, Ind., has become equally successful as a caterer. When the National Negro Business League met in Indianapolis it was she who served the annual banquet. Booker Washington took the greatest satisfaction in disclosing her achievements to the Negro people who had previously known little or nothing about her. He thus introduced her at a meeting of the League, "Mrs. Bell Davis, a widow, the celebrated caterer of Indianapolis, Ind., who has served banquets and receptions in honor of Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United States, who owns a stock of Haviland china, linen, and silverware valued at thousands of dollars, all unencumbered, furnishes another illustration of what heights can be attained in the commercial world by strenuous effort and making use of every little opportunity which presents itself. Mrs. Davis' humble beginnings, hardships encountered, and
success achieved would make three chapters of a most interesting biography."
Among the men spoken of by Booker Washington at the Philadelphia meeting of the Business League was Heman E. Perry, the founder of the first and only old line legal reserve life insurance company operated by and for Negroes. In his efforts to raise the $100,000 initial capital required by the law of his State--Georgia--Mr. Perry had tramped all over the United States at least three times. Finally, having tried every conceivable source without securing the required amount, he returned to all the subscribers of capital stock the money they had paid in plus 4 per cent. interest. This action so inspired the confidence of the subscribers that almost without exception they not only returned the money, but subscribed for additional stock with the result that the initial capital stock was oversubscribed. When examined by the State Insurance Department three years after it opened business this company was found to have a gross income of almost $77,000 and admitted assets of almost $160,000. Each subsequent examination by the State Department has showed a healthy growth, low mortality, good judgment in the selection of risks, prompt payment of claims, careful management, and a sound financial condition. By means of this company, known as the Standard Life Insurance Company, life insurance may be had by any Negro under the same conditions, with the same degree of security, and at the same rates as a white man.
Among the other notably successful Negro business
men who have told their stories at meetings of the league are the following: Victor H. Tulane, of Montgomery, Ala., whose story of small beginnings and present success stirred his fellows at a meeting of the league. Mr. Tulane entered the grocery business twenty-five years ago, a business that any ambitious man of his race may enter, requiring small capital but unlimited patience and close attention to business. He now owns considerable property, and is a factor in all matters that concern his race in Montgomery, being regarded by white and colored citizens alike as Montgomery's first colored citizen. Mr. Tulane says: "Twenty-five years ago I was a renter; to-day I am landlord of not a few tenants. Twenty-five years ago my stock represented less than a hundred dollars; at the present time it values several thousands. Twenty-five years ago I had but one helper--a small boy; to-day I employ on an average of seven assistants the year round, excluding my wife and self. Twenty-five years ago I bought lard in five-pound quantities; to-day I purchase by the barrel. Twenty-five years ago I bought salt in ten-cent quantities; at present I buy it in ton lots. Twenty-three years ago I was unable to secure credit to the amount of three dollars, but since that period the very house that then refused me has credited me at one time with several hundred times this amount, and to-day it is not, how much do you owe?--but, how much do you want? Twenty years ago my business barely required the service of one horse and wagon; at present it demands the use of several. Twenty years ago I did an annual business of
something less than a thousand dollars; during several years since that time the value of my business has exceeded $40,000 per year." It is Mr. Tulane's boast that he has not been denied credit during his business career except the one time mentioned above, and that he has never been threatened or sued in connection with the collection of a debt.
Another man's story that came out at the meeting of the National Negro Business League is the story of Charles H. Anderson, a wholesale and retail fish and oyster dealer. He conducts a fish, oyster, and game business in Jacksonville, Fla., which supplies the largest hotels and many of Jacksonville's richest white families. He is also interested in a fish and oyster packing business on the Florida coast, and is the cashier of the colored bank at Jacksonville. A speaker at the league meeting held in the John Wanamaker store, Philadelphia, in August, 1913, referred to Mr. Anderson as follows: "The first time I saw this gentleman was fourteen years ago, when he was standing up behind a white sheet that had a round hole cut in it, bravely negotiating his head and face as a target; he was working for a man who was running one of those games known as: 'Every-time-you-hit-the-nigger's-head-you-geta-fine-cigar!' (Uproarious laughter.) There I found him fourteen years ago, posing as a target, and for the magnificent sum of five cents anybody could have secured the privilege of throwing three balls at his face. (Prolonged laughter and applause as Mr. Anderson stepped forward and was introduced to Hon. John Wanamaker, who
warmly shook his hand.) To-day this young man is one of the most competent and one of the most prosperous business men of our race, regardless of section, North, South, East, or West. (Hearty applause.) Recently he was offered $18,000 for one piece of property which he owns in Jacksonville, Fla., and if he would sell out to me to-day all of his real estate and other holdings and equities, I would be willing to give him my check for $75,000."
Others are: Edward C. Berry of Athens, Ohio, who owns and operates a family hotel in which he does a business of $25,000 to $35,000 a year; J. Walter Hodge of Indianapolis, Ind., who, inspired by the recitals at the Business League meetings, gave up his job as a Pullman car porter, after he had saved some money, and is now the owner of a large real estate business; Thomas H. Hayes who, starting as a day laborer for the Southern Railway, now controls probably the largest undertaking establishment in Memphis, Tenn.
Perhaps the most remarkable story of business success ever told before a meeting of the league was that of J. H. Blodgett of Jacksonville, Fla. Mr. Blodgett told his story at the sessions of the league held in Philadelphia in 1913 at the Academy of Music. By request he in part repeated it at the meeting held in the Wanamaker Store the following day. Mr. Blodgett is an ex-slave. He has had no education whatever except what he has picked up in his long and successful struggle with life's sternest realities. We will give his story in his own language. Bear
in mind that this is the language, as taken down verbatim by a stenographer at the time, of a totally unschooled ex-slave. He said: "Now I want to say I went to Jacksonville nineteen years ago with the magnificent sum of a dollar and ten cents in my pocket. (Laughter.) I also had an extra suit of underclothing in a paper bag; that was all the baggage I had as a boarder. (Laughter.) I was also arrested as a tramp for having on a straw hat in the winter time. (Hearty laughter.) And I say all this especially to you young men who are present here to-night, for so many of our young men seem to think that they can't start or succeed in business unless somebody shoves them off the bank into the water of opportunity and makes them swim for themselves; I simply want to say this to you young men, I started with $1.10 and one extra suit of underclothing in a paper bag--(laughter)--and to-day I pay more taxes than any Negro in Florida. (Prolonged applause.) I have had all sorts of struggles and difficulties to contend with, but you can't get away from it--if you get anything in this United States of America now, you have got to work for it. (Hearty applause.) The white people all over this country have 'weaned the Negro.' (Laughter and applause.) Dr. Washington has been going all over this country boasting about what you could do and what our race has done, and the white man is just quietly and gently and in every way telling us: 'Go thou and do what Dr. Washington said you could do.' (Prolonged laughter and applause.)
"When I began, I commenced working for a railroad
company; I had a splendid job--washing cars for a dollar and five cents a day; I got $8.40 from the railroad every eight days. After working for a month and a half I saved enough money to send back and bring my wife from Charleston, South Carolina, to Jacksonville. Both of us went to work; we opened a little boarding-house; she ran that, and when my $1.05 a day enabled me to save as much as one hundred dollars, I quit that job and began to bustle for myself. I told the white man I was working under: 'You don't know that a Negro with $100 in cash is a rare thing among my people. I'm going to strike out and see what I can do by myself.' I made up my mind that if all of the big Negroes that I had heard of, read about, and talked with, if they could get honor and recognition by having brains, money, and ability, there was nothing the matter with me and my poor little wife to prevent us from getting up, too; so I went to work and determined to work day and night, if need be, to get some money, and other things necessary to succeed in life. I wanted money because I had seen and suffered so many humiliations put on the man who does not have money. (Applause.)
"The first time I saw this distinguished gentleman (pointing to Dr. Booker T. Washington) I was laying brick in Jacksonville, Fla., at $1.25 a day, and he drove by in company with Mr. James W. Johnson, Mr. J. Rosamond Johnson, and another gentleman. I had always loved the big men of my race; even as a little boy I delighted to hear of what they had achieved, and when I
heard that the great Booker T. Washington was in town, I quit my job for that day, went to the place where he spoke, walked up close, and was hoping somebody would do me the honor of introducing me. But I found the gentlemen who had him in charge were introducing him to nobody but the big Negroes, and the big Negroes were shaking hands with him and completely monopolizing Booker T. Washington. (Prolonged laughter.) I did not like to be rude and therefore did not push through the crowd and shake hands with him anyway, as I felt like doing. I was nothing but a poor brick-layer, nobody would introduce me, but I heard his grand speech, was richly benefited and inspired by all he said, and when I went away I made a solemn vow to myself. I said: 'If God be with me, I mean to so work and conduct myself so that some day I shall deserve to shake hands with Booker T. Washington.' (Hearty applause.) Now let me tell you the sequel of the story. Away down in Florida, in my humble home in Jacksonville, there is a room named 'Booker T. Washington.' (Applause.) I have set apart and dedicated a portion of my home in honor of this distinguished gentleman and leader of our race. (Applause.) He is the first human being on earth I have ever permitted to sleep in it, and his good wife is the first woman and second person I have ever permitted to sleep in that room. (Prolonged laughter and applause.) We love him in the South, both Negro and white man! (Hearty applause.) Booker T. Washington's name is a monument of strength because he is teaching the Negro
to use his hands and head in order to be useful in the community and to achieve success. (Applause.)
"I have been sick this summer and just got back from Saratoga--(prolonged applause)--of course all men who get rich go to Saratoga. (Laughter and applause.) While there I met some folks, and in the course of my remarks I had occasion to remind them that Dr. Booker T. Washington, while an earnest advocate of industrial training, is not an enemy or opposed to higher education. There was a man from the British West Indies who began to speak on the subject of the Negro; he began to orate around, began to tell how the Negro must expect to rise in the world; oh! he made a magnificent speech going to show that there was nothing in the world like higher education for the Negro; he even said that the Negro race would never amount to anything and get its rights until every one of us had secured a college education. (Laughter.) Why, you ought to have been there and heard him orate; he took us all through Greek, Roman, ancient, and medieval history; across the Alps and all around the Egyptian pyramid--(hearty laughter)--and even cited the Druids of old to testify to the grandeur and necessity of higher education for the Negro. After he got through orating I said to him: 'Brother, I was down to a meeting of Negroes in the State of Florida--at the State Business League, and I saw sitting on one bench eleven (11) Negro men whose combined wealth would amount to more than one million dollars, and not one of them ever saw the inside of a college.' (Prolonged applause, mingled with laughter.)
And I said to him further than that: 'If any of you gentlemen who claim to be educated in the British West Indies, and all you gentlemen who hail from Beloit College (wherever it is)--if you can fool any one of those eleven Negroes out of one dime, I will give you ten dollars!' (Laughter and applause.) Yes, sir, without much education these men own their own homes and dozens of homes in which other people live; they are self-sustaining and independent, and can write their names to checks away up in the thousands of dollars; they live in neat, comfortable, well-appointed homes and enjoy the respect and esteem of their neighbors--black as well as white. 'Now, sir,' I turned to him and asked him, 'will you kindly tell me what is your occupation in life and what you have been able to accomplish with all this higher education you have been talking about?' I found out that he was a waiter in the United States Hotel. (Laughter.) I said to him further: 'My brother, I don't claim to be an educated man, but live in a villa of my own; I own considerable real estate, and my dear little wife rides around in our own $5,500 Packard automobile, all paid for.' (Prolonged applause and laughter.)
"I am somewhat of a carpenter and builder; I went to work, bought some ground while it was cheap and at a time when everything in Jacksonville was at low tide; there were plenty of sick Yankees whose investments had depreciated and I invested what money I had in some land. I would build a house, then sell it; buy more land, build another house and sell that; after a while I
was able to build three houses and sell two, build two and sell one and so on--(applause)--until pretty soon I found myself in the real estate business, buying land and building and selling houses. In this way I have gone on building my own houses until now I have plenty to support myself and that dear little red-headed woman who has a seat somewhere in this beautiful audience. (Laughter and applause.) She doesn't have to keep a boardinghouse any more; she is on the retired list. (Laughter and applause.) We have made enough to keep from doing that."
At this point Dr. Washington asked, "How many houses do you own?"
Mr. Blodgett replied: "I have been selling houses pretty rapidly during the last few years, but I have built--and right here I want to say that while my subject is 'Building and Contracting' I have never built a house for anybody but myself. I build my own property. I have built since the fire we had in Jacksonville in 1902 two hundred and eight houses of my own. (Prolonged applause.) I have sold a good many of them. When I realized that I was beginning to get old and not in such good physical condition as I used to be, I was afraid I might get afflicted with tuberculosis, or appendicitis, or some of these other high-sounding diseases the doctors now talk about--(laughter)--and so I thought it best to convert some of my estate into another form that could be more easily handled by my better half when I had gone to inhabit my mansion in the skies. (Laughter.) So I
have begun to sell off some of my property and get out of debt. I now have one hundred and twenty-one houses, the rents from which amount to a little over twenty-five hundred dollars a month. (Prolonged applause.) I have invested my money in recent years in what I call 'grip-sack' securities, so that if there should be any little unpleasantness among the races, I can go to my safe and grab that grip-sack. (Prolonged laughter and applause.) You see if there should ever be any friction or trouble, I can grab my grip-sack, jump into a powerful machine, and come up here around Philadelphia, 'The City of Brotherly Love' or over here in Canada, and I can sit down at my leisure and read in the papers what they are doing down there. (Prolonged laughter.)
"Dr. Washington has been in my home in Jacksonville; I have now had the honor of not only shaking hands with him, but of having him as my special guest. I know I am going to make one break here now, I'm going to say something that my little modest wife may not like me to say, but I hope she will excuse just this one time (laughter)--for everybody knows that' I ain't very bright anyhow--not really responsible. (Prolonged laughter.) I want to say this, not in a boasting way--I live in the best home of any Negro in this country I have so far seen. (Hearty applause.) I live in a home--we call it 'Blodgett Villa'; we have flowers and lawns and vines and shrubbery, a nice greenhouse and all those things that go to make up for higher civilization. I surrounded myself with all these things to show that the Negro has the same taste,
the same yearning for higher civilization that the white man has whenever he has the money to afford it. (Applause.) You know they have been saying all these years that the Negro is coarse and vicious, that he is kin to the monkey-- (laughter)--and that we do not appreciate those things that make for higher civilization such as flowers, hothouses, neatly kept houses and lawns, automobiles, and such things, so I went and got them. (Applause.) When you step inside of Mrs. Blodgett's home there you will find art and music and literature, and if you can find anything in there that does not tend toward the higher civilization, you have my promise and consent to throw it outdoors. (Laughter and applause.) . . .
"I remember when I was a drayman on the streets of Jacksonville; I was a great big man, even heavier than I am now: I wore a pair of magnificent feet appropriate to my size, and when I drove along everybody whistled and called me 'Old Big One.' Since that time I have graduated from a drayman to what the program calls me: a 'Builder and Contractor,' and when they see me now riding through the streets of Jacksonville in my $5,500 Packard automobile, if one of those Negroes should call me 'Old Big One,' I would put him in jail. (Laughter and applause.) I am interested in business with white men, and I tell you when a Negro gets to the point where he makes cash deposits in a white man's bank--say $5,000 this week, $2,000 next week, and so on, they will begin to discover you, honor and respect you. If you deposit $2,000 this week, the bank president will know about
it, and when it gets to the place that you have got in the bank $25,000, why this man even (pointing to an ebony black man in the audience) will have become a bright mulatto!"
Perhaps the most unique and impressive session of the National Negro Business League was that held at the invitation of John Wanamaker in his great department store in Philadelphia in 1913. One of the most interesting talks at this meeting was that of Charles Banks of Mound Bayou, Miss. Mr. Banks has been referred to in an earlier chapter. He has often been called the J. Pierpont Morgan of his race. He said in part: "I live in the little town of Mound Bayou, Miss., that was founded by Isaiah T. Montgomery, an ex-slave of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Southern Confederacy. Mr. Montgomery, the ex-slave in question, is present at this meeting. We live in what is called the 'Black Belt of Mississippi' and our plantations embrace some of the richest and most fertile land that can be found in the entire 'Delta.' In some parts of the 'Delta' the Negro population outnumbers the white population in a ratio of five to one. In the town in which I live (Mound Bayou) we outnumber the white population in a ratio of five to nothing. (Laughter and applause.)
"Instead of whining and lamenting our lot, and bemoaning the racial prejudice which exists in our section of the country, we are taking advantage of some of the opposition and the tendency to segregate us and we are trying to show, through the leadership of this ex-slave of
Jefferson Davis, that it is possible for us to build up a Negro community, a town owned and controlled by Negroes right there under his direct supervision. And as a result, on the Yazoo and Mound Bayou Branch of the Yazoo Central Railroad, we have one of the best-governed and most prosperous towns on the whole line. We have something like thirty to forty thousand acres of land in that rich and fertile country owned and controlled exclusively by Negro men and women. We have there the little town of Mound Bayou, which it is our privilege to represent, and so far as its management or government is concerned, we have control of everything. There we have a Negro Depot Agent, a Negro Express Agent, a Negro Postmaster, a Negro Mayor, a Board of Negro Aldermen and City Councilmen, and every other official of the city administration is a full-fledged Negro. In that town I am the banker, and I pass for a Negro." (Laughter and applause followed this sally, as the speaker is the blackest of full-blooded Africans.)
In concluding his address of welcome on this occasion Mr. Wanamaker said: "I do hope that meetings like this will come often and be held in every large city in the North. In exhibiting to the world the successful business men and women of your race, your league is doing exactly what every good merchant legitimately does, that is--you are showing your goods. (Laughter.) And you are delivering the goods. (Prolonged applause.) Your league is making an 'Annual Report' as it were; it is making a 'Yearly Inventory' of what your race has on hand, and
though this large hall has been the scene of many delightful occasions (mainly connected with this business) your coming here to-day is the first meeting of its kind. (Applause.) I believe that this meeting ought to be put down as historical, and should serve as a set-off-in striking contrast to the stoning of William Lloyd Garrison, in the streets of Philadelphia, scarcely more than fifty years ago. (Prolonged applause.) This meeting will simply help to balance your account. (Applause.) The world is moving on, and it is a glorious thing to-day to find that, instead of stepping backward--contrary to the predictions of some--you are making such splendid strides forward under the fine leadership of Dr. Booker T. Washington--(applause)--as evidenced in this Business League Convention.
"In closing I want not only to pay just tribute to what you have achieved in music, in education, and religious life, but I think it fitting, on this occasion, and I have planned to show you a fine painting from the brush of the greatest artist of your race--the son of Bishop Tanner. I have seen his handiwork in some of the art galleries of the first rank in Europe. For the most part his paintings are religious in conception, and the peculiar beauty of them is that they deal with the heart, even as they are fine expressions of art. (Applause.) Before you leave I have planned to show you several other pictures of real merit that members of your race have produced. (Applause.)
"And oh--when I consider all these things, and when I gazed upon this vast and beautiful audience a few
minutes ago, as you were singing so fervently our national anthem, 'America,' as I looked over the sea of earnest, intelligent faces, I wondered how on earth we could sing that song for a hundred years or more--I wondered how it was possible to keep a race like yours enslaved while, for years and years, the people of this nation sang that last line of that song, 'Let freedom ring!!!'" (Prolonged applause, tumultuous cheering, and the waving of countless handkerchiefs as Mr. Wanamaker resumed his seat.)
Aside from having the successful colored men and women tell one another and their less-successful fellows how they had achieved their success at these sessions of the league, Booker Washington also arranged to have one or more prominent white men speak. His reason for this, aside from the obvious one of helping to foster friendly feeling between the races, was, it may safely be hazarded, to impress upon his people that white people succeed by the possession and the application of the same qualities which bring success to colored people. At the Chicago meeting of the league in 1912 Julius Rosenwald spoke--Julius Rosenwald, the Jewish philanthropist who has done and is doing so much to help the Negro. It was he who offered $25,000 to any city in the United States which would raise $75,000 for a Young Men's Christian Association Building for colored men. It is he also who is helping Tuskegee in the building of rural schoolhouses as was explained in the third chapter. He is one of Tuskegee's trustees.
The late Robert C. Ogden, the New York manager of the
Wanamaker business, addressed the convention of 1905 in New York. He was a man whom Booker Washington delighted to hold up to his people as an example of what a man could accomplish through his own unaided efforts. He had begun his business career at a salary of $5 a week, and from that as his starting-point he had risen to be the New York head of the greatest department store business in the country. He was for twenty-five years President of the Board of Trustees of Hampton, a member of the Tuskegee Board, and the originator and host of the annual educational pilgrimages which gave leading Northerners a first hand and intelligent insight into the dire need of education for the masses of the people both white and black throughout the South. Much of the educational activity in the South to-day may be traced to the early Ogden educational pilgrimages.
Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the New York meeting in 1910. He had just returned from Africa. He said later that nothing connected with his homecoming had touched him so deeply as the ovation given him by these, his fellow-citizens of African descent. Among other white men who have spoken before the league are Henry Clews, the banker; Dr. H. B. Frissell, the Principal of Hampton Institute, and Dr. J. H. Dillard, president of the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation of Negro Rural Schools.
One of Mr. Washington's many methods for inspiring his people to strive for business efficiency and success was to excite their imaginations by holding up before them the achievements of such men as John Wanamaker, Robert
C. Ogden, William H. Baldwin, Jr., Henry H. Rogers, Julius Rosenwald, the Rockefellers, and Andrew Carnegie.
Out of the National Negro Business League have developed the following organizations which are affiliated with it:
The National Negro Funeral Directors' Association,
The National Negro Press Association,
The National Negro Bar Association,
The National Negro Retail Merchants' Association,
The National Association of Negro Insurance Men.
Booker Washington was able to speak with assurance and authority to the business men of his race because he practised what he preached. The business methods which he employed in conducting the business, in distinction from the educational affairs, of Tuskegee Institute, compare favorably with those of the best-managed industrial corporations. He may even have appeared to be over-insistent upon business accuracy, system, and efficiency, so anxious was he to belie the popular notion that Negroes must of necessity, because they are Negroes, be slipshod and unsystematic. In refutation of this familiar accusation he built up an institution almost as large as Harvard University which runs like clockwork without a single white man or woman having any part in its actual administration. Tuskegee itself is the most notable example of its founder's method of argument. No person knowing the facts about Tuskegee can ever again honestly say that Negroes are always and necessarily slipshod and unsystematic in their business methods.
IN SPITE of his absorption in guiding the destinies of his race Booker Washington never lost interest in individuals however humble or in their individual affairs however small. This was strikingly shown in his relations to his students. He never wearied in his efforts to help in the solution of the life problems of the hundreds of raw boys and girls who each year flocked to Tuskegee and to Booker Washington with little but hope and ambition upon which to build their careers. With many of these newcomers he not infrequently had his initial talk before they knew who he was. This was made easy by his simple and unassuming manner, which was the exact opposite to what these unsophisticated youths expected in a great man. One of the graduates of Tuskegee in the book, "Tuskegee and Its People," thus describes his first meeting with Booker Washington. His experience was almost identical with that of many another entering student. He says:
"My first glimpse of Mr. Washington was had in the depot at Montgomery, Ala., where a friend and I, on our way to Tuskegee, had changed cars for the Tuskegee train. Two gentlemen came into the waiting-room where we were
seated, one a man of splendid appearance and address, the other a most ordinary appearing individual, we thought. The latter, addressing us, inquired our destination. Upon being told that we were going to Tuskegee, he remarked that he had heard that Tuskegee was a very hard place--a place where students were given too much to do, and where the food was very simple and coarse. He was afraid we would not stay there three months. We assured him that we were not afraid of hard work, and meant to finish the course of study at Tuskegee at all hazards. He then left us. Very soon after the gentleman who had so favorably impressed us, and whom we afterward found to be the treasurer of the Tuskegee Institute, Mr. Warren Logan, came back and told us our interlocutor was none other than the Principal of the school to which we were going."
Booker Washington was always keenly interested to get at the reasons which had impelled the new students to come, and they would naturally state these reasons more freely to a friendly unknown person than they would to the Principal of the school. As previously mentioned, Booker Washington always kept his ear to the ground. These raw boys and girls brought him fresh and frank messages as to how the people were thinking and feeling about Tuskegee and those things for which it stands.
Some time after Mr. Washington's death the students of the Senior Class were asked to write brief themes describing their first impressions of him. In one of these themes the boy writer says, "His general attitude did not
bear out my idea of how a great man should appear. I expected to see him with a diamond ring and riding in an automobile on a pleasure trip, which most great men do. He was quiet, not overdressed, nor yet self-conscious of the position he held and the influence he wielded among the people. He seemed to me a man of great thoughts, yet not realizing his greatness." Another boy writes: "One of my first questions after arriving at Tuskegee, September 9, 1912, and registering as a student was to ask, where is Mr. Washington? I was told that he hardly ever stayed here but was often in the North. Two weeks later he came, and my first opportunity to see him was one day on the street. I was so enthused over him that I went to my room and wrote a letter home trying to describe him.
"The following Sunday night he lectured in the Chapel. His title was, 'Have a Place to Put Everything and Put Everything in That Place.' In his talk he said: 'There are many people who have no system about their work nor home. Often you visit persons' homes and every member of the family is looking for the broom. The same is true of a match when the time comes to light the lamp.'
"That talk was the most impressive one that I ever heard before or since. From that talk I have reaped more benefit than any other. It was the talk that I took in and began practising. I first started in my room having a place to put everything and putting everything in that place. After getting my room systematized I then began putting this talk in practise at my work, etc. . . ."
The next quotation is from the paper of a native African
boy. He says: "My first impression, or, at least, the first time I heard the name of Booker T. Washington, was about the year 1902. I was then a young boy, just arrived in one of the Native Training Institutions existing in South Africa. These schools train young native boys primarily to become teachers in their communities. As a native African I had just acquired the elementary use of the English language, when the following incident took place: One, a native teacher from the upper part of the country, was announced and that he was to give a lecture to the 'Boys' Saturday Evening Society.'
"The meeting assembled, and I at once heard that the lecture was about a boy--Booker T. Washington--who obtained an education through his struggles. . . . I did not hear or understand more. But it is strange to say that this name was pinned in the bottom of my heart. . . .
"It was during the coronation of King George V of England that I saw this name. I had now finished that school and was teaching. It was printed in a native paper that Booker T. Washington, an American Negro, made an excellent speech. I cannot, however, say the exact words of the editor, which were in greatest praise of that man, nor do I recall the circumstances under which Mr. Washington had spoken.
"When I wanted to come to school in this country I made up my mind to find the school--as I found later he was principal of one--where this man was leader; and so I came to Tuskegee Institute. I found the editor had well described the man's character and disposition."
Still another boy writes: "I first saw Dr. Washington at the Appalachian Exposition held at Knoxville, Tenn., in 1912. It was Negro Day and there were thousands of Negroes out to hear Dr. Washington speak. . . . At times he would make the people laugh and then again he would have a few crying. When I saw the tears in the eyes of his listeners, I looked at Dr. Washington and thought of him with awe because he was so highly honored. I thought of him with admiration because he could speak so well, and I thought of him with pride because he was a Negro. . . . His speech made me feel as if there were really a few Negro men and women in the world who were making a mark, and that there was a chance for more."
Booker Washington's interest in the lives of his students, as in all things else, showed his combination of breadth of view and attention to what less-thorough persons would have considered trivial details. When, for instance, in 1913 Tuskegee was visited by one of the very infrequent snowstorms which occur so far South, he himself went from building to building to see that they were properly heated and to many of the rooms, particularly of the poorer students, to make sure that they had sufficient bedclothes. During the last three winters of his life he had a confidential agent make an early morning tour of all the dormitories to make sure that they were so heated that the students might dress in comfort on getting up in the morning.
Also when the weather was unusually cold he would make sure that the boys who drove the teams that hauled
wood and other supplies were provided with gloves and warm clothing. One cold night he sent for Mr. Palmer, the Registrar of the school, and said to him: "I wish you would seek out the poor worthy students and see that it is made possible for them to secure proper shoes and warm clothing. Some of the most deserving of them will often actually suffer before they will ask for assistance. We'll look out for the expense some way." He was, in fact, as insistent that the students should have comforts as he was that they should not have luxuries.
His attention to details and the comfort of the students was well illustrated in the close watch he kept over the dining-rooms and kitchens which he inspected every day he was on the grounds. Tomkins dining-hall is the largest building on the Institute grounds and is one of the largest dining-halls in America. It can seat over two thousand persons at one time. Adjoining this hall is a spacious dining-room for the teachers as well as extensive kitchens and a bakery. Underneath it is a great assembly hall which seats twenty-five hundred. Mr. Washington would usually appear before breakfast to assure himself at first hand that the stewards, matrons, and cooks were giving the students warm, nourishing, and appetizing food upon which to begin the day's work on the farm and in the shops and classrooms. Nothing made him more indignant than to find the coffee served lukewarm and the cereal watery or the eggs stale. For such derelictions the guilty party was promptly located and admonition or discharge followed speedily. Probably in nothing was his instinct for putting
first things first better shown than in his insistence upon proper food, properly prepared and served for both students and teachers.
He once said to his students, as previously quoted, "See to it that a certain ceremony, a certain importance, be attached to the partaking of food, etc. . . ." To carry out this idea each table in this great hall has a centrepiece of ferns, mosses, or flowers gathered from the woods by the student selected by his or her companions to decorate the table for that week. Boys and girls sit together at the tables. On Sundays and holidays first and second prizes are given for the tables most artistically decorated. Frequently these prizes take the form of some coveted delicacy in the way of food. Each day when at the Institute Mr. Washington would walk through the dining-hall during the noon meal and criticise these centrepieces, and things generally. He would point out that a certain decoration was too gaudy and profuse and had in it inharmonious colors. He would then remove the unnecessary parts and the discordant colors and point to the improved effect. He would next stop at a table with nothing in the way of decoration except a few scrawny flowers stuck carelessly into a vase. Picking up the meagre display he would say, "The boy or girl who did this is guilty of something far worse than bad taste, and that is laziness!" At the next table he would have a word of praise for the simple and artistic effect which they had produced with a centrepiece of wood mosses and red berries. These comments would be interspersed with an occasional admonition
to this boy or that girl for a slovenly manner of eating, or an inquiry of a newcomer as to where he had come from and whether he thought he was going to be happy in his new surroundings. An oft-repeated cause of merriment was his habit of stopping in the middle of the hall, calling for attention, and then asking the students if they were getting enough of various articles which he would name, such as sweet potatoes, corn, and blackberries. Cutting red tape was one of his special delights. Sometimes he would discover, for instance, that certain vegetables were not being served because the steward had objected to the price charged by the Farm Department. He would immediately order these vegetables served and tell the protesting steward that he could fight it out with the Farm Department while the students were enjoying the vegetables. From the dining-room he would finally disappear into the kitchens in his never-ceasing campaign for cleanliness. Over and over again would he repeat to students, teachers, and employees alike that the public would excuse them for what they lacked in the way of buildings, equipment, and even knowledge, but they would never be excused for shiftlessness, filth, litter, or disorder.
One of the opportunities which he most highly prized and one of his most effective means of influencing the whole body of students was through his Sunday evening talks in the Chapel. Over two thousand students, teachers, teachers' families, and townspeople would crowd into the Chapel to hear these talks. They were stenographically reported and published in the school paper. In this way
he influenced not only the undergraduates, but a large number of graduates and others who subscribed to the paper largely for the purpose of following these talks. We here quote from a previously unpublished (except in the school paper) collection of these talks, delivered during the school term of 1913-14, under the title of "What Parents Would Like to Hear Concerning Students While at School." The first talk was called, "For Old and New Students." In it he said in part: "I suspect that each one of your parents would like to know that you are learning to read your Bible; not only to read it because you have to, but to read it every day in the year because you have learned to love the Bible; because you have learned day by day to make its teachings a part of you. . . . Each one of you, in beginning your school year, should have a Bible, and you should make that Bible a part of your school life, a part of your very nature, and always, no matter how busy the day may be, no matter how many mistakes, no matter how many failures you make in other directions, do not fail to find a few minutes to study or read your Bible.
"The greatest people in the world, those who are most learned; those who bear the burdens and responsibilities of the world, are persons who are not ashamed to let the world know not only that they believe in the Bible, but that they read it."
And this was the advice of a man who never preached what he did not practise and who only a few years before had been denounced by many of the preachers of
his own race as a Godless man, building up a Godless school!
A little further on he said: "In many cases you have come from homes where there was no regular time for getting up in the morning, no regular time for eating your meals, and no regular time for going to bed.
"Now the basis of civilization is system, order, regularity. A race or an individual which has no fixed habits, no fixed place of abode, no time for going to bed, for getting up in the morning, for going to work; no arrangement, order, or system in all the ordinary business of life, such a race and such an individual are lacking in self-control, lacking in some of the fundamentals of civilization. . . .
"If you take advantage of all these opportunities, if your minds are so disposed that you can welcome and make the most of these advantages, these habits of order and system will soon be so fixed, so ingrained, so thoroughly a part of you that you will no longer tolerate disorder anywhere, that you will not be willing to endure the old slovenly habits which so many of you brought with you when you came here."
And later, in speaking of the haphazard, slipshod, irregular meal, he said: "Instead of bringing the family together it has put them wider apart. A house in which the family table is a mere lunch-counter is not and cannot be a home."
And just before concluding this talk he said: "Now what is true of this school is true of the world at large. This is a little world of itself. It is a small sample of civilization,
an experiment station, so to speak, in which we are trying to prepare you to live in a manner a little more orderly, a little more efficient, and a little more civilized than you have lived heretofore. If you are not able to live and succeed here, you will not be able to live and succeed in the world outside. If we do not want you here, if we cannot get on with you here, it will mean that the world outside will not want you, will not be able to get on with you."
Probably no educator ever kept more constantly before his own mind and before the minds of his students and teachers that the purpose of education is preparation for right living than did Booker Washington. Everything that did not make for this end he eliminated, regardless of customs and traditions, everything which did make for this end he included, equally regardless of customs and traditions.
In a talk called, "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother," the second of this series, he made this rather touching statement: "Many of your parents are poor. Not only that, but many of them are ignorant, at least, so far as books are concerned. Notwithstanding all this, in every case they have done something for you. It may have been, in many cases I know that it has been, a very little, but out of their poverty and out of their ignorance they have done something. They have made it possible, in the majority of cases, for you to come here, and no matter how poor they are, no matter how ignorant they are, their ambition is largely centred in you."
This is one of the many statements which show that Booker Washington had no illusions as to the ignorance and poverty of the rank and file of his people, and yet with this full knowledge and realization he never became discouraged.
In another of these talks, on "The Importance of Simplicity," he said: "In many cases young men in cities do not own anything in the world except what they are carrying around on their backs. They have a few collars and a few cuffs, some bright-colored socks and neckties, and that is all; nothing would be left of the man if you were to bury these things. A few collars and cuffs, neckties, and a few pieces of cheap jewelry--that is all there is of such men."
Later in the same talk he said: "Short, simple, direct sentences indicate education, indicate culture, indicate common sense. Some people think the way for them to show their education is by using big words, elaborate sentences, and by discussing subjects which nobody on earth can understand.
"Whenever you hear a man using words or talking on a subject that you can't understand, you can be very sure that the man does not understand himself what he is trying to talk about. If a man is talking about any subject, literary or what not, of which he is really master, he will be so direct, so simple, so perfectly clear and intelligible in the discussion of that subject that the most humble person can understand what he is saying."
In a talk on "Being Polite," he said: "It is often
difficult, I might better say, it is always difficult, for persons to have genuine politeness in their hearts when they live in a country that is inhabited by different races. Here in the South, and throughout this country, for that matter, we come into contact with persons of another race, persons of another color. It takes some effort, some training, and often some determination to say, in dealing with a person of another race, of another color, I will be polite; I will be kind; I will be considerate."
In a talk on "Being Economical," he said: "You will help yourself and help this school if you will say to yourself constantly: 'This is my home; this property does not belong exclusively to the Trustees, but it is mine; I am a trustee, every student is a trustee of this institution. How can I make every dollar go as far as possible? How can I help cut down expenses here?'" And later on, "I want you to get into the habit of saying: 'This institution belongs to me, belongs to my race; every dollar that is spent here is spent for my benefit and for the benefit of my race; every cent that is wasted here is my loss and the loss of all the generations that come after me.'"
In a talk on "The Use of Time," he said: "You hear people speaking sometimes about 'killing time.' No civilized man should be allowed to kill time any more than he should be allowed to destroy any of the other natural resources. When you find a man engaged in 'killing time' you will find a man who is disobeying one of the most fundamental laws of civilization. A man who habitually devotes himself to 'killing time' is a dangerous
citizen and the law against vagrancy is aimed against him.
In a talk on "Being All Right, But," he said: "You frequently hear it said of certain persons in one connection or another that 'they are all right, except,' or 'they are all right, but.' You are thinking, perhaps, of employing some one for this or that important service and among others the question is asked: 'What kind of disposition has this one or that one?' Very often you receive an answer something like this: 'They are all right, but----' That 'but' carries with it a lot of things. There are too many people in the world who are 'all right, but.' We want to get rid of just as many of these 'buts' as we can." And in concluding the same talk he said: "Think big thoughts, think about big questions, read big books, and, most of all, get into contact with the big people of your acquaintance and get out from under the control of the little people of your acquaintance. If you will do this, gradually you will find yourself better fitted for life; you will find yourself happier and better fitted to render service. . . ."
In a talk on "The Power of Persistence," he said: "Always keep your eye on the student who seems to be dull, who is slow in his studies, who has to repeat his class, but who keeps plodding along doggedly, determinedly, until he has finished the course of study.
"Keep your eye on that student after he has gone out into the world. He has learned to endure, he has learned to stick to his job in season and out of season. . . ."
In a talk on "Standing Still," he said: "People say of us that, as a race, we are not capable of going very far, not capable of making steady, persistent progress. We go a little way and there we stop, stand still, and stagnate. . . . Now one of the things which this school aims to do for you and through you is to change, as far as possible, the reputation of our people in so far as they are regarded as unprogressive, lacking in initiative and in ability to go forward unwaveringly."
The concluding talk of this series, and perhaps the strongest of them all, was entitled, "Thou Shalt Not Steal." In it he said: "I believe if you could get down into the deep, dark corners of your own hearts, and if you could get deep down into the hearts of your parents, you could find there, in both cases, a misgiving, a sense of danger, never clearly expressed but always present, a fear that some time, somewhere, trouble was in store for you and for them.
"This is so far true, in some cases of which I know, that if parents should some day learn that their children were in trouble they would not be surprised, because they have expected it, looked forward to it, and feared it; because they have known and suspected all along that you had never thoroughly learned to control yourself when dealing with other people's property. . . ."
Later on he added: "This disposition to pilfer was, to a large extent, a part of the history of slavery. It was rare when colored people who belonged to a white family where they served as cooks, butlers, or in some other form
of household service, did not feel that everything belonging to the white family belonged equally to them. Thus, when freedom came, it was difficult to get the colored cook to feel that she was a mere employee, that in the wages she received by the week or month she was being paid for her services for cooking. It was very hard to get her away from the customs and practises of slavery, especially when receiving very small wages.
"In many cases boys and girls have seen or have known that their mothers kept up this practice of pilfering from persons for whom they cooked. They have seen it going on day after day and year after year in their own homes and have observed that employers seem to expect it, wink at it, at any rate, put up with it. While they know, as their parents know, that it is wrong, they have nevertheless come to feel that it is one of the ways in which black folk and white folk get on together; one of the indirect ways, in other words, in which black people have learned to recompense themselves for disadvantages which they suffer in other directions."
In conclusion he said: "Each one of you can do something toward solving the race problem, for example, by making, each for himself, a reputation for honesty in the community in which you live. If in the part of the country where you now live members of our race have a reputation for carelessness, looseness in regard to the ownership of property, you can help to solve the race problem, and make life here in the South more comfortable for every other member of the race if you will win for yourself
a reputation for downright honesty and integrity in all your dealings with your neighbors, whether they be white or black."
Mr. Washington once said, "In all my teaching I have watched carefully the influence of the toothbrush, and I am convinced that there are few single agencies of civilization that are more far-reaching." He made periodic tours of the students' rooms to find out what students if any were without toothbrushes. The possession and use of a toothbrush is one of the entrance requirements for Tuskegee. In this connection he used to tell with a chuckle the reply of the girl who in answer to his question as to whose toothbrush he found on the washstand said, "That is ours," referring to her roommate and herself.
In his tours of inspection of the students' rooms he would also inquire how many nightgowns they owned. He insisted that every student should have at least two nightgowns. He was constantly impressing upon the students that decent, respectable people do not sleep in the garments in which they work during the day. In fact, he preached the gospel of the nightgown and the toothbrush as insistently as he did the gospel of work and simplicity.
He constantly insisted that the welfare of the students should be at all times the dominant consideration in the conduct of the institution. When the teachers would sometimes complain that their welfare was not sufficiently considered he would remind them that the Institute was being conducted for the benefit of the students and that
The cosmopolitan character of the Tuskegee student body is shown by the fact that during the past year students have come from the foreign countries or colonies of foreign countries indicated by the various flags shown in this picture
teachers were not required except for the benefit of the students. That the students should be happy was almost a mania with him. He was constantly sending for officers and teachers to inquire as to whether the students seemed happy.
To the delight of the students he would occasionally call a mass-meeting where he would call upon them one by one to get up and tell him of anything that was wrong, of anything that was keeping them from being as happy as he wanted them to be. It was understood that everything that a student said in such a meeting would be regarded as a confidence and that nothing that he said would be used against him. The teachers sometimes protested against the unbridled criticism which Mr. Washington permitted in these meetings. He, however, continued them without modification, and while many of the students' complaints were grossly exaggerated their statements nevertheless led to reforms in some important particulars. The meetings undoubtedly added greatly to the contentment and happiness of the student body.
He was always trying to protect the poorer students against the danger of being embarrassed or humiliated by the more fortunate ones. In this connection he was constantly resisting the importunities of students and teachers who wanted to charge admission fees to this or that game or entertainment. When the occasion really demanded and justified an admission fee he would make secret arrangements with the management to have the poorer students admitted at his personal expense.
His willingness to hear the students' grievances was a characteristic not always appreciated by the officers and teachers. He was a firm believer in the right of petition either for a group or an individual. No matter how pressed and driven he was with business no student or group of students, and no teacher or group of teachers, was too humble or obscure in the school's life to win a personal hearing. He would without hesitation reopen and painstakingly review a case, already decided by the Executive Council, if he thought there was the slightest chance that an injustice had been done. He insisted upon giving the accused not only"a square deal," but the benefit of every doubt. On the other hand, when there was no reasonable doubt of guilt no one could be more stern and unrelenting than he in meting out justice.
Mr. Washington always encouraged and helped every ambitious student who came to Tuskegee to develop his capacities to the utmost no matter whether they were large or small. Years ago a student, William Sidney Pittman, showed a particular aptitude for carpentry and draftsmanship. After working his way through Tuskegee he was very anxious to take a course in architecture. Mr. Washington arranged to have the Institute advance him the money for a three years' course at the Drexel Institute of Philadelphia, on the understanding that he would return to Tuskegee as a teacher after his graduation and from his earnings pay back to the school all that had been advanced for his training at Drexel. Pittman's record at Drexel was wholly satisfactory. He returned to Tuskegee
and repaid his loan in accordance with the agreement. He has since won the competitive award for the design of the Negro Building at the Jamestown Exposition, has built a large number of public and semi-public buildings throughout the South, including the Carnegie Library at Houston, Texas; a Pythian Temple at Dallas, Texas, where he lives, for the Negro members of the Knights of Pythias; the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Building at Tuskegee, and a number of Young Men's Christian Association buildings for colored men. In 1907 he married Mr. Washington's only daughter, Portia Marshall Washington, after her graduation from Bradford Academy, Massachusetts. He is now generally regarded as the foremost architect of his race.
Somewhat later Mr. Washington succeeded in securing some scholarships which enabled promising Tuskegee graduates to take two years of post-graduate work in teaching methods at the Teachers' College of Columbia University. These scholarships were given by John Crosby Brown, V. Everett Macy, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. In each case these students were required to return to Tuskegee as teachers for two years--the same time as their course at Columbia. Dean Russell of the Teachers' College has testified to the earnestness and high character of these Tuskegee graduates.
As measured by the Tuskegee standard of success, which is service to others, perhaps the most successful of all Tuskegee's graduates is William H. Holtzclaw, the Principal of the Utica Normal and Industrial Institute of
Mississippi. There is no school that has better emulated the best there is in Tuskegee Institute, and there is no graduate of Tuskegee that has followed more faithfully and effectively in Booker Washington's footsteps. Holtzclaw has told his own story in an admirably written and most interesting book entitled,"The Black Man's Burden." Starting in 1903 with a capital of seventy-five cents, no land and no buildings in a little one-room, ramshackle log cabin, which he did not own and in which he and his wife lived as well as taught, Holtzclaw now has an annual enrollment of nearly five hundred students and a faculty of thirty teachers. The school through its varied forms of extension work influences yearly about thirty thousand people. It owns seventeen hundred acres of land and conducts twenty different industries aside from its academic work. The buildings and property are valued at one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. It has also its own electric light plant and water-works and an endowment of over thirty-two thousand dollars. In concluding his book Mr. Holtzclaw says:"I see more clearly than ever before the great task that is before me, and I propose to continue the struggle. It is an appalling task: a State with more than a million Negroes to be educated, with half a million children of school age, 35 per cent. of whom at the present time attend no school at all (only 36 per cent. in average attendance), a State whose dual school system makes it impossible to furnish more than a mere pittance for the education of each child--yet these children must be educated, must be
unfettered, set free. That freedom for which Christian men and women, North and South, have worked and prayed so long must be realized in the lives of these young people. This, then, is my task, the war that I must wage; and I propose to stay on the firing-line and fight the good fight of faith."
Another Tuskegee graduate in whom Mr. Washington was especially interested is Isaac Fisher. Fisher has been awarded the following prizes for his writings:
"What We've Learned About the Rum Question," $500; "German and American Methods of Regulating Trusts," $400 (in order to write this paper Mr. Fisher had to acquire a reading knowledge of German which he did alone and unaided in a few months' time; "Ten of the Best Reasons Why People Should Live in Missouri," $100; "A Plan to Give the South a System of Highways Suited to Its Needs, $100; "The Most Practicable Method of Beginning a Tariff Reduction," honorable mention. (Upon the request of the chief examiner of the United States Tariff Board this essay was sent to that body for its use.) Besides these, Mr. Fisher has taken several minor prizes for compositions on various subjects.
It would be difficult to say, however, whether Booker Washington showed greater interest in the most brilliant or the most backward students. Certain it is that the most backward students won his special attention and encouragement.
In the early days of the school there was a student by the name of Jailous Perdue whom Mr. Washington
constantly encouraged and in whom he never lost faith in spite of his almost total failure to master his classroom work. Monroe N. Work, the statistician of the Institute and the editor of "The Negro Year Book," under the title "The Man Who Failed," has thus told Perdue's story:
"Back in the days when the cooking for students at Tuskegee was done out of doors in pots and the principal entrance requirement was a 'desire to make something of himself' a young man, Jailous Perdue, came to Tuskegee to get an education. He was financially poor and intellectually dull. Examinations he could not pass. After struggling along for several years and accumulating a lot of examination failures, he decided to quit school, go out to work and help educate his sisters. Although he had failed in his literary subjects, he had nevertheless got an education in how to use his hands. He had learned to be a carpenter. Out in the world he went and began to work at his trade. As soon as he had earned a little money he placed three of his sisters in school at Tuskegee, and with the help of his brother Augustus, who had graduated some time before, supported two of them there for three years and one for four years.
"In the meantime he had succeeded at his trade and gone into business for himself at Montgomery, Ala., as a contractor and builder. Here also he was successful and did thousands of dollars' worth of work. No job was too small nor too large for him to make a bid on. If he did not have a contract of his own he was not above working for some other contractor, and as a result he was
always busy. He has superintended the construction of some of the largest buildings in Montgomery. Among the buildings the erection of which he has superintended are the Exchange Hotel, at a cost of $150,000; the First Baptist Church, at a cost of $175,000; the First National Bank Building, at a cost of $350,000; and the Bell Building, at a cost of $450,000. Perdue also assisted as foreman or assistant foreman in erecting many of the important buildings at Tuskegee Institute, such as the Principal's house, the chapel, the library, Rockefeller Hall, the Academic Building, and the Millbank Agricultural Building.
"It is hardly necessary to say that Mr. Perdue has accumulated property or that he owns a good home in Montgomery, for in these progressive days every black man in the South with any foresight is investing some part of his earnings in property. The most interesting and somewhat remarkable thing about the career of Perdue and the greatest measure of his success is that twenty-three years after he had left Tuskegee a literary failure he was asked to come back and become a member of the faculty as an instructor in carpentry. Thus it was that the man who failed succeeded and returned to the scene of his failure a success. Perdue was constantly encouraged by Mr. Washington. He came under the type of those who were not brilliant, but who were always in his opinion worthy of help and encouragement."
Washington A. Tate was even duller in books than Perdue. During his early years at Tuskegee he seemed
unable to grasp the most rudimentary information. His native dullness was made unpleasant and aggressive by a combative disposition. He was constantly trying to prove to his exasperated teachers that he knew what he did not know. He was almost twenty-five years of age when he reached the Institute and entered the lowest primary grade. He had the greatest difficulty in passing any examinations and never succeeded in passing all that were required. Motions were constantly made and passed in faculty meetings to drop Tate, and were as constantly vetoed by Mr. Washington on the plea of giving him one more chance. Finally when Tate's time to graduate came the teachers in a body protested against giving him a diploma. Mr. Washington argued that a man who had made all the sacrifices Tate had made at his age to stay in school, a man who had worked early and late in fair weather and foul for the school, a man who had stuck to his task in the face of repeated failures and discouragements, had in him something better than the mere ability to pass examinations. Through Mr. Washington's intercession for him Tate got his diploma. The next day Mr. Washington had him employed to take charge of the school's piggery. Because of his hard, conscientious, and effective work in this capacity he was afterward recommended to the United States Department of Agriculture at Washington as the proper man to take charge of the United States demonstration work in Macon County, Ala. Tate proved to be one of the Government's most successful demonstration agents. He is
now farming successfully on his own account in an adjoining county.
Booker Washington, as previously pointed out, saw very much more clearly than most educators that education's only purpose and sole justification lies in preparation for right living. A man who has passed all manner of examinations may not be prepared to live rightly and hence may not justly claim to be educated. A man who has failed to pass examinations may be prepared for right living and hence may justly be called an educated man. In other words, Booker Washington realized that education was primarily a matter of the development of character and only secondarily a matter of the acquisition of information.
DURING recent years the expenses of Tuskegee Institute have run to between $200,000 and $300,000 a year. Of this sum Booker Washington had to raise over $100,000 annually aside from the large sums constantly demanded for new equipment such as the great central heating and power plant which was installed in 1915 at a cost of more than $245,000.
At the ceremonies commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Tuskegee Institute President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard was one of the speakers. He said that one of his "first impressions of Tuskegee Institute," after just a glimpse, was "that the oldest and now largest American Institution of learning was more than 200 years arriving at the possession of much less land, fewer buildings, and a smaller quick capital than Tuskegee had come to possess in twenty-five years. "That's just a fact," he said, "Harvard University was not as rich after living two hundred years among the people of Massachusetts as Tuskegee is to-day, after having lived twenty-five years among the people of Alabama. And that's the first impression that I have received here.
In 1906, the Tuskegee Institute celebrated its 25th Anniversary. In the group above appear such well-known American characters as Dr. William J. Schieffelin, New York; Dr. H. B. Frissell, Hampton Institute, Va.; J. G. Phelps Stokes, philanthropist, New York; Isaac N. Seligman, banker, New York; Dr. Lyman Abbott, editor of the Outlook; Dr. Wallace Buttrick, Secretary General Education Board; William G. Willcox, now President of the New York Board of Education; Robert C. Ogden, philanthropist, New York; Andrew Carnegie, and Miss Clara Spence of the Spence School, with numbers of their friends
"This evening I have received another impression from your Principal. He said that the great need of Tuskegee, to-day, was a considerable sum of money, which could be used at the discretion of the Trustees, to fill gaps, to make improvements, and to enlarge and strengthen the different branches of the institution. Now I should not find it possible to state in more precise terms the present needs of Harvard University. The needs of these two institutions, situated, to be sure, in very different communities, and founded on very different dates, are precisely the same." This comparison is the more striking when we realize that President Eliot had at the time been at the head of Harvard University for thirty years, five years longer than Tuskegee had been in existence--President Eliot of whom it was said, "When he goes to rich men they just throw up their hands and say, 'Don't shoot! How much do you want?'"
The magnitude of Booker Washington's financial task is indicated in his last annual report which he made to his Trustees in 1915. He reported:
"As of May 31st, we have received from all sources for current expenses $268,825.17; for buildings and improvements, $28,919.47; for endowment, $28,102.09; from undesignated legacies, $53,858.10, making the total receipts for the purposes named for the year $379,704,83.
"The gifts to the Endowment Fund for the year amounting to $28,102.09 now make the Fund stand at $1,970,214.17
"The budget recommended for your consideration for
the new year calls for an expenditure for current expenses, repairs, renewals, and equipment of $291,567.92. . . ."
Later in the report he said: "Notwithstanding the depressed financial condition of a large part of the country, I feel it would be a great mistake for us in any degree to slacken our efforts to keep the school before the public or to get funds. I believe, as Dr. H. B. Frissell, Principal of the Hampton Institute, has often expressed it, that a large part of the mission of both Hampton and Tuskegee is to keep the cause of Negro education before the country, and that the benefits coming from such efforts of publicity do not confine themselves alone to Hampton and Tuskegee, but benefit all the schools in the South. With this end in view, I very much hope that the Trustees may see their way clear to encourage and help us as far as possible in holding a number of large public meetings during the coming year." These were brave words for a dying man. Five months later he died of sheer exhaustion shortly after addressing one of these "large public meetings." They also show the breadth of his conception of his task. You will note that he points out that such publicity as he urges, "benefits all the schools in the South"--not merely the schools for Negroes, but "all the schools." It never occurred to him to limit his sense of responsibility to his own school nor even to the schools for his own race. As previously mentioned he would sometimes devote an entire public address to an appeal for more and better schools for the poor whites of the South.
Booker Washington's money-raising efforts consumed
two-thirds of his time and perhaps even more of his strength and energy. He planned these money-raising campaigns just as carefully as a good general plans a military campaign. His last big money-raising campaign was conducted during June, 1915. He and the Trustees of the Institute had been engaged for two or three years in the effort to raise the money to complete the cost of the central power and heating plant, but nearly $100,000 of the $245,000 needed had not been raised. This burden bore heavily upon him. At last, with the approval of the Trustees, he decided to make one last herculean effort not only to raise this huge sum, but in addition, the money necessary to end the school year free of debt. For this purpose he formulated a plan of campaign by which five representatives of the school should cover the chief centres of population throughout the Northern and Middle Western States. This was the outline of the territorial assignments of the collectors:
Mr. Chislom: New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts --important centre--Boston.
Mr. Wood: Rhode Island, New York east of Syracuse, and Binghamton, Connecticut--important centre--New York City.
Mr. Thomas: New York, west of Syracuse and Binghamton, Pennsylvania--important centre--Philadelphia.
Mr. Stevenson: Illinois, Wisconsin--important centre-- Chicago.
Mr. Powell: Michigan, Ohio--important centres-- Detroit and Cleveland.
Each representative carried letters of introduction to leading men and women in the various centres throughout his territory. All these letters were personally signed by Mr. Washington. At the close of each day each collector telegraphed Mr. Washington at Tuskegee giving the amount of subscriptions and pledges he had secured that day. The next morning Mr. Washington wired each collector, stating the total amount of gifts and pledges secured by all five collectors. When the Trustees met in New York City, on the last Thursday of June, 1915, all but four or five thousand dollars of the over $245,000 had been raised.
The Trustees themselves made up the difference by increasing by this amount their own subscriptions. Thus was successfully concluded the last great and difficult task which Booker Washington was to be permitted to perform.
Of the hundreds of invitations to speak here, there, and everywhere which kept pouring in upon him certain ones he definitely accepted because of the money-raising opportunities either direct or indirect which they offered; others of less promise he tentatively accepted to fall back upon in case the more desirable ones for any reason miscarried. Chautauqua engagements he considered only where they provided an opportunity for direct appeal for contributions for the work, or at least the chance to distribute printed matter. Chautauqua bureaus offering him as much as half the gate receipts above $500 in addition to a guarantee of $300 a night he turned down out of hand if
they did not include one or both of these opportunities. No matter how much money they offered he would never accept such propositions unless they carried with them some opportunity to make a direct appeal for his work. It was sometimes suggested to him that he might receive these fees personally and then turn them over to the school. This he declined to do because he was unwilling to give even the appearance of capitalizing his reputation and oratorical gifts for his personal enrichment. Booker Washington was not one of those simple-hearted individuals who are guided solely by what they deem inherently right. He always strove to avoid the appearance of evil as well as the evil itself; and, with one unhappy exception, he always succeeded. He fully realized that his conduct was under constant scrutiny by enemies in both races eager to find some pretext to drag him down. So circumspect was he in his behavior that once only between the time he became a national character in 1895 until his death twenty years later did his critics succeed in distorting any deed of his into the semblance of misconduct. The very nature of the charge in this one instance was sufficient refutation for any person acquainted in even the slightest degree with the man's life, work, or character.
The press as well as the platform he constantly used to keep his work before the public for money-raising purposes. He had as good a "nose for a story" as the best of reporters, and every story that came his way was sure to find its way into print. No matter how driven with
pressing matters nor how tired he never denied himself to "the newspaper boys." He believed that the more prominence, the more "limelight," he could secure the better, provided he used it for the promotion of his work. Thus he presented the apparent anomaly of being at the same time one of the most modest and unassuming of men and also one of the greatest advertisers of his day.
As well as the general press of both races he constantly used the school press for money-raising purposes. The school paper which circulates among donors and prospective donors as well as among the students, teachers, and graduates carries in each issue brief statements of some immediate and pressing needs and the money required to satisfy them. These needs are set forth in the following manner:
"For a long while an important part of our extension work and publicity work has been greatly hindered and hampered because of the lack of a new and up-to-date printing press.
"One thousand and seven hundred dollars will supply us with this long-felt need and greatly add to the value and influence of our work."
"One of our very greatest and most practical needs is a well but simply equipped Canning Factory. Three thousand dollars would help us to properly equip the Canning Factory we already have at Tuskegee. The factory will help not only in preserving large quantities
of vegetables, fruits, berries, etc., during the summer, but at the same time could be used as a means of teaching large numbers of our girls a useful industry, and, more than that, the products could be used to sustain the institution during the winter months.
"We could not only use everything that might be put up in cans here at the school in feeding the students and teachers, but there is an increasing demand among the merchants of the South, in the large cities, for anything we can produce on the school grounds.
"We very much wish that some friend might see his way clear to give $3,000 with which to properly equip this factory."
The need for a new laundry building with equipment, a foundry, and a veterinary hospital were similarly presented. The funds to meet each of these needs were received as a result of these appeals, and a new list of needs is now being advertised.
In concluding his annual report each year Mr. Washington would summarize the immediate needs of the institution. In his last report he thus stated them:
A few months later, as he lay dying in a New York hospital, the following letter was received for him at Tuskegee. It was at once forwarded and passed him on his last journey to his home in the South. He never saw it. The donor, a Northern friend who withholds his name, has renewed the offer to the Trustees and they have accepted it.
November 8, 1915.
Dr. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.
DEAR MR. WASHINGTON: I have read your annual report and also your treasurer's report, and make you the following proposition: If you will raise enough money to pay all of your debts up to May 1, 1916, and add two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to your endowment fund, I will give you the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for your building fund, to be used in building the items such as Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8, and the "Barnes, etc.," mentioned under the head of "Special Needs," and for objects of similar character. The above does not include item No. 5, "Building for religious purposes," as I am not interested in that sort of work. I shall be glad to know whether this proposition interests you.
Yours very truly,
The interest of this giver was first aroused by his reading "Up from Slavery" when it appeared in book form in 1901. As soon as he had read the book he sent Dr.
Washington a check for $10,000 for his work which he has renewed each year since until he made the above offer. "Up from Slavery" has brought more money to Tuskegee than all the other books, articles, speeches, and circulars written by Mr. Washington himself and the many others who have written or spoken about him and his work. Among its larger immediate results, aside from awakening the interest of the anonymous giver already mentioned, was its similar effect upon the late H. H. Rogers, Vice-President and active head at the time of the Standard Oil Company, and upon Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Rogers became so much interested that he not only gave large sums for the general needs of Tuskegee but eventually financed a large part of the rural school extension work, which has been described in earlier chapters, and which is now so important a part of the school's activities. Under Booker Washington's inspiration and guidance, too, Mr. Rogers later combined railroad building with race building. In building his Virginia railroad he undertook a wide-reaching work in agricultural education among the Negro farmers living within carting distance of his road. Booker Washington had demonstrated to his satisfaction that by increasing at the same time their wants and their ability to gratify their wants he would be building up business for his railroad.
Shortly after the publication in 1901 of "Up from Slavery," Frank N. Doubleday, of Doubleday, Page & Co., the publishers of the book, in playing golf with Mr. Carnegie mentioned Booker Washington and told him
something of his life. Mr. Carnegie was interested and wanted to know more. Mr. Doubleday gave him a copy of "Up from Slavery." After reading the book he immediately got into communication with the author, told him of his interest in his life and work, and of his desire to help him. The result was that Mr. Carnegie agreed to pay for the construction and equipment of a library to be built by the students. Booker Washington, his Executive Council, and the school's architect, spent hours and hours of time in scrutinizing every detail to bring the cost down to the smallest possible figure consistent with an adequate result. The final cost to Mr. Carnegie was only $15,000. Mr. Carnegie was amazed that so large, convenient, and dignified a building could be built at so small a cost. Over and over again both to Mr. Washington and to friends of the school he expressed his surprise and pleasure at the result obtained by this relatively small expenditure. After that there was no doubt he would do more for the school. It was simply a question of how much more and what form it would take. In 1903 the following letter was received by the late William H. Baldwin, Jr., in his capacity as president of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees.
2 East 91st Street, New York New York, April 17, 1913.
My DEAR MR. BALDWIN: I have instructed Mr. Franks, Secretary, to deliver to you as Trustee of Tuskegee
$600,000 of 5 per cent. U. S. Steel Company bonds to complete the Endowment Fund as per circular.
One condition only--the revenue of one hundred and fifty thousand of these bonds is to be subject to Booker Washington's order to be used by him first for his wants and those of his family during his life or the life of his widow --if any surplus is left he can use it for Tuskegee. I wish that great and good man to be free from pecuniary cares that he may devote himself wholly to his great Mission.
To me he seems one of the foremost of living men because his work is unique. The Modern Moses, who leads his race and lifts it through Education to even better and higher things than a land overflowing with milk and honey-- History is to know two Washingtons, one white, the other black, both Fathers of their people. I am satisfied that the serious race question of the South is to be solved wisely only by following Booker Washington's policy which he seems to have been specially born--a slave among slaves--to establish, and even in his own day, greatly to advance.
So glad to be able to assist this good work in which you and others are engaged.
(Signed) ANDREW CARNEGIE.To Mr. Wm. H. Baldwin, Jr., New York City, N. Y.
This great gift delighted Booker Washington not only for what it meant directly to his work, but because it so strikingly illustrated a truth which he had long and insistently impressed upon his staff and his students: namely, that if every dollar contributed were made to do
the work of two, more dollars would be forthcoming from the same source.
The two events upon which Booker Washington's popular fame chiefly rests are his speech before the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta, Ga., in 1895, and the publication of "Up from Slavery" five years later. Since "Up from Slavery" played so great a part in aiding its author to secure funds for his work it seems appropriate to give here some account of how it came to be written, how it was written, and how it was received.
In the year 1900 the editors of the Outlook decided to illustrate in the concrete the opportunities of America by getting some of the Americans of greatest achievement to tell how they had risen by their own efforts from the very depths of untoward circumstances. For this purpose they selected Jacob A Riis and Booker T. Washington. After much hesitancy on his part and urgency on theirs Booker Washington finally agreed to write the story of his life for serial publication in the Outlook. His hesitancy was due merely to the fact that he could not believe that the events of his life would be of any interest to the public. So convinced was he in this belief that he had the greatest difficulty in starting to write even after he had agreed to do so. Finally, after a particularly urgent letter from the editors, he stole some hours from his absorbing and exacting duties at Tuskegee to write the first chapter. After these efforts had been typewritten by his stenographer they produced only three and one-half pages--an amount of copy discouragingly inadequate for the first installment. He
mailed the material, however, with a line of apology for its inadequacy and promising to send more the next day. On receipt of this scant initial copy the editors wrote him a letter of congratulation and approval which greatly encouraged him, in spite of his heavy and unrelenting administrative duties, to push ahead with new courage. Notwithstanding, however, the best intentions on the part of the writer and the most patiently insistent reminders on the part of the editors there were many and wide gaps in the supposedly consecutive series of chapters before the story was finally finished. Much of the story he dragged from his tired brain, and jotted down on odds and ends of paper on trains, while waiting in railway stations, in hotels, and in ten and fifteen minute intervals snatched from overburdened days in his office. The fact that it was a physical impossibility to give adequate time and attention to so important a piece of work distressed him and made him feel even more apologetic about the product.
The enthusiastic reception of his story by the editors and later by the public was accordingly particularly surprising and gratifying to him. After its serial publication he was soon almost overwhelmed with congratulatory letters and laudatory reviews. Julian Ralph in the New York Mail and Express wrote in part:
"It does not matter if the reader feels a prejudice against the Negro, or if he be a Negrophile, or if he has never cared one way or the other whether the Negro does or does not exist. Whatever be his feelings, 'Up from Slavery' is as remarkable as the most important book ever written by
an American. That book is 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' Booker Washington's story is its echo and its antithesis. 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was the wail of a fettered, hope-forsaken race. 'Up from Slavery' is the triumphant cry of the same race, led by its Moses upon a trail which leads to an intelligent use of the freedom that came to it as an almost direct result of Mrs. Stowe's revolutionary novel. 'Up from Slavery' and 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' are inseparably linked in the history of our relations with our dark-skinned fellow-citizen. One book begins precisely where the other left off."
William Dean Howells in the North American Review said of it: ". . . What strikes you first and last is his constant common sense. He has lived heroic poetry, and he can, therefore, afford to talk simple prose. . . . The mild might of his adroit, his subtle statesmanship (in the highest sense it is not less than statesmanship, and involves a more Philippine problem in our midst), is the only agency to which it can yield. . . ."
Among the congratulatory letters came one from Athens, Greece, signed "Bob Burdette, Mrs. Burdette, and the children" which greatly amused and delighted Mr. Washington. It reads, paraphrasing the passage in the book where he tells of the insistent stranger who unerringly seeks him out when he tries to get a little quiet and rest on a train, "'Is not this Booker T. Washington? We wish to introduce ourselves.' You see, you can't escape it. We read that sentence, and shouted with delight over it, in Damascus. I was going to write--'far-away Damascus'
--but no place is far away now. Damascus is very near to Tuskegee, in fact, only six or seven thousand years older, and not more than fifty thousand years behind. It must have had a good start, too, for Abraham went there or sent there to get that wise and tactful 'steward of his house' Eliezir. But Damascus has always remained in the same place, whereas Tuskegee has been marching on by leaps and bounds. But you are a busy man--we have heard that, even in this land. And I can see you reading this letter five lines at a time. No use sitting next the window, piling your hand-baggage up in the seat, and pulling your hat over your eyes, is there? No, for we come along just the same, sit on the arm of the seat, touch your elbow, and --'Is not this Booker T. Washington?' We have been travelling for a year. The Outlook has followed us week by week. And week by week we have reached out to clasp your hand, and have knelt to thank God for the story of your life--for its inspiration, its hopefulness, its trust, its fidelity to duty and purpose. Such a wonderful story, told in the elegance of simplicity that only a great heart can feel and write. We paused again and again to say 'God bless him.' And now we send you our hand clasp and message--'God bless him and all of his.' There, now! You may pile up your baggage a little higher--pull your hat down over your eyes a little farther--and pretend to sleep a little harder. We will leave you. But not in peace. More likely in pieces. For I see other people, crowding in from the other car, with their glittering eyes gimleted upon you."
Barret Wendell, Professor of English at Harvard University, wrote him: "Will you allow me to express the pleasure which your book, 'Up from Slavery,' has given me? For about twenty years a teacher of English, and mostly of English composition, I have become perhaps a judge as to matters of style. Certainly I have grown less and less patient of all writing which is not simple and efficient; and more and more to believe in a style which does its work with a simple, manly distinctness. It is hard to remember when a book, casually taken up, has proved, in this respect, so satisfactory as yours. No style could be more simple, more unobtrusive; yet few styles which I know, seem to me, more laden--as distinguished from overburdened--with meaning. On almost any of your pages you say as much again as most men would say in the space; yet you say it as simply and easily that one has no effort in reading. One is simply surprised at the quiet power which can so make words do their work."
Thus was received the simple narrative of his life up to this time as hastily written down in odd moments snatched from his already overcrowded days. In this country alone more than 110,000 copies of the book have since been sold. It has been translated into French, Spanish, German, Hindustani, and Braille.
Booker Washington's philosophy as to money raising after a generation of constant and successful experience was summed up in this statement which he made in "Up from Slavery": "My experience in getting money for Tuskegee has taught me to have no patience with those
people who are always condemning the rich because they are rich, because they do not give more to objects of charity. In the first place, those who are guilty of such sweeping criticisms do not know how many people would be made poor, and how much suffering would result if wealthy people were to part all at once with any large proportion of their wealth in a way to disorganize and cripple great business enterprises. Then very few people have any idea of the large number of applications for help that rich people are constantly being flooded with. I know wealthy people who receive as many as twenty calls a day for help. More than once, when I have gone into offices of rich men, I have found half a dozen persons waiting to see them, and all come for the same purpose, that of securing money. And all these calls in person, to say nothing of the applications received through the mails. Very few people have any idea of the amount of money given away by persons who never permit their names to be known. I have often heard persons condemned for not giving away money, who, to my own knowledge, were giving away thousands of dollars every year so quietly that the world knew nothing about it. . . . Although it has been my privilege to be the medium through which a good many hundred thousand dollars have been received for the work at Tuskegee, I have always avoided what the world calls 'begging.' My experience and observation have convinced me that persistent asking outright for money from the rich does not, as a rule, secure help. I have usually proceeded on the principle that persons who
possess sense enough to earn money have sense enough to know how to give it away, and that the mere making known of the facts regarding the work of the graduates has been more effective than outright begging. I think that the presentation of facts, on a high, dignified plane, is all the begging that most rich people care for."
Although this favorable estimate of the money-giving rich was based upon many years of successful experience it must not be supposed that Booker Washington did not have his share of rebuffs and discouragements. In fact, scarcely a day went by that he did not receive some such disheartening rebuff as the following note from a man who had for several years contributed a small sum each year to Tuskegee Institute:
------, May 10, 1913.
Mr. Warren Logan, Treasurer, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Ala.
DEAR SIR: I enclose my check for ten dollars in reply to President Washington's appeal of the 6th inst.
I do not understand why such an appeal should be necessary after the large gifts by Mr. Kennedy and others. The Indians have received much less than the Negroes in money and care, yet they beg less, and are more ready to imitate the whites in being self-reliant. All over the North I find the Negroes despised by the whites for their laziness and disposition to be dependent.
Mr. Washington's patient, circumstantial, and constructively informative reply is characteristic of his method of
rejoinder. It also illustrates his habit of placing his reliance on facts and not on adjectives, and of so marshalling his facts that they fought his battles for him. He replied thus:
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, May 26, 1913.
My DEAR SIR: Our Treasurer has shown me your letter of May 10th, in which you inquire as to why it should be necessary for Tuskegee to appeal to the public for additional funds, also stating that the Indians receive much less than Negroes in money and care.
Under the circumstances, I thought you would not object to my making the following report to you, covering the inquiries suggested in your letter.
The Indians from a financial standpoint are better off than any other race or class of people in this country. The 265,863 Indians in the United States own 72,535,862 acres of land, which is 273 acres for each Indian man, woman, and child. If all the land in the country were apportioned among the inhabitants there would be 20 acres per person. The value of property and funds belonging to Indians is $678,564,253, or $2,554 per capita, or about $10,000 per family. The Negroes, but lately emancipated, are by contrast poor and are struggling to rise.
The Indians are carefully looked after by the United States Government. In addition to the elaborately organized Indian Bureau at Washington, there are six thousand (6,000) persons in the Indian field service, to especially look after and supervise them. There is one director, supervisor, or teacher for each 44 Indians.
Some of the things that the Government does for the Indians are:
(1) Look after the health of the Indians; for this purpose there are in the field one Medical Supervisor, 100 regular and 60 contract physicians, 54 nurses, and 88 field matrons.
(2) Supervise their farming and stock raising. For the 24,489 Indians engaged in farming there are two general supervisors, 48 expert farmers, that is, men with experience and scientific knowledge, and 210 men in subordinate farming positions.
Over $7,000,000 have been spent in irrigating lands for Indians. Congress in 1911 appropriated $1,300,000 for this purpose. For the 890,000 Negro farmers in the South, the United States Government maintains 34 Agricultural Demonstration Agents.
For the supervision of the 44,985 Indians engaged in stock raising, the Government maintains 22 superintendents of live stock. For the 700,000 Negro farmers engaged in live stock raising there is only one Government expert working especially among them.
(3) A system of schools is maintained by the Government for Indian children. For this purpose there are 223 day schools, 79 reservation boarding schools, and 35 boarding schools away from reservations. In these schools in 1911 there were 24,500 pupils. For the support of these schools the United States Government for 1912 appropriated $3,757,495. To assist in teaching the 1,700,000 Negro children in the South there was received in 1911 from the United States Government $245,518.
In general the Indians are not taxed for any purpose. On the other hand, the Negroes are taxed the same as other persons and in this way contribute a considerable amount for their own education and the education of the whites. In this connection, I call your attention to the enclosed pamphlet "Public Taxation and Negro Schools."
I enclose herewith copy of my Last Annual Report, giving information as to the various activities of the Institution.
Yours very truly,
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
On October 25, 1915, a few weeks before he died, Mr. Washington delivered an address before the delegates to the National Council of Congregational Churches, in New Haven, Conn., in which he well illustrated his belief already quoted, "that a large part of the mission of both Hampton and Tuskegee is to keep the cause of Negro education before the country." He said in part:
"There is sometimes much talk about the inferiority of the Negro. In practice, however, the idea appears to be that he is a sort of super-man. He is expected with about one-fifth or one-tenth of what the whites receive for their education to make as much progress as they are making. Taking the Southern States as a whole, about $10.23 per capita is spent in educating the average white boy or girl, and the sum of $2.82 per capita in educating the average black child.
"In order to furnish the Negro with educational facilities so that the 2,000,000 children of school age now out of school and the 1,000,000 who are unable to read or write can have the proper chance in life it will be necessary to increase the $9,000,000 now being expended annually for Negro public school education in the South to about $25,000,000 or $30,000,000 annually."
And in conclusion he said: "At the present rate, it is
taking not a few days or a few years, but a century or more to get Negro education on a plane at all similar to that on which the education of the whites now is. To bring Negro education up where it ought to be will take the combined and increased efforts of all the agencies now engaged in this work. The North, the South, the religious associations, the educational boards, white people and black people, all will have to coöperate in a great effort for this common end."
These were the last words he ever spoke at a great public meeting. They show his acute realization of the immensity of the task to which he literally gave his life, and his dread lest what had been accomplished be overestimated with a consequent slackening of effort.
A very cordial friendship existed between Mr. Washington and his Trustees. Every man among them was his selection and joined the Board on his invitation. In the year 1912 they manifested their friendship and interest in the most practical of ways by volunteering to raise a guarantee fund of $50,000 a year for five years to help bridge the ever-widening gap between the income of the school and its unavoidably mounting expenses. To do this, aside from contributing handsomely themselves, almost all went out and "begged" of their friends. Mr. Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, for instance, after making his own liberal personal contribution, and soliciting funds among his Chicago friends, left his great and absorbing interests at a busy time of the year to go to New York and devote a week's time to "begging" money for
Tuskegee among his friends and acquaintances. Messrs. Low, Willcox, Trumbull, Mason, and others also personally solicited funds. Many men have gotten millionaires to give large sums of money, but how many men have ever gotten millionaires both to give large sums and personally to solicit large sums for a purely unselfish purpose?
In his final report Booker Washington said of this guarantee fund: "It is not possible to describe in words what a relief and help this $50,000 guarantee fund has proven during the four years it has been in existence. . . . We shall have to begin now to consider some method of replacing these donations. The relief which has come to us because of this guarantee fund has been marked and far reaching."
The same qualities which enabled Booker Washington to get close to the plain people helped him to win the confidence of the great givers. Through his money-raising efforts he constantly added to his great stock of knowledge of human nature. Also the same qualities of heart and mind which enabled him to rise superior to the obstacles of race prejudice helped him to bear without discouragement or bitterness the many rebuffs of the money raiser. One cannot help speculating, however, on the loss to Tuskegee, to the Negro race, and to the general welfare, entailed by the necessity of his devoting two-thirds of his time, strength, and resourcefulness merely to the raising of money.
BOOKER WASHINGTON'S chief characteristic as an administrator was his faculty for attention to minute details without losing sight of his large purposes and ultimate ends. His grasp of every detail seems more remarkable when one realizes the dimensions of his administrative task. Besides leading his race in America, and to some extent throughout the world, and raising between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand dollars each year, he administered an institution whose property and endowment are valued at almost four million dollars. Although the original property of the school was only a hundred acres of land with three small buildings, it now owns twenty-four hundred acres, with one hundred and eleven buildings, large and small, in its immediate vicinity. In addition to these twenty-four hundred acres of land the school now owns also about twenty thousand acres, being the unsold balance of a grant of twenty-five thousand acres of mineral land, made by the Federal Government as an endowment to the Institute in 1899.
The organization of the Institute ramifies throughout the entire county in which it is located. It has a resident
student population of between fifteen hundred and two thousand boys and girls, with a teaching force of about two hundred men and women. It enrolls in its courses throughout the year from thirty-five hundred to four thousand persons. The receipts of its post office exceed those of the entire postal service of the Negro Republic of Liberia in Africa. In a given year the revenues of Liberia were $301,238 and the expenditures $314,000. In the same year the receipts from all sources of Tuskegee Institute were $321,864.87 and its expenditures $341,141.58.
Booker Washington so organized this great institution that it ran smoothly and without apparent loss of momentum for the nine months out of the twelve, during the greater part of which he was obliged to be absent raising the funds with which to keep it going. The Institute is in continuous session throughout the twelve months of the year. During the summer months a summer school for teachers is conducted in place of the academic department. For the purposes of this summer school all or most of the trades and industries are kept in operation.
The school is organized on this basis. There is, first, a Board of Trustees which holds the property in trust and advises the principal as to general policies, etc., and aids him in the raising of funds; second, the principal, who has sole charge of all administrative matters; third, an executive council, composed of the heads of departments, with the principal as its chairman. The following officers serve as members of this executive council: Principal, treasurer, secretary, general superintendent of industries,
director mechanical industries, director department of research and Experiment Station, commandant, business agent, chief accountant, director agricultural department, registrar, medical director, dean women's department, director women's industries, chaplain, director extension department, superintendent buildings and grounds, dean Phelps Hall Bible Training School, director academic department.
The position of general superintendent of industries is held by John H. Washington, brother of Booker T. Washington. Mrs. Booker T. Washington fills the position of director women's industries.
After this executive council comes the faculty made up of the leading teachers who have charge of the instruction in the various divisions of the agricultural, industrial, and academic departments. This faculty Mr. Washington in turn subdivided into a series of standing and special committees having particular charge of certain phases of the work such as repairs, cleanliness, etc. The committee on cleanliness would, for instance, be expected to see that the boarding department was insisting upon the proper use of knives and forks and napkins--was serving the food hot and in proper dishes, and that the kitchens were at all times ready for inspection and models of cleanliness.
In the same way he constantly appointed committees to go into the academic classes and see that they were correlating their work with the trade work. The tendency to backslide is especially strong in an institution which, like Tuskegee, is working out original problems.
Some of Mr. Washington's humble friends (see page 136)
Soil analysis. The students are required to work out in the laboratory the problems of the field and the shop
It is fatally easy for the teachers in both academic and industrial classes to slip away from the correlative method, for which the institution stands, back to the traditional routine. The correlative method requires constant thought. As Mr. Washington well knew, the average person only thinks under constant prodding. Hence, the committees to do the prodding! It is so much easier to take one's problems from the text-books than to dig them up in the shops or on the farm as to be practically irresistible unless one is being watched. Then, in the shops it requires a constant effort to work the theory in with the practice. If the instructors in the trades tended to become mere unthinking mechanics a vigilant committee was at hand to keep them true to their better lights. And if the committees themselves ever became slack, the all-seeing eye of the principal soon detected it and they in turn were "jacked up." Mr. Washington himself had a way of leisurely strolling about day or night into shop, classroom, or laboratory with a stenographer at his elbow. If he thus came upon a recitation in which no illustrative material was used, that teacher would receive within the next few hours a note such as this:
December 8, 1914.
MR.----: After a visit to your class yesterday, I want to make this suggestion--that you get into close contact with some of the teachers here like Mrs. Jones of the Children's House, and Mrs. Ferguson, Head of the Division of Education, and Mr. Whiting of the Division of Mathematics, who understand our methods of teaching and try to learn our methods.
Your work yesterday was very far from satisfactory, not based upon a single human experience or human activity.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
Three days before he had sent the following note to the head of the academic department:
Mr. Lee, Director of the Academic Department:
I was very glad to see the wideawake class conducted by Mr. Smith this morning. His methods are certainly good.
On asking questions of the individual members of the class, I found that about half of the class did not know just what was to be found out from the measurements. If Mr. Smith will go to the new Laundry Building, in case he has not done so, he will find an opportunity to teach the same lessons in connection with a real building. I hope you will make this suggestion to him. Nothing takes the place of reality wherever we can get something real.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
Previous to this he had written Mr. Lee the following letter relative to the general problem of the teaching efficiency in his department:
November 24, 1914.
Mr. Lee, Director Academic Department:
When you return, I want to urge that you give careful but serious attention to the following suggestions:
First, I am convinced that we must arrange to give more systematic and constant attention to the individual teachers in your department in the way of seeing that they
follow your wishes and policy regarding the dovetailing of the academic work into the industrial work.
I am quite convinced that the matter is taken up in rather a spasmodic way; that is, so long as you are on hand and can give the matter personal attention, it is followed, but when you cease to give personal attention to it or are away, matters go back to the old rut, or nearly so.
In some way we must all get together and help you to organize your department so that this will not be true.
There are two elements of weakness in the academic work: First, I very much fear that we take into it every year too many green teachers, who know nothing about your methods. This pulls the whole tone of the academic work down before you can train them into your methods. I am quite sure that though you might not get teachers who have had so much book training, that it would be worth your considering to employ a larger number of Hampton graduates or Tuskegee graduates, who have had in a measure the methods which you believe in instilled into them.
In my opinion, the time has come when you must consider seriously the getting rid of, or shifting, some of your older teachers. You have teachers in your department who have been here a good many years, and experience proves that they do not adapt themselves readily and systematically to your methods. I think it would be far better for the school to find employment for them outside of the Academic Department, or to let them take some clerical work in your department, than for them to occupy positions of importance and influence, which they are not filling satisfactorily and where they have an influence in hurting the character of the whole teaching.
All these matters I hope you will consider very carefully.
I am sure that the time has come when definite and serious action is needed.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
First and last on these apparently aimless strolls with a stenographer he visited not only the classrooms and shops but every corner of the great institution. He would return to his office with a notebook full of memoranda of matters to be followed up or changed, and of people to be commended or censured for their efficient or inefficient handling of this, that, or the other piece of work. Once after writing a series of letters calling attention to ragged tablecloths, unclean napkins, and uncleanliness in other forms in kitchens, bakery, and dining-rooms without the desired result, he personally took charge of the situation, organized a squad of workers, put things in proper condition, and then insisted that they be kept in such condition.
His passion to utilize every fraction of time to its maximum advantage led him even to smuggle a stenographer into the formal annual exercises of the Bible Training School so that he might during the exercises clandestinely dictate notes for the head of the Bible school as to those features in which the program was weak, failed "to get across," did not hold the interest of the people, seemed to be over their heads, or whatever might be his diagnosis of the difficulty. He was not interested in the program for and of itself, but was keenly interested in its effect upon the people. If it interested and helped them, it was a good program; if it did not, it was a poor program and no
amount of learning or technical perfection could redeem it. He sometimes reduced his more scholarly teachers to the verge of despair by his insistence that there should be nothing on the program at any exercise to which the public was invited which the every-day man and woman could not understand and appreciate.
In opening the chapter we mentioned Booker Washington's faculty for giving attention to apparently trivial details without losing sight of his large policies and purposes. This was part of his habit of taking nothing for granted. He never assumed that people would do or had done what they should do or should have done any more than he assumed they would not or had not done what they should. He neither trusted nor distrusted them. He kept himself constantly informed. Every person employed by the institution from the most important department heads down to the men who removed ashes and garbage were under the stimulating apprehension that his eye might be upon them at any moment. He harassed his subordinates by continually asking them if this or that matter had been attended to. He would sometimes ask three different people to do the same thing. This resulted in wasted effort on somebody's part, but it always accomplished the result, which was all that interested him. He took nothing for granted himself and he insisted that his subordinates take nothing for granted. He was a task master and a "driver" but he taxed himself more heavily and drove himself harder than he did any one else. Like other strong men, he had the weaknesses of his strength, and probably his most
serious weakness was driving himself and his subordinates beyond his and their strength.
His eye was daily upon every part of the great machine which he had built up through an exhaustive system of daily reports. These reports were placed on his desk each morning when at the Institute and mailed to him each morning when away. They showed him the number of students in the hospital with the name, diagnosis, and progress of each case. From the poultry yard came reports giving the number of eggs in the incubators, the number hatched since the day before, the number of chickens which had died, the number of eggs and chickens sold, etc. Similarly daily reports came from the swine herd, the dairy herd, and all the other groups of live stock.
He received also each morning a report from the savings department giving the number of new depositors, the amounts of money deposited and withdrawn, and the condition of the bank at the close of the previous day. There was, too, a list of the requisitions approved by the Business Committee the previous day giving articles, prices, divisions, or departments in which each was to be used and totals for different classes of requisitions.
The Boarding Department head would report just what had been served the students at the three meals of the day before. In running over these menus he would give a contemptuous snort if he came upon any instance of what he called "feeding the students out of the barrel." By this he meant buying food which could as well or better have been raised on the Institute farms. He objected to this
Mr. Washington was a great believer in the sweet potato. He personaly supervised the work of preparing for sweet potato planting
practice not only because it was more expensive, but because it eliminated the work of raising, preparing, and serving the foods which he regarded as a valuable exercise in civilization. He also insisted that everything raised on the farms should in one way or another be used by the students. Besides serving to the students every variety of Southern vegetable from the Institute's extensive truck gardens, he always insisted that their own corn be ground into meal and that they make their own preserves out of their own peaches, blackberries, and other fruits. In other words, he made the community feed itself just as far as possible. And this he did quite as much because of the knowledge of the processes of right living which it imparted as for the money which it saved.
The Treasurer also submitted a daily report of contributions and other receipts of the previous day with the name and address of each contributor. Mr. Washington arranged to receive and look over these daily reports even when travelling. Hence, in a sense, he was never absent. Only very rarely and under most unusual circumstances did he cut this means of daily contact with the multifold activities of the institution.
Although a task master, a driver, and a relentless critic, he was just in his dealings with his subordinates and his students, very appreciative of kindness or thoughtfulness, and generous in his approbation of tasks well done. Three of the younger children of officers of the school, while out walking with one of their teachers, discovered a fire in the woods near the Institute one day. After notifying the men
working nearby, the children hurried home and wrote Mr. Washington a letter telling him about the fire. They had heard him warn people against the danger of forest fires and of the great harm they did. This letter the three children excitedly took to the Principal's home themselves, as it was on Sunday. He was not in, but the first letter he dictated on arriving at his office the next morning was this:
March 24, 1915.
Miss Beatrice Taylor, Miss Louise Logan, Miss Lenora Scott:
I have received your kind and thoughtful letter of yesterday regarding the forest fire and am very grateful to you for the information which it contains. It is very kind and thoughtful of you to write me. I shall pass your letter to Mr. Bridgeforth, the Head of the Department, and ask him to look after the matter.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
In the fall of the same year he addressed this letter of appreciation to Mr. Bridgeforth, director of the Agricultural Department, mentioned in the note of the children:
October 4, 1915.
Mr. G. R. Bridgeforth, Director of Agricultural Department:
I have been spending a considerable portion of each day in inspecting the farm, and I want to congratulate you and all of your assistants on account of the fine sweet potato crop which has been produced. It is certainly the finest crop produced in the history of the school.
You deserve equal commendation, especially in view of the season you have had to contend with, in connection with the fine hay crop, the pea crop, and the peanut crop.
I wish you would let the members of your force know how I feel regarding their work.
I believe if the farm goes on under present conditions, that at the end of the year it will very much please the Trustees to note the results accomplished especially so far as the Budget is concerned.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal,
His quick mind and his keen sense of humor would sometimes lead him to make fun in a kindly way of his slower colleagues. The members of the Executive Council and the Faculty sometimes felt he treated them rather too much as if he were the teacher and they the pupils. His frequent humorous sallies and stories exasperated some of the more serious-minded members of his staff very much as Lincoln's sallies and stories exasperated some of the members of his Cabinet, particularly Secretary Stanton. This sense of humor was undoubtedly with Booker Washington as with Abraham Lincoln one of the great safety valves without which he could not have carried his heavy burden as long as he did.
Among other things he always insisted that the human element be put into the work of the institution and kept in it. He would reprimand a subordinate just as sharply for failure to be human as for a specific neglect of duty. He was particularly insistent that all letters to the parents of the students should be intimate and friendly rather than
formal and stereotyped. He believed that nothing would more quickly or more surely kill the effectiveness of the school than the application of cut-and-dried theories and formulas to the handling of the students and their problems. He never lost sight of the fact that the most perfect educational machine becomes worthless if the soul goes out of it.
On his return from trips he would write a personal letter about their boy or girl to each parent whom he had met while away. After he had addressed a meeting and was shaking hands with those who came forward to meet him a man would say, as one once did, with embarrassed pride, "I 'spec you know my boy--he's down to your school. He's a tall, black boy an' wears a derby hat." When Mr. Washington got back to Tuskegee he sent for "the tall, black boy" with the derby hat and wrote his proud father all about him.
On his return from journeys he would write individual letters not only to the parents of students and to his hosts and hostesses, but to each and every person who had tried in any way to contribute to the pleasure and success of his trip. On returning from the State educational tours which we have described he would write personal letters of thanks and appreciation not only to every member of the general committee on arrangements which had managed his tour throughout the State, but also to every member of the local committees for the various towns and cities which he visited. He would also write such a letter to the Governor or Mayor or whatever public official or prominent citizen had introduced him. Usually on these tours
school children, or a group of women representing a local colored women's club, would present him with flowers. He would in such cases insist that the name of each child or each woman in the group be secured so that he might on his return write to each one a personal letter of thanks. Many such letters are now among the treasured possessions of humble Negro homes throughout the country.
Recognizing that Tuskegee's chief claim to support from the public must be found in the achievements of her graduates he built up the Division of Records and Research to keep in constant touch with the graduates and gather information about them and their work. By this means he could find out in detail at a moment's notice what most of the graduates were doing and in terms of statistics what all were doing. Eighteen to twenty of them are building up or conducting schools on the model of Tuskegee Institute in parts of the South where they are most needed. With these he naturally sought to keep in particularly close touch.
With funds provided for the purpose by one of the Tuskegee Trustees, committees of Tuskegee officers and teachers are sent from time to time to visit these schools established by Tuskegee graduates. They act as friendly inspectors and advisers. The following is the plan of report drafted for the guidance of these committees:
1. Before concluding its visit the committee should make, to proper persons in the school, suggestions concerning the improving of the teaching and of other things as may be necessary.
2. If committee makes a second visit, see to what extent the suggestions of the previous visit have been carried out.
After each visit a written report by the committee covering all of the above shall be sent to Principal Washington.
To all the graduates of the Institute Mr. Washington sent a circular letter on the first of each year in which frequently he told them of the progress that had been made by the school during the year in improvements, number of students enrolled, etc., and asked them in turn to answer a list of questions about their life and work, or sometimes in such letters he merely wished them success and gave them some practical advice. The 1913 letter which follows is an example of the latter:
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, January 1, 1913.
Dear Mr. (or Miss) Blank:
I take this opportunity to send you greetings, to inquire how you are getting along, and to express the hope that in every way you are prospering. If, however, you are having discouragements, I trust that you are meeting them bravely. If you have difficulties, or are laboring under disadvantages, use them as stepping-stones to success.
I again call your attention to the importance of keeping in touch with the Institute. Keeping your address on file with us and sending a report of your work will assist in doing this. I enclose herewith a blank for that purpose. Visits to the school should also be made from time to time. You should begin to prepare now to be here during the coming commencement exercises in May in order that you may see what is being done at the institution and to meet your former classmates. Already the officers of the General Alumni Association have begun preparations for your welcome.
I urge upon you the importance of keeping up the habit
of study and of reading good books and papers. The accompanying circular on "How to Buy Books" gives valuable suggestions about how to secure the best books cheaply. I take this occasion to inform you that already we are making preparations for our 1913 Summer School. It is hoped that every graduate who is teaching will attend this or some other good summer school.
I trust that wherever you are located you will do all that you can for community uplift. Be active in church and Sunday-school work, help to improve the public schools, assist in bettering health conditions, help the people to secure property, to buy homes and to improve them. In doing all these things, you will be carrying out the Tuskegee idea.
Very truly yours,
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
The questions were slightly varied from year to year. The following were those sent out with the 1915 letter-- the last to bear the signature of the Institute's founder.
Please favor me by answering these questions and returning the blank as soon as you receive it.
8. What are your average wages or earnings per day, week, or month? . . . . .
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
As previously mentioned the relationship between Mr. Washington and his Trustees was at all times particularly friendly and harmonious. While they were always directors who directed instead of mere figureheads, they nevertheless were broad enough and wise enough to give the Principal a very free reign. Preëminent among the able and devoted Trustees of Tuskegee was the late William H. Baldwin, Jr. In order to commemorate his life and work the William H. Baldwin, Jr., Memorial Fund of $150,000 was raised by a committee of distinguished men, with Oswald Garrison Villard of the New York Evening Post as chairman, among whom were Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, and Charles W. Eliot, and placed at the disposal of the Tuskegee Trustees. A bronze memorial tablet in memory of Mr. Baldwin was at the same time placed on the Institute grounds. At the ceremony at which this tablet was unveiled and this fund presented to the Trustees, Mr. Washington said in part, in speaking of
his relations with Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Baldwin's relations to Tuskegee:
"Only those who are close to the business structure of the institution could really understand what the coming into our work of a man like William H. Baldwin meant to all of us. In the first place, it meant the bringing into our work a certain degree of order, a certain system, so far as the business side of the institution was concerned, that had not hitherto existed. Then the coming of him into our institution meant the bringing of new faith, meant the bringing of new friends. I shall never forget my first impression. I shall never forget my first experience in meeting Mr. Baldwin. At that time he was the General Manager and one of the Vice-Presidents of the Southern Railway. located then in its headquarters in the city of Washington. I remember that, a number of days previous, I had gone to the city of Boston and had asked his father if he would not give me a line of introduction to his son, about whom I had already heard in Washington. Mr. Baldwin's father readily gave me a line of introduction and I went in a few days after that and sought out Mr. Baldwin in his Washington office and he looked through this letter of introduction, read it carefully, then he looked me over, up and down, and I asked him if he would not become a trustee of this institution. After looking me over, looking me up and down for a few seconds or a few minutes longer, he said, 'No, I cannot become a trustee; I will not say I will become a trustee because when I give my word to become a trustee it must mean something.
Mr. Washington had this picture especially posed to show off to the best advantage a part of the Tuskegee dairy herd
He said, 'I will study the institution at Tuskegee, I will go there and look it over and after I have found out what your methods are, what you are driving at--if your methods and objects commend themselves to me, then I will consent to become a trustee.' And I remember how well --some of the older teachers and perhaps some of the older students will recall--that upon one day, when we were least expecting it, he stopped his private car off here at Chehaw and appeared here upon our grounds, and some of us will recall how he went into every department of the institution, how he went into the classrooms, how he went through the shops, how he went through the farm, how he went through the dining-room; I remember how he went to each table, and took pieces of bread from the table and broke them and examined the bread to see how well it was cooked, and even tasted some of it as he went into the kitchen. He wanted to be sure how we were doing things here at Tuskegee. Then after he had made this visit of examination for himself, after he had studied our financial condition, then after a number of months had passed by, he consented to permit us to use his name as one of our Trustees, and from the beginning to the end we never had such a trustee. He was one who devoted himself night and day, winter and summer, in season and out of season, to the interests of this institution. Now, having spoken this word, you can understand the thoughts and the feelings of some of us on this occasion as we think of the services of this great and good man.
"It is one of the privileges of people who are not always
classed among the popular people of earth to have strong friends for the reason that nobody but a strong man will endure the public criticism that so often comes to one who is the friend of a weak or unpopular race. This, in the words of another, is one of the advantages enjoyed sometimes by a disadvantaged race."
Naturally no account of Booker Washington's administration of the great institution which he built would be complete without some mention of Mrs. Washington's part in her husband's work. Aside from her duties as wife, mother, and home maker--duties which any ordinary woman would find quite exacting enough to absorb all her time, thought, and strength particularly in view of the fact that a wide hospitality is part of the rôle--Mrs. Washington, as director of women's industries, is one of the half-dozen leading executives of the institution. In addition to her many and varied family and official duties at the Institute Mrs. Washington has always been a leader in social service and club work among the women of her race throughout the country, and has besides all this come to be a kind of mother confessor, advisor, and guide to hundreds of young men and women. We will conclude this chapter by quoting in large part an article written by Mr. Scott and published some years ago in the Ladies' Home Journal, which describes how and when Mrs. Washington entered her husband's life and work and the part she played in his affairs:
"Even before the war closed there came to the South on the heels of the army of emancipation an army of
school teachers. They came to perfect with the spelling-book and the reader the work that the soldiers had begun with the sword. It was during this period in the little straggling village of Macon, Miss., that a little girl, called then Margaret Murray, but who is known now as Mrs. Booker T. Washington, was born. When she grew old enough to count she found herself one of a family of ten and, like nearly all children of Negro parentage, at that time, very poor.
"In the grand army of teachers who went South in 1864 and 1865 were many Quakers. Prevented by the tenets of their religion from entering the army as soldiers these people were the more eager to do the not less difficult and often dangerous work of teachers among the freedmen after the war was over.
"One of the first memories of her childhood is of her father's death. It was when she was seven years old. The next day she went to the Quaker school teachers, a brother and sister, Sanders by name, and never went back home to live.
"Thus at seven she became the arbiter of her own fate. The incident is interesting in showing thus early a certain individuality and independence of character which she has exhibited all through her life. In the breaking or loosening of the family relations after the death of her father she determined to bestow herself upon her Quaker neighbors. The secret of it, of course, was that the child was possessed even then with a passion for knowledge which has never since deserted her. Rarely does a day
pass that Mrs. Washington amid the cares of her household, of the school, and of the many philanthropic and social enterprises in which she takes a leading part, does not devote half or three-quarters of an hour to downright study.
"And so it was that Margaret Murray became at seven a permanent part of the Quaker household, and became to all intents and purposes, so far as her habits of thought and religious attitude are concerned, herself a Quaker.
"'And in those early days,' says Mrs. Washington, laughing, 'I learned easily and quickly. It was only after I grew up that I began to grow dull. I used to sit up late at night and get up early in the morning to study my lessons. I was not always a good child, I am sorry to say, and sometimes I would hide away under the house in order to read and study.' . . .
"When Margaret Murray was fourteen years old the good Quaker teacher said one day, 'Margaret, would thee like to teach?' That very day the little girl borrowed a long skirt and went downtown to the office of Judge Ames, and took her examination. It was not a severe examination. Judge Ames had known Margaret all her life and he had known her father, and in those days white people were more lenient with Negro teachers than they are now. They did not expect so much of them. And so, the next day, Margaret Murray stepped into the schoolroom where she had been the day before a pupil and became a teacher. . . .
"Then Margaret heard of the school at Nashville--
Fisk University--and she went there. She had a little money when she started to school, and with that and what she was able to earn at the school and by teaching during vacations she managed to work her way as--what was termed rather contemptuously in those days--a 'half-rater.' It was not the fashion at that time, in spite of the poverty of the colored people, for students to work their way through school.
"In those days very little had been heard at Fisk of Tuskegee, of Hampton, or of Booker T. Washington. Students who expected to be teachers were looking forward to going to Texas. Texas has always been more favorable to Negro education than other Southern States and has always got the best of Negro public school teachers.
"But upon graduation day, June, 1889, Booker T. Washington was at Fisk, and he sat opposite Margaret Murray at table. About that time it was arranged that she should go to Texas, but, without knowing just how it came about, she decided to go to Tuskegee and become what was then called the Lady Principal of the school. Mrs. Washington has been at Tuskegee ever since.
"Mrs. Washington's duties as the wife of the Principal of the Tuskegee Institute are many and various. She has charge of all the industries for girls. She gives much time to the extension work of the school, which includes the 'Mothers' meetings' in the town of Tuskegee and the 'plantation settlement' nearby. Her most characteristic trait, however, is a boundless sympathy which has made her a sort of Mother Confessor to students and
teachers of the Institute. All go to her for comfort and advice.
"The 'mothers' meetings' grew out of the first Tuskegee Negro Conference held at Tuskegee in February, 1892. Mrs. Washington, as she sat in the first meeting of Negro farmers and heard what they had to say, was impressed with the fact that history was repeating itself. Here again, as in the early days of the woman's suffrage movement, women had no place worth mentioning in the important concerns of life outside the household. While there were many women present at this first conference, they did not seem to realize that they had any interest in the practical affairs that were being discussed by their sons and husbands. While her husband was trying to give these farmers new ideas, new hopes, new aspirations, the thought came to Mrs. Washington that the Tuskegee village was the place for her to begin a work which should eventually include all the women of the county and of the neighboring counties. The country colored women crowd into the villages of the South on Saturday, seeking to vary the monotony of their hard and cheerless lives. Mrs. Washington determined to get hold of these women and utilize the time spent in town to some good purpose. Accordingly, the first mothers' meeting was organized in the upper story of an old store which then stood on the main street of the village. The stairs were so rickety that the women were almost afraid to ascend them. It answered the purpose temporarily, however, and there was no rent to pay. How to get the women to the meeting
was, for a time, a question. For fear of opposition Mrs. Washington took no one into her confidence except the man who let her have the room. She sent a small boy through the streets with the instruction to go to every colored woman loitering about the streets and say: 'There is a woman upstairs who has something for you.' Mrs. Washington says: 'That first meeting I can never forget. The women came, and each one, as she entered, looked at me and seemed to say, 'Where is it?' We talked it all over, the needs of our women of the country, the best way of helping each other, and there and then began the first mothers' meeting which now has in its membership two hundred and twenty-nine women.'
"Mrs. Washington asked some of the teachers at Tuskegee to begin to help these people (the people of the country districts surrounding the school). At first they went to the plantation (selected for the purpose) on Sundays only. Mrs. Washington selected what seemed to be the most promising cabin and asked the woman who lived there if she could come to that house the next Sunday and hold a meeting. When the party went down early the next Sunday morning a stout new broom was taken along. Making the woman a present of the broom, it was suggested that all take a hand in cleaning the house a little before the people should begin to come. The woman took the broom and swept half of the room, when Mrs. Washington volunteered to finish the job.
"She had not gone far along on her half before the
woman was saying: 'Oh, Mis' Washington, lemme take de brom an' do mah half ovah.' Mrs. Washington says: 'I have always thought that that one unconscious lesson in thoroughness was the foundation of our work on that plantation.' . . .
"Not the least of the duties which fall to Mrs. Washington is that of caring for the distinguished people who visit the Tuskegee Institute. The Tuskegee rule that everything must be in readiness for the inspection of visitors, as much so in the kitchen as in any other department of the school, prevails in her home also.
"An interesting part of this home life is the Sunday morning breakfast. The teachers have slept later than usual, and, through the year, when Mr. Washington is at home, they are invited in groups of three and four to share this morning meal. In this way he keeps in personal touch with each of his teachers; he knows what they are doing; he hears their complaints, if they have any; he counsels with them; they 'get together.'
"Mrs. Washington's labors for the good of her people are not confined to the school. She is (has been) president of the Southern Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, editor of the official organ of the National Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, of which she is also an officer. She is a frequent contributor to the newspapers and magazines. (Mrs. Washington has since served two terms as president of the National Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.)
"Mr. Washington's own estimate of his wife's
helpfulness to him may be gathered from his tribute in his widely read autobiography, 'Up from Slavery': 'She is completely one with me in the work directly connected with the school, relieving me of many burdens and perplexities.'"
JUST as in the first chapter we sought to show the man in the making, so in this last chapter we shall seek to picture him as he became in the full fruition of his life. In the fully developed man of the last decade of his life we find the same traits and qualities which began to show themselves in those early years of constant struggle and frequent privation. There is the same intense mental and physical activity; the same readiness to fight against any odds in a good cause; the same modesty, frankness, open-mindedness, and passion for service.
One of the many illustrations of this intense activity was shown in a trip he made to Atlanta, Ga., three or four years before he died. Even at this time his strength had begun to wane. In accordance with his unfailing practice he got up at six o'clock in the morning, and after visiting his poultry and his beloved pigs, mounted his horse and rode over farms and grounds inspecting crops and buildings and what-not until eight o'clock, when he went to his office and attacked his huge morning's mail. After dictating for an hour or more he left his office just in time to catch a train which brought him to Atlanta at two o'clock in the afternoon.
noon. At the station he shook hands with four hundred people who had gathered to meet him. As he went along the streets to the Government Building he shook hands with many others who recognized him in passing. At the Government Building he shook hands with another large group assembled there to meet him. After the dinner tendered him by some of the leading individuals and associations among the Negroes of the city he posed for his photograph with a group of those at the dinner. He then made a tour of the city by motor, during which he visited three or four schools for Negroes and at each made a half-hour speech into which, as always, he threw all the force and energy there was in him.
After supper that evening he addressed twelve hundred people in the Auditorium Armory, speaking for an hour and a half. From the armory he went to a banquet given in his honor where he gave a twenty-minute talk. He did not get to bed until one o'clock. Four hours later he took a return train which brought him back to the school by ten-thirty. He went at once to his office and to work, working until late in the afternoon when he called for his horse and took his usual ride before supper. After supper he presided at a meeting of the Executive Council and after the Council meeting he attended the Chapel exercises. After these exercises were over at ten o'clock he made an inspection on foot of various parts of the buildings and grounds before going to bed. By just such excessive overwork did he constantly undermine and finally break down his almost superhuman strength and powers of endurance.
This he did with an obstinate persistence in spite of wise and increasingly urgent warnings from physicians, friends, and associates. Where his own health was concerned he obdurately refused to listen to reason. It would almost seem as though he had deliberately chosen to put forth herculean efforts until he dropped from sheer exhaustion rather than to work with moderation for a longer span of life.
Booker Washington was a man who thought, lived, and acted on a very high plane. He was, in other words, an idealist, but unlike too many idealists he was sternly practical. His mind worked with the rapidity of flashes of lightning, particularly when he was aroused. This led him at times to feel and show impatience in dealing with slower-minded people, particularly his subordinates. He was often stirred to righteous indignation by injustice, but always kept his temper under control. He had a lucid mind which reasoned from cause to effect with machine-like accuracy. His intuitions were amazingly keen and accurate. In other words, his subconscious reasoning powers were very highly developed. Consequently his judgments of men and events were almost infallible. Although practically devoid of personal vanity, he was a very proud and independent man, and one who could not brook dictation from any one or bear to be under obligation to any one. He had the tenacity of a bulldog. His capacity for incessant work and his unswerving pursuit of a purpose once formed, were a constant marvel to those who surrounded him. While he was without conceit or vanity he
had almost unlimited self-confidence. While it cannot be said that he overrated his own abilities, neither can it be said that he underrated them. His sympathies were easily aroused and he was abnormally sensitive, but he never allowed his emotions to get the better of his judgment. He forgave easily and always tried to find excuses for people who wronged, insulted, or injured him. In repartee he could hold his own with any one and enjoyed nothing more than a duel of wits either with an individual or an audience.
Less than a month before he died, when he was wasted by disease and suffering almost constant pain, he received this letter of appeal from Madame Helena Paderewski:
New York, October 26, 1915.
MY DEAR MR. WASHINGTON: I am writing you a very personal letter on a subject that is close to my heart, and I know the message it carries will find a response in your generous sympathy. It is with great pleasure that I recall our meeting, some years ago, and I have watched the success of your work among your people with sincere satisfaction, for I have always been an advocate of the principles for which you stand, the uplift of the colored race.
It is because I know you have ever directed your broad influence toward the most worthy causes that I am asking you in the name of the starving babies and their helpless mothers, to tell your people that we need them in our work of sending food and medicines to Poland. We need, my dear sir, even the smallest contribution that your beloved followers may offer, and I beg of you to make an appeal to your people. Tell them, for they may not all know as well
as you, yourself, that it was a Pole--Kosciusko--who, in addition to fighting for American liberty, gave that which he needed himself to help the colored race. As you will recall, after refusing the grant of land offered him in recognition of his services in the War of the Revolution, he returned to Poland, not wishing to accept a reward for doing what he considered a sublime duty to those in need. Later, after eight years, when he again visited America, he was given a pension as General in the American Army. With the back pay during his absence, the sum amounted to about $15,000. Although poor himself, he felt deep compassion for the neglected colored children and, with the money given him, he established the first school in America devoted exclusively to the education of the colored youth.
I am sure you know the story in all its details, but I desire the colored people of America to know that to-day the descendants of the man who--unasked--aided them-- plead for a crust of bread, a spoonful of milk for their hungry children. Tell them this and God will bless and prosper you in your telling and them in their giving. Do not think that small amounts are useless--five cents may save a life. I am sending Mr. Paderewski's appeal, but conditions, to-day, are worse now than when it was written. Will you help Poland? Will you do it now?
Please reply to Hotel Gotham.
Yours in work for humanity,
[Signed] HELENA PADEREWSKI.Dr. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee, Alabama.
In spite of disease, pain, and weakness--in spite of the fact that he must have realized that his remaining time for his own chosen work had narrowed down to a matter of
weeks--he instantly responded to this appeal. Immediately he sent Madame Paderewski's letter to the Negro press of the entire country with this explanatory note:
Madame Helena Paderewski, wife of the famous pianist, has addressed a letter to Dr. Booker T. Washington, of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, making an appeal for the Polish victims of the European War. The letter is sent to the press with the thought that there may be those among the Negro people who may feel disposed to respond to Madame Paderewski's appeal.
An organization known as the Polish Victims' Relief Fund has been organized, with headquarters in Aeolian Building, 35 West Forty-Second Street, New York City. Madame Paderewski's letter follows, etc.
Immediately after Mr. Washington's death Mrs. Washington received the following note from Madame Paderewski:
New York, November 15, 1916.
Mrs. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee, Alabama.
MY DEAR MRS. WASHINGTON: It was with a feeling of personal loss that I read this morning of the death of Dr. Washington. I have always admired his courage and wonderful ability, and his passing at this time brings a double sorrow, for in this morning's mail I received a copy of the Tuskegee Student containing my letter and appeal to Dr. Washington. I wish it had been possible for me to have thanked him for what he has done, but I am sure that the Heavenly Father will bless this and the many other good works with which he was connected.
I desire you to know how much I appreciate the kindness of Dr. Washington and how highly I esteemed him. Please accept my deep sympathy and believe me,
Very sincerely yours,
[Signed] HELENA PADEREWSKI.
Although apparently indifferent to the treatment he received from those about him Booker Washington was in reality, as has been said, unusually sensitive. No matter what his engagements he always insisted upon being at home with his wife and children on Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas. One Christmas, about ten years ago, it so happened that no Christmas presents were provided for him. The children gave presents to one another and to their mother and she to them, but through oversight there were no presents for Mr. Washington. Mrs. Washington says that after the presents had been opened her husband drew her aside and said in broken tones: "Maggie, they've not given me a single Christmas present!" From then on Mrs. Washington saw to it that the children remembered their father at Christmas.
In Birmingham, Ala., about three years before his death, he and his secretary entered an office building one day to call on one of the Tuskegee Trustees whose office was on the top floor. When they looked for an elevator they were referred by the hall man to the elevator for colored people. On this elevator was a sign reading, "For Negroes and Freight." His secretary expected him to comment on this, but he said nothing and seemed hardly to notice it.
Mr. Washington feeding his chickens with green stuffs raised in his own garden
Mr. Washington in his onion patch
Mr. Washington sorting in his lettuce bed
That evening, in addressing a great audience of both races in one of the big theatres of the city, he was urging the Negroes to look upon their Southern white neighbors as their friends and to turn to them for advice when he said very slowly and distinctly: "I visited, this morning, a building which had on the elevator for colored people a sign reading, 'For Negroes and Freight.' Now, my friends, that is mighty discouraging to the colored man!" At this not only the colored people, but the white people sprang to their feet and shouted, many of them, "You're right, Doctor!" "That's mean!" "That's not fair!" and other such expressions.
Every morning before breakfast when at home Mr. Washington would visit his chickens, pigs, and cows. He said of finding the newly laid eggs: "I like to find the new eggs each morning myself, and am selfish enough to permit no one else to do this in my place. As with growing plants, there is a sense of freshness and newness and restfulness in connection with the finding and handling of newly laid eggs that is delightful to me. Both the realization and the anticipation are most pleasing. I begin the day by seeing how many eggs I can find or how many little chicks there are that are just beginning to creep through the shells. I am deeply interested in the different kinds of fowls, and always grow a number of different breed's at my own home."
But none of the animals interested him and aroused his enthusiasm as did the pigs. He always kept on his own place some choice specimens of Berkshires and Poland
Chinas at whose shrine he worshipped each morning. Also he always insisted that the swine herd of the Institute be kept recruited up to full strength and in fact considerably beyond full strength in the opinion of the Agricultural Director who in vain protested that it was not profitable to keep so large a herd. It would be interesting to know whether the great economic importance of the pig to his race was at the bottom of Booker Washington's fondness for the animal.
After breakfast he mounted his horse and made a round of the Institute farms, truck gardens, dormitories, and shops before going to his office and attacking his huge correspondence. This correspondence, both in its dimensions and catholicity, was typical of the man. His daily incoming mail amounted to between 125 and 150 letters. The outgoing ran to between 500 and 1,000 letters daily--in large part, of course, "campaign letters," as he called them, letters seeking to interest new friends in the work of the Institute, and others keeping in touch with friends already interested, etc. His advice, opinion, or comments were sought on every conceivable subject both by serious and sensible men and women and by cranks of both races. Hundreds of the humbler people of his own race were constantly applying to him for information and advice as to whether it would be profitable to start this or that business venture, or whether or not it would be possible to establish a school in this or that community, and how they should set about it.
Booker Washington's sense of justice was unquenchable.
While at Coden-on-the-Bay, near Mobile, Ala., in September, 1915, snatching a few days of rest and recreation as a palliative for the insidious disease which was so soon to end his life, he was distressed by a newspaper report of the killing of a number of Haitians by United States Marines. He read the report in a Mobile paper late one afternoon on his return from a fishing trip. He went to bed but could not sleep. The misfortunes of the turbulent little black republic seethed through his mind. Early in the morning, while his companions were still sleeping, he awakened the inevitable stenographer and dictated an article counselling patience in dealing with the unfortunate little country. This article, dictated by a dying man on the impulse of the moment, briefly recites the history of Haiti from the period over a hundred years ago when the people of the island wrested their liberty from France under the leadership of Toussaint L'Ouverture, up to the present time. He then says in part:
"Associated Press dispatches a few days ago stated that forty or fifty Haitians had been killed on Haytian soil in one day by American marines and a number of marines wounded. To every black man in the United States this dispatch brought a feeling of disappointment and sorrow. While, as I have stated, the United States, under the circumstances, was compelled to take notice of conditions in Haiti and is being compelled to control matters, largely because of the fault of the Haitians, I had hoped that the United States would be patient in dealing with the Haitian Government and people. The United States has been
patient with Germany. It has been patient in the Philippines. It has been exceedingly patient in dealing with Mexico. I hope this country will be equally patient and more than patient in dealing with Haiti--a weaker and more unfortunate country!
"I very much wish that it might have been possible for the United States to have taken a little more time in making known to the Haitians the purposes we have in mind in taking over the control of their custom houses and their governmental affairs. While everything that we intend to do, and have in mind to do, is perfectly plain to the officials of the United States, we must remember that all this is not perfectly plain to the Haitians. It would have been worth while, in my opinion, before attempting arbitrarily to force Haiti to sign the treaty put before its officials, to have spent a little time and a little patience in informing the Haitian people of the unselfish benevolence of our intentions. They, in time, would have understood why it is necessary to intervene in their affairs.
"Another reason, in my opinion, why patience may be manifested in this matter is that the treaty, even at the best, cannot be ratified by the United States Senate until it meets in regular session in December, unless the President calls it in special session earlier. "I confess that while I am unschooled in such matters, since reading the treaty the Haitians have been told they must ratify, it seems to me rather harsh and precipitate; one cannot be surprised that the Haitians have hesitated to agree to all the conditions provided for in this treaty.
No wonder they have hesitated when they have had so little time in which to understand it, when the masses of the Haitian people know little or nothing of what the treaty contemplates.
"The way matters are now going, there is likely to be bitterness and war. The United States, in the end, will conquer, will control, will have its way, but it is one thing to conquer a people through love, through unselfish interest in their welfare, and another thing to conquer them through the bullet, through the shotgun. Shooting civilization into the Haitians on their own soil will be an amazing spectacle. Sending marines as diplomats and Mauser bullets as messengers of destruction breed riot and anarchy, and are likely to leave a legacy of age-long hatreds and regrets.
"I also hope the United States will not pursue a mere negative policy in Haiti, that is, a policy of controlling the customs and what-not, without going further in progressive, constructive directions. In a word, the United States now has an opportunity to do a big piece of fine work for Haiti in the way of education, something the island has never had. I hope some way will be provided by which a portion of the revenues will be used in giving the people a thorough, up-to-date system of common school, agricultural, and industrial education. Here is an excellent opportunity for some of the young colored men and women of the United States who have been educated in the best methods of education in this country to go to Haiti and help their fellows. Here is an opportunity for
some of the most promising Haitian boys and girls to be sent to schools in the United States. Here is an opportunity for us to use our influence and power in giving the Haitians something they have never had, and that is education, real education. At least 95 per cent. of the people, as I have said, are unlettered and ignorant so far as books are concerned."
Booker Washington's self-control was never more needed than on an occasion at Tuskegee described by T. Thomas Fortune, the Negro author and publicist. A Confederate veteran who had lost an arm fighting for the Confederacy and who had served for a number of years in Congress was on the program to speak at a Tuskegee meeting. This Confederate veteran had a great liking for Mr. Washington and believed in his ideas on the importance of industrial education for the colored people. Mr. Fortune says:
"John C. Dancy, a colored man, at that time Collector of Customs at Wilmington, N. C., was to speak first, the Confederate veteran second, and I was to follow the latter. Mr. Dancy is an unusually bright and eloquent man. Mr. Dancy paid a glowing tribute to the New England men and women who had built up the educational interest among the colored people after the war, of which Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes are lasting monuments. Mr. Dancy had plenty of applause from the great concourse of countrymen, but his address made the white speaker furious. When the former Congressman was called upon to speak he showed plainly that he was agitated out of his
self-restraint. Without any introductory remarks whatever, he said, as I remember it:
"'I have written this address for you,' waving it at the audience, 'but I will not deliver it. I want to give you niggers a few words of plain talk and advice. No such address as you have just listened to is going to do you any good; it's going to spoil you. You had better not listen to such speeches. You might just as well understand that this is a white man's country, as far as the South is concerned, and we are going to make you keep your place. Understand that. I have nothing more to say to you.'
"The audience was taken back as much by the bluntness of the remarks as if they had been doused with cold water. Indignation was everywhere visible on the countenances of the people. But Mr. Washington appeared unruffled. On the contrary, his heavy jaw was hard set and his eyes danced in a merry measure. It was a time to keep one's temper and wits, and he did so, as usual. Without betraying any feeling in the matter, and when everybody expected him to announce the next speaker, he said:
"'Ladies and Gentlemen: I am sure you will agree with me that we have had enough eloquence for one occasion. We shall listen to the next speaker at another occasion, when we are not so fagged out. We will now rise, sing the doxology, and be dismissed.'
"The audience did so, but it was the most funereal proceeding I had ever witnessed upon such an occasion. Mr. Washington's imperturbable good nature alone saved the day."
Some time after President Roosevelt had begun to consult Booker Washington on practically all his appointments and policies which particularly affected the relations between the races, and after several Southern white men had been given Federal appointments on Mr. Washington's recommendation, the bitterness against him grew so intense, especially among the "Talented Tenth" element of the Northern Negroes, that he decided to meet a group of their leaders face to face, and have it out. Accordingly, through Mr. Fortune, he arranged to meet a number of these men at a dinner at Young's Hotel in Boston. Mr. Fortune thus describes what took place:
"At the proper time, when the coffee and cigars were served, I arose and told the diners that Dr. Washington had desired to meet them at the banquet table and at the proper time to have each one of them express freely his opinion of the race question, and how best the race could be served in the delicate crisis through which it was then passing. Each of the speakers launched into a tirade against Dr. Washington and his policies and methods, many of them in lofty flights of speech they had learned at Harvard University. The atmosphere was dense with discontent and denunciation.
"The climax was reached when William H. Lewis, the famous Harvard football coach, told Dr. Washington to go back South, and attend to his work of educating the Negro and 'leave to us the matters political affecting the race.' Every eye was upon Dr. Washington's face, but none of them could read anything in it; it was as inscrutable as a
wooden Indian's. When every one of them had had his say, I called upon Dr. Washington to respond to the speakers who had unburdened themselves. Dr. Washington rose slowly, and with a slip of paper in his hand, said:
"'Gentlemen, I want to tell you about what we are doing at Tuskegee Institute in the Black Belt of Alabama.'
"For more than a half-hour he told them of the needs and the work without once alluding to anything that had been said in heat and anger by those to whom he spoke. He held them close to him by his simple recital, with here and there a small blaze of eloquence, and then thanking them for the candor with which they had spoken, sat down. They were all disappointed, as they expected that he would attempt to excuse himself for the things they had complained of."
At the time of Mr. Washington's death, the same William H. Lewis, who told him at this time to go back to the South and attend to his work and "leave to us the matters political affecting the race," said of him:
"Words, like tears, are vain and idle things to express the great anguish I feel at the untimely death of Booker Washington. He was my friend who understood me and believed in me. I did not always believe in him because I did not understand him. I first saw and heard him when a junior at Amherst in the early 90's, when he spoke at Old John Brown's church in Springfield, where I journeyed to hear him. I could not then appreciate his love for the Southern people and his gospel of work. I
even doubted his loyalty to his race. When I came to Boston I joined in with his most violent and bitterest critics. The one thing that I am so thankful for is that I early saw the light and came to appreciate and understand the great work of Booker T. Washington.
"I have just finished reading an old letter from him, date, October 1, 1901, in which he said: 'The main point of this letter is to say I believe that both you and I are going to be in a position in the future to serve the race effectually, and while it is very probable that we shall always differ as to detailed methods of lifting up the race, it seems to me that if we agree in each doing our best to lift it up the main point will have been gained, and I am sure that in our anxiety to better the condition of the race there is no difference between us, and I shall be delighted to work in hearty coöperation with you.'
"Since then, I have known him intimately and well. He was unselfish and generous to a fault; he was modest yet masterful; he was quiet yet intense; his common sense and sagacity seemed uncanny, such was his knowledge of human nature. His was a great soul in which no bitterness or littleness could even find a lurking place. His was the great heart of Lincoln, with malice toward none and charity for all. He loved all men and all men loved him.
"My humble prayer is that his torch has lighted another among the dark millions of America, to lead the race onward and upward."
Booker Washington's insistence that the classrooms,
shops, and farms were for the development of the students rather than the students for their development was well illustrated by a remark he once made to Bishop William Lawrence of Massachusetts when the Bishop was visiting the Institute. In reply to Bishop Lawrence's question as to whether he had chosen the best available land for his agricultural work, he said, "No, sir, I chose pretty nearly the poorest land I could find. I chose land on which men would have to spend all their energies to bring out the life in the land. They work here under the hardest conditions. When they go out to other lands--to their own lands, perhaps--they won't find any worse land to till. If they find any better land the difference will be all gain for them."
Perhaps more remarkable than any or all of his achievements was the fact that Booker Washington was a gentleman. It would be difficult to find a man who better conformed to the exacting yet illusive requirements of that term. He had not only the naturalness and the goodness of heart which are the fundamentals, but he had also the breeding and the polish which distinguish the finished gentleman from the "rough diamond." This fact about Booker Washington has been well described by Hamilton Wright Mabie in an article entitled: "Booker T. Washington: Gentleman," in which he says in part:
"Booker Washington became one of the foremost men in America; he was heard on great occasions by great audiences with profound attention; he was a writer and speaker of National position, the founder of a college, and the
organizing leader of a race in ideas and industry. These were notable achievements; but there was another achievement which was in its way more notable. Without any advantages of birth or station or training, a member of an ostracized race, with the doors of social life closed in his face, Dr. Washington was a gentleman. I recall two illustrations of this quality of nature, often lacking in men of great ability and usefulness. The first was in Stafford House, London, the residence of the Duke of Sutherland. The older Duke was the lifelong friend of Queen Victoria; and once, when she was going to Stafford House, she wrote the Duke that she was about to leave her uninteresting house for his beautiful palace. Nothing could be more stately than the great hall of Stafford House, with its two marble stairways ascending to the galleries above; and when the Duchess of Sutherland, standing on the dais from which the stairs ascended, received her guests she reminded more than one of her guests of the splendid picture drawn by Edmund Burke of Marie Antoinette moving like a star through the palace of Versailles. On that evening Dr. Washington was present. At one time in one of the rooms he happened to be talking with the duchess and two other women of high rank, two of them women of great beauty and stateliness. There were some people present who were evidently very much impressed by their surroundings. Booker Washington seemed to be absolutely unconscious of the splendor of the house in which he was, or of the society in which for the moment he found himself. Born in a hut without a door-sill, he
was at ease in the most stately and beautiful private palace in London.
"On another occasion there was to be a Tuskegee meeting at Bar Harbor. The Casino had been beautifully decorated for a dance the night before. The harbor was full of yachts, the tennis courts of fine-looking young men and women; it was a picture of luxury tempered with intelligence. Mr. Washington was looking out of the window. Presently he turned to me and said, with a smile, 'And last Wednesday morning I was eating breakfast in a shanty in Alabama; there were five of us and we had one spoon!'"
At the time of his stay in London, during which this reception at Stafford House took place, he was given a luncheon by a group of distinguished men to which Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister, was invited. In reply, Mr. Asquith sent this note:
10 Downing Street, Whitehall, S. W. 26th September, 1910.
DEAR SIR: I much regret that my engagements do not allow me to accept your invitation to be present at the luncheon which it is proposed to give in honor of Mr. Booker T. Washington. I feel sure, however, that he will be welcomed with a cordiality which his persistent and successful labors in the cause of the education of the American Negro deserve, especially at the hands of English men, whose difficulties in many parts of the Empire have been helped toward a solution by the results of his work.
[Signed] H. H. ASQUITH.
While at home, no matter how pressed and driven with work, Booker Washington snatched an hour or so every day for hunting or riding. This daily exercise became a fetich with him which he clung to with unreasonable obstinacy. He would frequently set off upon these hunts or rides in so exhausted a condition that obviously their only effect could be worse exhaustion. His intense admiration for Theodore Roosevelt probably had its influence, conscious or unconscious, in strengthening his devotion to violent outdoor exercise.
Whatever he was doing or wherever he was, his mind seemed constantly at work along constructive lines. At the most unexpected times and places he would suddenly call the inevitable stenographer and dictate some idea for an article or address or some plan for the improvement of Tuskegee or for the betterment of the whole race in this or that particular. He would sometimes reduce his immediate subordinates to the verge of despair by pouring out upon them in rapid succession constructive suggestions each one of which meant hours, days, and even weeks of time to work out, and then calling for the results of all before even one could be fairly put into effect. This tendency became particularly marked in his closing years when the consciousness of an immense amount of work to be done and a short and constantly lessening period in which to do it must have become an obsession and almost a nightmare to him.
He would sometimes wound the feelings of acquaintances and friends, particularly his teachers, by passing
them on the street and even looking at them without recognition. This naturally was not intentional, nor was it because his mind was wool-gathering, but merely because he was thinking out some idea with which the people and events immediately about him had for the moment no connection and were consequently totally obliterated from his consciousness.
Mr. Washington's strength of will and determination were never better shown than in the closing hours of his life. When he was told by his doctors at St. Luke's Hospital, New York, whither he had been taken by the New York trustees of the Institute after his final collapse, that he had but a few hours to live, he insisted upon starting for home at once. His physicians expostulated and warned him that in his condition he could not reasonably expect to survive the journey. He insisted that he must go and be true to his oft-repeated assertion, "I was born in the South, I have lived and labored in the South, and I expect to die and be buried in the South." This remark, when sent out in the Associated Press dispatches announcing his death, touched the South as nothing else could have. No Negro was ever eulogized in the Southern press as he was. Long accounts of his career and death with sympathetic and appreciative editorial comments appeared in most of the Southern papers.
One of the doctors who was called in to attend him at the time he was taken to the hospital remarked that it was "uncanny to see a man up and about who ought by all the laws of nature to be dead." In this condition,
then, he set out upon the long journey from New York to Tuskegee. When the party reached the Pennsylvania Station an invalid's chair was awaiting him, but he declined to use it, and leaning on the arms of his companions walked or rather tottered to his seat in the train. As soon as the train began to move Southward a slight invigoration of triumph seemed to come over him which increased as the journey continued, until at its close he seemed stronger than when he started. All along the way he would inquire at frequent intervals what point they had reached. The reaching and passing of each important station such as Greensboro, Charlotte, and Atlanta he would seem to score up in his mind's eye as a new triumph. And when finally he reached Chehaw, the little station five miles from Tuskegee, he was fairly trembling with eager expectancy. As we have said, he reached Tuskegee apparently stronger than when he left New York and strong enough to enjoy the final triumph of his indomitable will over his overworked and weakened body. The next morning, November 14, 1915, he was dead.
Of the myriads of tributes to Booker Washington by white men and black both North and South, which were spoken from platforms and pulpits and printed in newspapers and periodicals throughout the length and breadth not only of America but the world, there are two which we feel irresistibly compelled to use in concluding this chapter and book. One is the tribute of a former student, Isaac Fisher, president of the Tuskegee Alumni Association, speaking for the graduates at the memorial exercises
held at Tuskegee on December 12, 1915; the other is the tribute of one of his teachers, Clement Richardson, head of the division of English, speaking in effect for the Tuskegee teachers in an article published in the Survey of December 4, 1915.
At this memorial meeting, after being introduced by Seth Low, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, as the representative of the Tuskegee Alumni Association, Mr. Fisher said:
"Mr. Chairman: The greatest citizens of this nation have paused long enough to pay tributes of honor to the memory of Dr. Washington; and to-night some of the world's most distinguished citizens are present to say their words of love for the departed chieftain whose body lies in a grave just outside of those walls. In the presence of these great men I do not see why you have asked me, one of the least of all, to add my simple praise.
"But I can say that no persons have sustained so great a loss as have the members of the Tuskegee Alumni Association; and I come to bear testimony to the depth and sincerity of their grief.
"There is a story which has not yet been told, in connection with the spread of industrial education in the South and throughout the entire country. I must tell that story here before I can make clear just how great is the Alumni's loss.
"In telling of the spread of industrial education, during the past twenty-five years, we seem not to know that the work has been difficult and prosecuted at great sacrifice on
the part of the Tuskegee graduates who have sought to interpret Dr. Washington's theory that economic fitness was the basis of racial growth in many other directions.
"The people did not take kindly to this form of education, believing that it was the same old slavery from which we have emerged under a new name; and the Tuskegee graduates have prosecuted their work in the face of the misrepresentations, prejudice, opposition, and ridicule of those of their own race who could or would not understand the spirit of industrial education--a spirit broader and finer than the phrase suggests. More than this: in the communities where they have worked it has been the fashion to permit our graduates to do the difficult tasks and carry all the burdens of leadership; but if there were any honors to be bestowed, they were given to the graduates of other schools.
"Being human and denied those honors and public marks of esteem which always gladden the heart, these Tuskegee men and women have often grown discouraged and have been tempted to lay down their work. But like Daniel, when those gloomy hours came, they have turned their faces toward Jerusalem, to Tuskegee, over which the great spirit of Dr. Washington brooded and lived; and from this place he has sent back to them whenever they have called, encouragement, counsel, and help.
"Sometimes they have been so depressed that they have come to Tuskegee just to see and talk with their prophet once more and to be baptized again in his sweet and noble spirit. Many times we have seen them here and wondered
at their presence. They were here to receive comfort, and to hear Mr. Washington say in his own convincing manner: 'It has been my experience that if a man will do the right thing and go ahead, everything will be all right at last.' And these men and women who have sat at his feet and who trusted him have gone back to their work with new and increasing strength.
"But now Dr. Washington is gone, and the graduates of the school will never again receive his counsel and encouragement, however gloomy their paths may be. That is the measure of our loss.
"And yet our Principal is not buried out yonder. It is his tired body which is resting just beyond that wall; but he is not buried in that grave. The real Dr. Washington is buried in the graduates who sat at his feet and imbibed his spirit, and he lives in them.
"King David, pondering over God's mercies and goodness to him, thinking of how he had been taken from minding sheep and placed upon the throne of Israel; and how God had guided and protected him and made his name great in the earth, exclaimed reverently, one day, 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits unto me?' and he answered his question, in part, by saying: 'I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all the people.'
"If all our graduates could speak to-night, they would have me pay their vows of gratitude for the opportunity to make blessed and beautiful their lives, given by our great teacher; and they would have me give public assurance of
their fealty to the work for which Mr. Washington gave his life.
"And so, Mr. Chairman, in the name of the Alumni Association and in the spirit of him whose body lies buried just beyond those walls, I pledge you and the Trustees the loyalty of the Tuskegee graduates to whatever work they are called in connection with the realization of Dr. Washington's great purpose. I pledge you their support in the work which you have come to Tuskegee to perform; because we are learning self-government and wish to help prove to the world that we can pass the succession to the Principalship here without revolution. By this time tomorrow night another prophet will have been raised up to serve in the room of the great founder of this school. I want you, Sir, and the Board of Trustees to know that when the proclamation is made that 'The King is Dead!' our Alumni Association will be ready to reply: 'Long Live the King!' and we will faithfully, honestly, and loyally support the person you elect to succeed our great father, whoever that person may be.
"In the furtherance of Dr. Washington's work, the graduates stand ready to say:
"'I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
O'er the mountain, or plain, or sea;
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I'll be what you want me to be.'"
In the Survey article, after briefly describing the ups and downs of Mr. Washington's long fight against a breaking constitution, Mr. Richardson says:
"With such perpetual rallying power who could cope? A latent feeling crept among many that he was immune to pain as he had been to insult and abuse. You know he could steer on over an insult and never see it. Some of us shook our heads and said, 'Why he is good for ten years yet.' Seeing that he thus defied nerves and baffled pain, we hoped. It was in the hour of hope that the last stroke came, and we felt that pulling at the throat which we should have felt had he gone by sudden accident.
"How Tuskegee took Dr. Washington's death can probably best be appreciated by an account of what his life meant among his teachers. Officially he was a stern and exacting task master. A tireless worker himself, he imposed heavy tasks upon others. In the home, however, he had a genius for cheering by little kindnesses and by a thoughtful word. Now he would send around a basket of vegetables from his garden, now a cut of one of his pigs which he had killed and in which he took great delight.
"People who sent books and pictures to Tuskegee can hardly realize what a double pleasure they were shipping: the pleasure they gave him and others through him. He would have the boxes opened and books and pictures brought in to his office. Then from all his heaps of correspondence, from business engagements, from matters of national importance, he would turn aside and go through these himself, culling them out. He would sort a pile here for this family; one there for another, according to what he considered would suit each. Many a time one could
scarcely find a place to step in his office for the pictures and books. In all things he received, but to share.
"Then he had a way of kicking organizations to pieces for a few minutes. If some rural school had a creditable exhibit he would order that the senior class, 150 strong, should be taken there, whether it was one mile or ten miles away. He would order the class out to see how some poor, illiterate farmer had raised a bumper crop of peas, corn, sugar cane, and peanuts, how he surrounded himself with conveniences, both inside and outside the home. Now he would declare a half holiday; now he would allow the students to sleep a half-hour later in the morning.
"In the same way the teachers would get an outing once or twice a year, sometimes at night, sometimes in the day. As the teachers are on duty for both day and night school, and as the students usually rise at 5:30 and breakfast at 6, these little breaks were windfalls. They sent each one back to his labors with a smile. He knew the value of change and the psychology of cheer. No wonder then that when death closed his eyes both teachers and students went about heavy of limb and with eyes that told too plainly what the heart felt.
"Just as he touched the students and teachers with little thoughtful deeds so he touched the town and State, both white and black. One feature of his funeral illustrated how complete had been his triumph over narrow prejudices. He was always talking about the white man up the hollow, back in the woods. How many times have I heard him urge picturesquely upon gatherings of teachers
to 'win that old fellow who, when you begin to talk Negro education and Negro schoolhouse, scratches his head, leans to one side, and looks far away. That's the man,' he would say, 'that you've got to convince that Negro education is not a farce.'
"Well, that man was at Booker T. Washington's funeral. He came there on foot, on horseback, in buggies, in wagons. He was there in working clothes, in slouched hat, with no collar.
"During the service I chanced to stand near the end of the platform. Pretty soon I felt a rough brushing against my elbow. As I turned I saw a small white child, poorly clad, being thrust upon the end of the flower-laden platform. Then followed an old white man, collarless, wearing a dingy blue shirt and a coat somewhat tattered. After him came two strapping fellows, apparently his sons. All grouped themselves there and listened eagerly, freely spitting their tobacco juice on the platform steps and on the floor.
"How thankful would Dr. Washington have been for their presence. What a triumph! Ten years ago those men would not stop at the school. They cursed it, cursed the whole system and the man at the head of it. But quietly, persistently, he had gone on with that everlasting doctrine that service can win even the meanest heart, that an institution had the right to survive in just so far as it dovetailed its life into the life of all the people. Beautiful to behold, to remember forever; there was no race and no class in the Tuskegee chapel on Wednesday morning,
November 17th; heart went out to heart that a common friend had gone.
"Broken as everybody is over the loss, no one is afraid. No panic as to the future of the school disturbs the breasts of the 190 odd teachers here. In the first place, poor as most of us are, we are ready to suffer many a privation before we see the institution slip back the slightest fraction of an inch. All these years it has been on trial, on record. It has been a test, not of a mere school, but of a race. A tacit pledge--not a word has thus far been spoken--has gone out among us that it shall remain on record, that it shall stand here as a breathing evidence that Negroes can bring things to pass.
"Back of this is the unshaken faith in our Board of Trustees. I doubt if such another board exists. It is made up of white men and black men, of men of the North and men of the South. There is not a figurehead among them. Though intensely engaged they go into the details of the workings of the school, getting close to the inner workings and to the lives of the teachers and students.
"Finally, we are confident that the public will have a good deal to say before Tuskegee is let die. The beaten path has been made to her door. Her methods have not only been commended but adopted wholly or in part both in this country and in other lands. Her use is undisputed. She takes students almost literally out of the gutter, puts them on their feet, and sends them out honest, peaceful, useful citizens. This is the ideal for which Dr. Washington
struggled, and over which his life-cord snapped too soon.
"For the same ideal the people at Tuskegee, though broken in spirit, are willing to spend themselves; for they are confident that their cause is just and that the world is with them."