While the boarding department at Tuskegee was able to accommodate some of the students, the large number of incoming students proved to be too much to handle for the small number of facilities on campus. While Washington would send some of the boys to board in off-campus cabins, he did not feel comfortable exposing the girls to the dangers of living in such cabins. As a result, he resolved to build an even bigger building than the one before, one that could accommodate all of the living quarters for the incoming girls.
Whenever Washington accomplishes one goal, he usually starts another, larger project. His narrative is one that is not temporally linear, and he constructs his narrative so that his progress is foregrounded. There is a common construction throughout the narrative moving from uncivilized to civilized, or from squalor to success.
They decided to name the new building “Alabama Hall” in honor of the state that they were serving, and they estimated that its construction would cost ten thousand dollars. Miss Davidson immediately resumed fundraising in the Tuskegee area with both the white and black citizens. The students also immediately began digging the foundation, as they had for the first large building, Porter Hall.
Washington describes this project to highlight the fact that it’s of a larger scope and more expensive than his former projects, and as a result he has larger obstacles to overcome in order for it to succeed.
But as was the case in with the fundraising for Porter Hall, the Institute soon ran out of local resources. Washington felt very anxious about where he was going to come up with the money, but he received a telegram from General Armstrong asking Washington to tour the North with him for a month as a speaker. Washington readily accepted and was greatly surprised when Armstrong informed him that all proceeds earned in that month of fundraising would be given directly to Tuskegee for the construction of Alabama Hall, with all of the traveling expenses covered. Washington felt that Armstrong was completely selfless in this sacrifice, and his actions served as a testament to his humble and kind character.
Here is another “Problem-Struggle-Solution.” The problem of this passage is that Washington ran out of money once again. In fact, it seems that this passage follows a very similar construction to the problem-struggle-solution paradigm associated with the construction of Porter Hall.
Washington spoke in cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and he and General Armstrong pleaded together for funding for Tuskegee. This served as an introduction of Washington to many Northern donors, and after their brief speaking tour ended, Washington went North alone to try to secure more funds.
The “struggle” of the three-part paradigm occurs as Washington tours the North, speaking to raise money for the school even after Armstrong returns to Hampton. The solution is that Washington is able to secure the proper funds from New England donors.
When people ask Washington about his secrets for fundraising, he says that he only gives two general principles. The first principle is to make sure that his work is properly known to all organizations and individuals, and the second is to not worry about the outcome. Although this second rule is perhaps the hardest, Washington has learned that keeping a calm demeanor and poise in fundraising is quite important, despite the stakes involved. In conjunction with these two principles, Washington says that his greatest principle is to forget personal interests in the interest of the work itself, which will ensure both that dutiful attention is given to the work itself and happiness is found in service.
Washington believes that selfless labor is the height of virtue, and he applies these same principles to his public speaking. He believes that speaking for the sake of speaking alone is wrong and a waste of time, but speaking to further one’s work is both necessary and fruitful.
Washington claims that he has no time for those who condemn the rich for being rich or for not giving enough to charity. Washington argues that if wealthy people gave away all of their money, poorer people would be much worse off, because that would cripple business enterprises. Also, in Washington’s opinion, rich people often give privately and humbly, so no one can properly condemn the rich for being greedy. Washington holds up two ladies in Boston who donated a great deal to the construction of Porter Hall, but whose names rarely if ever are recognized in print for their contributions.
As discussed above, Washington had very conservative political and economic views. He felt that the rich were rich because their virtue helped to get them money, and he felt that poverty was a sign of internal sin or character weakness. Washington’s idea that the economy would collapse if the rich lost their money is called “trickle down economics,” which is an economic perspective that suggests that if the rich get richer, the poor will benefit from the “trickle down” effects of that wealth. The efficacy of such a view is highly disputable, but Washington believed in it.
Washington, however, detests that some people call his fundraising “begging.” He claims to never have begged for anything, and on the contrary, he simply states the facts of his case for the development of Tuskegee, which inspires donors to give generously. He believes that begging is undignified, but his way of fundraising is both dignified and effective.
Dignity is a key character trait for Washington, and he is deeply resistant to calling servitude or fundraising undignified because he felt that one can always find dignity in the humility of labor and hard work.
According to Washington, fundraising can also be taxing on one’s physical and mental health, but it is worth it to come in regular contact with “the best people in the world.” Washington believes that there are more and more men in the world who see the value in his work and who perceive him not as a beggar, but as an agent of change requesting assistance. Washington claims that in Boston, he is almost always thanked for requesting funds from an individual before he can even thank the donor for the monetary contribution. He believes that the rich of Boston, and of the North more generally, demonstrate the essence of Christian spirit in their generosity and kindness.
Again, Washington suggests that rich donors are some of the best people in society and the most virtuous, and he cherishes his time spent calling on them. He thinks that rich Americans are often more grateful for his contributions to society than he is for their monetary contributions.
Washington’s fundraising journeys were not always easy, however. In the early days of the Institute, Washington would spend days meeting with potential donors without receiving a single dollar. In one case he traveled to a donor in Connecticut who potentially was interested in supporting the school, but after Washington presented his case, the man was interested but did not donate any money. However, two years later Washington received a message from the same man pledging ten thousand dollars to Tuskegee. Washington believes that this gift was a testament to his fulfillment of his duty and his steadfastness.
This is yet another Problem-Struggle-Solution. Washington’s problem in this passage is that he was unable to secure funds during some of his fundraising trips. Nevertheless, he struggled and continued to meet with donors. According to his narrative, his hard work and patience paid off in the end in the form of robust monetary contributions.
Washington also felt a double burden as the leader of Tuskegee. He knew that if the school failed, it would not only be a failure for the students trying to attain an education, but it would also be a failure for racial relations. Many white Americans would look at the failure and assume that black education was a waste of time. So as Washington traveled to fundraise, these thoughts weighed heavily on his mind. Despite his anxiety and mental burdens, he felt that if he kept the school as a “clean” and “wholesome” institution, it would find success somehow.
Respectability politics reappear in this passage. In order to combat racist beliefs that the education of black people was a waste of time, Washington did not decry such beliefs as racist or illogical, but rather promoted a clean and wholesome institution. Washington believed that he could prove the merit of black education if he ensured that his institution was above reproach.
Washington, however, denies any presence of luck in the success of the school. He attributes all of its fundraising success as a result of hard work, perseverance, and grit. To illustrate this, he tells the story of a time in which he invited a distinguished pastor from New England to preach at the commencement ceremonies in Tuskegee, and just as the pastor began to speak, it began to rain. One of the students held an umbrella over the pastor, and the pastor was so impressed by the students at Tuskegee that he immediately acquired funds from his congregation for a new chapel at Tuskegee.
This passage highlights Washington’s dependence upon the ideals of grit and perseverance. He downplays, however, the role that generosity and personal connections played in the building of Tuskegee. He wishes for his readers to believe in the doctrine of merit and hard work, so he highlights these principles in this passage.
Washington also solicited the famous philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, who initially was unimpressed with Washington’s vision for Tuskegee. However, Washington was persistent and convinced Carnegie to provide a $20,000 donation for the school’s library construction and costs. Washington believes that it was a combination of his business acumen and discipline that encouraged donors like Carnegie to give money.
Once again Washington suggests that hard work and perseverance ultimately bring success, even if that success is not immediate.
Although Washington spends time describing the large donations to the school, he also wishes to communicate that much of the school’s success has come about through small donations. Such small gifts, many of which come from congregations and Christian societies, provide both monetary and spiritual support. Tuskegee graduates also almost always provide small contributions yearly after they graduate.
This passage highlights the importance of the community in the success of Tuskegee. Washington believes that the black and white communities both want to see the success of black Americans, so by highlighting small contributions to Tuskegee’s success, Washington attempts to illustrate that progress is also brought about by widespread community support.
After Tuskegee’s third year, Washington was surprised to receive money from three special donors. One donor was the Alabama State Legislature, which increased its yearly contribution from two to three thousand dollars, and later to even four thousand five hundred dollars. Second, they received money from the John F. Slater fund, which provided up to eleven thousand dollars annually. Last was the Peabody Fund, which increased its yearly donation to one thousand, five hundred dollars. Washington was able to secure these funds through the help of a wide variety of people, including an ex-Confederate soldier and a distinguished black doctor. Washington was particularly grateful for the help from the treasurer of the Slater Fund, who he says is devoted to the uplift of black Americans through industrial education both in the donations from his wallet and from his time and personal energy.
Washington is careful to point out that he has a diverse group of donors. The supporters of the school range from a conservative legislature to black doctors, to ex-slave holders. Washington tries to construe merit as a universal value that regardless of race, political ideology, or social position is appreciated and applauded.