Booker T Washington National Monument

Booker T Washington National Monument

History

History & Culture

"I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at some time."

Booker T. Washington NM commemorates the birthplace of America's most prominent African American educator and orator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The property evokes an 1850s middle class tobacco farm, representative of Booker T. Washington's enslaved childhood at the Burroughs farm. He was born in 1856 to the Burroughses' cook, Jane and lived on the farm throughout the Civil War. Compared to their Franklin County neighbors, the Burroughses were an upper middle class family evidenced by their combined slave and land holdings. They produced tobacco as a cash crop and grew other subsistence crops like flax, potatoes, and grains for family sustenance. Washington lived in the farm's one-room kitchen cabin with his mother and two half siblings. As a small child he brought water to the men in the fields, carried the books of the Burroughses' daughters books to school, and transported grain to the local mill.

Frequently Asked Questions

What did Booker T. Washington have to do with the peanuts?
Booker T. Washington hired George Washington Carver to teach agriculture at Tuskegee Institute in 1896. During Carver's nearly 50 year tenure at Tuskegee Institute he created numerous products from peanuts and other plants. He made the peanut a cash crop for the south in areas that had suffered from depleted soil nutrients due to the cultivation of cotton.

How did Booker T. Washington's owners treat him? Were they cruel?

Washington answered this question in his numerous writings. In Up from Slavery, Washington wrote, "My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings. This was so, however, not because my owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as compared with many others." Washington also discussed having the fear of being flogged if he returned from the mill late. This may indicate that he was the victim of the lash. In The Story of My Life and Work, Washington described the morning that he witnessed his Uncle Monroe tied to a tree and whipped with a cowhide as he yelled the words "Pray Master!"

When did Washington own this property?

Dr. Washington never owned any of the former Burroughs Plantation.  After leaving here a freed man in the fall of 1865, he returned only once in 1908.  He stood on the front porch of the former big house and discussed his life to a large group of spectators including some people he had known in the area as a child.

Protest

Washington's success required a delicate balancing act. To maintain his position among whites as a non threatening spokesman for his race, he had to maintain a conservative stance on race relations. However, Washington increasingly protested acts of racial injustice.

At the end of the century, he wrote to legislatures in Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana protesting disfranchisement. Washington also publicly criticized the film "Birth of a Nation" when it was released in 1915, arguing that it inflamed racial prejudice.

Perhaps more revealing of his changing attitudes toward civil rights for blacks were his secret financial contributions to legal cases that challenged racial discrimination. Throughout the early years of the twentieth century, Washington secretly gave his own money, and quietly raised donations from white supporters. Those funds were used to challenge unfair labor contracts, voting restrictions, and segregated public facilities.

Legacy

Booker T. Washington died in Tuskegee, Alabama on November 14, 1915. He was a complex man who left behind a complicated legacy.

He felt education could provide many poor African Americans with the opportunity for advancement and racial equality. For those who didn't have the money or educational background to attend college, he offered an important alternative to the more elite liberal arts degree. He contributed to the vital tradition of higher learning in this country and the democratic belief that a college education should be available to all, despite their race or class.

He was able to promote his educational system for poor blacks by forging a compromise with whites who offered support in exchange for limited goals. While this compromise allowed many forms of racial inequality, it also allowed Washington to provide an education for African Americans when that usually provoked physical violence.

Perhaps his most lasting legacy is his vision of education as the key to true individual freedom and achievement.

In His Own Words

As an adult, Booker Washington became a great and well-respected author. His most famous book is his second autobiography, Up from Slavery. This book is recognized as one of the best non-fiction books of the 20th century. The first chapter describes Washington's humble beginnings upon the Burroughs Plantation.

Golden Voices

Hardy, VA - The famous Tuskegee Golden Voices Choir, an organization steeped in more than a century of pride, will be holding a concert at Resurrection Catholic Church on Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. You are welcome to attend this concert, hosted by Booker T. Washington National Monument. Admission is free.

From the beginning years of its history, students at Tuskegee Institute were encouraged to express themselves in communal singing. Founder Booker T. Washington, insisted on the singing of African American spirituals by everyone in attendance at the weekly Chapel worship services, a tradition which continues today. Further, he stated, "...If you go out to have schools of your own, have your pupils sing them as you have sung them here, and teach them to see the beauty which dwells is these songs..." Thus, the school developed and passed on a singing tradition.

In 1884, Booker T. Washington organized the Institute's first singers. This group was sent out by the founder to "promote the interest of Tuskegee Institute" by acquainting benevolent audiences to the Tuskegee name and the Washington philosophy for several brief years. The quartet was reorganized in 1909 and intermittently traveled until well into the 1940's, sometime adjusting its members to five, six or even up to eight.

The school choir was developed in 1886 because Dr. Washington had determined that the Institute was in need of a group of singers who could lead vesper services and sing for special campus occasions. The school choir would expand its role to providing vocal music for all cultural and religious campus activities.

In the 1930s, the 100-voice choir appeared at the opening of Radio City Music Hall in New York City (1932). This event expanded Tuskegee's prestige worldwide. The Tuskegee Choir was invited to sing at the birthday party of President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park, New York. A few days later, the Choir presented a concert at the White House at the request of President Herbert Hoover. In the years to follow, the Tuskegee Choir would perform a series of concerts on the ABC, CBS, and NBC radio networks. It would become the first African-American performing organization to appear at Constitution Hall (1946), Washington, D.C.

The Choir's television debut came in 1950. On February 5th, Edgar Bergen (the father of actress Candace Bergen) introduced the Tuskegee Choir to a national audience on his television program, "The Edgar Bergen Show". The Choir's popularity continued to extend across the television airwaves as invitations poured in for appearances on "The Kate Smith Show" (1952), "The Ed Sullivan Show" (1952), "The Eddie Fisher Show" (1953 and 1954), "Frontiers of Faith" television program (1954) and "The Arthur Godfrey Show" (1954). A record album, "The Tuskegee Institute Choir Sings Spirituals" (1955), closed out the 1950s.

During the term of President John F. Kennedy, the Tuskegee Choir received special commendation from President Kennedy at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C. (1962) and a concert at the United States State Department (1962). Dr. Reliford Patterson would amplify and complete his directorship at Tuskegee with appearances at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (1966) and Town Hall (1967), both in New York City.

In the 1970s, the Choir made concert appearances at the Julliard School of Music (1972), the New England Conservatory of Music (1972) and recorded the Tuskegee Institute Choir - Live" album (1979). However, the highlight of these years was a series of five concert tours to the Northern Tier of United States Air Force Bases for the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980.

In 1993, Stephen L. Hayes, led the Choir to Washington, D.C., for an appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast (1994). The occasion is celebrated annually by the President, Vice President, Supreme Court and Congress of the United States. Mother Teresa was the speaker for the event. Later that day, the Choir commemorated its 1962 visit to the United States Department of State with a concert.

In a tour of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1995), the University Choir presented concerts at the Old South Church and the State house (Boston), the Berkshires, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Mt. Holyoke College. A return tour to the Commonwealth in 1997 observed the centennial of the Robert Gould Shaw monument. Dr. Booker T. Washington had delivered the dedicatory address (1897) for the famous monument featured in the movie "Glory".

In 1997, the Choir became the first place trophy winner at the prestigious American Negro Spiritual Festival, Music Hall, Cincinnati, OH. Additionally, the Tuskegee University Choir was honored to sing in the East Room of the White House in December 1997. In 1999, the Choir continued on campus and out of town presentations, including a performance of Adolphus Hailstork's cantata "I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes" with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

In 2001, Dr. Wayne Anthony Barr became Director of the Choir. Dr. Barr holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan with the organ as his major instrument; two master's degrees from Southern Methodist University, one with an emphasis in organ performance and a second in choral conducting; and his undergraduate work was completed with high honors at the Westminster Choir College in New Jersey. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan focused on "The History of the Pipe Organ in Black Churches in the United States." Barr said he found that immediately after Emancipation, a lot of Black Churches had pipe organs, a trend that declined during and after the depression. African American churches wanted pipe organs because, Dr. Barr said, the pipe organ "represented the best in church music." He said that mind set changed as the music changed, and Black churches moved away from hymns.

But he said churches need to get back to singing hymns. "The music that is taking place of the hymn is very trivial," Dr. Barr maintains. "We sing what we believe," Dr. Barr explains. "Hymns reinforce our belief." He says a lot of songs today are one liners. "They give the what. Hymns go further. They give the what and the why," Dr. Barr observes. Since his undergraduate studies at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, Barr says his goal has always been church music. But as he progressed through school, he says "the academic arena also became appealing." "I could teach students to go out and teach others. You do more with what you have" in a university setting, he allows. "In the church setting, you are teaching but they (the church members) are not likely to go out and teach others."

Barr's goal has been to "build on the tradition and legacy of the Tuskegee University Golden Voices." He is taking the name of Tuskegee University out into the larger community, including annual choir concert tours. "Wherever we can go, wherever we can take the name Tuskegee, even Europe. No place is too far (for the choir to travel)," the new choir director says.

The National Park Service and Booker T. Washington welcome you to join us for this special concert. For more information about the concert, please contact Booker T. Washington National Monument at 540/721-2094. For more information about the choir, see the website at www.tuskegeechoir.org.

Booker T. Washington National Monument is one of 390 units of the National Park Service, the agency entrusted with the care of our nation's natural and cultural treasures.

The Wizard of Tuskegee

I know of no white man who could do better." General Samuel Armstrong

Booker T. Washington worked at Hampton Institute as house father for American Indian students until May 1881. Meanwhile, commissioners in Tuskegee, Alabama asked General Armstrong to recommend a white principal for a new Negro school. They accepted Washington on Armstrong's recommendation.

"Booker T. Washington will suit us. Send him at once." Lewis Adams

When Washington arrived at Tuskegee in 1881, he visited area schools. He found that they were doing little to educate African American children. He also found that black teachers were often unprepared and lacked basic instructional materials. These observations no doubt reinforced his sense of mission and his commitment to African American education.

Students cleared the land and constructed the original buildings of Tuskegee, winning the respect of local residents. By the early twentieth century, Booker T. Washington had built a solid financial foundation for Tuskegee Institute. It was based on the generous contributions of northern industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.

Quest for Knowledge

"I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse . . . would be about the same as getting into paradise."
Booker T. Washington

Even as a young slave boy, Booker wanted to go to school and learn. Long before Emancipation, many African Americans had wanted a basic education. Free blacks, some of them former slaves, had opened schools as early as 1807. Despite laws prohibiting slaves from learning to read and write, some managed to teach themselves. Still, most slaves had their first chance for schooling only after Emancipation.

After the Civil War, there was a movement to educate the newly freed slaves. But most blacks - even youngsters - had to work to help support themselves. For many, an education was still more of a dream than a reality.

Booker, who had to work to help support his family, pleaded with his stepfather to attend school. He allowed Booker to attend only after he agreed to work before and after school.

Suggested Reading

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

My Larger Education by Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856 - 1901 by Louis Harlan

Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901 - 1915 by Louis Harlan

The Souls of Black Folk by William E. B. Du Bois

My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

More than Anything Else by Marie Bradby

Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century by John Hope Franklin

OH Freedom

With the end of the American Civil War in April 1865, four million former slaves took their first breath of freedom. African Americans criss-crossed the South searching for relatives separated by slavery and war. They looked not only for their families, but for the freedom they never had.

During the years following the Civil War, the federal Government tried to rebuild the South. This period, 1863-1877, was known as Reconstruction. During this time, Booker and his family tried to improve their lives.

Booker heard about Hampton Institute over 500 miles away in eastern Virginia. He wanted to attend. In 1872, at the age of 16, with only the money he had earned doing extra domestic work, Booker started for Hampton Institute. After his train tickets ran out, he walked the remaining miles.

The Atlanta Exposition Address

The following is a transcript of Dr. Washington's most famous speech. It was presented in Atlanta, Georgia on September 18, 1895.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Board of Directors and Citizens: One-third of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent Exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom.

Not only this, but the opportunity here afforded will awaken among us a new era of industrial progress. Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or Industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden.

A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal, "Water, water; we die of thirst!" The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back, "Cast down you bucket where you are." A second time the signal, "Water, water; send us water!" ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered, "Cast down your bucket where you are." And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, "Cast down your bucket where you are." The Captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend of bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: "Cast down your bucket where you are"--cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.

Burroughs Inventory

In 1861, James Burroughs died from lung disease. After his death an inventory was taken of all his belongings. Below is the section where his slaves were counted and valued.

1 Negro Man (Monroe): $600

1 Negro Woman (Sophia): $250

1 Negro Woman (Jane): $250

1 Negro Man (Lee): $1,000

1 Negro Boy (Green): $800

1 Negro Girl (Mary Jane): $800

1 Negro Girl (Sally): $700

1 Negro Boy (John): $530

1 Negro Boy (Booker): $400

1 Negro Girl (Amanda): $200

BACKLASH

The End Of Reconstruction

Booker T. Washington pursued his education and developed his programs in a time of growing racial hostility and violence. Southern states passed Black Codes which effectively returned freedmen to the status of slaves. Reconstruction Era Congresses soon outlawed the Codes, but new challenges to the freedom and safety of African Americans quickly emerged.

Secret white societies such as the Ku Klux Klan were founded to maintain white supremacy through campaigns of terrorism and violence. They burned and vandalized schools and churches built by African Americans. The federal government passed legislation to prohibit the most serious anti-black crimes, but it had little effect on the violence.

Jim Crow laws continued the social distance between the races by creating separate facilities for blacks and whites. Washington realized any plans for African American progress would have to consider the social conditions imposed by the laws and violence of the era.

IN BLACK AND WHITE


Response to Washington's Atlanta Address was enthusiastic. Newspapers across the country reported on the speech favorably and printed the full text. The Boston Transcript said in its editorial: "The sensation it has caused in the press has never been equaled."

"The most remarkable address ever delivered by a colored man. The speech stamps Booker T. Washington as a wise counselor and a safe leader."Atlanta Constitution

Letters of endorsement for Washington's speech poured in from whites as well as many African Americans. Yet reaction to the address was not all favorable. Black response to the speech varied widely.

Bishop Henry McNeal Turner felt that Washington "will have to live a long time to undo the harm he has done our race."

Some African Americans who initially congratulated Washington on the Atlanta Address would become his greatest critics.

"He said something that was death to the Afro-American and elevating to the white people." W. Calvin Chase, editor of the Washington Bee.

The Atlanta Exposition Address part 2

Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man's chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. 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 proportions we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.

To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, "Cast down your bucket where you are." Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sickbed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interest of both races one. 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.

There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent interest. These efforts will be twice blessed--"blessing him that gives and him that takes."

KEEPING THE PEACE

The Atlanta Address

"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."

Booker T. Washington

Washington was invited to speak at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta because of his political conservatism on racial matters. The Exposition was a forum for southern commercial and economic progress and this was the first time that a black man had addressed the conference. He achieved national fame overnight with his well publicized "Atlanta Address."

Washington conceded to southern whites' demand for segregation, while he asserted blacks' desire for equal economic opportunity. He argued that the economic progress of the South depended upon the mutual prosperity of blacks and whites through education. He said social integration of the races was not required.

In the mind of many whites, this speech solidified Washington's position as a spokesman for African Americans. It thrust him into national prominence then unheard of for a black man.

Washington's idea of blacks helping themselves shifted the responsibilities of racial problems from whites to blacks. By saying that African American civil and political rights were not as important as social advancement, Washington alleviated the fears and concerns of whites.

 

The Great Educator

Booker T. Washington saw education as the true emancipator for himself and others. He rose from slavery and a childhood of manual labor to become a leading educator of African Americans at the end of the 19th century. As the first principal of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he built an educational program that emphasized agricultural and industrial training.

His program reflected an understanding of the racism, violence, intimidation, and lack of economic opportunities that most African Americans faced in the South during this time. He believed that when African Americans proved themselves economically, civil rights for blacks would naturally follow.

From 1895 to 1915, he was the most powerful and influential African American in the United States.

Freedom Train

Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman is a powerful account of one woman's passionate struggle to live free and lead her people to freedom. Harriet Tubman was born a slave but escaped and dedicated her life to helping others- as a 'conductor' on the Underground Railroad, as a nurse, as a spy, as a teacher, and as a source of hope to all who knew her. Through her hardships and strength of character, she became a vital part of our nation's history.

The Indian Experiment

November is American Indian Heritage Month. Four hundred years ago, Native Americans, Europeans and Africans would come together to create a unique cultural experience that would result in the formation of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. In 1877, Americans of European and African descent, and Native Americans from predominantly Western tribes would meet at the newly created Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, not far from the original 1607 settlement site, in the interest of education for Indians. Booker T. Washington became involved in 1878 as a teacher and house advisor. The "Indian Experiment" would last until 1923 and become an interesting stitch in the fabric of American history.

Philosophy of Industrial Education

"...I plead for industrial education and development for the Negro not because I want to cramp him, but because I want to free him." Booker T. Washington

Washington drew on his experience at Hampton Institute for the curriculum at Tuskegee. He saw that most white Southerners objected to black education because they believed that educated blacks would not work as manual laborers. So his system of hard work, discipline, and self-help was a way to educate blacks without antagonizing whites.

Tuskegee Institute's educational program went further than Hampton Institute's in its promotion of African American social, political, and economic participation in mainstream society. Although Washington originally argued that blacks should stay out of politics, he later rejected black disfranchisement.

Clash of the Titans

Washington's critics challenged him for several reasons. Some objected to his connections with white philanthropists. Others wanted Washington to share his power. Some were critical of his apparent position on segregation and outraged by his silence on lynching.

William Monroe Trotter and W. E. B. Du Bois were Harvard-trained black intellectuals who felt that Washington unfairly silenced his critics by purchasing influence and by using spies and agents. Du Bois didn't like the wide appeal Washington's message found among whites. He accused Washington of "leading the way backward" for African Americans; Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, wrote stinging editorials criticizing Washington and branding him the agent of separate and unequal treatment of Blacks. Ida B. Wells, a journalist from Memphis, Tennessee led the campaign against the lynching of African Americans. She was outraged by Washington's silence on lynching.

Du Bois emerged as one of Washington's most constant and vocal critics. While both Du Bois and Washington shared a commitment to black self help, Du Bois joined with black activists to form an organization that would provide Americans with an alternative to what he saw as the "accommodationist" policies of Booker T. Washington. The organization was called "The Niagara Movement" and later merged with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

While Washington continued to believe that change would come by providing African Americans vocational training, Du Bois and the NAACP moved ahead. Their aggressive legal and moral strategy would set the agenda for the modern civil rights movement of the 20th century.

The Hampton Model

"Amid Christian influences I was surrounded by an atmosphere of business, and a spirit of self-help that seemed to awaken every faculty in me and cause me for the first time to realize what it means to be a man instead of a piece of property."

Booker T. Washington

After passing an entrance exam that consisted of successfully sweeping the floor, Booker was accepted into Hampton Institute. He became a model student and worked as a janitor to pay his expenses.

General Samuel Armstrong had founded Hampton Institute in 1868. He believed that training in agriculture and industry would give ex-slaves the skills needed for the economic advancement of the South. Armstrong also argued that freedmen did not have the cultural and moral qualities necessary to take part in politics and that they should not vote. This philosophy made Armstrong's educational program acceptable to whites in the South.

Booker T. Washington understood Armstrong's educational philosophy and recognized its practical advantages in a society racked by racial violence and terrorism.

Civil War and Burroughs Family

The Civil War interrupted the routine on the Burroughs farm, when all of the sons left to fight for the Confederacy. James Burroughs, the father and master of the farm died in 1861, leaving the supervision of daily farm activities to the Burroughs women. Shortages of luxury goods and certain food items were common during the war years. Washington recalled that the white people suffered from the lack of products they were accustomed to. However, the war did more than create shortages and hard economic times. Only two of the Burroughs sons survived the war physically unscathed.

With the southern defeat in 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation issued in 1863 was enforced to free southern slaves. Washington remembered listening to a Union soldier read the document on the porch of the Burroughs house. After receiving the joyous news, his mother Jane took her three children to West Virginia to be reunited with her husband who worked there in the salt mines.

The southern economy suffered tremendously after the war and the Burroughs were not spared from economic and social turmoil. The emancipation of the slaves reduced the Burroughs family's net worth by one half. Post-war land values also plummeted. Since none of the children desired to farm the Franklin County property, Elizabeth Burroughs, James' widow, unsuccessfully attempted to rent or sell it for several years. In 1893, the family sold the property to John Robertson and his family.

Washington Timeline

1856 - April 5 - Booker T. Washington is born a slave on the Burroughs' Plantation.

1861 - April - The Civil War begins.

1861 - Washington's name appears on Burroughs' property inventory. His value is $400.00.

1865 - The Civil War ends and Washington becomes one of the four million slaves to be emancipated. During the fall, Washington sets out for Malden, WV with his mother (Jane), and two siblings (brother, John and sister, Amanda) to start new life with stepfather, Washington Ferguson.

1865 - 1871 - Washington works in the salt and coal mines in Malden while attending school, for the first time, in the evenings.

1872 - Washington leaves his home to attend the Hampton Institute.

1875 - Washington graduates from the Hampton Institute with honors.

1875 - 1877 - Washington teaches school, in his hometown of Malden, WV, while helping his brothers (John, and adopted brother James) pay their tuition for the Hampton Institute.

1878 - Washington spends 18 months studying in Washington D.C. at the Wayland Seminary School.

1879 - 1881 - Washington teaches at the Hampton Institute, while being dorm father to 50 Native Americanstudents.

1881 - July 4 - At age 25, Washington opens the Tuskegee Institute in an old church.

1882 - The first building of the Tuskegee Institute is built by the students with bricks they made themselves.

1882 - Washington marries his home-town sweetheart, from Malden, WV, Fannie Norton Smith.

1883 - Fannie Washington gives birth to Washington's first child, Portia Washington.

1884 - Fannie Washington dies, possibly from injuries suffered in a fall from a wagon.

1885 - Washington marries his colleague, a teacher and Lady Principal at The Tuskegee Institute, Olivia America Davidson.

1887 - Olivia Washington gives birth to Washington's first son, Booker T. Washington Jr.

1889 - Olivia Washington gives birth to Washington's second son, Ernest Davidson Washington.

1889 - May 9 - Olivia Washington dies from injuries she suffered during a fire that broke out in the Washington home.

1893 - Washington marries Margaret James Murray who had been Lady Principal of Tuskegee Institute for two years.

The Atlanta Address

1896 - June 24 - Washington is presented with an honorary degree from Harvard University.

1899 - 'The Oaks,' Washington's Tuskegee residence, is built by the school's students and faculty with materials produced on campus.

1900 - The Story of My Life and Work, Washington's firstthe autobiography, is published.

1900 - Washington founds the National Negro Business League an idea appropriated by W.E.B. Du Bois.

1901 - March - Washington's most successful autobiography, Up from Slavery, is published.

1901 - July 16 - Controversy arises after Washington dines at the White House while consulting President Theodore Roosevelt about political appointments in the South.

1903 - W.E.B. Du Bois' becomes Washington's best known critic after publishing his essay, Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others in his landmark book, The Souls of Black Folk.

1915 - March - Washington sponsors National Negro Health Week, which was designed to bring money and energies to bear on issues of sanitation, hygiene, and disease prevention among the poor.

1915 - November 14 - Washington dies at home in Tuskegee, Alabama.

When Washington passes, Tuskegee Institute has grown to have more than 100 buildings, a faculty of 200 (offering instruction in 40 trades and professions), and an endowment of $2 million. His legacy continues at Tuskegee University.

Christmas Days in Old Virginia (complete text)

In 1907, Booker T. Washington wrote about his memories of Christmas in Franklin County in an article written for both Suburban Life and Tuskegee Student magazines.

In Virginia, where I was born, Christmas lasts not one day but a week, sometimes longer - at least, that is the way it was in the old slave days. Looking back to those days, when Christmas, for me, was a much more momentous event than it is now, it seems to me that there was a certain charm about that Virginia Christmas time, a peculiar fragrance in the atmosphere, a something which I cannot define, and which does not exist elsewhere in the same degree, where it has been my privilege to spend the Christmas season.

In the first place, more is made of the Christmas season in Virginia, or used to be, than in most other states. Furthermore, at the time to which I refer, people lived more in the country than they do now; and the country, rather than the city, is the place for one to get wholesome enjoyment out of the Christmas season. There is nothing in a crowded life that can approach the happiness and general good feeling which one may have in the country, especially when the snow is upon the ground, the trees are glittering with icicles, and the Christmas odors are in the air.

Christmas was the great event of the whole year to the slaves throughout the south, and in Virginia, during the days of slavery, the colored people used to begin getting ready for Christmas weeks beforehand. It was the season when, in many cases, the slaves who had been hired out to other masters came home to visit their families. Perhaps the husband had been away from his wife for twelve months; he was permitted on Christmas to come home. Perhaps children had been hired out in another part of the state, or another part of the country, away from their mothers for six to twelve months; they were permitted to come home at Christmas.

It was made known during these holidays which slaves were to remain on the home plantation, which ones were to be hired out to the neighboring farmers, and which ones were to be sold. It was an important period to the slaves in many ways, but the feelings of joy at the reunion of the family prevailed above all others.

There were a number of festivities which led up to Christmas and prepared for it. One of them was the corn-shucking. No one who has not actually experienced an old-fashioned corn-shucking in Virginia can understand exactly what I mean. These corn-shucking bees, or whatever the may be called, took place during the last of November, or the first half of December. As I have said, they were a prelude to the festivities of the Christmas season. Usually they were held upon one of the larger and wealthier plantations in the neighborhood. After all the corn had been gathered, thousands of bushels sometimes, it would be piled up in the shape of a mound, often to the height of fifty or sixty feet. Invitations would be sent around by the master himself to the neighboring planters, inviting their slaves on a certain night to attend the corn-shucking. In response to these invitations as many as one or two hundred men, women and children would come together.

When all were assembled around the pile of corn, some one individual, who had already gained a reputation as a leader in singing, would climb on top of the mound and begin at once, in clear, loud tones, a solo - a song of the corn-shucking season - a kind of singing which I am sorry to say has very largely passed from memory and practice. After leading off in this way, in clear, distinct tones, the chorus at the base of the mound would join in, some hundred voices strong. The words, which were largely improvised, were very simple and suited to the occasion, and more often than not they had the flavor of the camp-meeting rather than any more secular proceeding. Such singing I have never heard on any other occasion. There was something wild and weird about that music, such as will never again be hear in America.

While the singing was going on, hundreds of hands were busily engaged in shucking corn. The corn-shucking and the music would continue, perhaps, until ten o'clock at night. The music made the work light and pleasant. In a very short time, almost before any one realized it, hundreds of bushels of corn had been shucked. About that time a break would come. Everybody would be invited to a grove or some convenient place for supper, which was served in a sumptuous manner. After an hour, perhaps, spent around the table, the corn shucking, with more music, was begun again, and continued until late into the night, often into the early hours of the morning.

This was one of the incidents which usually proceeded a Virginia Christmas time. There is another which I still vividly remember. It was at this season that the year's crop of hogs was killed, and the meat for the ensuing year was cured and stored away in the smokehouse. This came, as a rule, during the week before Christmas, and was, as I recollect it, one of the annual diversions of plantation life. I recall the great blazing fire flaring up in the darkness of the night, and grown men and women moving about in the flickering shadows. I remember with what feelings of mingled horror and hungry anticipation I looked at the long rows of hogs hung on the fence-rail, preparatory to being cut up and salted away for the year. For days after this event every slave cabin was supplied with materials for a sumptuous feast.

Such simple and commonplace diversions as these broke the monotony of plantation life. Coming directly as they did before the Christmas holidays, they served to emphasize in the minds of the slaves the joyous season they ushered in.

Christmas itself, as I have said, meant a cessation of work for a week at least, and often as long as ten days. Christmas day the slaves would each receive something in the way of a present. The master who gave no present to his slaves was looked down upon by his fellow-masters. He was considered unworthy to be classed among slave-holding aristocracy. The presents, in most cases, consisted of a new suit of clothes, or a new pair of shoes. I remember that the first pair of shoes I ever had the opportunity if wearing came to me in the shape of a Christmas present. Later on, when the war was going on between the North and South, we felt the pinch of hard times on our plantation. I received as a Christmas present a pair of wooden shoes - that is, the uppers were composed of leather, but the soles were composed of hickory wood.

In those days, the old people, as well as the young, used to hang up their stockings. The household slaves, and many who worked in the field as well, would hang their stockings in their master's or mistress's rooms. The children usually hung their stockings in the cabins of their parents. It has been my pleasure and privilege to receive many Christmas presents, but I do not think I ever had a present that made me feel more happy than those I received during what was, as I remember, the last Christmas I spent in slavery. I awoke at four o'clock in the morning in my mother's cabin, and creeping over to the chimney, I found my stocking well-filled with pieces of red candy and nearly half a dozen ginger cakes. In addition to these were the little wooden shoes with the leather tops, which I mentioned.

The Christmas season ended with the cutting of the "Yule Log" for the next Christmas. My readers will know something of the "Yule Log," but will scarcely understand what the custom meant in the old days in the South, unless they have seen the "Yule Log" cut, and have counted he days that it burned.

On many of the plantations in Virginia it was the custom for the men to go out into the swamps on the last day of the Christmas season, select the biggest, toughest and greenest hardwood tree they could find, and cut it in shape to fit the fireplace in the master's room. Afterwards this log would be sunk into water, where it would remain the entire succeeding year. On the first day of the following Christmas, it would be taken out of the water; the slaves would go into the master's room before he got out of bed on Christmas morning, and with a song and other ceremonies, would place this log on the fireplace of the master, and would light it with fire.

It was understood that the holiday season would last until this log had been burned into two parts. Of course, the main point in the selection of the "Yule Log" was to get one that would be tough and unburnable, so that it would last as many days as possible. At the burning out of the log, there was usually another ceremony of song. This meant that Christmas was over.

As I look back in my memory to those Christmas days, thus spent as a slave-boy in Virginia. The present stiff and staid customs, which prevail, especially in the larger cities, seem to me "flat, stale, and unprofitable."

Again I repeat, that in my opinion the real Christmas must be spent in the country, and I cannot but feel that there is in the Virginia Christmas atmosphere a fragrance and an influence which is not to be found elsewhere."

The Atlanta Exposition Address part 3

Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load upward, or they will pull against you the load downward. We shall constitute one-third and more of the ignorance and crime of the South, or one-third its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one-third to the business and industrial prosperity of the South, or we shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding every effort to advance the body politic.

Gentlemen of the Exposition, as we present to you our humble effort at an exhibition of our progress, you must not expect overmuch. Starting thirty years ago with ownership here and there in a few quilts and pumpkins and chickens (gathered from miscellaneous sources), remember the path that has led from these to the inventions and production of agricultural implements, buggies, steam engines, newspapers, books, statuary, carving, painting, the management of drugstores and banks, has not been trodden without contact with thorns and thistles. While we take pride in what we exhibit as a result of our independent efforts, we do not for a moment forget that our part in this exhibition would fall far short of your expectations but for the constant help that has come to our educational life, not only from the Southern states, but especially from Northern philanthropists, who have made their gifts a constant stream of blessing and encouragement.

The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercises of these privileges. 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.

In conclusion, may I repeat that nothing in thirty years has given us more hope and encouragement, and drawn us so near to you of the white race, as this opportunity offered by the exposition; and here bending, as it were, over the altar that represents the results of the struggles of your race and mine, both starting practically empty-handed three decades ago, I pledge that in your effort to work out the great and intricate problem which God has laid at the doors of the South, you shall have at all times the patient, sympathetic help of my race; only let this be constantly in mind, that while from representations in these building of the product of field, of forest, of mine, of factory, letters and art, much good will come, yet far above and beyond material benefits will be that higher good, that, let us pray God, will come, in a blotting out as sectional differences and racial animosities and suspicions, in a determination to administer absolute justice, in a willing obedience among all classes to the mandates of law. This, this, coupled with our material prosperity, will bring into our beloved South a new heaven and a new earth.