Up From Slavery

Booker T. Washington Character Analysis

Booker Taliaferro Washington is the central figure and author of Up From Slavery, and the text details his progress from being born as a slave to becoming one of America’s foremost educational thinkers and black conservative political figures. Washington was of mixed racial descent, as his father was a white plantation owner and his mother was a black slave. Washington was born into slavery in Virginia in 1856, but throughout his life he also lived in Malden, West Virginia and eventually Tuskegee, Alabama, where he founded his famous Tuskegee Institute. Washington’s central character trait is his dedication to hard work, which in his words is the sole explanation for his success. He is guided by the belief that honesty, hard labor, and practical education can help anyone find success in America, and he believes that racial progress can only be accomplished through gradual gains in individual communities, not through political activism or federal sanctions.

Booker T. Washington Quotes in Up From Slavery

The Up From Slavery quotes below are all either spoken by Booker T. Washington or refer to Booker T. Washington. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Up From Slavery published in 1986.
Chapter 1 Quotes

The whole machinery of slavery was so constructed as to cause labour, as a rule, to be looked upon as a badge of degradation, of inferiority, Hence labour was something that both races on the slave plantation sought to escape.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

Without asking as to whether I had any money, the man at the desk firmly refused to even consider the matter of providing me with food or lodging. This was my first experience in finding out what the colour of my skin meant. In some way I managed to keep warm by walking about, and so got through the night. My whole soul was so bent upon reaching Hampton that I did not have time to cherish any bitterness toward the hotel-keeper.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

The education that I received at Hampton out of the text-books was but a small part of what I learned there...Before the end of the year, I think I began learning that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. This lesson I have tried to carry with me ever since.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

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At Hampton I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to labour, but learned to love labour, not alone for its financial value, but for labour’s own sake and for the independence and self-reliance which the ability to do something which the world wants done brings. At that institution I got my first taste what it meant to live a life of unselfishness, my first knowledge of the fact that the happiest individuals are those who do the most to make others useful and happy.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 73-74
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

The central government gave them freedom, and the whole Nation had been enriched for more than two centuries by the labour of the Negro. Even as a youth, and later in manhood, I had the feeling that it was cruelly wrong of the central government…to fail to make some provision for the general education of our people in addition to what the states might do, so that the people would be the better prepared for the duties of citizenship.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

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I felt that the Reconstruction policy, so far as it related to my race, was in a large measure on a false foundation, was artificial and forced. In many cases it seemed to me that the ignorance of my race was being used as a tool with which to help white men into office, and that there was an element in the North which wanted to punish the Southern white men by forcing the Negro into positions over the heads of Southern whites. I felt that the Negro would be the one to suffer for this in the end. Besides, the general political agitation drew the attention of our people away from the more fundamental matters of perfecting themselves in the industries at their doors and in securing property.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 84-85
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

My experience has been that the time to test a true gentleman is to observe him when he is in contact with individuals of a race that is less fortunate than his own. This is illustrated in no better way than by observing the conduct of the old-school type of Southern gentleman when he is in contact with his former slaves or their descendants.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

I am glad to add, however, that at the present time, the disposition to vote against the white man merely because he is white is largely disappearing, and the race is learning to vote from principle, for what the voter considers to be for the best interests of both races.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

In fact, one of the saddest things I saw during the month of travel which I have described was a young man, who had attended some high school, sitting down in a one-room cabin, with grease on his clothing, filth all around him, and weeds in the yard and garden, engaged in studying a French grammar.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

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We wanted to teach the students how to bathe, how to care for their teeth and clothing. We wanted to teach them what to eat, and how to eat it properly and how to care for their rooms. Aside from this, we wanted to give them such a practical knowledge of some one industry together with the spirit of industry, thrift, and economy, that they would be sure of knowing how to make a living after they had left us. We wanted to teach them to study actual things instead of mere books alone.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

While I was making this Christmas visit, I met an old coloured man who was one of the numerous local preachers, who tried to convince me, from the experience Adam had in the Garden of Eden, that God had cursed all labour, and that, therefore, it was a sin for any man to work. For that reason this man sought to do as little work as possible. He seemed at that time to be supremely happy, because he was living, as he expressed it, through one week that was free from sin.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

From the very beginning, at Tuskegee, I was determined to have the students do not only the agricultural and domestic work, but to have them erect their own buildings. My plan was to have them, while performing this service, taught the latest and best methods of labour, so that the school would not only get the benefit of their efforts, but the students themselves would be taught to see not only utility to labour, but beauty and dignity; would be taught, in fact, how to lift labour up from mere drudgery and toil, and would learn to love work for its own sake. My plan was not to teach them to work in the old way, but to show them how to make the forces of nature—air, water, steam, electricity, horse-power—assist them in their labour.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

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My experience is that there is something in human nature which always makes an individual recognize and reward merit, no matter under what colour of skin merit is found. I have found, too, that the visible, the tangible, that goes a long ways in softening prejudices.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

It is now long ago that I learned this lesson from General Armstrong and resolved that I would permit no man, no matter that his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him. With God’s help, I believe that I have completely rid myself of any ill feeling toward the Southern white man for any wrong that he may have inflicted upon my race…The wrong to the Negro is temporary, but to the morals of the white man the injury is permanent.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker), General Samuel C. Armstrong
Page Number: 165-166
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

Some people may say that it was Tuskegee’s good luck that brought to us this gift of fifty thousand dollars. No, it was not luck. It was hard work. Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

Now, whenever I hear any one advocating measures that are meant to curtail the development of another, I pity the individual who would do this. I know that the one who makes this mistake does so because of his own lack of opportunity for the highest kind of growth. I pity him because I know that he is trying to stop the progress of the world, and because I now that in time the development and the ceaseless advance of humanity will make him ashamed of his weak and narrow position.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 203-204
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”—cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.
Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection, it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial work…

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 219-220
Explanation and Analysis:

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Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life…No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

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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 use must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:

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Say what we will, there is something in human nature which we cannot blot out, which makes one man, in the end, recognize and regard merit in another, regardless of colour or race.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

There is a physical and mental and spiritual enjoyment that comes from a consciousness of being the absolute master of one’s work, in all its details, that is very satisfactory and inspiring.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Luxuries had always seemed to me to be something meant for white people, not for my race. I had always regarded Europe, and London, and Paris, much as I regard heaven.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 272-273
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

I believe that any man’s life will be filled with constant, unexpected encouragements of this kind if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day of his life—that is, tries to make each day reach as nearly as possible the high-water mark of pure, unselfish, useful living.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:

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That great human law that in the end recognizes and rewards merit is everlasting and universal.

Related Characters: Booker T. Washington (speaker)
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:

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Booker T. Washington Character Timeline in Up From Slavery

The timeline below shows where the character Booker T. Washington appears in Up From Slavery. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: A Slave Among Slaves
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Meritocracy Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Washington begins his autobiography by describing the destitute conditions of his childhood in slavery. He was... (full context)
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Washington’s mother was unable to attend to her children for any long period of time because... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Like his mother with her constant labor, Washington had no time for sports or leisure as a child because he was always expected... (full context)
Vocational Education Theme Icon
Washington had no formal education, and his only interaction with schooling was when he would carry... (full context)
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Washington’s first knowledge of the fact of slavery came when he awoke to his mother praying... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
The slaves on Washington’s plantation were entirely deprived of material comfort. Often the slaves were fed only as an... (full context)
Meritocracy Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Despite the squalor of the slaves on the plantation, Washington states that he harbors no ill feelings toward white people. He claims that some slaves... (full context)
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
To demonstrate such trustworthiness, Washington tells a parable of a slave who had a deal with his master in which... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Meritocracy Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
On the subject of slavery, Washington believes that white and black people benefited equally from the institution. While he does not... (full context)
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Washington concludes the chapter by recounting the day of Emancipation at the plantation. There was an... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
...was present, and he began to give a speech and read a long paper, something Washington assumes is the Emancipation Proclamation. Washington’s mother explained to the slaves that they had been... (full context)
Chapter 2: Boyhood Days
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Washington’s mother decided to move their family to West Virginia to live with her husband, Washington... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Vocational Education Theme Icon
Washington’s stepfather immediately put him to work in the salt-mines (a mine in which salt is... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Vocational Education Theme Icon
Meritocracy Theme Icon
Washington struggled to learn the alphabet, but with practice he mastered a good portion of it.... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Vocational Education Theme Icon
...in the daytime and at night to accommodate the great demand in the community. However, Washington was held back from the day school to work in the salt mine because his... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Vocational Education Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Washington was so successful at achieving academic growth in these lessons that he convinced his stepfather... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
Even after Washington temporarily solved the problem of getting to school on time, he still faced obstacles in... (full context)
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Washington also did not have a full name. Before school he had simply been called “Booker,”... (full context)
Meritocracy Theme Icon
Gradual Racial Progress Theme Icon
Washington suggests in an aside that ancestry is an important part of society, and that it... (full context)
The Dignity of Labor Theme Icon
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Washington resumes his narrative of his childhood difficulties, saying that he was unable to continue to... (full context)
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Washington claims that most children who grew up working in coal mines ended up physically and... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Struggle for an Education
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One day in the coal mine, Washington overheard two men talking about a school for black Americans in Virginia. Washington crept toward... (full context)
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Washington continued to work in the mine for a few months longer, but soon he heard... (full context)
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Mrs. Ruffner instilled in Washington a desire for cleanliness and orderliness that he adopted and applied to the rest of... (full context)
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Despite his comfort and success serving in the Ruffner household, Washington still was determined to attend the Hampton Institute. In the fall of 1872, he began... (full context)
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Washington’s journey would not be easy. There were no trains running from Malden to Virginia, so... (full context)
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But as soon as Washington arrived in Richmond, he ran out of money. He wandered the streets looking for food... (full context)
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In the morning Washington was able to find a ship captain in the harbor who would give him money... (full context)
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After saving money for months, Washington had finally made it to the Hampton Institute. He felt a great sense of relief... (full context)
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Washington was forced to wait as he watched the head teacher admit other students, and eventually... (full context)
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Miss Mary F. Mackie, the head teacher that conducted the “sweeping” examination, offered Washington a position as school janitor to provide him means by which to pay his room... (full context)
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Washington’s greatest connection at Hampton, he says, was his relationship with General Samuel C. Armstrong, a... (full context)
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Washington felt that life at Hampton was like a constant revelation. Regular meals, bathing requirements, toothbrushes,... (full context)
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Although Washington secured a job as a janitor and was admitted to the Institute, his financial troubles... (full context)
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At Hampton, the students themselves were of all ages and from many different backgrounds. Washington describes the students as all being extremely hard-working and earnest people. Although some of the... (full context)
Chapter 4: Helping Others
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At the end of Washington’s first year at Hampton, he was again confronted with a lack of funds with which... (full context)
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At the end of the school year, Washington still owed Hampton $16, and he resolved to pay it off by the end of... (full context)
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Despite his setbacks, Washington was not deterred. He was tired of people telling him how he could not succeed,... (full context)
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After his narrative of overcoming the obstacle of his debt, Washington begins to account for the most important lessons that he learned in his education during... (full context)
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Washington also attributes Ms. Lord with developing his ability as a public speaker. After finding out... (full context)
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At the end of his second year at Hampton, Washington was able to go home as a result of money sent by his mother and... (full context)
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Washington returned, however, in the midst of a labor strike by the miners demanding higher wages... (full context)
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During the first month of being back, Washington decided to go out to look for work. He traveled a considerable distance, and on... (full context)
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Washington’s mother’s death left the family’s home in confusion. Amanda, Washington’s sister, was very young and... (full context)
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But through his persistence and hard work, Washington was able to secure enough money to return to Hampton. Three weeks before he was... (full context)
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Washington was shocked by Miss Mackie’s work ethic and her willingness to work alongside him for... (full context)
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Washington’s last year at Hampton was marked by two major “benefits.” The first benefit was contact... (full context)
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When Washington graduated, he was once again out of money, so he took a job as a... (full context)
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After the summer in Connecticut, Washington returned to Malden and was elected to teach at the black school. Washington believed that... (full context)
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There was so much interest in Washington’s instruction that soon he had to open up a night school for both the young... (full context)
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Washington was also able to provide for his brother John’s education during this time, with private... (full context)
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...his time in Malden, the Ku Klux Klan was at the height of its activity. Washington compares the Klan to the “patrollers” of slavery times: poor whites who would patrol the... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Reconstruction Period
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Washington defines the Reconstruction Period as the time between 1867-1878, which is also the time that... (full context)
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While Washington feels that the desire for education was noble, he believes that newly freed black Americans... (full context)
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Washington states that most black people who received an education found work in either education or... (full context)
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The ministry was no better off than the teaching profession. According to Washington, many newly educated black men would receive a “call” to preaching soon after they learned... (full context)
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After expressing disdain for the amount of black Americans getting an education for what Washington feels were the wrong reasons, he likens the status of black Americans during this period... (full context)
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Washington suggests that Reconstruction policy in general involved setting up, through a series of political and... (full context)
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The alluring draw of political office at the time even tempted Washington, but he resisted because he felt that his calling to education was much more significant.... (full context)
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...of the many “mistakes” committed by black people during Reconstruction, Southerners at the time of Washington’s writing felt that such mistakes would be committed again if black people were again placed... (full context)
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At the end of Reconstruction in 1878, Washington decided to go to Washington D.C. for eight months to study. The institution at which... (full context)
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Many black Americans saw Washington D.C. as an ideal place to live, Washington claims. Since a few African Americans held... (full context)
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To demonstrate this, Washington tells the parable of girls who would grow up working as laundry women with their... (full context)
Chapter 6: Black Race and Red Race
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During Washington’s time in the nation’s capital, his home state of West Virginia was engaging in a... (full context)
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During this time, many young black men had aspirations to be lawyers and congressman, but Washington felt that there needed to be something done to prepare their way. Washington tells the... (full context)
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After Washington worked to move the capital in West Virginia, he was asked by General Armstrong to... (full context)
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Upon arriving at Hampton, Washington received a warm welcome. He was very impressed that the school had further developed its... (full context)
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Washington’s address was well received, and once he returned to Malden, he was surprised by a... (full context)
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Around the time that Washington was invited to teach at Hampton, General Armstrong was trying a new “experiment” of educating... (full context)
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Washington’s residence at Hampton was with 75 Native American youths, and he was in charge as... (full context)
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After the language barrier was surmounted, Washington found that the Native Americans had similar interests to black Americans, especially in trade education.... (full context)
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This problem of racial segregation reminds Washington of an instance in which former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was forced to ride... (full context)
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Washington tells another story of a man who was so light skinned that the train conductor... (full context)
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Washington continues, saying that the measure of a true gentleman is in his treatment of members... (full context)
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During Washington’s time with the Native American boys at Hampton, he experienced the importance of racial caste... (full context)
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Likewise, even black foreign nationals received different treatment than black Americans. Washington tells the story of a Moroccan black man who attempted to stay at a local... (full context)
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After Washington’s work with Native Americans for a year, another position opened up at Hampton as a... (full context)
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Washington was placed in charge of the night-school, and he loved the job. According to him,... (full context)
Chapter 7: Early Days at Tuskegee
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In May of 1881, a transformational opportunity was presented to Washington. One night after Hampton’s chapel, General Armstrong approached Washington about a letter that he had... (full context)
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After waiting several days, Armstrong received a telegram accepting Washington as the new principal. Washington and the faculty, students, and staff of Hampton were elated,... (full context)
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Washington found Tuskegee to be a small town of about 2,000 people, of which about one... (full context)
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Washington felt that Tuskegee was an ideal place for the school. It had a large black... (full context)
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Washington learned that the people of Tuskegee had asked the state legislature for some money to... (full context)
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Washington’s first priority was to find land on which to open the school. He found a... (full context)
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...town of Tuskegee were deeply interested in political matters, and they wanted to ensure that Washington was one of them politically. One man who was put in charge of this task... (full context)
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The first month that Washington spent at Tuskegee, in June of 1881, was spent traveling through Alabama to observe the... (full context)
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In the plantation districts, Washington found that most families slept in one room, and that there was no place to... (full context)
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Although Washington was regularly treated with the hospitality of a sit down dinner, this was not regular... (full context)
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As for the rural schools, Washington found that they were all in disrepair. The black communities were largely in debt and... (full context)
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While Washington feels that the conditions of rural Alabama were abysmal, he both recognizes the cause of... (full context)
Chapter 8: Teaching School in a Stable and a Hen-House
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After traveling the countryside and seeing the awful conditions of the people, Washington felt deeply discouraged. To Washington, his travels confirmed the idea that a traditional New England... (full context)
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After conferencing with the citizens of Tuskegee, Washington set the opening day of the Institute for July 4, 1881. White and black citizens... (full context)
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Washington says that he relied on two men in particular at the beginning of the school.... (full context)
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Washington particularly admired Mr. Adams, who was an unschooled mechanic that also knew the trades of... (full context)
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On the first morning of operation for the school, about 30 students showed up, and Washington was the only teacher. Many more students were interested in the school, but Washington decided... (full context)
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To demonstrate the backwardness of some of these teachers, Washington tells the story of a young man who was covered in filth and grease, with... (full context)
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...initial that did not stand for anything, because they thought it made them look distinguished. Washington believes that most of these types of students were just getting an education to make... (full context)
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In spite of the difficulties with these types of students, Washington claims that most of the students were hard working and quite willing to learn. Washington... (full context)
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Each week at the Institute brought more and more pupils, and after one month Washington had 50 pupils total. However, most of them could only stay for 2-3 months and... (full context)
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...month and a half, a new face appeared at the school. Miss Olivia A. Davidson, Washington’s future wife, showed up looking for work as an instructor. Davidson was born and raised... (full context)
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...easier life. She replied that she would never deceive anyone on account of her color. Washington deeply admired her honesty, grit, and determination. He credits her with laying the foundations of... (full context)
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Washington and Davidson both agreed that hygiene, cleanliness, and industrial education should all be key aspects... (full context)
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The scope of such an education was overwhelming to Washington and Davidson. They only had a small shanty, fifty students, and two instructors, but they... (full context)
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In the midst of Washington and Davidson’s anxiety, and about three months after the opening of the school, an old... (full context)
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Washington moved the school onto the plantation as quickly as possible. The farm was already equipped... (full context)
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While Washington was leading the students in the clearing of the land, Miss Davidson was planning on... (full context)
Chapter 9: Anxious Days and Sleepless Nights
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As Christmas approached, Washington was able to get a clearer view of the private lives of the people of... (full context)
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Washington traveled to the plantation district during the holiday, and he was dismayed that some of... (full context)
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Washington made a special effort to teach his students what he felt was the true meaning... (full context)
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Washington claims that white citizens in Tuskegee expressed an explicit interest in the school because they... (full context)
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...Marshall, and two months later it was able to pay the full five hundred dollars. Washington was greatly satisfied both by the speed and means of fundraising, since most of their... (full context)
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Washington’s next aim was to grow enough crops to make a profit from their sale and... (full context)
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...school got was an old blind horse that was donated. However, at the time of Washington’s narrative, the school owns hundreds of different types of livestock, including, cow, pigs, and chickens. (full context)
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Since the school was constantly growing, Washington felt that there was need to expand by building a large central building. However, the... (full context)
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Washington deeply admired Davidson’s work ethic. She would fundraise for months and then return to the... (full context)
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...a few weeks, the ground was prepared and ready for the laying of a cornerstone. Washington feels that this laying of a cornerstone was a significant occurrence because just a short... (full context)
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Washington felt a significant amount of pressure in the process of constructing the new building. Creditors... (full context)
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However, despite his anxiety, the town of Tuskegee was extremely supportive of Washington. When he needed something, both white and black citizens would lend him immediate aid. One... (full context)
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During the summer of 1882, Washington married Miss Fannie M. Smith from Malden, who was also a graduate of Hampton. In... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Harder Task Than Making Bricks Without Straw
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Washington wanted his students not just to learn agricultural and domestic work but also to learn... (full context)
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...constructed. Some students even left the school because the process was too dirty and difficult. Washington tried three separate times to make bricks, and each time he failed. He was ready... (full context)
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Washington says that this process of brickmaking taught him an important lesson about race relations. Many... (full context)
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Washington continues, saying that Tuskegee’s wagon-making industry has had a similar effect to brickmaking. These types... (full context)
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...requirement of students to labor. Parents would protest in person or through letters, requesting that Washington instead require Greek and Latin teaching. Washington pokes fun at these parents, claiming that they... (full context)
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In the summer of 1882, Washington and Davidson traveled North on a fundraising trip. Washington initially encountered resistance from an officer... (full context)
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Washington asked a white minister from Montgomery to deliver the Thanksgiving service, and most of the... (full context)
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As soon as the part of the new building was completed, Washington decided to open up a boarding department. The school did not have many resources, and... (full context)
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...problems at every meal since the cooks were very inexperienced. The students were furious, and Washington was ashamed that he could not provide basic necessities for his students. (full context)
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...work,” they were able to solve the problems of the boarding department at the school. Washington reflects upon this time at the school, and he feels glad that they went through... (full context)
Chapter 11: Making Their Beds Before They Could
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A little bit after the early struggles of the Institute, some of Washington’s mentors, including General Marshall, Miss Mackie, and even General Armstrong himself visited the Institute. By... (full context)
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Washington describes how General Armstrong interacted with the Southern white men with deep compassion and care,... (full context)
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Washington takes General Armstrong’s behavior as a lesson that all great men are men who primarily... (full context)
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Washington believes that any white man who engages in race prejudice, such blocking black men from... (full context)
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...could not provide them with basic comforts like a bed, bed sheets, or proper clothes. Washington was deeply disturbed by this, and often he would lose sleep thinking of the students’... (full context)
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According to Washington, some people in the South believe that black Americans will not obey or respect one... (full context)
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Washington likewise never felt disrespected by any Southern white man. He describes a trip to Dallas... (full context)
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Washington goes on to claim that Tuskegee is not his institution, but rather it is an... (full context)
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...school did not have the funds to purchase proper mattresses. However, at the time of Washington’s writing, Tuskegee has developed a robust mattress-making industry that provides all of the Institute’s mattresses. (full context)
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Although the school rarely had the resources it needed, Washington was adamant that the students value cleanliness. He particularly valued the toothbrush, which he felt... (full context)
Chapter 12: Raising Money
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Washington spoke in cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and he and General Armstrong pleaded... (full context)
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When people ask Washington about his secrets for fundraising, he says that he only gives two general principles. The... (full context)
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Washington claims that he has no time for those who condemn the rich for being rich... (full context)
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Washington, however, detests that some people call his fundraising “begging.” He claims to never have begged... (full context)
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According to Washington, fundraising can also be taxing on one’s physical and mental health, but it is worth... (full context)
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Washington’s fundraising journeys were not always easy, however. In the early days of the Institute, Washington... (full context)
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Washington also felt a double burden as the leader of Tuskegee. He knew that if the... (full context)
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Washington, however, denies any presence of luck in the success of the school. He attributes all... (full context)
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Washington also solicited the famous philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, who initially was unimpressed with Washington’s vision for... (full context)
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Although Washington spends time describing the large donations to the school, he also wishes to communicate that... (full context)
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After Tuskegee’s third year, Washington was surprised to receive money from three special donors. One donor was the Alabama State... (full context)
Chapter 13: Two Thousand Miles for a Five-Minute Speech
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...boarding department of Tuskegee, there were a great number of applicants who were “worthy” in Washington’s eyes but could not pay tuition. To solve this problem, Washington opened a night school... (full context)
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Washington believes that the night school model is an excellent test of character for students pursuing... (full context)
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In 1885, Washington married Olivia Davidson, whose hard work in fundraising and teaching was foundational in establishing the... (full context)
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Washington says that he is often asked how he began public speaking, and he claims that... (full context)
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Washington explains that his views on race relations come from his desire to call Tuskegee his... (full context)
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Washington is quick to point out that this policy does not prevent him from calling out... (full context)
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Washington’s address to the NEA in Madison consisted of appeals to black Americans to seek to... (full context)
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Washington says that in his early life, he used to feel bitterness to those who tried... (full context)
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Washington’s speech to the NEA gained him some degree of fame in the North, but Washington... (full context)
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Because of his speech in Atlanta, requests for speaking engagements began to pour in. Washington took as many of these engagements that he could with his duties at Tuskegee. Washington’s... (full context)
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One of these speaking engagements, delivered to the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition, garnered Washington national fame and attention. In 1895 Washington received a telegram requesting that he accompany a... (full context)
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...race at the Exposition. Both the building and the exhibit were of high quality, and Washington says that those who enjoyed the exhibit at the Exposition the most were Southern whites. (full context)
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...the opening addresses of the Exposition as a sign of good faith, and they selected Washington. Washington felt a great deal of responsibility, since a few decades before he could have... (full context)
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The newspapers before the speech intensified the atmosphere of tension, highlighting the high stakes of Washington’s speech. Some Southern newspapers were even hostile to the idea of a black man speaking... (full context)
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After much practice and revision, Washington, Mrs. Washington, and Washington’s three children set out on September 17th, 1895 to Atlanta for... (full context)
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On the day before his speech, Washington continued to prepare and prayed to God to bless the content and delivery of his... (full context)
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On the morning of his speech, Washington was escorted to the Exposition grounds, and he was overwhelmed by the amount of people... (full context)
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When Washington entered the room on the stage, he was met by loud cheers from black audience... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Atlanta Exposition Address
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...ode, and addresses by the president of the Exposition. After these events, the Governor introduced Washington by saying, “We have with us today a representative of Negro enterprise and Negro civilization.” (full context)
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As Washington rose to speak, he was met by many cheers by black audience members. He felt... (full context)
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Washington opens his address by thanking the members of the Exposition board and saying that their... (full context)
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Washington then begins telling a parable of a ship lost at sea for an extended period... (full context)
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Washington then pivots, directing this same advice to the white audience members, exhorting them to “cast... (full context)
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Washington continues, suggesting that society only progresses when its members work together for the betterment of... (full context)
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Washington argues that black Americans will constitute one-third of the South’s population regardless of their white... (full context)
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Washington then credits both Southern states and Northern philanthropists in conjunction with the effort of black... (full context)
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Washington continues, saying that the “wise” members of the black race know that political agitation is... (full context)
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Washington concludes by saying that the Exposition is one of the greatest opportunities for racial progress,... (full context)
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Washington says that the first thing that he remembers after the speech is the Governor and... (full context)
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Papers all over the United States published the full address, and Washington was overwhelmed by the positive reception of critics. Washington immediately began receiving propositions to lecture... (full context)
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After his speech, Washington sent a copy to the President of the United States, Grover Cleveland. President Cleveland deeply... (full context)
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Washington philosophizes that any person whose vision is colored by race cannot truly experience the greatest... (full context)
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Immediately after Washington’s address, black newspapers and black people in general were widely supportive of his speech, but... (full context)
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These critics remind Washington of another event in which his comments garnered criticism. About ten years before the Exposition... (full context)
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As a result of the Exposition address, Washington also received an invitation from the President of Johns Hopkins University, requesting that he serve... (full context)
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Reflecting upon the nature of race relations in the South, Washington proposes that in due time, all black Americans will be awarded the political rights that... (full context)
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Washington proposes that it is the duty of black citizens to not pursue political power or... (full context)
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Although Washington rejects the idea that a poor and ignorant white man should be allowed to vote... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Secret of Success in Public Speaking
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As evidence of his audience’s reception of his Atlanta Exposition address, Washington includes a full newspaper article written by a reporter for the New York World. The... (full context)
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Washington claims that he does not understand why people repeatedly come to see him speak. He... (full context)
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Because of the importance of connection with one’s audience, Washington thinks that speaking for the sake of public speaking alone does an injustice to one’s... (full context)
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Washington’s favorite audiences consist of businessmen from major cities like New York or Chicago, because he... (full context)
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Washington’s second favorite type of audience consists of Southern people of either race. Washington particularly likes... (full context)
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When Washington spoke in the interest of Tuskegee, he would schedule speeches in as many local organizations... (full context)
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According to Washington, such speeches in the Southern cities gave him an excellent indication of the status of... (full context)
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In 1897 Washington received an invitation to speak at the Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston. Washington was... (full context)
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Washington also delivered speeches to celebrate the end of the Spanish American War. His most notable... (full context)
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According to Washington, although his speech was a great success among those in the North, the Southern press... (full context)
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In his public speaking career, Washington dreaded one specific type of audience member—one that Washington calls “the crank.” Washington describes this... (full context)
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Washington claims that he is only able to balance his speaking with his commitments at Tuskegee... (full context)
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On the subject of rest or recreation, Washington claims that he does not engage in these activities generally, but finds joy and relaxation... (full context)
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Washington has only taken one vacation, which he took when his friends paid for him and... (full context)
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Washington also claims that the only time that he has to read is on trains. He... (full context)
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By 1897, Washington was spending as much as six months of every year away from Tuskegee. Although he... (full context)
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Washington also found some enjoyment and peace in his garden in Tuskegee, and he feels that... (full context)
Chapter 16: Europe
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In 1893, Washington was married to Miss Margaret James Murray, who had come years before to serve as... (full context)
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Portia, Washington’s oldest daughter, engages in dressmaking as well as music studies. At the time of Washington’s... (full context)
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Washington’s greatest regret in his work was that it often kept him away from his family.... (full context)
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In 1899, Washington claims that he received one of the greatest surprises of his life when he attended... (full context)
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Washington was deeply honored by this opportunity. He was born and raised in slavery, and according... (full context)
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Mrs. Washington had many similar concerns, and the two of them were torn as to whether or... (full context)
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Washington was worried about their treatment on the trip over to Europe, for many black Americans... (full context)
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Washington slept for up to 15 hours a day during the sea voyage. For the first... (full context)
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Washington was in awe of the sights, the beautiful flowers, and the people, and he felt... (full context)
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After their tour in Holland and a brief time in Brussels, Washington and Mrs. Washington proceeded to Paris. In Paris they were invited to a banquet attended... (full context)
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Washington was particularly impressed with the life and work of the black American painter Henry O.... (full context)
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The French people in general encouraged Washington, because he felt that black Americans were not very far behind the average Frenchman in... (full context)
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After Paris, Washington and Mrs. Washington proceeded to London. Washington was flooded with social invitations upon his arrival,... (full context)
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Washington felt that English culture was best experienced in the country houses of Englishmen, and he... (full context)
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The only trouble that Washington had in England was that of speaking to an English audience. He claims that the... (full context)
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After leaving London, Washington and his wife set off back to America. Their ship was stocked with a full... (full context)
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While he was in Paris, Washington received a message from the citizens of West Virginia requesting that he visit upon his... (full context)
Chapter 17: Last Words
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Washington opens his final chapter by reflecting upon the unique and unexpected accomplishments of his life.... (full context)
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Armstrong stayed at Washington’s house in Tuskegee, and despite his debilitating disabilities, Armstrong spent most of his time devising... (full context)
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Washington claims that his biggest surprise in life came when he received a letter from Harvard... (full context)
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Despite his great success and recognition for his life work, Washington claims to never have pursued fame in his career. If others use his name to... (full context)
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Washington attended the Harvard ceremony on June 24, 1896, and he was awed by the enthusiasm... (full context)
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Washington was asked to speak at the dinner, and his remarks explained that true societal uplift... (full context)
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...conferred an honorary degree to a black American, the event received relatively widespread news coverage. Washington cites newspapers that suggested Washington’s degree was notable because of its racial implications, but its... (full context)
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Such national attention to his work inspired Washington to set the goal raising the reputation of his Institute to such greatness that the... (full context)
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To further pursue his goal of a presidential visit to Tuskegee, Washington decided to directly appeal to the President in 1898. He heard that then-President McKinley was... (full context)
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Washington traveled to Washington, D.C. and was able to get a brief meeting with McKinley. McKinley... (full context)
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...and black citizens worked together to decorate the town and organize a proper reception, and Washington was deeply impressed by the effort and kindness of Tuskegee’s white citizens. (full context)
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...and progress of the school’s industrial-based education, and particularly honored the effort and leadership of Washington. McKinley was deeply impressed by the school’s national reputation and its accomplishments. The Secretary of... (full context)
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After his narration of President McKinley’s visit, Washington details the progress of the Tuskegee Institute from its founding twenty years before the time... (full context)
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Washington explains that Tuskegee’s industrial education is founded on three principles. First, all students need to... (full context)
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The value of the school property is up to $300,000 at the time of Washington’s writing, and all of the mortgages have been paid off. The student population has increased... (full context)
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Washington’s primary aim in his educational program is to develop graduates that raise the reputation of... (full context)
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In the early 1890s Washington began hosting a conference called the “Negro Conference,” which was designed as a forum to... (full context)
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During the time of all of these conferences, Washington was also traveling to deliver addresses in the interest of promoting his racial ideology in... (full context)
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Washington begins to conclude his narrative by painting a hopeful picture for the future of race... (full context)
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...city of Richmond, near to the area that he once slept under the city sidewalk, Washington concludes his narrative by reflecting upon his rise from his birth in slavery to the... (full context)