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Washington, Booker T. (1856–1915)

WASHINGTON, BOOKER T. (18561915)


Born a slave on a Virginia plantation five years before the Civil War began, Booker T. Washington's professional life as an educator and leader of African-American interests demonstrates how education, race, public policy, and politics intersected in the United States during the late nineteenth century. Washington's career placed him at the center of a debate among African Americans about the proper path to full citizenship and complete participation in American society economically, politically, and socially.

He was also the instrument of elite white industrialists such as George Foster Peabody, William H. Baldwin Jr., and Robert C. Ogden. They shaped the shift in black American educational focus from universal, state-supported public education with its liberal arts component to an industrial education, a move that accommodated their aims for national industrialization and southern white planters' demands for a subservient African-American working class. As a result of his collaboration, Washington became the primary exponent of white philanthropicindustrial efforts to channel African-American and working-class white education to meet the needs of industrial America. The words Industrial education and Washington became synonymous between his 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exposition Speech and death in 1915. The legacy of Washington's educational philosophy continues to be the source of an early-twenty-first-century debate among African Americans who attempt to reconcile questions of how education must lead the black working class to life as middle-class Americans. This debate also seeks to ensure that the majority of African-American working people obtain access to a better life with mass education as the primary path to modernization and the technology that transforms black political, economic, and social status in the United States.

Early Years

Booker T. Washington was born to a slave mother and "unknown" father near Hales Ford, Virginia, on James Burroughs's plantation in 1856. He survived chattel slavery and the Civil War. He moved with his mother and siblings to West Virginia to join his step-father, a Union Army veteran. Living under impoverished circumstances, Washington worked in the local salt mines to assist the family. He attended night school initially and eventually obtained permission from his stepfather to go to the day school while he worked from 4 a.m. to 9 in the mines. Employed as a houseboy by General Lewis Ruffner, he furthered his early education under Mrs. Viola Knapp Ruffner, a former governess and schoolteacher.

The major transformative event, however, in Washington's personal education occurred at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, under the direction of former Union Army General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the school's founder. At Hampton, Washington absorbed Armstrong's industrial education philosophy of manual labor, trade training, economic development, self-help, and normal school training. After brief sojourns in black higher education in Washington, D.C., at Howard University and exploration of the ministry, Washington returned to Hampton Institute to teach. Armstrong recommended his protégé, Washington noted, to a "group of white Alabama gentlemen" in Tuskegee, Alabama, who endeavored to open a school similar to the Hampton model (Washington 1965, p. 82). Washington accepted their invitation to lead this normal and industrial institution.

In 1881 Washington began organizing and building Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, literally from the ground up. His leadership of Tuskegee Institute from 1881 to 1915 would elevate him from obscurity to national prominence. He became not only a leader in black education, but also a patron of such industrialists and education philanthropists as Andrew Carnegie; George Foster Peabody; Charles D. McIver, president of the Southern Education Association; and Edgar Gardner Murphy, racial moderate and distinguished southern educator. Washington also advised U.S. presidents William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. With these associates and supporters Washington amassed enough political power to become the most powerful southern politician of his era, 1895 to 1915.

The Black Commitment to Free Education

The emancipated slaves, including Washington, looked to education in 1865 to define their newly earned freedom and citizenship. According to education historian James D. Anderson, black people emerging from slavery committed themselves to universal, state-supported public education. It continued a tradition developed in slavery among African Americans that the ability to read and write were important skills within the slave community. Blacks held in high esteem fellow slaves and free blacks who had mastered literacy. Even Washington, a critic of slaves and black working-class behavior and goals, acknowledged that freedom was a "great responsibility" and that slaves realized they had "to think and plan for themselves and their children" including "the question of a school for colored children" (Washington 1965, pp. 2728, 32). Education meant self-reliance, self-determination, and the right to control the institutions of education for their benefit. According to William Channing, an American Missionary Association teacher from New England, black people sought free public education that included white assistance but not white controlseemingly contradictory concepts. Black people challenged white planter repugnance against state government control of the education of all children, especially slaves. African Americans contested the rationale of a society that used the law to prohibit reading and writing. Black educator and Booker T. Washington's political rival, W. E. B. Du Bois, asserted that free public education for all citizens in the South was "a Negro idea," proposed by enslaved blacks as a condition of freedom.

Washington observed that black slaves and ex-slaves were determined to educate themselves by securing their own teachers and even paying "for school as best they could" (Washington 1965, p. 33). They made this commitment long before white and black northern American Missionary Association teachers came south during the Civil War. These efforts at self-education served as a foundation for universal schooling as slaves and ex-slaves organized and willingly taxed themselves to keep the private schools they founded on their own initiative. At the beginning of Reconstruction, the Freedmen's Bureau took control of some of these schools founded by slaves. In 1866 the Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana failed to force blacks to retake responsibility for administering education for African Americans. Blacks in Georgia in 1865 created a free system of schools. Sabbath schools were also free and operated in black churches stressing literacy. Black student enrollment increased in Sabbath schools in the 1870s and 1880s, demonstrating the African-American commitment to free education and literacy. The ability to read and write was a key to black freedom. These skills helped African Americans secure jobs and direct their access to upward mobility. Literacy ensured that ex-slaves could defend their economic rights in written contracts as well as acquire land, the main symbol of freedom.

Black people attained universal, state-supported public education through a union of African Americans and radical members of the Republican Party. Conservative Republicans and southern Democrats opposed universal education. Black Republicans at southern constitutional conventions during Reconstruction, between 1865 and 1868, institutionalized free public education based on state-supported taxation. By 1870 the eleven states of the former Confederacy had installed constitutions that established free education as a basic citizenship right.

Emancipated blacks also viewed education as the key to political, economic, and personal independence. They pursued education to learn how to organize themselves and build institutions they controlled. To achieve this they sought training and development of their intellectual and leadership capacities. In this context, Anderson notes, "black leaders and educators adopted the New England classical liberal curriculum" (p. 28). After attaining political power in 1895, Booker T. Washington objected to classical education for the general black population on the grounds that it was "impractical"; however, working-class African Americans in Alabama and across the south insisted that blacks needed classical, common school, normal, and industrial education to ensure the advancement of the race to full citizenship in the United States.

White southern planters and merchants used their control over land, labor, housing, and wages to undermine universal, state-supported public education. This class had opposed state-supported public education for the working classes (white people who were not part of the landed elite) before the Civil War. The planters, Anderson asserts, "did not believe in giving the Negro any education" (p. 22). Any degree of education eroded the planter's ability to exploit black labor "upon which their agrarian order depended" (p. 23). Southern white leaders used labor to prevent black children from attending school after the Civil War. Between 1869 and 1877 the planters and merchants ousted African-American legislators from southern state governments. The planters and merchants, armed with political power that gave them a dominant position in state government, dismantled universal, state-supported public education utilizing state authority, economic intimidation, and violence. By legal means, white opponents of universal education lowered taxation, challenged compulsory attendance laws, and prevented the passage of new laws that could have reinforced free public education. The planters and merchants wanted to restore slavery and their domination of all societal institutions, which were undermined by the Civil War, Reconstruction, northern capital investment in the south, and the centralization of federal power.

No white group challenged white planter-merchant class antipublic education policies between 1865 and 1880. Beginning in the late 1880s, however, white Populists and Progressive-era reformers who followed the Populists questioned the planter-merchant vision of limiting white working-class education. As the nineteenth century drew to a close white people were forced by black agitation to confront their conflicting views of universal, state-supported public education.

Industrial Education

Industrial education introduced northern educators, industrialists, philanthropists, and Booker T. Washington into the debate between African-Americans' universal, state-supported public education and the white planter-merchant class's efforts to reconstruct antebellum slavery. The partnership formed by General Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Washington at Hampton Institute in the 1870s was part of a broader northern industrial-capital campaign to undercut black adaptation of the New England classical curriculum. The Hampton Institute was not envisioned as an industrial education institution. It was a normal school dedicated to training teachers, such as Washington, who would teach black workers and prepare them for their "place" in the South after Reconstruction. The institute was additionally part of a national movement focused on technological, trade, and manual education for the general American population. Although Hampton focused on teacher training, industrial education as it was originally defined did not involve teacher preparation.

There were three primary areas of vocational training that defined industrial education in the latter part of the nineteenth century. One area was collegiate training in applied science and technology to educate engineers, architects, chemists, and other professionals to work in the newly emerging technologically based twentieth-century economy. A second area encompassed trade schools that taught labor supervision and management. The third area supplemented the academic curriculum to modify or transform the behavior of working people from sloth to "habits of industry," thrift, and morality.

General Armstrong's Hampton Institute was founded in 1868. It utilized daily manual labor as the base of its normal school training. Armstrong wrongly assumed that the newly freed black people had to be guided and controlled because they were incapable of "self-direction" due to slavery's destruction of their minds and moral compasses. He hoped Hampton Institute might train black teachers who would impart the lessons of "work habits, practical knowledge, Christian morality, and acceptance of a subservient role" (Anderson, p. 35) in the post-Reconstruction southern household. Washington completed Hampton's curriculum and became the chief disciple of the Hampton model.

The Hampton model of industrial education was intended to "de-politicize" and "defuse" black challenges to white opposition to universal education. Providing, Anderson asserted, "the equivalent of a fair tenth grade" education, the Hampton model preached an education gospel that emphasized that black people be apolitical (p. 35). Armstrong believed that African Americans should not be "allowed to vote," serve as politicians, or participate in public policy decisions because black people were "not capable of self-government" (p. 37). Armstrong based his assertions on the supposition that black people needed "moral development" as the basis for voting intelligently. He rejected the belief embraced by black people that a "literate culture" created a morally responsible voting electorate. Finally, Armstrong believed that African Americans' real role was to serve the planters' and merchants' needs for cheap non-confrontational labor.

Armstrong created the Southern Workman, a monthly magazine founded in 1872 to create a "public forum" on black education and to more broadly disseminate his views on the "place" of black people in the New South's social, political, and economic structure. He aligned his vision of black education with the planter and merchant class and northern industrialists. Armstrong was a friend of Robert C. Ogden, who also served as a Hampton Institute trustee. He wrote Ogden that the southern workman needed to be "a power" who would influence northern philanthropists and white southern racial moderates principally opposed, Anderson contended, "to black higher education, equal job opportunities, civil equality, and equal political rights" (pp. 3637). Together they hoped to be the critical individuals in determining the direction of black education, especially in the south.

Planter-Merchant and Northern Industrialist Agenda

In 1896, a year after Booker T. Washington's infamous "Atlanta Compromise" speech (partly crafted by industrialist William H. Baldwin Jr.) at the Atlanta Cotton States International Exposition, a conference on "the higher education of the colored people" was convened in Saratoga, New York. Du Bois biographer David Levering Lewis characterized the meeting as a "watershed conclave" where national white leaders decided to forsake and cut off their support for "black higher education" in favor of the Hampton model of industrial education. George Foster Peabody, Hampton trustee and a key distributor of funding to black education in the south, attended the meeting, and alumnus Washington spoke favoring practical education superceding liberal arts instruction. Philadelphia's Baptist leader H. L. Wayland was enthused to hear Washington's industrial education vision was being substituted for Atlanta and Fisk Universities' New England classical education for black people. Wayland also threatened to terminate funding support to these black liberal arts institutions and shift financial aid to the exponents of the Hampton model, Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes. According to David L. Lewis, William Baldwin Jr. and Robert C. Ogden were determined to let nothing impede "the regional reconciliation [of the north and south] and southern modernization that their kind of educational philosophy and capital investment was intended to foster." With Samuel Armstrong's death three years before this conclave, Washington inherited Armstrong's mantle and the people who had supported his mentor. Washington after 1895 was the instrument of the industrialists and planters to restore the Union, modernize the South, and control black mass education.

The late nineteenth century and early twentieth century was defined by a debate between former slaves establishing a vision and the utility of universal, state-supported public education for all U.S. citizens, especially in the South, and the white planters-merchants and northern industrialists coalition to create a cheap labor force. Black people hoped to utilize education as the means to acquire full citizenship and the key to political participation and economic success. The north-south white elite coalition used education to control blacks politically, economically, and socially, while reconciling the sectional divisions of the Civil War. Washington was at the center of this debate. He represented the white elite and some emerging black middle-class members' thoughts on African-American education for the masses. Political reality in the 1890s and afterward caused Washington to publicly accept white violations of the Fourteenth Amendment that included denying black people the right to vote across the south. Privately, Washington paid lawyers to challenge disfranchisement in the American court system, but even the Supreme Court of the United States endorsed preventing black voting as "an appropriate reform" to remove corruption from politics.

Washington's Legacy

In the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century, the debate about Booker T. Washington's educational legacy has been transformed into a contest between "liberal" thinking African Americans and conservative black intellectuals seeking a viable route to economic success in technology-based America. Specifically, Washington has wrongly become the proponent of a classical education that opened black students' minds to a broader world culture that included the exploration of Latin and the classics. Advocates of this position assert that Washington had a plan for black education that could have ensured African American access to economic success and perhaps middle-class status.

A look back to the Booker T. Washington of the past disregards his criticism of "Latin and Greek" for the newly freed ex-slave as making "a very superior human being something bordering almost on the super natural" (Washington 1965, p. 65). Washington suggested in Up from Slavery that "the craze for Greek and Latin learning" was wrongly tied by blacks to "a desire to hold [political] office." He did stress that black people should embrace "manual labor" first and then build to the next levels of human achievement over time. He publicly charged that black working people were not ready for all the avenues of freedom. They would have to work toward attaining these privileges over an unspecified amount of time. This was the public rationale of African Americans for forsaking the right to vote in exchange for access to economic success, which would be supervised by white northern and southern capitalists. The white elite, Washington argued publicly, would see to it that black political rights were protected when black people proved their economic importance to white leaders.

For Washington, Samuel Chapman Armstrong was "the perfect man." Washington was "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 how I wish that our schools and colleges might learn to study men and things (1965, p. 49). Washington wanted African Americans to have access to America's material wealth. That objective is still the subject of education reform in the twenty-first century.

See also: Education Reform; DuBois, w.e.b.; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Multicultural Education.

bibliography

Anderson, James D. 1988. The Education of Blacks in the South, 18601935. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Harlan, Louis H. 1972. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 18561901. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harlan, Louis H. 1983. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 19011915. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lewis, David Levering. 1993. W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 18681919. New York: Holt.

Washington, Booker T. 1965. Up from Slavery. New York: Dell

Washington, Booker T. 19721989. Booker T. Washington Papers, Vols. 114, ed. Louis H. Harlan, et al. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Woodward, C. Vann. 1971. Origins of the New South, 18771913. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

Gregory Mixon

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Washington, Booker T. 1856–1915

Booker T. Washington 18561915

Educator, social activist, writer

At a Glance

The Teacher of Teachers

Spoke at Cotton States and International Exposition

The Tuskegee Machine

Selected writings

Sources

In the annals of African American history, few names are as celebrated or as controversial as that of Booker Taliaferro Washington. Washington emerged in the last decades of the nineteenth century as the most important black leader since the post-Civil War Reconstructiona period of transition during which the Southern states, then occupied by Northern troops, were reintegrated into the Union.

Washington was an educator admired by blacks and trusted by both northern and southern whites as a thoughtful, honorable, and articulate spokesperson for African Americans. The founder and for many years the president of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was an untiring promoter of the virtues of economic independence, thrift, hard work, and patience on the part of black Americans facing the seemingly insurmountable difficulties of survival in a white-ruled society.

Washingtons own life was an outstanding example of his philosophy of deference and self-help. He was granted unique power by white political and economic leaders while suffering harsh condemnation during his lifeand even after his deathby some blacks who perceived him as little more than a well-educated Uncle Tom (a negative name given to blacks who appeared overly eager to cooperate with white authority). Some critics have indicated that Washingtons philosophy of economic self-reliance was hopelessly outdated even during his own lifetime, but he was widely regarded as the best-known and most powerful black American from 1895 until his death in 1915.

Booker T. Washington was born in the spring of 1856 near Hales Ford, Virginia, the son of a slave named Jane who belonged to James Burroughs and served as cook for the Burroughs family and their slaves. The identity of Washingtons father is not certain, but he was most likely a white man living in the immediate area. As Washington later recounted in his famous autobiography, Up From Slavery, his first years were spent in a single-room cabin on Burroughss farm, where he and his siblings were put to work at an early age. Young Booker (his only name at that time) was allowed no education and did not even own a pair of shoes until the age of eight, at which time he was often employed at the Burroughses dining table as the operator of a contraption designed to shoo flies away from the food. There, Booker received an introduction to white society, etiquette, and more or less

At a Glance

Born April 5,1856, near Hales Ford, Franklin County, VA; died November 14,1915, in Tuskegee, AL; son of an enslaved mother and a white father; married Fannie N. Smith, 1882 (died, 1884); married Olivia A. Davidson, 1885 (died, 1889); married Margaret James Murray, 1893; children: Booker T., Jr., Ernest Davidson, Portia Marshall. Education: Received degree from Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, 1875.

Educator, social activist, and writer. Teacher in schools in Malden, WV, 1875-78, and at Hampton Institute, Hampton, VA, 1879-81; Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee Institute), Tuskegee, AL, cofounder, principal, and professor, 1881-1915. Organized first annual Tuskegee Negro Conference, 1892, and National Negro Business League, 1900; representative and speaker at Cotton States and International Exposition, 1895; adviser to U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt.

Selected awards: Received honorary degrees from Harvard University, 1896, and Dartmouth College, 1901.

cultured conversation, all of which would prove of lasting importance in the course of his life.

With the defeat of the South at the close of the Civil War in 1865, Bookers stepfather, a former slave named Washington Ferguson, traveled to the town of Malden, West Virginia, where he had found work in the salt furnaces of Kanawha Salines. Jane, who had married Ferguson while still a slave in Virginia, and the rest of the family joined him there the same year. Soon young Booker was working alongside Ferguson in the salt furnaces, and later he was forced to labor in the local coal mines; but, as Washington wrote in his autobiography, From the time that I can remember having any thoughts about anything, I recall that I had an intense desire to learn to read. It was in Maiden that Booker received his first classroom education, squeezing in a few hours every day or night at the local school for black children while continuing to work full time in the mines. When asked by his first teacher for his name, the ten-year-old replied, Booker Washington, taking as his last name the first name of his stepfather; only years later did he add the name of Taliaferro.

While at work in the coal mines, Washington one day overheard discussion of a school for blacks called Hampton Institute, and the youngster promptly determined that he would seek a formal education there. Before going to Hampton, Washington worked for a second time in the home of a white family, in this case as a houseboy for General Lewis Ruffner and his wife, Viola, owners of the local mines. With the encouragement of Mrs. Ruffner and the financial help of many local black residents, Washington was able to enroll at Hampton Institute in the fall of 1872.

Located in Hampton, Virginia, the Normal and Agricultural Institute had been founded three years before by General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the son of white missionaries stationed in Hawaii, for the purpose of educating black schoolteachers in the habits of thrift, industry, and practical know-how. These qualities formed the core of the generals philosophy concerning education for African Americans. Armstrong and his institute were the models upon which Booker T. Washington molded his own life and work, and there is little in the career of Washington that cannot be traced back to his experience at Hampton.

Hampton students were given a book education sufficient to allow them to teach elementary school, but the essence of Armstrongs program was the development of a strong moral character and work ethic. All Hampton students were required to pay their tuition in the form of work, and life at the school was regulated with an almost military discipline. Armstrong believed that the newly freed black peoples would find a place in American society only when they had demonstrated flawless moral integrity and could offer a usable product or service. He viewed as secondary the issues of black civil and political rights, believing that these would inevitably follow upon the economic self-sufficiency of the race. Armstrongs was an inherently conservative doctrineits goal being the formation of an equal society of black farmers and artisansand Booker Washington never deviated from its basic tenets.

The Teacher of Teachers

Laboring as a janitor and engaging in whatever additional summer work he could find, Washington made his way through Hampton Institute in three years, from 1872 to 1875. He returned to Malden, West Virginia, for a brief term as a local teacher and was then invited back to Hampton to serve as one of General Armstrongs instructors. When Armstrong was asked in 1881 to create a new and similar school in Tuskegee, Alabama, he recommended Washington, who was accepted by the Alabama legislature and moved to Tuskegee in June of that year.

Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was built by Washington literally from the ground up: upon his arrival in Tuskegee, he had nothing but a $2,000 grant from the state for salaries and permission to build a training school for black teachers. After a tour of Alabama communities to gauge the regions most immediate needs, Washington enrolled the first years class in a shanty loaned by a local church. He eventually borrowed enough money to purchase an old plantation and begin the daunting task of establishing school buildings on the institutes permanent site. Until Washingtons death in 1915, Tuskegee Institute would remain the chief occupation and pride of his life, and the town of Tuskegee the unofficial capital of black America.

In every important respect Tuskegee Institute closely resembled General Armstrongs Hampton school. Although Tuskegee trained young black men and women to be teachers, it also insisted that they participate in one of the institutes many and ongoing industrial projects, whether it be the construction of school buildings or the fabrication of such articles as bricks and mattresses for sale to market. As a provider of what was called industrial education, however, Tuskegees emphasis was heavily directed toward agriculture and artisan skills, reflecting Washingtons belief that blacks first needed to establish their economic independence and security. Tuskegee students were exhorted to lead lives of modesty and hard work in accord with the dominant white southern culture, leaving the questions of political power and civil status to be answered by the gradual reconciliation of the races.

At a time of white southern resentment and retaliation for the more radical forms of postwar Reconstruction, Washingtons program of black self-help was applauded by both racesand most crucially by southern white leaders and northern philanthropists. The former allowed Tuskegee to grow into an institution of imposing size and power, the latter provided the funds required to do so.

Spoke at Cotton States and International Exposition

With important help from General Armstrong, Washington became a well-known figure in the national debate over race and the future of black Americans. His position as black leader was solidified in the year 1895, when he was asked by the organizers of the Cotton States and International Exposition to deliver an address as a black representative to their industrial fair in Atlanta. The event was of unprecedented significance in the history of postwar southern racial politics, and Washington used the opportunity to present in especially eloquent form his philosophy of harmony through economic cooperation. His appeal was doubly appreciated at the exposition, as it promised both racial calm and much needed economic vitality in the impoverished South.

Washington was given a spectacular ovation after the speech. The event was covered by newspapers around the country, and he was rapidly honored in both business and political circles as an eminently practical African American activist and leader. Funds poured into Tuskegee, and Washington became the confidante of philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie and the adviser to President Theodore Roosevelt on questions of the South and racial relations in general.

The Tuskegee Machine

Washington was married in 1882 to Fannie N. Smith, whom he had met and courted in Malden, West Virginia. Following her death in 1884, he wed Olivia A. Davidson, whom he credited with much of Tuskegees success in fund-raising. Washingtons third wife, Margaret James Murray, exercised considerable influence at Tuskegee as well, and she also helped Washington to raise his children from his first two marriages. His busy life was divided between the administration of Tuskegee, writing books and articles, and an endless round of travel and lectures. As a man of limitless energy but sharply defined goals, he became a highly influential black leader.

Washington wielded power directly by means of Tuskegees many graduates, his role as counselor to the federal government, and as part-owner of the New York Age, an influential black newspaper. More generally, he was the chief arbiter between the black community and the centers of national power in New York and Washington, D.C., and he was inevitably consulted by white leaders in questions of philanthropy and interracial politics. Under the Republican presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, Washington reached the pinnacle of his national power, perhaps best symbolized by an invitation to dine with the president at the White House in October of 1901.

In 1900 Washington helped organize the National Negro Business League, an effort, as its name suggests, at helping black Americans to develop their own commercial ventures. He toured the continent of Europe, received honorary degrees from Harvard and Dartmouth universities, and published several versions of his autobiography, Up From Slavery. Yet there were already signs of disillusionment among black intellectuals.

In 1902, editor William Monroe Trotter began publishing virulent attacks on Washington in his Boston Guardian. The following year black leader W. E. B. Du Bois weighed in with his justly celebrated Souls of Black Folk, in which he protested: [In cases where] Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice North and South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effect of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds... we must unceasingly and firmly oppose [him]. Du Bois was a passionate political activist and a leading intellectual whose temperament and opinions were at the furthest extreme from Washingtons hard-headed pragmatism. Opposing Washingtons emphasis on vocational training, Du Bois urged blacks to pursue higher education and employ political agitation in order to achieve equality.

Du Boiss writings accurately reflected the desperate condition of black Americans at the turn of the twentieth century, when it could have been argued that blacks were indeed worse off than in the era of slavery. Nearly every state in the South had managed to prevent blacks from exercising the right to vote granted them by the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. With the help of terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, the South had restored absolute segregation between the races. Worst of all were the lynchings of blacks that occurred with appalling regularity during the years of Washingtons reign as a leader among African Americans. Whether the connection was valid or not, some black intellectuals believed Washingtons philosophy of humility and political acquiescence contributed to the generally deteriorating welfare of black Americans.

In response, Du Bois and other concerned blacks founded the Niagara Movement in 1905 as a direct challenge to Washingtons power, and five years later many of the same individuals created the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). At the same time, Washingtons national influence declined after 1908 under the administrations of U. S. presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson. Despite his continued fame and prestige, he must have sensed that a new era in black American history was about to begin. As Du Bois and others pointed out, Washingtons dream of racial equality via the economic independence of blacks was impossible so long as blacks lacked the capacity to protest at the ballot box. Furthermore, the Tuskegee emphasis on small-scale farming and artisan skills was of little use at a time of exploding industrialization; jobs were now in the cities of the North, and increasing numbers of blacks abandoned their southern roots to seek their fortunes in the North.

Washington died in November of 1915 at his home in Tuskegee, one of the most honored men of his age, and one of the most complex. Historians have discovered in his voluminous private correspondence that Washingtons apparent conservatism was in part only a mask for the benefit of his white audience. Washington secretly funded numerous court challenges to segregation and disenfranchisement, and in many instances took pains to conceal acts of generosity to blacks that might have been construed by whites as too radical.

In every sense, then, Washingtons life and workthe story of his personal rise from slavery, the creation of Tuskegee, and the millions of dollars he raised for the material betterment of black Americanswere remarkable. His philosophy and policies, however, were limited by the prevailing attitudes of his day and therefore failed to anticipate the political and economic changes that would engulf his people later in the twentieth century.

Selected writings

Black-Belt Diamonds: Gems From the Speeches, Addresses, and Talks to the Students of Booker T. Washington, Fortune & Scott, 1898.

The Future of the American Negro, Small, Maynard, 1899.

(With Edgar Webber) The Story of My Life and Work (autobiography), J. L. Nichols, 1900.

(With Max Bennett Thrasher) Up From Slavery (autobiography), A. L. Burt, 1901.

Character Building (lectures), Doubleday, 1902.

Working With the Hands (autobiography), Doubleday, 1904.

(Editor with Emmett J. Scott) Tuskegee and Its People: Their Ideals and Achievements, Appleton, 1905.

The Negro in Business, Hertel, Jenkins, 1907.

(With S. Laing Williams) Frederick Douglass (biography), G. W. Jacobs, 1907.

(With W. E. B. Du Bois) The Negro in the South: His Economic Progress in Relation to His Moral and Religious Development (lectures), G. W. Jacobs, 1907.

The Story of the Negro: The Rise of the Race From Slavery, 2 volumes, Doubleday, 1909.

(With Robert E. Park and Emmett J. Scott) My Larger Education (autobiography), Doubleday, 1911.

Selected Speeches of Booker T. Washington, edited by E. Davidson Washington, Doubleday, 1932.

The Booker T. Washington Papers, thirteen volumes, edited by Louis R. Harlan and others, University of Illinois Press, 1972-84.

Sources

Books

Drinker, Frederick E., Booker T. Washington: The Master Mind of a Child of Slavery, Greenwood, 1970.

Du Bois, W. E. B., The Souls of Black Folk, Library of America edition, Vintage Books, 1990.

Franklin, John Hope, and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom, sixth edition, Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.

Harlan, Louis R., Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901, Oxford University Press, 1972.

Harlan, Louis R., Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915, Oxford University Press, 1986.

Kaye, Tony, Booker T. Washington, Chelsea House, 1989.

Meier, August, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington, University of Michigan Press, 1963.

Thornbrough, Emma Lou, editor, Booker T. Washington, Prentice-Hall, 1969.

Washington, Booker T., Up From Slavery, Penguin, 1986.

Weisberger, Bernard A., Booker T. Washington, New American Library, 1972.

Periodicals

American Heritage, August 1968.

Crisis, August 1978; February 1983.

Journal of Negro History, January 1953; October 1955; January 1958; April 1960; April 1968; July 1969.

New York Times Book Review, March 4, 1973; May 22, 1983.

Times Literary Supplement, April 13, 1973; November 15, 1974.

Jonathan Martin

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Washington, Booker T.

Booker T. Washington

Born: April 5, 1856
Franklin County, Virginia
Died: November 14, 1915
Tuskegee, Alabama

African American educator, author, and leader

Booker T. Washington, African American educator and leader, founded Tuskegee Institute for black students. His "Atlanta Compromise" speech made him America's major black leader for twenty years.

Born into slavery

Booker Taliaferro (the Washington was added later) was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia, on April 5, 1856. His mother was the plantation's cook, while his father, a local white man, took no responsibility for him. From a very early age, Washington recalled an intense desire to learn to read and write.

Washington's mother married another slave, who escaped to West Virginia during the Civil War (186165; a war in which Northern forces fought against those of the South over, among other things, secession, or the South's desire to leave the Union). She and her three children were liberated (freed) by a Union army in 1865 and, after the war, joined her husband in West Virginia.

Desire to learn

The stepfather put the boys to work in the salt mines in Malden, West Virginia. Booker eagerly asked for education, but his stepfather gave in only when Booker agreed to work in the mines mornings and evenings to make up for earnings lost while in school. He had known only his first name, but when students responded to roll call with two names, Booker desperately added a famous name, becoming Booker Washington. Learning from his mother that he already had a last name, he became Booker T. Washington.

Overhearing talk about an African American college in Hampton, Virginia, Washington longed to attend the school. Meanwhile, as houseboy for the owner of the coal mines and saltworks, he developed sturdy work habits. In 1872 he set out for Hampton Institute. When he ran out of money, he worked at odd jobs. Sleeping under wooden sidewalks, begging rides, and walking, he traveled the remaining eighty miles and, tired and penniless, asked for admission and assistance. After Hampton officials tested him by making him clean a room, he was admitted and given work as a janitor.

Hampton Institute, founded in 1868 by a former Union general, emphasized manual training. The students learned useful trades and earned their way. Washington studied brickmasonry (laying of bricks) along with other courses. Graduating in 1876, he taught in a school for two years. Studying at Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C., he became bored with classical education, considering his fellow students to be more interested in making an impression and living off the black masses than in serving mankind. He became convinced that practical, manual training in rural skills and crafts would save his race, not higher learning, which separated the reality of the black man's miserable existence. In 1879 he was invited to teach at Hampton Institute, particularly to supervise one hundred Native Americans admitted experimentally. He proved a great success in his two years as part of the teaching staff.

Tuskegee Institute

In 1881 citizens in Tuskegee, Alabama, asked Hampton's president to recommend a white man to head their new black college. He suggested Washington instead. The school had an annual legislative appropriation (government money) of two thousand dollars for salaries, but no campus, buildings, students, or staff. Washington had to recruit students and teachers and raise money for land, buildings, and equipment. Hostile rural whites who feared education would ruin black laborers accepted his demonstration that his students' practical training would help improve their usefulness. He and his students built a kiln, an oven used for making bricks, and they erected campus buildings brick by brick.

Under Washington's leadership, Tuskegee Institute became an important force in black education. Tuskegee pioneered in agricultural extension, sending out demonstration wagons that brought better methods to farmers and sharecroppers (farmers who work land owned by another and give a portion of the crop in exchange for the use of the land). Graduates founded numerous "little Tuskegees." African Americans immersed in the poverty of cotton sharecropping improved their farming techniques, income, and living conditions. Washington urged them to become capitalists (business investors), founding the National Negro Business League in 1900. Black agricultural scientist George Washington Carver (c. 18641943) worked at Tuskegee from 1896 to 1943, developing new products from peanuts and sweet potatoes. By 1915 Tuskegee had fifteen hundred students and a larger endowment (designated funds) than any other black institution.

"Atlanta Compromise"

In 1895 Washington gave his famous "Atlanta Compromise" speech. Although he shared the late Frederick Douglass's (18171895) long-range goals of equality (idea that all races are equal) and integration (bringing different races together), Washington criticized disturbing the peace and other protest strategies. He urged black people to drop demands for political and social rights, concentrating instead on improving job skills and usefulness. "The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house," he said. He appealed to white people to rely on loyal, proven black workers, pointing out that the South would advance to the degree that blacks were allowed to secure education and become productive.

Washington's position so pleased whites, North and South, that they made him the new black spokesman. He became powerful, having the deciding voice in federal appointments of African Americans and in philanthropic grants (charitable donations) to black institutions. Through subsidies, or secret partnerships, he controlled black newspapers, therefore silencing critics. Impressed by his power and hoping his tactics would work, many black people went along. However, increasingly during his last years, such black intellectuals as W. E. B. Du Bois (18681963), John Hope (18681936), and William Monroe Trotter (18721934) criticized his surrender of civil rights (the fight for racial equality) and his stressing of training in crafts, some irrelevant, while forgetting liberal education, which stressed social improvements for black people. Opposition centered in the Niagara Movement, founded in 1905, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which succeeded it in 1910.

Although outwardly calm and nonconfrontational, Washington secretly financed and encouraged attempts and lawsuits to block Southern moves to segregate (to separate black and white Americans) black people and stop them from gaining citizenship. He had lost two wives by death and married a third time in 1893. His death on November 14, 1915, cleared the way for black people to return to Douglass's tactics of protesting for equal political, social, and economic rights. Washington won a Harvard honorary degree in 1891. His birthplace in Franklin County, Virginia, is now a national monument.

For More Information

Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 18561901. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 19011915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Neyland, James. Booker T. Washington. Los Angeles: Melrose Square, 1992.

Nicholson, Lois P. Booker T. Washington. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1997.

Scott, Emmett S., and Lyman Beecher Stowe. Booker T. Washington. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1916.

Washington, Booker T. My Larger Education. Miami, FL: Mnemosyne Publishers, 1969.

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1901. Reprint, New York: New American Library, 2000.

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Booker Taliaferro Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915), African American educator and racial leader, founded Tuskegee Institute for black students. His "Atlanta Compromise" speech made him America's major black leader for 20 years.

Booker Taliaferro (the Washington was added later) was born a slave in Franklin County, Va., on April 5, 1856. His mother was the plantation's cook. His father, a local white man, took no responsibility for him. His mother married another slave, who escaped to West Virginia during the Civil War. She and her three children were liberated by a Union army in 1865 and, after the war, joined her husband.

Growing Up Black

The stepfather put the boys to work in the salt mines in Malden, W.Va. Booker eagerly asked for education, but his stepfather conceded only when Booker agreed to toil in the mines mornings and evenings to make up for earnings lost while in school. He had known only his first name, but when pupils responded to roll call with two names, Booker desperately added a famous name, becoming Booker Washington. Learning from his mother that he already had a last name, he became Booker T. Washington.

Overhearing talk about a black college in Hampton, Va., Washington longed to go. Meanwhile, as houseboy for the owner of the coal mines and saltworks, he developed scrupulous work habits. In 1872 he set out for Hampton Institute. When his money gave out, he worked at odd jobs. Sleeping under wooden sidewalks, begging rides, and walking, he traveled the remaining 80 miles and, bedraggled and penniless, asked for admission and assistance. After Hampton officials tested him by having him clean a room, he was admitted and given work as a janitor.

Hampton Institute, founded in 1868 by a former Union general, emphasized manual training. The students learned useful trades and earned their way. Washington studied brickmasonry along with collegiate courses. Graduating in 1876, he taught in a rural school for two years. Studying at Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C., he became disenchanted with classical education, considering his fellow students to be dandies more interested in making an impression and living off the black masses than in serving mankind. He became convinced that practical, manual training in rural skills and crafts would save his race, not higher learning divorced from the reality of the black man's downtrodden existence. In 1879 he was invited to teach at Hampton Institute, particularly to supervise 100 Native Americans admitted experimentally. He proved a great success in his two years on the faculty.

Tuskegee Institute

In 1881 citizens in Tuskegee, Ala., asked Hampton's president to recommend a white man to head their new black college; he suggested Washington instead. The school had an annual legislative appropriation of $2, 000 for salaries, but no campus, buildings, pupils, or staff. Washington had to recruit pupils and teachers and raise money for land, buildings, and equipment. Hostile rural whites who feared education would ruin black laborers accepted his demonstration that his students' practical training would help improve their usefulness. He and his students built a kiln and made the bricks with which they erected campus buildings.

Under Washington's leadership (1881-1915), Tuskegee Institute became an important force in black education. Tuskegee pioneered in agricultural extension, sending out demonstration wagons that brought better methods to farmers and sharecroppers. Graduates founded numerous "little Tuskegees." African Americans mired in the poverty and degradation of cotton sharecropping improved their farming techniques, income, and living conditions. Washington urged them to become capitalists, founding the National Negro Business League in 1900. Black agricultural scientist George Washington Carver worked at Tuskegee from 1896 to 1943, devising new products from peanuts and sweet potatoes. By 1915 Tuskegee had 1, 500 students and a larger endowment than any other black institution.

"Atlanta Compromise"

In 1895 Washington gave his famous "Atlanta Compromise" speech. Although he shared the late Frederick Douglass's long-range goals of equality and integration, Washington renounced agitation and protest tactics. He urged blacks to subordinate demands for political and social rights, concentrating instead on improving job skills and usefulness. "The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house, " he said. He appealed to white people to rely on loyal, proven black workers, pointing out that the South would advance to the degree that blacks were allowed to secure education and become productive.

Washington's position so pleased whites, North and South, that they made him the new black spokesman. He became powerful, having the deciding voice in Federal appointments of African Americans and in philanthropic grants to black institutions. Through subsidies or secret partnerships, he controlled black newspapers, stifling critics. Overawed by his power and hoping his tactics would work, many blacks went along. However, increasingly during his last years, such black intellectuals as W.E.B. Du Bois, John Hope, and William Monroe Trotter denounced his surrender of civil rights and his stressing of training in crafts, some obsolete, to the neglect of liberal education. Opposition centered in the Niagara Movement, founded in 1905, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which succeeded it in 1910.

Although outwardly conciliatory, Washington secretly financed and encouraged attempts and lawsuits to block southern moves to disfranchise and segregate blacks. He had lost two wives by death and married a third time in 1893. His death on Nov. 14, 1915, cleared the way for blacks to return to Douglass's tactics of agitating for equal political, social, and economic rights. Washington won a Harvard honorary degree in 1891. His birthplace is a national monument.

Further Reading

Washington's autobiographical works are The Story of My Life and Work (1900), Up from Slavery (1901), and My Larger Education (1911), the last two especially revealing. Collections of his writings along with contemporary opinions are Hugh Hawkins, ed., Booker T. Washington and His Critics (1962), and Emma Lou Thornbrough, ed., Booker T. Washington (1969). There are three major biographies: Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe, Booker T. Washington (1916), an unscholarly glorification, is useful because Scott was Washington's assistant; Basil Mathews, Booker T. Washington: Educator and Interracial Interpreter (1948), is also highly laudatory; Samuel R. Spencer, Jr., Booker T. Washington and the Negro's Place in American Life (1955), the most balanced account is still not sufficiently critical of Washington. The best account of Washington's times is August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (1963). □

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Washington, Booker Taliaferro

WASHINGTON, BOOKER TALIAFERRO

Booker Taliaferro Washington was born into slavery, but grew up to become one of the nation's most prominent leaders and educators. While various groups both supported and opposed his views, no one denied that Washington's accomplishments were notable. He remained, until his death, an influential proponent of race relations and African American self-sufficiency.

Booker Taliaferro was born on April 5, 1856, in Franklin County, Virginia. His mother was a slave; his father a white man whose identity remains unknown. When Booker was a child, his mother married a slave named Washington Ferguson. Booker took his stepfather's first name and became known as Booker T. Washington. After the u.s. civil war ended, Washington and his family moved to Malden, West Virginia. At age nine, Washington began work in the local salt mines. He then labored as a coal miner before going to work as a houseboy for the wife of Lewis Ruffner, the mine owner, while attending a poorly equipped school that could only give him the bare rudiments of an education.

"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."
—Booker T. Washington

Possessed of a quick and lively intelligence, Washington was fascinated by the books he saw at the Ruffners' house and, with Mrs. Ruffner's encouragement, became determined to get a higher education. When Washington was 16, he made a long trek on foot to attend the Hampton Agricultural Institute in Virginia. The institute had been founded in 1868 by Samuel Armstrong, a former Union Army general who had led African-American troops during the Civil War. Armstrong believed strongly that freed slaves must be educated but also must learn to provide for themselves by receiving training in manual skills. An ardent proponent of the virtues of good hygiene and strong morals as well as self-discipline, Armstrong became a mentor to Washington.

Washington graduated from Hampton Institute in 1875 and returned to Malden where he worked as a teacher. Washington later taught at Hampton. When a new school, the Tuskegee Negro Normal Institute, was opened in Alabama on July 4, 1881, Washington, on Armstrong's recommendation, was placed in charge of it. Following the Hampton Institute model, Tuskegee Institute had an academic regimen but placed an emphasis on learning such practical trades as farming, carpentry, brickmaking, shoemaking, and printing.

Washington traveled the country to raise funds for his school, speaking to both whites and African Americans. His speeches eventually began to earn him a national reputation. In 1895, Washington spoke at the opening of the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. In that speech Washington emphasized the need for African Americans to become economically self-sufficient before pressing for political rights. Washington's speech, called the "Atlanta Compromise," was well-received by numerous politicians and white citizens in the South who were proponents of jim crow laws, legislation which mandated segregation and political disenfranchisement.

Washington's conservative views were denounced by W. E. B. DuBois and other African American, as well as white, leaders who felt that civil rights could not be compromised and that Washington's emphasis on a vocational education was an affront to those who wished to become professionals. Opposition to Washington's views helped to create the Niagara Movement, which was started in 1905 and served as the forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (naacp), established in 1909.

Undaunted by criticism from both liberals and conservatives, Washington continued to write, lecture, and disseminate his personal philosophy of non-agitation. In addition, his influence expanded. He served as advisor to Presidents theodore roosevelt and william howard taft, on the subject of political appointments of African Americans and issues concerning race relations. He also was instrumental in securing funds for African-American institutions from such millionaire industrial leaders as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.

When Washington died in New York City on November 14, 1915, Tuskegee Institute had more than 1,500 students enrolled, and approximately two hundred faculty members. Its endowment was larger than that of any other African American institution. Washington was able to add a considerable amount to Tuskegee funds through the sale of his popular and groundbreaking autobiography, Up From Slavery, which was published in 1901.

Booker T. Washington was both praised and reviled for practicing the "politics of accommodation." To some he was a hero who advocated for moral development and economic self-reliance for African Americans who had to forge a life after being freed from the bonds of slavery. To others he was supportive of segregation and a compatriot of whites who attempted to suppress equal rights for African Americans. Regardless of these views, Washington was a pivotal figure in American race relations after the Civil War.

further readings

Harlan, Louis R. 1986. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901–1915. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

——. 1975. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856–1901. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Washington, Booker T. 1901. Up from Slavery, an Autobiography. Reprint, New York: Gramercy Books, 1993.

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Washington, Booker Taliaferro

Booker Taliaferro Washington, 1856–1915, American educator, b. Franklin co., Va. Washington was born into slavery; his mother was a mulatto slave on a plantation, his father a white man whom he never knew. After the Civil War, he worked in salt furnaces and coal mines in Malden, W.Va., and attended school part time, until, at 16, he was able to enter the Hampton Institute (Va.). A friend of the principal paid his tuition, and he worked as a janitor to earn his room and board. After three years (1872–75) at Hampton he taught at a school for African-American children in Malden, then studied at Wayland Seminary, Washington, D.C. Appointed (1879) an instructor at Hampton Institute (now Hampton Univ.), he was given charge of the training of 75 Native Americans, under the guidance of Gen. S. C. Armstrong. He later developed the night school.

In 1881 he was chosen to organize (and construct) an academic, agricultural, and industrial school for African Americans at Tuskegee, Ala. Under his direction, Tuskegee Institute (see Tuskegee Univ.) became one of the leading African-American educational institutions in America. Its programs emphasized industrial training as a means to attaining self-respect and economic independence for black people, and Washington continued to advocate self-help and self-sufficiency as the most effective means of improving life for African Americans.

A skilled orator, Washington gave many lectures in the interests of his work, both in the United States and in Europe, and he was counted among the ablest public speakers of his time. In 1895 at Atlanta, Ga., Washington made a highly controversial speech on the place of the African American in American life. In it he maintained that it was foolish for blacks to agitate for social equality before they had attained economic equality. His speech pleased many whites and gained financial support for his school, but his position was denounced by many African-American leaders, among them W. E. B. Du Bois.

Though many African Americans saw him as a compromiser and a reactionary, in the early years of the 20th cent. Washington was widely viewed as the main spokesman for black America. He was the organizer (1900) of the National Negro Business League, a group committed to black economic independence. He also became a trusted adviser to President Theodore Roosevelt on matters related to the African-American community, and received honorary degrees from Dartmouth and Harvard. By the time of his death, however, Washington's influence had waned considerably. Among his many published works are his autobiographies, Up From Slavery (1901, repr. 1963) and My Larger Education (1911, repr. 2008) as well as such studies as The Future of the American Negro (1899), Tuskegee and Its People (1905, repr. 1969), Life of Frederick Douglass (1907, repr. 1968), and The Story of the Negro (1909, repr. 1969).

Bibliography

See L. R. Harlan et al., ed. The Booker T. Washington Papers (14 vol., 1972–89); biographies by E. J. Scott and L. B. Stowe (1916, repr. 1972), B. Mathews (1948, repr. 1969), S. R. Spencer, Jr. (1955), A. Bontemps (1972), L. R. Harlan (2 vol., 1972–83), R. J. Norrell (2009), and R. W. Smock (2009); studies by H. Hawkins, ed. (1962), E. L. Thornborough, ed. (1969), L. R. Harlan (1988), and S. Mansfield (1999).

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Washington, Booker T.

Washington, Booker T. ( Taliaferro) (1856–1915) US educator and African American leader. Born a slave, he gained an education after the Civil War and became a teacher. Washington advocated self-help, education, and economic improvement as preliminaries to the achievement of equality for blacks, and believed in compromise with white segregationists. He had considerable influence among whites as a spokesman for African-American causes.

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Washington, Booker Taliaferro

WASHINGTON, BOOKER TALIAFERRO


Booker T. Washington (18561915) became one of the leading spokespeople for African Americans after the American Civil War (18611865). Washington strongly promoted the education of African Americans in practical skills and manual tradeshe founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to promote such goals. He became popular among white political leaders for his views on racial harmony, which emphasized economic opportunity over political protest.

Booker Taliaferro Washington was born in Franklin County, Virginia, on April 5, 1856. His mother was a slave who worked as a plantation cook. Washington's father was an unknown local white man who took no responsibility for his son. His mother later married another slave, but her husband escaped to West Virginia during the American Civil War, leaving his family behind. After the war ended in 1865, Booker's family was emancipated and the family was reunited in Malden, West Virginia. His stepfather had found a job at the salt furnaces and young Booker worked with him as a salt packer.

Booker desperately sought an education for himself, but his family needed him to work in order to support itself. His stepfather reluctantly agreed to let young Booker go to school on the condition that he continue to work in the salt mines before and after school. It was in school that Booker acquired his last name; he had only been called Booker until that time. When the pupils at school responded to roll call with two names, Booker named himself Washington. He later learned from his mother that he already had a last name, Taliaferro. So he became Booker Taliaferro Washington.

Washington continued his work at the salt furnaces, took another job at the coal mines, and still pursued his education. It was at the coal mines that Washington learned of the Hampton Institute in Virginiathis was a school dedicated solely to educating former slaves. It was suitable for Washington and his family because students could finance their education by working at the school.

Washington attended the Hampton Institute in 1872, and it proved to be a critical move for his future. It was at the institute that Washington learned of the educational philosophy that would shape his later beliefs and influence his writings. The Hampton Institute focused its program on practical skills and manual trades to improve the status of African Americans in the community. The institute emphasized industrial and agricultural education as well as teacher training.

Washington graduated with honors from the Hampton Institute in 1875 and went on to teach in rural schools in Malden. In 1878 he began his studies at the Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. He left the school, however, because he found the purely academic and theoretical atmosphere to be too superficial for his tastes. The world of books and ideas did not reflect the reality that most African Americans were living at that time. He appreciated the more practical approach of the Hampton Institute and returned there in 1879 as a teacher.

In 1881 the president of the Hampton Institute General Samuel Chapman Armstrong (18391893) recommended Washington for a new position. Washington would be the principal of a new school for African Americans to be built in Tuskegee, Alabama. The school had an annual legislative appropriation of $2000. It had no campus, buildings, pupils, or staff and Washington had to recruit pupils and teachers to the school himself. He also raised money for buildings and equipment, as the future site of the school was located on an abandoned plantation. Washington's first lessons to his students were practical ones. Students and faculty together planted crops and made the bricks for the new buildings.

At the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later named the Tuskegee Institute, and now Tuskegee University), Washington taught the same self-help philosophy that he himself had learned at the Hampton Institute. Washington emphasized manual and industrial education, as well as practical trades such as carpentry, farming, mechanics, and teaching. He additionally emphasized discipline, cleanliness, and thrift among his students. Washington sought to impart to them a philosophy of African American self-sufficiency, and he urged his students to become capitalists. In 1900 Washington put his own teachings into practice and founded the National Negro Business League. The school, however was his real legacy, and he continued to watch his institute grow over the years. By 1888 Tuskegee Institute expanded to cover 549 acres and have over 400 enrolled students. By 1915 the school had 1500 students and a larger endowment than any other black institution.

Washington's influence and educational philosophy, however, extended outside of Tuskegee, Alabama. In 1895 he was asked to address the Cotton States and the International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. The event had an all-white audience of about 2000 people. Washington gave a speech at the exposition that was later dubbed the "Atlanta Compromise." The soon-to-be famous speech outlined Washington's proposal for racial harmony in the United States. He explained that self-improvement of African Americans in economic and educational matters would make them more law-abiding and less resentful toward white Americans. This would eventually, he asserted, promote racial harmony. Washington spoke out against the public protests occurring at that time and saw economic advancement as a more effective solution than political demonstrations to racial discord. Ultimately, he accepted racial segregation in exchange for economic opportunities. As he said in the speech: "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."

Washington's speech was very popular among white Americans, and he soon became a spokesperson for his people. He developed strong ties with northern philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie (18351919), George Eastman (18541932), Henry H. Rogers (18401909), and Julius Rosenwald (18621932). They appreciated Washington's entrepreneurial approach to race issues. Washington also became an advisor on racial matters to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (19011909) and William H. Taft (19091913). His advice was sought as well by various governors and members of Congress.

The late 1800s were a difficult time for African Americans despite Washington's calls for racial harmony. Lynchings increased, Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation in public were passed, and there were threats of disfranchisement for African Americans in the South. These were clear signs that African Americans needed more than economic advancement to improve their social position in the United States. Other black intellectuals such as W.E.B. Du Bois (18681963) and William Monroe Trotter (18721934) began to speak out against the "accommodationism" that Washington supported. Du Bois in particular was critical of Washington's educational philosophy. He felt that it discouraged African Americans from striving for a higher education, instead Du Bois supported the opportunity for talented African Americans to attain a college education and serve as leaders of the black community. This opposition to Washington formed the Niagara Movement in 1905. It provided an alternative view to Washington's position of compromise and humility. In 1910 the same group founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Washington himself realized that economic opportunity alone was not enough to improve the conditions of African Americans. His public position never wavered, but Washington privately supported campaigns against injustice. He anonymously financed lawsuits against disfranchisement and segregation and secretly influenced other legal actions. Washington maintained a demanding public life until he became ill during a lecture series and died on November 14, 1915.

See also: Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow Laws


FURTHER READING

Denton, Virginia Lantz. Booker T. Washington and the Adult Education Movement. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1993.

Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 19011915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Miller, Jan. "Annotated Bibliography of the Washington-Du Bois Controversy." Journal of Black Studies, December 1994.

Riley, Jason L., "Return to Self-Reliance," Wall Street Journal, August 13, 1997.

Root, Nina J. "Portraits of Tuskegee." Natural History, February 1997.

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Washington, Booker T.

Washington, Booker T.

c. 1856
November 14, 1915


Founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and prominent race and education leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Booker Taliaferro Washington was born a slave on the plantation of James Burroughs near Hale's Ford, Virginia. He spent his childhood as a houseboy and servant. His mother was a cook on the Burroughs plantation, and he never knew his white father. With Emancipation in 1865, he moved with his familyconsisting of his mother, Jane; his stepfather, Washington Ferguson; a half-brother, John; and a half-sister, Amandato West Virginia, where he worked briefly in the salt furnaces and coal mines near Malden. Quickly, however, he obtained work as a houseboy in the mansion of the wealthiest white man in Malden, General Lewis Ruffner. There, under the tutelage of the general's wife, Viola Ruffner, a former New England schoolteacher, he learned to read. He also attended a local school for African Americans in Malden.

From 1872 to 1875 Washington attended Hampton Institute, in Hampton, Virginia, where he came under the influence of the school's founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, who inculcated in Washington the work ethic that would stay with him his entire life and that became a hallmark of his educational philosophy. Washington was an outstanding pupil during his tenure at Hampton and was placed in charge of the Native American students there. After graduation he returned to Malden, where he taught school for several years and became active as a public speaker on local matters, including the issue of the removal of the capital of West Virginia to Charleston.

In 1881 Washington founded a school of his own in Tuskegee, Alabama. Beginning with a few ramshackle buildings and a small sum from the state of Alabama, he built Tuskegee Institute into the best-known African-American school in the nation. While not neglecting academic training entirely, the school's curriculum stressed industrial education, training in specific skills and crafts that would prepare students for jobs. Washington built his school and his influence by tapping the generosity of northern philanthropists, receiving donations from wealthy New Englanders and some of the leading industrialists and businessmen of his time, such as Andrew Carnegie, William H. Baldwin Jr., Julius Rosenwald, and Robert C. Ogden.

In 1882 Washington married his childhood sweetheart from Malden, Fanny Norton Smith, a graduate of Hampton Institute, who died two years later as a result of injuries suffered in a fall from a wagon. Subsequently Washington married Olivia A. Davidson, a graduate of Hampton and the Framingham State Normal School in Massachusetts, who held the title of lady principal of Tuskegee. She was a tireless worker for the school and an effective fund-raiser in her own right. Always in rather frail health, Davidson died in 1889. Washington's third wife, Margaret James Murray, a graduate of Fisk University, also held the title of lady principal and was a leader of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs and the Southern Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.

Washington's reputation as the principal of Tuskegee Institute grew through the late 1880s and the 1890s; his school was considered the exemplar of industrial education, viewed as the best method of training the generations of African Americans who were either born in slavery or were the sons and daughters of freed slaves. His control of the pursestrings of many of the northern donors to his school increased his influence with other African-American schools in the South. His fame and recognition as a national race leader, however, resulted from the impact of a single speech he delivered before the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta in 1895. This important speech, often called the Atlanta Compromise, is the best single statement of Washington's philosophy of racial advancement and his political accommodation with the predominant racial ideology of his time. For the next twenty years, until the end of his life, Washington seldom deviated publicly from the positions taken in the Atlanta address.

In his speech Washington urged African Americans to "cast down your bucket where you are"that is, in the Southand to accommodate to the segregation and discrimination imposed upon them by custom and by state and local laws. He said the races could exist separately from the standpoint of social relationships but should work together for mutual economic advancement. He advocated a gradualist advancement of the race, through hard work, economic improvement, and self-help. This message found instant acceptance from white Americans, north and south, and almost universal approval among African Americans. Even W. E. B. Du Bois, later one of Washington's harshest critics, wrote to him immediately after the Atlanta address that the speech was "a word fitly spoken."

Whereas Washington's public stance on racial matters seldom varied from the Atlanta Compromise, privately he was a more complicated individual. His voluminous

private papers, housed at the Library of Congress, document an elaborate secret life that contradicted many of his public utterances. He secretly financed test cases to challenge Jim Crow laws. He held great power over the African-American press, both north and south, and secretly owned stock in several newspapers. While Washington himself never held political office of any kind, he became the most powerful African-American politician of his time as an adviser to presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and as a dispenser of Republican Party patronage.

Washington's biographer, Louis R. Harlan, called the Tuskegean's extensive political network "the Tuskegee Machine" for its resemblance to the machines established by big-city political bosses of the era. With his network of informants and access to both northern philanthropy and political patronage, Washington could make or break careers, and he was the central figure in African-American public life during his heyday. Arguably no other black leader, before or since, has exerted similar dominance. He founded the National Negro Business League in 1900 to foster African-American business and create a loyal corps of supporters throughout the country. Indirectly he influenced the National Afro American Council, the leading African-American civil rights group of his day. The publication of his autobiography, Up from Slavery, in 1901 spread his fame even more in the United States and abroad. In this classic American tale, Washington portrayed his life in terms of a Horatio Alger success story. Its great popularity in the first decade of the twentieth century won many new financial supporters for Tuskegee Institute and for Washington personally.

Washington remained the dominant African-American leader in the country until the time of his death from exhaustion and overwork in 1915. But other voices rose to challenge his conservative, accommodationist leadership. William Monroe Trotter, the editor of the Boston Guardian, was a persistent gadfly. Beginning in 1903 with the publication of Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, and continuing for the rest of his life, Washington was criticized for his failure to be more publicly aggressive in fighting the deterioration of race relations in the United States, for his avoidance of direct public support for civil rights legislation, and for his single-minded emphasis on industrial education as opposed to academic training for a "talented tenth" of the race. Washington, however, was adept at outmaneuvering his critics, even resorting to the use of spies to infiltrate organizations critical of his leadership, such as the Niagara Movement, led by Du Bois. His intimate friends called Washington "the Wizard" for his mastery of political intrigue and his exercise of power.

Washington's leadership ultimately gave way to new forces in the twentieth century, which placed less emphasis on individual leadership and more on organizational power. The founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and of the National Urban League in 1911 challenged Washington in the areas of civil rights and his failure to address problems related to the growth of an urban black population. The defeat of the Republican Party in the presidential election of 1912 also spelled the end of Washington's power as a dispenser of political patronage. Nevertheless, he remained active as a speaker and public figure until his death, in 1915, at Tuskegee.

Washington's place in the pantheon of African-American leaders is unclear. He was the first African American to appear on a United States postage stamp (1940) and commemorative coin (1946). Although he was eulogized by friend and foe alike at the time of his death, his outmoded philosophy of accommodation to segregation and racism in American society caused his historical reputation to suffer. New generations of Americans, who took their inspiration from those who were more outspoken critics of segregation and the second-class status endured by African Americans, rejected Washington's lead-ership role. While much recent scholarship has explored his racial philosophy and political activity in considerable depth, he remains a largely forgotten man in the consciousness of the general public, both black and white. In recent years, however, there has been some revival of interest in his economic thought by those who seek to develop African-American businesses and entrepreneurial skills. Indeed, no serious student of the African-American experience in the United States can afford to ignore the lessons that can be gleaned from Washington's life and from the manner in which he exercised power.

See also Atlanta Compromise; Autobiography, U.S.; Civil Rights Movement, U.S.; Du Bois, W. E. B.; Intellectual Life; Tuskegee University; Washington, Margaret Murray

Bibliography

Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 18561901. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972.

Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 19011915. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.

Harlan, Louis R., and Raymond W. Smock, eds. The Booker T. Washington Papers, 14 vols. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 19721989.

Meier, August. Negro Thought in America: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Accommodation, 18801915. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963.

Smock, Raymond W., ed. Booker T. Washington in Perspective: The Essays of Louis R. Harlan. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1988.

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. New York: Doubleday, 1901.

raymond w. smock (1996)

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Washington, Booker T.

Booker T. Washington

BORN: April 5, 1856 • Franklin County, Virginia

DIED: November 14, 1915 • Tuskegee, Alabama

Educator; writer

Booker T. Washington was one of the most influential African American educators in American history. Born a slave, he sought a formal education and eventually became the first president of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, a college for African Americans, established in 1881. Washington's famous autobiography, Up from Slavery (1901), continues to be widely read in the twenty-first century.

"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 he has had to overcome while trying to succeed."

Born into slavery

Booker Taliaferro Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856, in Virginia. At the age of nine, he and his family were emancipated (freed) and moved to West Virginia. There, he learned to read and write when he was not working in the salt furnaces (locations set up to extract salt from springs and reservoirs of trapped sea water) and coal mines of the region.

At sixteen, Washington entered Hampton Institute, a secondary school operated by Samuel C. Armstrong (1839–1883), former brigadier general in the American Civil War (1861–65). The purpose of the school was to train students, most of them Native American, mulatto (mixed race of African American and white), and African American, to be teachers. Armstrong strongly believed every student should learn a trade as well, so in addition, students were taught the skills of a specific trade. Washington's training was in janitorial work. He was one of the students who worked on the school grounds to pay for his education.

After graduation, Washington taught school in Tinkersville, West Virginia, for three years. He briefly attended a seminary (a school for training ministers), but left when Armstrong asked him to return to Hampton as a teacher in 1879. Washington kept that position until 1881, when Armstrong recommended him as the principal of a new school in Alabama.

Founds Tuskegee Institute

Lewis Adams was a former slave and the driving force behind the founding of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Here, normal refers to a standard for teaching that would create a model for other such schools. Tuskegee would train educators and students interested in learning occupational skills, such as carpentry, farming, and machine operation. Adams insisted on having an African American principal, and he hired Washington after a brief interview. Washington remained president of the school until his death in 1915.

The first day of class was on July 4, 1881. Although the state had donated $2,000 for teachers' salaries, it had provided no funding for land, buildings, or equipment. The first classes, which were attended by thirty students, were held in an old church building. Adams donated a horse, a lumber wagon, plow, harness, and feed. Washington capitalized on his fund-raising abilities and ties with other professionals and managed to purchase 100 acres (0.4 square kilometers) of farmland that had once been a thriving plantation (large farm, usually with a focus on growing one particular crop) in 1882.

As president, Washington had three goals for his school. He wanted to share with poor rural farmers new and improved methods of farming the land. To do this, he developed an extension program that traveled the countryside. This program trained people who were interested in learning but could not attend formal classes. Eventually, Tuskegee graduates built smaller schools throughout the rural South.

Washington also wanted to teach his students craft and occupational skills so they could find work once they graduated. At Tuskegee, students learned about industry and production as well as agriculture. Part of the students' education involved having them build the school's buildings themselves and farm the land on which the buildings sat. In doing so, they developed necessary working skills and nourished themselves with the food that they produced.

Washington's final objective was to develop his students' moral character. He insisted on good manners and a strong work ethic. He encouraged Tuskegee students to take pride in every detail of their lives. Although both men and women attended the school, their studies were kept separate. All students attended daily nondenominational (not associated with a specific religious faith) church services.

The Institute was a great success for two reasons: fund-raising and quality of education. Washington toured the country, telling everyone who would listen about his school. His enthusiasm and commitment to excellence impressed some of the country's wealthiest men. He secured funding from steel-magnate Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919) and industrialist John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937). Students learned from the finest African American professionals in the country. Famed chemist George Washington Carver (1864–1943) taught at Tuskegee Institute. He came up with three hundred uses for peanuts and either invented or improved upon recipes for mayonnaise, ink, bleach, metal polish, and scores of other products. Architect Robert Taylor (1868–1942) and landscape architect David Williston (1868–1962) held positions at the school. Both men were among the first African Americans to graduate in their fields of study. Williston became one of the most highly respected landscape architects in American history.

By 1906, Tuskegee had 1,590 students, 156 faculty members, and owned 2,300 acres (9.31 square kilometers) of land. At the time of Washington's death, the school trained its 1,500 students in forty different fields of study on a campus that included 100 buildings and nearly 200 faculty members.

In the late 1930s, the military chose Tuskegee to train its African American pilots because of its commitment to excellence. Those who graduated from the program were known as the Tuskegee Airmen, and they were among the most highly decorated combat veterans of World War II (1939–45). In 1965, the Institute became a national historic landmark; in 1985, its name changed to Tuskegee University.

Family life

Around the time Washington purchased the land for Tuskegee Institute, he married his first wife, Fannie Smith. Married in the summer of 1882, the couple had a daughter the following year. Fannie died in May 1884.

Washington married his second wife, Olivia Davidson, in 1885. He met her when she came to Tuskegee to teach at his school, and he eventually made her the assistant principal. Olivia gave Washington two sons before dying in 1889.

Washington married Margaret James Murray, a Mississippi native, in 1893. The couple had no children of their own together, but in 1900, the entire Washington family moved into a spacious home called The Oaks, located on the Tuskegee Institute campus. The house doubled as an on-site training facility for students. In addition, most of the home's furniture was made by local craftsmen or students. Washington lived in the house until his death, as did his wife, who died in 1925.

An influential leader

Washington's reputation for commitment, intelligence, and level-headedness made him a frequent consultant to Republican politicians who sought advice concerning potential appointments of African Americans to political positions. He earned praise from whites of all social statuses when he publicly proclaimed that self-reliance was the key factor to improved conditions for African Americans.

The Atlanta Compromise

In 1895, Washington spoke at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. His address, called the Atlanta Compromise, sparked great debate for its message of accommodation. African Americans were generally divided into two groups during this period in history. The accommodators believed African Americans should strive very hard to earn their equality among white society. They believed change would come only through hard work and taking advantage of every opportunity to prove themselves worthy of such equal rights. This is the stance Washington took.

The other group, led by famous abolitionist (antislavery activist) Frederick Douglass (1817–1895), believed agitation, or protest and civil disobedience, was the only way African Americans were going to attain equal rights. This side believed those rights were theirs by law, and they should not have to prove themselves worthy to anyone.

Washington's educational philosophy also caused controversy. He believed in the value of industrial education, or the development of practical skills that would help African Americans lead productive lives. In direct contrast with Washington's philosophy was one embraced by African American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963). Du Bois believed African Americans should obtain a more classical education that would emphasize the intellectualism of what he called the "Talented Tenth." According to Du Bois, the most talented top-tenth African American leaders would save his race. By developing this intellectually gifted minority, he thought that African Americans would find a way to overcome oppression at the hands of whites.

Du Bois also believed in political action and the fight for civil rights. At the time, Washington was the more powerful of the two men. Powerful white politicians and other leaders sought his opinion and advice on anything pertaining to African Americans. If Washington endorsed an idea, it was embraced as well by those consulting him. If he rejected it, so did they. Du Bois was not offended by Washington's power, but he did object to what he perceived as Washington's hypocrisy (double standard): The educator denounced political activism, but he dictated political outcomes by consulting with and advising politicians.

Du Bois gave Washington the nickname "The Great Accommodator," and what began as a friendship based on mutual respect declined over the years. Du Bois's philosophy of activism became the roots of the civil rights movement that began in the 1950s and peaked in the 1960s.

Publishes Up from Slavery

In 1900, Washington founded the National Negro Business League, an organization dedicated to promoting the development of the African American as businessman (as opposed to activist). Many of the organization's chapters were in the South, and the League was supported by wealthy white businessmen. Washington was a visionary in that he encouraged women to obtain business skills as well.

In 1901, Washington published his autobiography, Up from Slavery. The best-seller immediately became the most influential book written by an African American, and it earned him an invitation to the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919; served 1901–9; see entry). It was the first time an African American had been invited to the White House. White Southerners made their disapproval known in newspaper articles.

A lifetime of overwork and too little rest finally took its toll on Washington's health. He died on November 14, 1915, of hypertension (high blood pressure), and was buried on the campus of Tuskegee University. That year also marked the beginning of a shift in attitude of African Americans in general, as they moved to embrace the activist philosophy of W. E. B. Du Bois.

In 1940, Washington became the first African American to be memorialized on a postage stamp. The primitive house he was born in was designated the Booker T. Washington National Monument on April 5, 1956, and a state park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was named in his honor.

For More Information

BOOKS

Brundage, W. Fitzhugh, ed. Booker T. Washington and Black Progress: Up From Slavery 100 Years Later. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

Carroll, Rebecca, ed. Uncle Tom or New Negro? African Americans Reflect on Booker T. Washington and "Up from Slavery" 100 Years Later. New York: Broadway Books/Harlem Moon, 2006.

Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington in Perspective: Essays of Louis R. Harlan. Edited by Raymond Smock. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1988.

Mansfield, Stephen. Then Darkness Fled: The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington. Nashville: Cumberland House, 1999.

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1901. Multiple reprints.

PERIODICALS

Harlan, Louis R. "Booker T. Washington's West Virginia Boyhood." West Virginia History (January 1971): 63–85. Also available at http://www.wvculture.org/history/journal_wvh/wvh32-1.html.

WEB SITES

"Booker T. Washington National Monument." National Park Service.http://www.nps.gov/bowa/ (accessed on September 5, 2006).

"Booker T. Washington." National Park Service: Legends of Tuskegee.http://www.cr.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/tuskegee/btwoverview.htm (accessed on September 5, 2006).

"The Booker T. Washington Papers." History Cooperative.http://www.historycooperative.org/btw/ (accessed on September 5, 2006).

Halsall, Paul. "Booker T. Washington (1856–1915): Speech at the Atlanta Exposition, 1895." Internet Modern History Sourcebook.http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1895washington-atlanta.html (accessed on September 5, 2006).

"History of Tuskegee University." Tuskegee University.http://www.tuskegee.edu/Global/story.asp?S=1070392 (accessed on September 5, 2006).

Hynes, Gerald C. "A Biographical Sketch of W. E. B. DuBois." W. E. B. DuBois Learning Center.http://www.duboislc.org/html/DuBoisBio.html (accessed on September 5, 2006).

Library of Congress. "Booker T. Washington." The Progress of a People.http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/aap/bookert.html (accessed on September 5, 2006).

PBS. "Booker T. & W. E. B." Frontline: The Two Nations of Black America.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/race/etc/road.html (accessed on September 5, 2006).

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Washington, Booker T.

Washington, Booker T. 1856–1915

Booker Taliafero Washington, a black educator, orator, and leader, was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia, on April 5, 1856. His mother, Jane, was a cook, and his father was a white man who has remained unidentified. After emancipation in 1865, Booker, his mother, and his brother moved to Malden, West Virginia, where, with his stepfather, he worked in salt and coal mines and as a houseboy for the mine owners, General Lewis Ruffner and his wife Viola. In 1872, after acquiring a rudimentary education at public schools and from Mrs. Ruffner, Washington enrolled in the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, in Virginia.

Founded to educate former slaves, the school taught habits of rectitude, hard work, and service along with industrial and liberal arts. Washington flourished at what was essentially a high school, and after graduation he was invited to teach at his alma mater.

In 1881, Washington accepted a position as principal for a new state-funded school for blacks in Tuskegee, Alabama. Modeling the school after Hampton, Washington built Tuskegee into a showcase of industrial education and black self-help. Although the idea of industrial education was not original with Washington, he became its most ardent and noted black advocate. By century’s end, Tuskegee boasted an endowment of nearly two million dollars, more than one hundred buildings, a faculty of nearly two hundred black men and women, and an international student body.

In 1895, Washington was catapulted to national prominence when he delivered a five-minute speech at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition. His “Atlanta Compromise” speech summarized the program of education, self-help, and racial cooperation that he had pursued at Tuskegee. Whites concluded that Washington offered a palatable resolution of the nation’s “Negro problem,” namely black acquiescence to white supremacy in social, political, and economic matters. Washington himself believed that he was striking a bargain with whites, not surrendering to them. In return for white aid for greater educational and economic opportunity, he set aside black claims for civil and political equality in the South. Accommodating to, but not endorsing, racial segregation, Washington proposed, “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.”

His widely published speech caught the attention of white philanthropists, who selected Washington to serve as the conduit through which charitable donations reached black institutions across the nation. His influence soon extended to national politics, and two U.S. presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, discussed race relations with him and solicited his advice regarding patronage appointments. Washington simultaneously extended his influence over black institutions by founding the National Negro Business League in 1900 to foster black entrepreneurship, by subsidizing newspapers and organizations, and by undermining groups that were hostile to him. By the turn of the century, no meeting or discussion on racial topics was complete without an appearance or a comment by Washington.

Washington’s rise to leadership was symptomatic of the deteriorating status of African Americans at the end of the nineteenth century. Increasingly denied meaningful political participation in the South, blacks had few mechanisms to select black leaders who could be assured of recognition

by whites. Whites, not blacks, effectively selected the leaders who spoke on behalf of blacks. In Washington’s case, connections, ambition, and circumstances, rather than a democratic process, anointed him a race leader. Yet his power remained tenuous because it derived from white patronage, which could never be taken for granted.

Constrained by the source of his power, Washington elected to use furtive means to challenge white supremacy. While voicing only tepid opposition to the disenfranchisement of southern blacks, he secretly funded legal challenges to constitutions in Louisiana and Alabama that restricted black voting. His private behavior, including a controversial meal with Theodore Roosevelt in the White House in 1901, also periodically breeched racial conventions, demonstrating that, despite his talk about the races being as distinct as fingers on a hand, he acceded to segregation only out of expediency.

Washington’s power over black institutions inevitably bred resentment among African Americans, however. As early as 1892, Washington alienated black clergy by suggesting that they were unfit to lead the black community, and his emphasis on industrial education irked black proponents of liberal arts education. In addition, his dismissal of electoral politics outraged black politicians who were struggling to retain their offices and influence in the face of disenfranchisement. In 1903, Washington’s perceived persecution of William Monroe Trotter, a black editor and civil rights activist in Boston, drew out other critics, including Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who fumed about his restrained denunciations of lynching; W. Calvin Chase, a Washington D.C. editor, who criticized Washington’s alleged “political dictatorship”; and W. E. B. Du Bois, who offered a comprehensive criticism of Tuskegee and its creator. A year later, Du Bois and other militants gathered at Niagara Falls, Canada, where they founded the so-called Niagara Movement. By 1909 they had forged a coalition of white racial liberals, reform-minded social workers, socialist radicals, and black militants into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Washington eyed the NAACP warily, and his relationship with the organization soon deteriorated into open and permanent competition. An even greater threat to Washington’s power was the election of Woodrow Wilson, a southern-born Democrat, who rapidly expanded the segregation of federal offices. No longer able to use his influence in the nation’s capitol to reward allies and punish critics, and no longer able to control the black press as he once had, Washington was dismayed in 1913 when the NAACP turned to the issue of black education and organized an association of black industrial and secondary schools.

In the final years of his life, despite his deteriorating health, Washington maintained a punishing regimen of speaking engagements, meetings, and fund-raising tours. He seemingly became impatient with the obstacles that impeded his program and became more outspoken in his condemnation of lynching, segregation, and disenfranchisement. By 1912, Washington’s increasingly strident denunciations of racial injustice surprised even his blacks critics. The optimism that had made his earlier pronouncements seem far too optimistic was replaced by a new urgency. Finally, on November 14, 1915, his body gave out and he died of “nervous exhaustion and arteriosclerosis.” Appropriately, he was buried in a cemetery on the grounds of Tuskegee, the institution and cause to which he had devoted his life.

Washington was married three times. He married his first wife, Fannie N. Smith, in 1882. They had one child, Portia M. Washington, before Fannie’s death in 1884. A year later, Washington married Olivia A. Davidson, a teacher at Tuskegee who subsequently served as assistant principal at Tuskegee. Before her death in 1889, she and Washington had two sons, Booker T. Washington Jr. and Ernest Davidson Washington. In 1893, Washington married Margaret James Murray. As Washington achieved international prominence, Murray likewise emerged as a leading figure in various women’s organizations. They had no children together. Murray died in 1925.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brundage, W. Fitzhugh. 2003. Booker T. Washington and Black Progress: “Up from Slavery” 100 Years Later. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Denton, Virginia Lantz. 1993. Booker T. Washington and the Adult Education Movement. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Harlan, Louis R. 1972. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856–1901. New York: Oxford University Press.

_____1983. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901–1915. New York: Oxford University Press.

_____ed. 1972–1983. The Booker T. Washington Papers. 14 vols. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Washington, Booker T. 1901. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography, New York: Doubleday.

W. Fitzhugh Brundage

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Washington, Booker T.

Booker T. Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856, in Virginia . At the age of nine, he and his family were emancipated (freed) and moved to West Virginia . There, he learned to read and write when he was not working in the salt furnaces (locations set up to extract salt from springs and reservoirs of trapped sea water) and coal mines of the region.

At sixteen, Washington entered Hampton Institute in Virginia. After graduation, Washington taught school in Tinkersville, West Virginia, for three years. He briefly attended a seminary (a school for training ministers), but left to return to Hampton as a teacher in 1879. Washington kept that position until 1881, when he accepted a job as principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, a new school for African Americans in Alabama .

Normal refers to a standard for teaching that would create a model for other such schools. Tuskegee would train educators and students interested in learning occupational skills, such as carpentry, farming, and machine operation. Washington remained president of the school until his death in 1915.

As president, Washington had three goals for his school. He wanted to share with poor rural farmers new and improved methods of farming the land. To do this, he developed an extension program that traveled the countryside. This program trained people who were interested

in learning but could not attend formal classes. Eventually, Tuskegee graduates built smaller schools throughout the rural South.

Washington also wanted to teach his students craft and occupational skills so they could find work once they graduated. At Tuskegee, students learned about industry and production as well as agriculture. Part of the students' education involved having them build the school's buildings themselves and farm the land on which the buildings sat. In doing so, they developed necessary working skills and nourished themselves with the food that they produced.

Washington's final objective was to develop his students' moral character. He insisted on good manners and a strong work ethic. He encouraged Tuskegee students to take pride in every detail of their lives. Although both men and women attended the school, their studies were kept separate. All students attended daily nondenominational (not associated with a specific religious faith) church services.

The Institute was a great success for two reasons: fund-raising and quality of education. Washington toured the country, speaking before large crowds about his school. His enthusiasm and commitment to excellence impressed some of the country's wealthiest men. He secured funding from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919) and industrialist John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937). Students learned from the finest African American professionals in the country. Famed chemist George Washington Carver (1864–1943) taught at Tuskegee Institute. He came up with three hundred uses for peanuts and either invented or improved upon recipes for mayonnaise, ink, bleach, metal polish, and scores of other products. Architect Robert Taylor (1868–1942) and landscape architect David Williston (1868–1962) held positions at the school. Both men were among the first African Americans to graduate in their fields of study. Williston became one of the most highly respected landscape architects in American history.

An influential leader

Washington's reputation for commitment, intelligence, and levelheadedness made him a frequent consultant to Republican politicians who sought advice concerning potential appointments of African Americans to political positions. He earned praise from whites of all social statuses when he publicly proclaimed that self-reliance was the key factor to improved conditions for African Americans.

In 1895, Washington spoke at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia . His address, called the Atlanta Compromise, sparked great debate for its message of accommodation. African Americans were generally divided into two groups during this period in history. The accommodators believed African Americans should strive very hard to earn their equality among white society. They believed change would come only through hard work and taking advantage of every opportunity to prove themselves worthy of such equal rights. This is the stance Washington took.

The other group, led by famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1817–1895), believed agitation, or protest and civil disobedience, was the only way African Americans were going to attain equal rights. This side believed those rights were theirs by law, and they should not have to prove themselves worthy to anyone.

Washington's educational philosophy also caused controversy. He believed in the value of industrial education, or the development of practical skills that would help African Americans lead productive lives. In direct contrast with Washington's philosophy was one embraced by African American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963). Du Bois believed African Americans should obtain a more classical education that would emphasize the intellectualism of what he called the “Talented Tenth.” According to Du Bois, his race would be saved by its exceptional leaders (the most talented top-tenth of his race). By developing this intellectually gifted minority, he thought that African Americans would find a way to overcome oppression at the hands of whites.

Du Bois gave Washington the nickname “The Great Accommodator,” and what began as a friendship based on mutual respect declined over the years. Du Bois's philosophy of activism became the roots of the civil rights movement that began in the 1950s and peaked in the 1960s.

Publishes Up From Slavery In 1900, Washington founded the National Negro Business League, an organization dedicated to promoting the development of the African American as business leaders. Many of the organization's chapters were in the South, and the League was supported by wealthy white businessmen. Washington was a visionary in that he encouraged women to obtain business skills as well.

In 1901, Washington published his autobiography, Up From Slavery. The best seller immediately became the most influential book written by an African American, and it earned him an invitation to the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919; served 1901–09). It was the first time an African American had been invited to the White House.

A lifetime of overwork and too little rest finally took its toll on Washington's health. He died on November 14, 1915, of hypertension (high blood pressure), and was buried on the campus of what would later become a full-fledged college known as Tuskegee University. That year also marked the beginning of a shift in attitude of African Americans in general, as they moved to embrace the activist philosophy of W. E. B. Du Bois.

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Washington, Booker T.

Booker T. Washington

Born April 5, 1856 (Franklin County, Virginia)

Died November 14, 1915 (Tuskegee, Alabama)

Educator

Activist

Writer

Booker T. Washington was the first national leader for millions of African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. The founder of an all-black school in Alabama called the Tuskegee Institute, Washington urged the South's eight million freed slaves and their descendants to continue to farm and do manual labor. Through hard work, he believed, they would prosper and someday enjoy the same rights and privileges as white Americans. He cautioned blacks to avoid political and civil rights battles, but to work instead to become property owners and merchants, and to create their own thriving, self-sufficient communities.

"No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."

As Washington recounted in his well-known autobiographies, Up from Slavery (1901) and The Story of My Life and Work (1901), he was born into slavery in 1856. He was not the property of a wealthy plantation owner but belonged instead to James Burroughs, who had a small farm near Hale's Ford, in Franklin County, Virginia. Washington's mother, Jane, was a cook in the household, and his father was an unknown white man. Washington had a brother named John, and when his mother married another slave, Washington Ferguson, they had a daughter together named Amanda.

Work in the mines

Washington turned five the year the American Civil War (1861–65) began. The conflict between the Union states of the North, who were opposed to slavery, and the Confederate states of the South, who were in favor of slavery and had seceded from the Union, lasted for the next four years. In the midst of it U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809–65; served 1861–65) issued his historic Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves. Like many other blacks, Washington and his family were suddenly free, but while they had no master now, they also had few resources, no income, and no place to go. Many freedmen stayed on with their former masters, but Washington's stepfather went to work in coal and salt mines in West Virginia. The family soon joined him there, making the ten-day trip with a wagon that carried their few possessions. The children had to walk alongside it for much of the way, and at night they slept outdoors.

In Malden, West Virginia, Washington and his brother went to work in the mines as well. Slaves had been prohibited by law from learning to read and write, and now that all slaves were free and these laws no longer applied to them, Washington was eager for an education. He convinced his stepfather to let him go to a new school for black children for a half the day. Washington was surprised to learn on his first day that most people had two names. His family called him "Booker," and so when the teacher asked for his last name, he took his stepfather's. His mother told him later that he did have a last name, which was Taliaferro, and he made this his middle name.

Eager to escape the difficult work in the mines, Washington was fortunate to find a job as a household servant for a wealthy family. The Ruffners had prospered earlier in the nineteenth century by supplying the salt needed to cure pork at Cincinnati, Ohio, meatpacking houses across the West Virginia border. Lewis Ruffner had also served as a major general in the Union militia that was charged with the restoration of order in the South in the years immediately following the Civil War. Washington joined their household around 1867 and spent several years with them. It was a very different environment from the dirty, unhealthy area near the mines, where blacks and the poorest whites lived in rundown cabins with nearby outhouses.

Education

When Washington learned about the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, he became determined to enroll there. The institute was a school for former slaves run by the American Missionary Association. It had opened just a few years earlier, in 1868, and Washington knew that he could enter on a work-study plan to pay his tuition. He left Malden in October 1872 and traveled to Hampton. He had to walk part of the way and had no money by the time he reached Richmond, Virginia. The Hampton Institute became a turning point in his life, and the school's founder and principal, Samuel Chapman Armstrong (1839–1893), became a mentor to him. Like Ruffner, who had been a slave owner, Armstrong believed that blacks were intrinsically different from whites, and fit only for lesser roles in society. Ruffner had been a Republican Party member, a party founded on the abolition (ending) of slavery, but he supported the idea of colonization, which called for sending the freed blacks back to Africa. The views of both Ruffner and Armstrong played an important part in shaping Washington's own beliefs about the role of African Americans in the newly reunited nation.

Washington earned his degree from the Hampton Institute and went back to Malden with it. He taught school there from 1875 to 1877 and then spent a year at the Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. He was then hired as an instructor at the Hampton Institute and began teaching there in January 1879. Two years later he was invited to Macon County, Alabama, where a school similar to the Hampton Institute was being planned. He eagerly accepted the job as the new school's director and set out for a part of the South that he had not yet seen. Unlike Virginia, Alabama was deeply isolated from the rest of the nation and far more rural. Attitudes were different, too, and some whites strongly objected to the idea of blacks attending school at all. But in 1881 the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute officially opened on the Fourth of July holiday. Though the Alabama legislature had set aside some funds to pay the teachers—part of a deal to attract new black voters—the institute had no facilities when Washington arrived. His first students built the school themselves, after classes were dismissed at a nearby African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and even made the bricks. For food they grew their own produce.

Tuskegee was set up as an industrial school to train students for manual labor or the skilled trades, but it also offered training for future teachers. Industrial classes included carpentry, farming, mechanics, shoemaking, tinsmithing, and blacksmithing. The school also served female students, who learned various domestic arts such as sewing and canning. The principal of the women's students was Olivia Davidson, who became Washington's second wife in 1885. His first wife, Fanny Norton Smith, died in 1884 just two years after their marriage, leaving him with a young daughter, Portia. He and Davidson had two sons together, but she died young as well, leaving him a widower in 1889. His third wife was Margaret James Murray, a Fisk University graduate whom he wed in 1892. Murray would play a vital role in Tuskegee's success, and like her husband became a mentor to the students.

George Washington Carver

In 1896 Booker T. Washington hired George Washington Carver (c. 1864–1943) as a teacher at the famous Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Born near the end of the American Civil War (1861–65), Carver spent his early years in Missouri on the same farm where his family had been slaves. Known for his love of plants even in his childhood, he was desperate to get an education and overcame many obstacles to attend school. During his years at Simpson College in Iowa, Carver's passion for horticulture (the science of growing plants) impressed his teachers, and he went on to the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, becoming the first black student at the school, which later became Iowa State University. He earned a graduate degree, taught there as its first African American faculty member, and became known in scientific circles for his published papers.

Washington knew of Carver's work and invited him to teach at the Tuskegee Institute. Carver spent the remainder of his career there, and after Washington's death in 1915 he succeeded his former boss as the country's most prominent African American. He was one of a handful of respected black scientists in his era, and his best-known laboratory work involved the peanut. These experiments came out of his determination to find a better source of income for poor farmers across the South. Cotton had been the mainstay of its agriculture for generations, but a boll weevil insect epidemic in the early twentieth century destroyed the crops for several years.

Carver realized that the peanut plant did not rob the soil of its needed nutrients as cotton did. Instead, legume plants like peanuts and soybeans enriched the soil by adding nitrogen to it, and Carver found that alternating these crops with cotton resulted in stronger and healthier cotton plants. Legumes could also be a source of protein for the farmers' own diets. He wrote pamphlets for farmers that provided information on how to plant and harvest these crops and ran a soil-testing service and a mobile educational unit. At Tuskegee he set up an industrial research laboratory to find new uses for the peanut. Under his supervision the laboratory came up with some three hundred uses for the plant, including printer's ink, paper, shampoo, leather dye, glue, and even insulating board.

Washington's philosophy of self-sufficiency

In addition to his duties as head of the school, Washington also worked to raise donations to keep its doors open, and he was successful at collecting contributions from whites as well as blacks. Many whites viewed Washington as a man who represented all the virtues to which the poor should aspire—cleanliness, dignity, and a certain degree of humility. He rose to great prominence in the 1890s and lectured and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines about race relations in America. Whites approved of Washington's message to black audiences, in which he urged African Americans to seize any available opportunity and not devote their energies to protests and civil rights issues. Washington believed that blacks should create self-sufficient communities with their own businesses and property. In this way, he asserted, they could achieve equality with white Americans.

While Washington championed home ownership and farming, the situation for blacks in the deep South (a region of the southern United States that included South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana) outside of peaceful Tuskegee was difficult. Many worked as sharecroppers, tilling land for white landowners. A sharecropper is a tenant farmer who works the land for an agreed share of the value of the crop, minus the deductions taken out of his share for his rent, supplies, and living costs. The black men who did own property were often the focus of hostility and even violence. White mobs regularly targeted blacks suspected of wrongdoing and even carried out death sentences outside of the court system. Many blacks were hanged or set on fire by such mobs, and a suspiciously high number of victims were black property owners. In 1892, a year when 161 lynchings (hangings) occurred in the southern states, an African American journalist named Ida Wells-Barnett (1862–1931) began a campaign to raise public awareness of the issue. Three of her friends who were black entrepreneurs in Memphis, Tennessee, had been slain after opening a grocery store that competed with a white-owned business in the city.

Wells-Barnett was one of Washington's toughest critics. Along with writer and educator W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963), she objected to Washington's policy of what the educator's foes called "accommodationism" with white America. The Tuskegee founder had become one of the most prominent African American leaders in the country, but he rarely voiced any criticism of whites or of establishments and institutions that excluded blacks. It was a time when many blacks were unable to vote in Southern states because of certain laws passed by whites who wanted to prevent them from exercising that right. These included the poll tax, a fee to vote that did not have to be paid if one's grandfather had been a registered voter—which effectively barred the descendants of slaves who could not afford to pay the fee—and literacy tests. Furthermore, in 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson case that states could indeed enact laws that segregated (separated) blacks and whites in public facilities and on modes of transportation as long as the facilities were "separate but equal." These statutes were known as Black Codes or Jim Crow laws.

The Atlanta Compromise

In the midst of such deepening segregation and racial tension, the defining moment of Washington's career came on September 18, 1895. On that day he was a featured speaker at the Cotton States and International Exposition held in Atlanta, Georgia. Before an all-white audience at the event, which was held to showcase the achievements of the South since the end of the Civil War, Washington argued that eight million blacks had a place in the South, and that place was as its labor and agricultural force. "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 the proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor," he declared that day, according to the American Reader. He asserted that equality would come through hard work, and that fighting for political power and equality was the wrong strategy for African Americans. "No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized [excluded]…. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house."

Washington's speech became known as the "Atlanta Compromise," and it was viewed by some as a turning point and even a tremendous setback for the civil rights movement. It did, however, force other African American leaders to adopt new tactics, and a determined anti-Washington faction met ten years later at a 1905 meeting of the Niagara Movement. Their mission statement called for an end to racial discrimination against blacks in America and for the granting of full civil liberties, including a political voice. Led by Du Bois, the Niagara Movement organizers went on to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) five years later.

Washington strongly believed that blacks were corrupted by the urban environment, and his distaste for city life had come from witnessing the overcrowded conditions in Malden, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Keeping close to the land, he believed, and working the soil as farmers was better for African Americans. Many blacks in the South disagreed with him and fled the cotton states for the cities of the East Coast and Midwest when urban factory jobs became plentiful from 1914 to 1918. This population shift became known as the Great Migration. It lasted well into the 1950s and permanently altered the racial makeup of the nation. This had a long-lasting social and cultural impact on African Americans of the twentieth century and would help millions of them prosper.

First black to dine at the White House

Washington enjoyed immense prestige during his lifetime, and newspapers called him the "Leader of His Race" and "the Wizard of Tuskegee." U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919; served 1901–9) even invited him to dine at the White House in 1901, making Washington the first African American ever to do so. He served as an adviser on race matters to both Roosevelt and his successor, William Howard Taft (1857–1930; served 1909–13). He continued to seek wealthy white benefactors for the Tuskegee Institute and his other projects and received money from such prominent businessmen as steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919; see entry); George Eastman (1854–1932), the founder of Kodak; and Julius Rosenwald (1862–1932), a partner in the Sears, Roebuck retail empire. Washington also tightly controlled any donations he made to black causes or institutions, giving funds only to those who agreed with his own ideas.

Washington fell ill in New Haven, Connecticut, in October 1915 and died a month later at the Tuskegee Institute from arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. At the time the school had 1,500 students, as well as the largest endowment (money or property donated to an institution as a source of income) of any black college or university. The school later lent its name to the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African Americans in the Army Air Force who trained there to become the first all-black fighter pilot squadron.

For More Information

Books

Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901–1915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Periodicals

"The Atlanta Exposition Address." American Reader (Edition 1991): p. 185.

Web Sites

Booker T. Washington National Monument. http://www.nps.gov/bowa/home.htm (accessed on July 7, 2005).

"History of Tuskegee University." Tuskegee University. http://www.tuskegee.edu/Global/story.asp?S=1070392&nav=PBo8PBpC (accessed on July 7, 2005).

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