Booker T. Washington - Builder of a Civilization
by Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe
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A tall, finely built, elderly man, looking almost like a Nubian giant, arose in his place, his face wreathed in smiles, and showing his white teeth as he spoke: "Doctor, I done 'tended one o' yore conferences here 'bout ten year ago. I heard you say dat a man ain't wurth nuthin' as a man or a citizen 'less he owns his home, 'least one mule, and has a bank account, an' so I made up my mind dat I warn't wuth nuthin', an' so I went home an' talked de whole matter over wid de ol' woman. We decided dat we would make a start, an' now I's proud to tell you dat I's not only got a bank account, but I's got two bank accounts, an' heah's de bank books (proudly holding on high two grimy bank books); I also own two hun'ed acres of land an' all de land is paid for. I also own two mules, an' bofe dem mules is paid for. I also own some other property, an' de ole woman an' me an' de chilluns lives in a good house an' de house is paid for. All dis come 'bout from my comin' to dis heah conference."

Another old fellow, when called upon to tell what he had accomplished, dexterously evaded the direct inquiry for some minutes, and when Mr. Washington finally succeeded in pinning him down, said: "All I's got to say, Doctah Washington, is dat dis heah conference dun woke me up an' I'll be back heah next year wid a report jist like dese oder fellers."

Mr. Washington was a great believer in his favorite animal, the pig, as a mortgage lifter and general aid to prosperity. At one of the conferences, after he had paid a particularly warm eulogy to the economic importance of the pig, an old woman got up and said: "Mr. Washington, you is got befo' you now Sister Nelson of Tallapoosa County, Alabama. All I has I owes to dis conference and one little puppy dog."

Mr. Washington challenged: "How's that?"

The old woman continued: "I got a little pig from dat little puppy dog an' I got my prosperity from dat pig!"

Mr. Washington and the whole company in amazement hung upon the old woman's words as she continued: "It was dis way: Dat little puppy dog when she growed up had some little puppies herself. One day one o' my fren's come by an' as' me for one o' dem puppies. I tol' him 'No,' I would not gib him dat puppy, but dat he had a little pig an' I would 'change a puppy for a pig. I had heard you tell ober heah so much 'bout hogs an' pigs dat I thought dis was a good chance to get started. He give me de pig an' I give him de puppy. In de course o' time dat little pig dun bring me in some mo' pigs. I sol' some an' kep' some. I had to feed de pig, so I had begun savin'. I den begun to find out dat I could git on wid less den I had ben gettin' on wid, an' so I kep' on savin' an' kep' on raisin' pigs 'til I was able to supply most o' my neighbors wid pigs, an' den I got me a cow, an den I begun to supply my neighbors wid milk, an' den I started me a little garden. Den I sol' my neighbors greens an' onions, an' so I went on fum time to time 'til I dun paid for de lot an' de house in which I lib, an' I keeps my pigs about me an' keeps my garden goin', an' dat's why I says all I is I owes to dat little puppy dog an' to dis heah conference."

At these conferences the most elementary subjects are discussed. Booker Washington would tell and have told to these farmers matters which one would naturally assume any farmers, however ignorant, must already know. He never tried to deceive himself as to the woful ignorance of the Negro masses, and still he was never discouraged, but always said ignorance was not a hopeless handicap because it could be overcome by education. While he frankly although sadly acknowledged the lamentable ignorance of the rank and file of his race, particularly those on the soil and dependent for education upon the short-term, ill-equipped, and poorly taught rural Negro school, he as stoutly denied and constantly disproved the assertion that these ignorant masses were not capable of profiting by education. He earnestly strove and signally succeeded in attracting to these great annual agricultural conferences the most pathetically ignorant of the Negro farmers as well as the leading scientific agriculturists of the race. But he always insisted that the meetings be conducted for the benefit of the ignorant and not in the interests of the learned.

He would, for instance, tell the attendants at the conferences what to plant and when to plant it, and what live stock to keep and how to keep it. He would have printed and distributed among them a "Farmer's Calendar" which gave the months in which the various standard vegetables should be planted and what crops should be used in rotation. He constantly insisted that the Experiment Station at Tuskegee Institute, supported by the State of Alabama, should not be used for scientific experiments of interest only to experts, but should deal with the fundamental problems with which the Negro farmers of Alabama were daily confronted. The titles of some of the Experiment Station Bulletins selected at random suggest the homely and practical nature of the information disseminated. Half a dozen of them read as follows: "Possibilities of the Sweet Potato in Macon County, Alabama," "How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption," "How to Raise Pigs with Little Money," "When, What, and How to Can and Preserve Fruits and Vegetables in the Home," "Some Possibilities of the Cowpea in Macon County, Alabama," "A New and Prolific Variety of Cotton." And all of these bulletins, so many of which deal with the problems of the home, are written by an old bachelor of pure African descent, without a drop of white blood, who in himself refutes two popular fallacies: the one that bachelors cannot be skilled in domestic affairs, and the other, that pure-blooded Africans cannot achieve intellectual distinction. This man is George W. Carver, who is not only the most eminent agricultural scientist of his race in this country, but one of the most eminent of any race. His work is so well known in scientific circles in his field throughout the world that when leading European scientists visit this country, particularly the Southern States, they not infrequently go out of their way to look him up. They are usually very much surprised to find their eminent fellow-scientist a black man.

The last of these conferences over which Booker Washington presided was held at Tuskegee, January 20 and 21, 1915. A woman, the wife of a Negro farmer, was testifying when she said: "Our menfolks is foun' out dat they can't eat cotton." As the outburst of laughter which greeted this remark died down, Mr. Washington said in his incisive way: "What do you mean?" The woman replied: "I mean dat we womenfolks been tellin' our menfolks all de time dat they should raise mo to eat."

She then displayed specimens of canned fruits and told how she had put up enough of them to supply her family until summer. She told of having sold thirty-six turkeys and of selling two and three dozen eggs each week, with plenty left over for her family. She said that she and her husband had raised and sold hogs, and still had for their own use more than enough pork to last them until the next hog-killing time.

"How often do you eat chicken?" asked Dr. Washington.

"We can eat chicken every day if we want it," she replied.

When she had finished Mr. Washington explained that all this had been done on 178 acres of the poorest land in Macon County.

In his opening address at this conference Mr. Washington denounced "petty thieving, pistol-toting, crap-shooting, the patronizing of 'blind tigers,' and unnecessary lawsuits" as some of the weights and encumbrances which are keeping the Negro from running well the race which is set before him.

These are some of the basic questions which Booker Washington placed before the conference for discussion:

"How and why am I so hard hit by the present hard times?"

"What am I doing to meet present conditions?"

"How may I, after all, get some real benefit from present difficulties?"

The most spectacular feature of the exercises was the parade. It extended for almost a mile and included a score or more of floats, hundreds of men and women in appropriate costumes, and dozens of horses, mules, and other live stock.

There were a large number of colored preachers in attendance who showed that they had adopted the Washington slogan of trying to make a heaven on earth and whose testimony showed that they were now giving as much time to soil salvation as to soul salvation. One of them told of a flourishing Pig Club which he had organized among his parishioners after reading Mr. Washington's open letter, "Pigs and Education; Pigs and Debts," the circulating of which will be later described.

After the awarding of prizes for the best floats the declarations of the conference were read by Major R.R. Moton of Hampton Institute, who then little realized that before the year was out he was to be chosen to succeed the leader of his race as the Principal of Tuskegee Institute.

The following were the especially significant paragraphs of these declarations:

"It is found that for every dollar's worth of cotton we grow, we raise only forty-nine cents' worth of all other crops. An investigation has shown that there are 20,000 farms of Negroes on which there are no cattle of any kind; 270,000 on which there are no hogs; 200,000 on which no poultry is raised; 140,000 on which no corn is grown; on 750,000 farms of Negroes no oats are grown; on 550,000 farms no sweet potatoes are grown, and on 320,000 farms of Negroes there are no gardens of any sort. These hundreds of thousands of farms without cattle, grain, or gardens are for the most part operated by tenants. In their behalf, the Tuskegee Negro Conference respectfully requests of the planters, bankers, and other representatives of the financial interests of the South that more opportunities be given Negro tenants on plantations to grow crops other than cotton."

After the regular conference the usual Conference of Workers was held. This conference is composed of people such as heads of schools and colleges, preachers, teachers, and persons generally holding responsible positions of leadership in their respective communities. These leaders discuss the larger community problems in distinction from individual problems. At this gathering, for instance, the principal of the County High School at Cottage Grove, Ala., explained how through diversified farming the parents of his students had been able to live while holding their cotton for higher prices.

Some of the principals of schools told how they had accepted cotton as payment of tuition for some of their students. Others had taken in payment barrels of syrup, sacks of corn, and hogs. All the schools reported cutting expenses, by reduction of their dietary, the salaries of teachers, or some other forms of retrenchment, meaning sacrifice for students or teachers, or both, that the work of education might continue and weather the hard times. In concluding the conference Booker Washington explained the terms of the recently enacted Smith Lever Act for Federal aid in the extension of agricultural education throughout the rural districts of the country. Thus ended the twentieth session of the great Tuskegee Negro Conference and the last session presided over by the Founder of the Conference. It was most appropriate that this, his last conference, should have so unanimously and effectively applied one of the leading tenets of Booker Washington's teaching—namely, the winning of lasting profit from the experiences of adversity.

As well as these annual Farmers' Conferences there are held at Tuskegee monthly meetings for the farmers from the locality where they display their products, tell of their successes and failures, and compare notes on their experiences all under the expert leadership, guidance, and advice of the staff of the agricultural department of the Institute. Every month, or oftener, there is an agricultural exhibit in which the best products of the various crops such as potatoes, corn, and cotton are displayed, and the methods used in their production explained by figures and graphic charts.

As early as 1895 Booker Washington started a campaign to get his people to raise more pigs. This campaign he revived at intervals, and for the last time in the fall of 1914, when the whole country and particularly the South was suffering from the first acute depression caused by the European War. In the Southern States this depression was, of course, especially acute because the European market for cotton was for the time being cut off. As one of the means to aid his people in this trying time he sent the following letter to the entire press of the South of both races:


To the Editor:

Our race is in constant search of means with which to provide better homes, schools, colleges, and churches, and with which to pay debts. This is especially true during the hard financial conditions obtaining on account of the European War. All of this cannot be done at once, but great progress can be made by a good strong pull together in a simple, direct manner. How?

There are 1,400,000 colored families who live on farms or in villages, or small towns. Of this number, at the present time, 700,000 have no pigs. I want to ask that each family raise at least one pig this fall. Where one or more pigs are already owned, I want to ask that each family raise one additional pig this fall.

As soon as possible, I want to ask that this plan be followed by the organization of a Pig Club in every community where one does not already exist. I want to ask that the matter be taken up at once through families, schools, churches, and societies, Farmers' Institutes, Business Leagues, etc.

The average pig is valued at about $5. If each family adds only one pig, in a few months at the present price for hogs, $10 would be added to the wealth of the owner, and $14,000,000 to the wealth of the colored people. If each family adds two pigs, it would have in a few months $20 more wealth, and $28,000,000 would be added with which to promote the welfare of the race during the money stringency created by the European War.

Let us not put it off, but organize Pig Clubs everywhere. Give each boy and girl an opportunity to own and grow at least one pig.

[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.

This letter was not only printed by most of the white papers as well as all of the Negro papers, but it was widely endorsed editorially in the white as well as the black press. Many of the newspapers for whites urged that the white farmers also follow the suggestion. The granges and farmers' institutes of both races took up the appeal and urged it upon their members. There can be no doubt that through the publication of this one brief letter, sent out at just the right psychological moment, Booker Washington materially aided the Southern farmers of both races to tide over a serious crisis and materially increased the economic wealth of the entire South. As he well knew, the people were desperate and panicky and hence ready to follow almost any lead. In any ordinary state of the public mind such a letter could have produced nothing like such an influence. This well illustrated Booker Washington's accurate knowledge of and feeling for the psychology of the public which enabled him almost without exception to speak or remain silent at the right times.

Booker Washington was not only interested in black farmers but white farmers. He always emphasized the responsibility of the farmer as the builder of the foundations of society. He was constantly inviting the white farmers of the surrounding country to visit the school and see what was being done on the school farms and by the Experiment Station. And the white farmers availed themselves freely of this opportunity and profited by it. The school's veterinarian is probably the only one in the county, and this division was established very largely for the purpose of bringing the school and the community—both white and black—into closer relation. In dealing with farmers, even more perhaps than with other classes of people, Washington would appeal to their pride and even to their vanity. He was fond of telling them that they were the salt of the earth. One of his favorite stories was about the farmer who keeps his best potatoes for himself and his family and sends the speckled ones to town; keeps his tender young chickens and sends the old tough ones to town; keeps his rich milk and sends his skimmed milk to town. While there may never have been quite such a farmer the story had its element of truth, and helped to make the farmer appreciate his good fortune and his importance in the scheme of things.

In 1910, when the last Federal Census was taken, 503 Negro farm owners in Macon County, Booker Washington's home county, owned 61,689 acres, or an average of more than one hundred and twenty-two and one-half acres of land per man. This is probably the largest amount of land owned by the Negroes of any county in the United States. Certainly this was true at that time. The better class of Negro farmers has greatly increased during the past thirty years until at present from 90 to 95 per cent. of the 3,800 Negro farmers in the county operate their own farms either as cash tenants or owners. The increase in the number of Negroes owning or operating farms has been an important factor in securing a better quality and variety of food. They have diversified their crops and raised a larger amount of their own food supplies, particularly meat and vegetables, and they have produced more milk, butter, and eggs. It will be seen that Booker Washington's voice when he reiterated over and over again, "The man who owns the land will own much else besides," did not fall upon deaf ears.

When Booker Washington came to Macon County and founded Tuskegee Institute, in 1881, the soil was worn out, and cotton, the chief crop, was selling for an almost constantly lowering price. Although there were few counties with a lower yield of cotton per acre, one-quarter of a bale, over 42 per cent. of the tilled land of the county was devoted exclusively to this crop. Very little machinery was used in the farming, the antique scooter plow and hoe being the main reliance. The soil was rarely tilled more than three or four inches deep. There was, in fact, a superstition among whites as well as blacks that deep plowing was injurious to the soil. Two-horse teams were seldom used. Sub-soiling, fall plowing, fallowing, and rotation of crops were little known and less practised. The county was producing per capita per year only about five pounds of butter, four dozen eggs, and less than three chickens.

The Negroes were with few exceptions shiftless and improvident plantation laborers and renters. Of the almost 13,000 Negroes in the county not more than fifty or sixty owned land. They lived almost exclusively in one-room cabins. Sometimes in addition to the immediate family there were relatives and friends living and sleeping in this one room. The common diet of these Negroes was fat pork, corn bread, and molasses. Many meals consisted of corn bread mixed with salt water. This, then, was the raw material with which Booker Washington had to work and from which has been developed, largely through his influence, one of the most prosperous agricultural counties in the South—a county which has been heralded in the press as feeding itself because of the great abundance and variety of its products. In 1910 the per capita production for the county was: 40 gallons of milk, 11 pounds of butter, 7 dozen eggs, and 5 chickens. It must, of course, do more than this before it will actually feed itself.

Mr. Washington was constantly drumming it into the consciousness of the Negro farmer that as long as he remained ignorant and improvident he was sure to be exploited and imposed upon. He used to illustrate this by the story of the ignorant Negro who after paying a white man fifty cents a week for six months on a five-dollar loan cheerfully remarked: "Dat Mr. —— sho is one fine gen'lman, cause he never has ast me fo' one cent ob dat principal." It may be surmised that this type of money lender is not enthusiastic over Negro education.

It is significant of the importance which Booker Washington attached to agriculture that the first great Federal official whom he invited to visit the school was the National Secretary of Agriculture. In 1897 he got the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture in President McKinley's Cabinet, to visit Tuskegee and attend the dedication of the school's first agricultural building.

Secretary Wilson arrived at night accompanied by Dr. J.L.M. Curry, a Southerner, a leader of the educational thought of the South, and the secretary of the John F. Slater Fund Board. The students lined up on either side of the main thoroughfare through the school grounds with back of them a great gathering of the farmers from the surrounding territory and many from a distance. Each one of this great throng was given a pine torch and all these torches were simultaneously lighted as Secretary Wilson entered the school grounds. The Secretary and Doctor Curry, preceded by the Institute Band, rode between these two great masses of cheering people and flaming torches.

The next day the dedication exercises were held on a specially constructed platform piled high with the finest specimens of every product known to that section of the South. On this platform, with the Secretary and Doctor Curry, were the State Commissioner of Agriculture and several other high State officials and many other prominent white citizens. This was the formal launching of the Agricultural Department of the school. George W. Carver, the full-blooded African and eminent agricultural scientist, of whom mention has already been made, had recently been placed in charge of this department. He had come from the Agricultural Department of Iowa State College, of which Secretary Wilson had been the head.

The annual budget of this department alone is now nearly fifty thousand dollars a year, and more than a thousand acres of land are cultivated under the supervision of the agricultural staff. The modest building which Secretary Wilson helped to dedicate has long since been outgrown and the department is now housed in a large, impressive brick building known as the Millbank Agricultural Building.

Under the provisions of the Smith-Lever Act, passed by Congress in 1914 for the purpose of aiding the States in Agricultural Extension Work, Booker Washington secured for Tuskegee a portion of the funds allotted to the State of Alabama for such work. With the aid of these funds Agricultural Extension Schools have been organized. These schools are conducted in cooperation with the Agricultural Department of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute and the farm demonstration work of the United States Department of Agriculture. They are really a two days' Short Course in Agriculture carried out to the farmers on their own farms. These schools have the advantage over the Short Course given to the farmers on the Institute grounds in that they have the farmers' problems right before them, to be diagnosed and remedies applied at once. Through such schools farm instruction is being carried to the Negroes of every Black Belt County of Alabama.

T.M. Campbell of the Tuskegee Institute, the District Agent in charge of these Extension Schools for the Negro Farmers of Alabama, reports that among the subjects taught the men are home gardening, seed selection, repair of farm tools, the growing of legumes as soil builders and cover crops, best methods of fighting the boll-weevil, poultry raising, hog raising, corn raising, and pasture making. The women are instructed in sewing, cooking, washing and ironing, serving meals, making beds, and methods for destroying household pests and for the preservation of health. At all the meetings the names and addresses of those present are taken for the purpose of following them up by correspondence from the district agent's office, so that the benefits of the instruction shall not be lost from one year to another. The slogan for these Alabama schools is: "Alabama Must Feed Herself." Practically all the black farmers have shown a pathetic eagerness to learn and the white farmers and the white demonstration agents everywhere have heartily cooperated. Churches, schoolhouses, and courthouses have been placed at the district agent's disposal for the Extension School session. One of the most hopeful features of the experiment has been the great interest in this new and better farming aroused among the boys and girls—an interest which the ordinary rural school sadly fails even in attempting to arouse. All told throughout the State 3,872 colored people attended these schools the first year. The sessions were usually opened by a prayer offered by one of the rural preachers. In one such prayer the preacher said among other things: "O Lord, have mercy on dis removable school; may it purmernate dis whole lan' an' country!" At another meeting, after the workers had finished a session, some of the leading colored farmers were called on to speak. One of them opened his remarks with the words: "I ain't no speaker, but I jes wan' a tell you how much I done been steamilated by dis my only two days in school!"

A report of one of these schools held recently at Monroeville, Ala., reads: "Only subjects with which the rural people are directly concerned are introduced and stressed by the instructors, such as pasture making, necessary equipment for a one and two horse farm, care of farm tools, crop rotation, hog raising, care of the cow, seed selection, diversified farming, how to make homemade furniture, fighting the fly, and child welfare.

"The home economics teacher attracted the attention of all the colored farmers and also the white visitors by constructing out of dry goods boxes an attractive and substantial dresser and washstand, completing the same before the audience, even to the staining, varnishing, hanging the mirrors and attaching the draperies." One paper, in estimating the value of these Movable Agricultural Schools said: "Given ten years of good practical agricultural instruction of the kind that was imparted to the Negro farmers, their wives and children, for the past three weeks in Wilcox, Perry, and Lowndes counties, there is no reason why every Negro farmer in the State should not only help 'Alabama feed herself,' but so increase the yield of its marketable products that the State will be able to export millions of dollars' worth of food and foodstuffs each year."

These Extension Schools are advertised by posters just like a country circus, except that the language is less grandiloquent. On the following page is a typical announcement presented in heavy black type on yellow paper.


Co-operative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home Economics














Diversified Farming for the South, "A Ray of Hope to the Man with the Hoe."

How to Make the Cotton Farm Fertile—Every Farmer Must Feed Himself.

Care and Treatment of Live Stock—"To Thee, my Master, I offer my prayer; feed me, water and care for me, and when the day's work is done, provide me with shelter."—From the Horses' Prayer.

Cotton Growing under Boll Weevil Conditions—Looks like Billie Boll Weevil is here to stay.

Waste caused by weeds, stumps and skips.

Corn—Seed testing.

Dairying and Its Possibilities in Alabama.

Sweet Potatoes—How to grow and save them.


"Home Made Home."—A Home should be more than a place in which to eat and sleep.

The Health of the Family—Much responsibility rests on the Mother.

Child Welfare—Every 4th Negro baby dies before it is One Year Old. Fifty per cent of the diseases of Negro children under One Year can be prevented.

The Care of the Girls and Boys on the Farm—Make them your partners in the business of Home Making.

Demonstration in Cookery—Too few of our women and girls know how to cook.


This Extension School is being held under the auspices of the Extension Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. The subjects will be discussed by experts from the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.

T.M. CAMPBELL, District Demonstration Agent, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.]

Thus did Booker Washington in the very year of his death, with the aid of the National Government, launch the last of his many means for helping the people whose welfare lay ever nearest his heart—the Negro farmers. These Extension Schools are literally "going out 'into the by-ways and hedges'" carrying to those who most need it Booker Washington's gospel of better farming.

One of the great secrets of Mr. Washington's success was his unerring instinct for putting first things first. In nothing that he did was this trait better illustrated than in the unceasing emphasis which he placed upon the fundamental importance of agriculture. He never forgot that over 80 per cent. of his people drew their living directly from the soil. He never ceased to impress upon the business and professional men of his race that their success was dependent upon the success of the farmers; and upon the farmers that unless they succeeded the business and professional men could not succeed. In short, he made Tuskegee first and foremost an agricultural school because the Negro race is first and foremost an agricultural race.



In 1900 Booker Washington founded the National Negro Business League. He was president of this league from its foundation until his death.

During the winter of 1900, after reviewing the situation at length with his friend T. Thomas Fortune, the Nestor of Negro journalism, and at that time the dominant influence in the New York Age, who was spending the winter at Tuskegee, with Mr. Scott and others of his friends, he came to the conclusion that the time had come to bring the business men and women of his race together in a great national organization, with local branches throughout the country. He decided that such an organization might be a powerful agency in creating the race consciousness and race pride for which he was ever striving. All the then-existing organizations, other than the sick and death benefit societies and the purely social organizations, had as their main purpose the assertion of the civil and political rights of the Negro. There was no organization calculated to focus the attention of the Negroes on what they were doing and could do for themselves in distinction from what was being done for them and to them. All the existing associations laid their chief emphasis upon the rights of the Negro rather than his duties. Mr. Washington held that without in any degree sacrificing their just demands for civil and political rights a more wholesome and constructive attitude could be developed by stressing the duties and the opportunities of the race. He believed it would be helpful to emphasize in an organized way what they had done and could do in the way of business achievement in spite of race prejudice rather than what they had not done and could not do because of racial discrimination. He believed they needed to have brought home to them not how many of them had been held down, but how many of them had come up and surmounted obstacles and difficulties. He believed that they should have it impressed upon them that the application of business methods would bring rewards to a black man just as to a white man.

The first meeting of the National Negro Business League was held in Boston, August 23 and 24, 1900. After these sessions Booker Washington made the following statement of the purpose in calling the meeting and the results obtained:

"As I have travelled through the country from time to time I have been constantly surprised to note the number of colored men and women, often in small towns and remote districts, who are engaged in various lines of business. In many cases the business was very humble, but nevertheless it was sufficient to indicate the opportunities of the race in this direction. My observation in this regard led me to believe that the time had come for the bringing together of the leading and most successful colored men and women throughout the country who are engaged in business. After consultation with men and women in various parts of the country it was determined to call a meeting in the city of Boston to organize the National Negro Business League. This meeting was held during the 23d and 24th of August, and it was generally believed that it was one of the most successful and helpful meetings that has ever been held among our people. The meeting was called with two objects in view: first, to bring the men and women engaged in business together, in order that they might get acquainted with each other and get information and inspiration from each other; secondly, to form plans for an annual meeting and the organization of local business leagues that should extend throughout the country. Both of these objects, I think, have been admirably accomplished. I think there has never been a time in the history of the race when all feel so much encouraged in relation to their business opportunities as now. The promoters of this organization appreciate very keenly that the race cannot depend upon mere material growth alone for its ultimate success, but they do feel that material prosperity will greatly hasten their recognition in other directions."

The spirit and purpose of this first national convention of Negro business men may be gathered by this quotation from the speech of J.H. Lewis, a merchant tailor, and perhaps the most successful business man of the race at the time: "But what hope has the Negro to succeed in business?" said Mr. Lewis. "If you can make a better article than anybody else, and sell it cheaper than anybody else, you can command the markets of the world. Produce something that somebody else wants, whether it be a shoe string or a savings bank, and the purchaser or patron will not trouble himself to ask who the seller is. This same great economic law runs through every line of industry, whether it be farming, manufacturing, mercantile or professional pursuits. Recognize this fundamental law of trade; add to it tact, good manners, a resolute will, a tireless capacity for hard work, and you will succeed in business. I have found in my own experience of thirty years in business that success and its conditions lie around us, regardless of race or color. I believe that it is possible for any man with the proper stuff in him to make a success in business wherever he may be. The best and only capital necessary to begin with is simply honesty, industry, and common sense."

The Boston Herald of August 24, 1900, said of this gathering: "The national convention of colored business men began its sessions in this city yesterday in a businesslike and hopeful manner. This is not a political gathering. It is not a race gathering in the sense of one met to air sentimental grievances that spring from race oppositions.... President Washington believes that the security and progress of the colored people in this land depend upon their development of a moral worth commanding respect and an industrial capacity that will make them both useful and independent. He apprehends that these qualities cannot be bestowed as a gift of benevolence, but must be acquired by individual energy and struggle. 'As I have noted,' he says, 'the condition of our people in nearly every part of our country, I have always been encouraged by the fact that almost without exception, whether in the North or in the South, wherever I have seen a black man who was succeeding in his business, who was a taxpayer, and who possessed intelligence and high character, that individual was treated with the highest respect by the members of the white race. In proportion as we can multiply those examples, North and South, will our problem be solved.' That is the great lesson that the members of the colored race have to learn. It will aid in extending this knowledge for those colored business men who have attained a measurable degree of success in life to meet for mutual encouragement and helpfulness."

Just fifteen years later, in August, 1915, Booker Washington presided over the last session of the league held during his lifetime. This meeting also was held in Boston. There attended it seven hundred delegates from thirty different States. Mr. Washington in his annual address as president summed up what had been accomplished by the race during the fifteen-year interval and projected what they should strive for in the future. He also took occasion publicly to thank his foremost colleagues in developing the work of the league, particularly Mr. Scott, the secretary of the league. Undoubtedly he fully realized that it was his farewell meeting. He practically collapsed before the sessions were over. In less than three months he was dead.

Among other things he said in this speech: "Since the league met in Boston fifteen years ago, great changes have taken place among our people in property-getting and in the promotion of industrial and business enterprises. These changes have taken place not solely because of the work of the league, but this and similar organizations have had much to do with bringing about this progress. Let me be more specific.... In 1863 we had as a race 2,000 small business enterprises of one kind and another. At the present time, the Negro owns and operates about 43,000 concerns, with an annual turnover of about one billion dollars. Within fifty years we have made enough progress in business to warrant the operation of over fifty banks. With all I have said, we are still a poor race, as compared with many others; but I have given these figures to indicate the direction in which we are travelling."

Later he said: "A landless race is like a ship without a rudder. Emphasizing again our opportunities, especially as connected with the soil, we now have, for example, 122 poultry raisers; the number should be increased to 1,500. We now have 200 dairymen; the number should be increased to 2,000.... We now own and operate 75 bakeries; the number can be increased to 500. From 32 brickmakers the number can be increased to 3,000. From 200 sawmills we can increase the number to 1,000."

And so he continued giving the present achievement and future goal for many more industries. After giving these estimates he said: "With our race, as it has been and always will be with all races, without economic and business foundation, it is hardly possible to have educational and religious growth or political freedom.

"We can learn some mighty serious lessons just now from conditions in Liberia and Hayti. For years, both in Liberia and Hayti, literary education and politics have been emphasized, but while doing this the people have failed to apply themselves to the development of the soil, mines, and forests. The result is that, from an economic point of view, those two republics have become dependent upon other nations and races. In both republics the control of finances is in the hands of other nations, this being true notwithstanding the fact that the two countries have natural resources greater than other countries similar in size.... Mere abstract, unused education means little for a race or individual. An ounce of application is worth a ton of abstraction. We must not be afraid to pay the price of success in business—the price of sleepless nights, the price of toil when others rest, the price of planning to-day for to-morrow, this year for next year. If some one else endures the hardships, does the thinking, and pays the salaries, some one else will reap the harvest and enjoy the reward."

Just before his closing words he said: "No matter how poor you are, how black you are, or how obscure your present work and position, I want each one to remember that there is a chance for him, and the more difficulties he has to overcome the greater will be his success."

Perhaps the most significant speech at this conference, next to that of Booker T. Washington, was that of William Henry Lewis who is probably the foremost lawyer of the Negro race in America. Mr. Lewis is a graduate of Harvard where he distinguished himself on the football field as well as in the classroom. After graduation from the Harvard Law School he served with distinction in the Massachusetts Legislature, was appointed Assistant United States District Attorney for the Boston district by President Roosevelt, and became Assistant Attorney-General of the United States under President Taft.

In opening his speech Mr. Lewis said: "I do not know why my fellow-citizens have chosen me for this honor, except to heap coals of fire upon my head. Fifteen years ago I was not with you. I was one of the critics, one of the scoffers, one of those who asked, 'What is it all about?' 'What does it amount to?' You have lived to confute my judgment, and shame my sneers, and I am now making generous acknowledgment of my error. I claim no merit in doing this, except that I can look backward as far as your great leader can look forward. Booker Washington has always been from fifteen to twenty years ahead of any other leader of his race.... While most of us were agonizing over the Negro's relation to the State and his political fortunes, Booker Washington saw that there was a great economic empire that needed to be conquered. He saw an emancipated race chained to the soil by the Mortgage Crop System, and other devices, and he said, 'You must own your own land, you must own your own farms'—and forthwith there was a second emancipation. He saw the industrial trades and skilled labor pass from our race into other hands. He said, 'The hands as well as the heads must be educated,' and forthwith the educational system of America was revolutionized. He saw the money earned by the hard toil of black men passing into other men's pockets. He said, 'The only way to save this money is to go into business—sell as well as buy.' He saw that if the colored race was to become economically self-sufficient, it must engage in every form of human activity. Himself a successful business man as shown by Tuskegee's millions, he has led his race to economic freedom."

Later Mr. Lewis said: "Just as in Boston three-quarters of a century ago began the movement for Emancipation from Slavery, so fifteen years ago appropriately began the movement for our economical independence.... In 1900 there was one league with 50 members, and a few businesses represented. To-day I am told there are 600 leagues, nearly 40,000 members, who represent every branch and variety of business, trade and finance. When one realizes that business rules the world, the possibility of such an organization seems almost unlimited in its power to help the race along other lines of progress."

Such a tribute from one of the most rarely and genuinely talented members of "The Talented Tenth" was indeed a triumph for Booker T. Washington and his policies. In fact, it may fairly be said that this event marked the end of the honest opposition from this element of the Negro race—the end of the honest opposition of a group or section of the race in distinction from the of course inevitable opposition of individuals here and there.

One of the features of this 1915 meeting was a summary of the economic progress of the race since the organization of the league fifteen years before. This summary brought out the following facts:

In 1900, when the National Negro Business League was organized, there were about 20,000 Negro business enterprises; now there are 45,000.

In 1900 there were two Negro banks; now there are 51.

In 1900 Negroes were running 250 drug stores; now they have 695.

In 1900 there were 450 undertaking businesses operated by Negroes; now there are about 1,000.

In 1900 there were 149 Negro merchants engaged in wholesale businesses; now there are 240.

In 1900 there were 10,000 Negro retail merchants; now there are 25,000.

In the fifteen years since the National Negro Business League was organized, farm property owned by Negroes has made a remarkable increase. From 1900 to 1910, the value of domestic animals owned by Negro farmers increased from $85,216,337 to $177,273,785, or 107 per cent.; poultry from $3,788,792 to $5,113,756, or 35 per cent.; implements and machinery from $18,586,225 to $36,861,418, or 98 per cent.; land and buildings from $69,636,420 to $273,501,665, or 293 per cent. In ten years the total value of farm property owned by Negroes increased from $177,404,688 to $492,892,218, or 177 per cent.

It is significant of the standing and catholicity of this convention that the Governor of Massachusetts, Hon. David F. Walsh, and Dr. John E. White, a leading white Southern clergyman, both spoke at the opening meeting at Symphony Hall.

The National League is made up of more than 600 local leagues which influence in a direct and practical way almost every community in the United States with any considerable number of Negro inhabitants. These local leagues are all chartered, guided, and supervised by the national organization and with them all the Secretary, Mr. Scott, keeps in touch. From time to time he issues pamphlets setting forth methods of organization, activities that can be undertaken, and subjects that may be discussed under the head of "Some things that it is possible for a local league to do to be of service to the town or city in which it is located" are the following:

"(1) To keep a list of the young men and women who are intelligent, trained, and qualified to fill responsible places as clerks, accountants, salesmen, janitors, porters, etc.; in this way a league can do much in getting suitable occupations for as many as are competent, especially so in Northern States.

"(2) In protecting the community against fraudulent schemes, as false stock companies, that are gotten up solely for the purpose of defrauding colored people.

"(3) In fostering an interest in civic affairs, such as sanitation, clean yards, cultivating pride in making attractive in appearance the home districts of our people, and in other ways showing an interest in everything that may make up a better community life."

In the same pamphlet under the head of "Suggested Subjects for Discussion" comes the following list:

1. How to unify the colored people in the business interests of the community.

2. What the professional men, ministers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc., can do to assist the business men and women.

3. What the business men can do to assist the professional men.

4. Patronizing Negro business enterprises.

5. What new business can be established in the community.

6. How can the business enterprises already established be improved?

7. How to secure additional country trade.

8. If a bank does not exist, can one be established and supported?

9. If a millinery establishment does not exist, can one be established and supported, etc.?

10. If a shoe store or gents' furnishing store does not exist, can one be established and supported?

11. If a drug-store does not exist, can one be established and supported?

In another such pamphlet monthly meetings between the grocers and the clubwomen are suggested. Such meetings would have as their object the fixing of uniform and mutually satisfactory prices and service. It is also recommended that Negro insurance agents constitute themselves unofficial health inspectors for their sections of the town. In this capacity they would report to the public health committee of the local league all instances of badly ventilated homes or schools, mosquito-breeding spots, accumulations of rubbish and filth, or any other conditions menacing the health of the colored citizens. The suggestion is made that where possible reading-rooms and bureaus of information be opened in connection with the offices of Negro newspapers and that such rooms place the colored papers from all sections of the country at the disposal of the patrons after the editor has finished with them. That several small shopkeepers club together and employ one expert bookkeeper is another idea offered. It is also proposed that small retailers get together for the purpose of purchasing jointly such commodities as can be advantageously secured in this manner. It is finally urged that a committee be appointed each year to make a social survey of the Negro population. This study would show what progress had been made during the year in all lines of endeavor and at the same time furnish a directory of all the business and social activities of the Negroes of the community. It is pointed out that the sale of advertising space in its pages would alone more than pay for such a directory.

It will be noted that these business leagues, like all other organizations founded or moulded by Booker Washington, do not stick to their lasts in any narrow sense. Mr. Washington never lost sight of the fact that the fundamental concern of all human beings was living, and that farming, business, education, recreation, or what not, were only important in so far as they made the whole of life better worth living. The means employed never obscured his vision of the aim sought as is so frequently and unhappily the case with lesser men.

Just as at the agricultural conferences, so at these business gatherings, Booker Washington used the methods employed by the revivalist at the experience meeting. By so doing he accomplished the double purpose of encouraging the successful by the tribute of public recognition and spurring on the less successful and the unsuccessful to go and do likewise. Also by means of men and women telling their fellows in open meeting how they achieved their success the race is, as it were, revealed to itself. It was, for instance, through a meeting of the National Negro Business League that it came to light that the man who raises the most potatoes in the United States, and who is commonly known as the Potato King of the West, is a Negro—J.G. Groves of Edwardsville, Kan. Groves' story at one of the annual meetings attracted so much attention that an account of his life later appeared in an illustrated special article in the American Magazine. It was also discovered through a league meeting that Scott Bond, another colored man, was probably the most successful farmer in the State of Arkansas. After he had told his story at the meeting of the National League held in New York in 1910 he was pursued by cameramen and interviewers for days and weeks and his story was spread all over the United States. At the Chicago meeting of 1912 Watt Terry, a modest and even shrinking colored man of Brockton, Mass., unfolded a remarkable story of success in spite of the hardest and must untoward circumstances. So unbelievable seemed this man's story that the Executive Committee took up with him personally the facts of his recital, and later the Secretary of the League, in response to a demand, had to vouch for his statements in open meeting. To clinch the matter still further Mr. Washington wrote to the Secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association in Brockton, who replied that Terry's story had, if anything, been understated rather than overstated. Booker Washington himself told Watt Terry's story in the pages of the Independent for March 27, 1913. Here it is: "... Mr. Terry is a modest-appearing young man about thirty years of age. When he landed at Brockton some twelve years ago he had, according to his own story, a capital of just twelve cents. He found work at first as a coachman. After a time he obtained what he thought was a better position as janitor in the Young Men's Christian Association Building. Some of the members of the association succeeded in getting him a position as a railway porter.

"'Somehow or other,' said Terry, 'I did not care for that sort of work, and after a few months gave it up. I made up my mind that I would rather work at a trade, and tried to get work in one of the shoe factories in Brockton. As I did not know the trade and there was a good deal of competition for the places open to apprentices it looked rather hopeless at first. Finally, I got the foreman to say he would give me a chance, provided I was willing to work for two weeks without pay. I accepted that offer and made up my mind to make the most of those two weeks.'

"At the end of the two weeks Terry had done so well that he was given a position in which he earned $7 a week. By sticking close to his job and making the most of his opportunities he was gradually promoted until he earned first $10, then $15, $18, and finally $25 a week.

"'I had some difficulties at first,' said Terry. 'The other men did not like me at first and showed it. However, I stuck to the job, kept on smiling, and it was not long before I was on just as good terms with the men in the shop as I cared to be. As I did not have much opportunity to spend my money, I found it easier to save.'

"When Terry reached the point where he was earning $25 a week his wife was earning $9 as matron in the Brockton railway station, and they both saved their money. Meanwhile Terry had begun to buy and sell real estate in a small way. One day he sold a house and lot upon which he cleared as commission $100.

"'That seemed to settle the question of my future,' said Mr. Terry. 'I decided to go into the real estate business.'

"He added that at the present time his gross income from his houses was between $6,000 and $7,000 per month. Altogether, including several store buildings and two apartment houses containing fifty-four suites of rooms, Mr. Terry owns 222 buildings in Brockton. One of these buildings is leased by the United States Government for the use of the post-office; another is rented for a public library and reading-room by the city.

"I should not, perhaps, have dared to make this statement if I had not confirmed the truth of Mr. Terry's statement by independent inquiry. In a recent letter from Secretary White, of the Brockton Young Men's Christian Association, he says: 'Some weeks ago I wrote you relative to our mutual friend (Watt Terry's) business, but now I want to enclose a clipping from the tax list which you will see is positive evidence that the time the taxes were recorded he was carrying well on to $300,000 and I know that his purchase of $120,000 occurred since that time. It is certainly a most wonderful development within a few years.'

"I ought to add that during all the time that Mr. Terry has been in Brockton he has been connected with the Young Men's Christian Association, and not long ago he contributed $1,000 toward the support of that institution.

"Many persons will, perhaps, feel that money which is acquired in this rapid way is likely to do the person who obtains it as much harm as it does good. I confess that it seems to me that the same amount of money acquired more slowly would mean more to the man who gained it. On the whole, however, the Negro race has not reached the point where it has been troubled by the number of its millionaires. And if getting slowly and laboriously is a good discipline, the Negro has almost a surplus of that kind of blessing. I ought to add, also, in justice to Mr. Terry, that from all I can learn, his rapid rise has neither injured his character nor destroyed his good sense. I suspect that the effort to keep all those houses rented and the effort to pay interest on his mortgages has had a tendency to make him humble."

Although Watt Terry's success is, of course, phenomenal he is only one of the many notably successful Negro business men who have told their stories at meetings of the National Negro Business League. Neither is Mr. Terry the only Negro who has made a big success in real estate. At the meeting of the league already described, held in Boston in 1915, Mr. Washington introduced Philip A. Payton, Jr., of New York City; E.C. Brown, of Philadelphia, Pa.; and Watt Terry, of Brockton, Mass.; as the three largest real estate operators of the Negro race. Philip A. Payton, Jr., was the pioneer in opening the Harlem district in New York City to settlement by Negroes, who had formerly been excluded from all decent portions of the city and obliged to live on San Juan Hill and in other sections of unsavory reputation. E.C. Brown made money in real estate in Newport News and Norfolk, Va., and headed movements for the establishment of Negro banks in both of these cities. Afterward he moved to Philadelphia, where he has opened a bank, and also conducts a real estate business on Broad Street—the only Negro, it is said, who conducts a large business enterprise on this important thoroughfare. At the same meeting it was brought out that a Negro by the name of Phillip J. Allston was chemist for the Potter Chemical Company, having risen from bottle-washer to that responsible post. The story of J.S. Trower, caterer, of Philadelphia, showed that he was frequently engaged for the most important functions in the city and had been regularly employed by the Cramps Company, shipbuilders, to take charge of the catering in connection with the ceremonies accompanying the launching of new ships for the Navy. Mrs. Bell Davis of Indianapolis, Ind., has become equally successful as a caterer. When the National Negro Business League met in Indianapolis it was she who served the annual banquet. Booker Washington took the greatest satisfaction in disclosing her achievements to the Negro people who had previously known little or nothing about her. He thus introduced her at a meeting of the League, "Mrs. Bell Davis, a widow, the celebrated caterer of Indianapolis, Ind., who has served banquets and receptions in honor of Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United States, who owns a stock of Haviland china, linen, and silverware valued at thousands of dollars, all unencumbered, furnishes another illustration of what heights can be attained in the commercial world by strenuous effort and making use of every little opportunity which presents itself. Mrs. Davis' humble beginnings, hardships encountered, and success achieved would make three chapters of a most interesting biography."

Among the men spoken of by Booker Washington at the Philadelphia meeting of the Business League was Heman E. Perry, the founder of the first and only old line legal reserve life insurance company operated by and for Negroes. In his efforts to raise the $100,000 initial capital required by the law of his State—Georgia—Mr. Perry had tramped all over the United States at least three times. Finally, having tried every conceivable source without securing the required amount, he returned to all the subscribers of capital stock the money they had paid in plus 4 per cent. interest. This action so inspired the confidence of the subscribers that almost without exception they not only returned the money, but subscribed for additional stock with the result that the initial capital stock was oversubscribed. When examined by the State Insurance Department three years after it opened business this company was found to have a gross income of almost $77,000 and admitted assets of almost $160,000. Each subsequent examination by the State Department has showed a healthy growth, low mortality, good judgment in the selection of risks, prompt payment of claims, careful management, and a sound financial condition. By means of this company, known as the Standard Life Insurance Company, life insurance may be had by any Negro under the same conditions, with the same degree of security, and at the same rates as a white man.

Among the other notably successful Negro business men who have told their stories at meetings of the league are the following: Victor H. Tulane, of Montgomery, Ala., whose story of small beginnings and present success stirred his fellows at a meeting of the league. Mr. Tulane entered the grocery business twenty-five years ago, a business that any ambitious man of his race may enter, requiring small capital but unlimited patience and close attention to business. He now owns considerable property, and is a factor in all matters that concern his race in Montgomery, being regarded by white and colored citizens alike as Montgomery's first colored citizen. Mr. Tulane says: "Twenty-five years ago I was a renter; to-day I am landlord of not a few tenants. Twenty-five years ago my stock represented less than a hundred dollars; at the present time it values several thousands. Twenty-five years ago I had but one helper—a small boy; to-day I employ on an average of seven assistants the year round, excluding my wife and self. Twenty-five years ago I bought lard in five-pound quantities; to-day I purchase by the barrel. Twenty-five years ago I bought salt in ten-cent quantities; at present I buy it in ton lots. Twenty-three years ago I was unable to secure credit to the amount of three dollars, but since that period the very house that then refused me has credited me at one time with several hundred times this amount, and to-day it is not, how much do you owe?—but, how much do you want? Twenty years ago my business barely required the service of one horse and wagon; at present it demands the use of several. Twenty years ago I did an annual business of something less than a thousand dollars; during several years since that time the value of my business has exceeded $40,000 per year." It is Mr. Tulane's boast that he has not been denied credit during his business career except the one time mentioned above, and that he has never been threatened or sued in connection with the collection of a debt.

Another man's story that came out at the meeting of the National Negro Business League is the story of Charles H. Anderson, a wholesale and retail fish and oyster dealer. He conducts a fish, oyster, and game business in Jacksonville, Fla., which supplies the largest hotels and many of Jacksonville's richest white families. He is also interested in a fish and oyster packing business on the Florida coast, and is the cashier of the colored bank at Jacksonville. A speaker at the league meeting held in the John Wanamaker store, Philadelphia, in August, 1913, referred to Mr. Anderson as follows: "The first time I saw this gentleman was fourteen years ago, when he was standing up behind a white sheet that had a round hole cut in it, bravely negotiating his head and face as a target; he was working for a man who was running one of those games known as: 'Every-time-you-hit-the-nigger's-head-you-get-a-fine-cigar!' (Uproarious laughter.) There I found him fourteen years ago, posing as a target, and for the magnificent sum of five cents anybody could have secured the privilege of throwing three balls at his face. (Prolonged laughter and applause as Mr. Anderson stepped forward and was introduced to Hon. John Wanamaker, who warmly shook his hand.) To-day this young man is one of the most competent and one of the most prosperous business men of our race, regardless of section, North, South, East, or West. (Hearty applause.) Recently he was offered $18,000 for one piece of property which he owns in Jacksonville, Fla., and if he would sell out to me to-day all of his real estate and other holdings and equities, I would be willing to give him my check for $75,000."

Others are: Edward C. Berry of Athens, Ohio, who owns and operates a family hotel in which he does a business of $25,000 to $35,000 a year; J. Walter Hodge of Indianapolis, Ind., who, inspired by the recitals at the Business League meetings, gave up his job as a Pullman car porter, after he had saved some money, and is now the owner of a large real estate business; Thomas H. Hayes who, starting as a day laborer for the Southern Railway, now controls probably the largest undertaking establishment in Memphis, Tenn.

Perhaps the most remarkable story of business success ever told before a meeting of the league was that of J. H. Blodgett of Jacksonville, Fla. Mr. Blodgett told his story at the sessions of the league held in Philadelphia in 1913 at the Academy of Music. By request he in part repeated it at the meeting held in the Wanamaker Store the following day. Mr. Blodgett is an ex-slave. He has had no education whatever except what he has picked up in his long and successful struggle with life's sternest realities. We will give his story in his own language. Bear in mind that this is the language, as taken down verbatim by a stenographer at the time, of a totally unschooled ex-slave. He said: "Now I want to say I went to Jacksonville nineteen years ago with the magnificent sum of a dollar and ten cents in my pocket. (Laughter.) I also had an extra suit of underclothing in a paper bag; that was all the baggage I had as a boarder. (Laughter.) I was also arrested as a tramp for having on a straw hat in the winter time. (Hearty laughter.) And I say all this especially to you young men who are present here to-night, for so many of our young men seem to think that they can't start or succeed in business unless somebody shoves them off the bank into the water of opportunity and makes them swim for themselves; I simply want to say this to you young men, I started with $1.10 and one extra suit of underclothing in a paper bag—(laughter)—and to-day I pay more taxes than any Negro in Florida. (Prolonged applause.) I have had all sorts of struggles and difficulties to contend with, but you can't get away from it—if you get anything in this United States of America now, you have got to work for it. (Hearty applause.) The white people all over this country have 'weaned the Negro.' (Laughter and applause.) Dr. Washington has been going all over this country boasting about what you could do and what our race has done, and the white man is just quietly and gently and in every way telling us: 'Go thou and do what Dr. Washington said you could do.' (Prolonged laughter and applause.)

"When I began, I commenced working for a railroad company; I had a splendid job—washing cars for a dollar and five cents a day; I got $8.40 from the railroad every eight days. After working for a month and a half I saved enough money to send back and bring my wife from Charleston, South Carolina, to Jacksonville. Both of us went to work; we opened a little boarding-house; she ran that, and when my $1.05 a day enabled me to save as much as one hundred dollars, I quit that job and began to hustle for myself. I told the white man I was working under: 'You don't know that a Negro with $100 in cash is a rare thing among my people. I'm going to strike out and see what I can do by myself.' I made up my mind that if all of the big Negroes that I had heard of, read about, and talked with, if they could get honor and recognition by having brains, money, and ability, there was nothing the matter with me and my poor little wife to prevent us from getting up, too; so I went to work and determined to work day and night, if need be, to get some money, and other things necessary to succeed in life. I wanted money because I had seen and suffered so many humiliations put on the man who does not have money. (Applause.)

"The first time I saw this distinguished gentleman (pointing to Dr. Booker T. Washington) I was laying brick in Jacksonville, Fla., at $1.25 a day, and he drove by in company with Mr. James W. Johnson, Mr. J. Rosamond Johnson, and another gentleman. I had always loved the big men of my race; even as a little boy I delighted to hear of what they had achieved, and when I heard that the great Booker T. Washington was in town, I quit my job for that day, went to the place where he spoke, walked up close, and was hoping somebody would do me the honor of introducing me. But I found the gentlemen who had him in charge were introducing him to nobody but the big Negroes, and the big Negroes were shaking hands with him and completely monopolizing Booker T. Washington. (Prolonged laughter.) I did not like to be rude and therefore did not push through the crowd and shake hands with him anyway, as I felt like doing. I was nothing but a poor brick-layer, nobody would introduce me, but I heard his grand speech, was richly benefited and inspired by all he said, and when I went away I made a solemn vow to myself. I said: 'If God be with me, I mean to so work and conduct myself so that some day I shall deserve to shake hands with Booker T. Washington.' (Hearty applause.) Now let me tell you the sequel of the story. Away down in Florida, in my humble home in Jacksonville, there is a room named 'Booker T. Washington.' (Applause.) I have set apart and dedicated a portion of my home in honor of this distinguished gentleman and leader of our race. (Applause.) He is the first human being on earth I have ever permitted to sleep in it, and his good wife is the first woman and second person I have ever permitted to sleep in that room. (Prolonged laughter and applause.) We love him in the South, both Negro and white man! (Hearty applause.) Booker T. Washington's name is a monument of strength because he is teaching the Negro to use his hands and head in order to be useful in the community and to achieve success. (Applause.)

"I have been sick this summer and just got back from Saratoga—(prolonged applause)—of course all men who get rich go to Saratoga. (Laughter and applause.) While there I met some folks, and in the course of my remarks I had occasion to remind them that Dr. Booker T. Washington, while an earnest advocate of industrial training, is not an enemy or opposed to higher education. There was a man from the British West Indies who began to speak on the subject of the Negro; he began to orate around, began to tell how the Negro must expect to rise in the world; oh! he made a magnificent speech going to show that there was nothing in the world like higher education for the Negro; he even said that the Negro race would never amount to anything and get its rights until every one of us had secured a college education. (Laughter.) Why, you ought to have been there and heard him orate; he took us all through Greek, Roman, ancient, and medieval history; across the Alps and all around the Egyptian pyramids—(hearty laughter)—and even cited the Druids of old to testify to the grandeur and necessity of higher education for the Negro. After he got through orating I said to him: 'Brother, I was down to a meeting of Negroes in the State of Florida—at the State Business League, and I saw sitting on one bench eleven (11) Negro men whose combined wealth would amount to more than one million dollars, and not one of them ever saw the inside of a college.' (Prolonged applause, mingled with laughter.) And I said to him further than that: 'If any of you gentlemen who claim to be educated in the British West Indies, and all you gentlemen who hail from Beloit College (wherever it is)—if you can fool any one of those eleven Negroes out of one dime, I will give you ten dollars!' (Laughter and applause.) Yes, sir, without much education these men own their own homes and dozens of homes in which other people live; they are self-sustaining and independent, and can write their names to checks away up in the thousands of dollars; they live in neat, comfortable, well-appointed homes and enjoy the respect and esteem of their neighbors—black as well as white. 'Now, sir,' I turned to him and asked him, 'will you kindly tell me what is your occupation in life and what you have been able to accomplish with all this higher education you have been talking about?' I found out that he was a waiter in the United States Hotel. (Laughter.) I said to him further: 'My brother, I don't claim to be an educated man, but live in a villa of my own; I own considerable real estate, and my dear little wife rides around in our own $5,500 Packard automobile, all paid for.' (Prolonged applause and laughter.)

"I am somewhat of a carpenter and builder; I went to work, bought some ground while it was cheap and at a time when everything in Jacksonville was at low tide; there were plenty of sick Yankees whose investments had depreciated and I invested what money I had in some land. I would build a house, then sell it; buy more land, build another house and sell that; after a while I was able to build three houses and sell two, build two and sell one and so on—(applause)—until pretty soon I found myself in the real estate business, buying land and building and selling houses. In this way I have gone on building my own houses until now I have plenty to support myself and that dear little red-headed woman who has a seat somewhere in this beautiful audience. (Laughter and applause.) She doesn't have to keep a boarding-house any more; she is on the retired list. (Laughter and applause.) We have made enough to keep from doing that."

At this point Dr. Washington asked, "How many houses do you own?"

Mr. Blodgett replied: "I have been selling houses pretty rapidly during the last few years, but I have built—and right here I want to say that while my subject is 'Building and Contracting' I have never built a house for anybody but myself. I build my own property. I have built since the fire we had in Jacksonville in 1902 two hundred and eight houses of my own. (Prolonged applause.) I have sold a good many of them. When I realized that I was beginning to get old and not in such good physical condition as I used to be, I was afraid I might get afflicted with tuberculosis, or appendicitis, or some of these other high-sounding diseases the doctors now talk about—(laughter)—and so I thought it best to convert some of my estate into another form that could be more easily handled by my better half when I had gone to inhabit my mansion in the skies. (Laughter.) So I have begun to sell off some of my property and get out of debt. I now have one hundred and twenty-one houses, the rents from which amount to a little over twenty-five hundred dollars a month. (Prolonged applause.) I have invested my money in recent years in what I call 'grip-sack' securities, so that if there should be any little unpleasantness among the races, I can go to my safe and grab that grip-sack. (Prolonged laughter and applause.) You see if there should ever be any friction or trouble, I can grab my grip-sack, jump into a powerful machine, and come up here around Philadelphia, 'The City of Brotherly Love' or over here in Canada, and I can sit down at my leisure and read in the papers what they are doing down there. (Prolonged laughter.)

"Dr. Washington has been in my home in Jacksonville; I have now had the honor of not only shaking hands with him, but of having him as my special guest. I know I am going to make one break here now, I'm going to say something that my little modest wife may not like me to say, but I hope she will excuse just this one time—(laughter)—for everybody knows that I ain't very bright anyhow—not really responsible. (Prolonged laughter.) I want to say this, not in a boasting way—I live in the best home of any Negro in this country I have so far seen. (Hearty applause.) I live in a home—we call it 'Blodgett Villa'; we have flowers and lawns and vines and shrubbery, a nice greenhouse and all those things that go to make up for higher civilization. I surrounded myself with all these things to show that the Negro has the same taste, the same yearning for higher civilization that the white man has whenever he has the money to afford it. (Applause.) You know they have been saying all these years that the Negro is coarse and vicious, that he is kin to the monkey—(laughter)—and that we do not appreciate those things that make for higher civilization such as flowers, hothouses, neatly kept houses and lawns, automobiles, and such things, so I went and got them. (Applause.) When you step inside of Mrs. Blodgett's home there you will find art and music and literature, and if you can find anything in there that does not tend toward the higher civilization, you have my promise and consent to throw it outdoors. (Laughter and applause.)...

"I remember when I was a drayman on the streets of Jacksonville; I was a great big man, even heavier than I am now: I wore a pair of magnificent feet appropriate to my size, and when I drove along everybody whistled and called me 'Old Big One.' Since that time I have graduated from a drayman to what the program calls me: a 'Builder and Contractor,' and when they see me now riding through the streets of Jacksonville in my $5,500 Packard automobile, if one of those Negroes should call me 'Old Big One,' I would put him in jail. (Laughter and applause.) I am interested in business with white men, and I tell you when a Negro gets to the point where he makes cash deposits in a white man's bank—say $5,000 this week, $2,000 next week, and so on, they will begin to discover you, honor and respect you. If you deposit $2,000 this week, the bank president will know about it, and when it gets to the place that you have got in the bank $25,000, why this man even (pointing to an ebony black man in the audience) will have become a bright mulatto!"

Perhaps the most unique and impressive session of the National Negro Business League was that held at the invitation of John Wanamaker in his great department store in Philadelphia in 1913. One of the most interesting talks at this meeting was that of Charles Banks of Mound Bayou, Miss. Mr. Banks has been referred to in an earlier chapter. He has often been called the J. Pierpont Morgan of his race. He said in part: "I live in the little town of Mound Bayou, Miss., that was founded by Isaiah T. Montgomery, an ex-slave of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Southern Confederacy. Mr. Montgomery, the ex-slave in question, is present at this meeting. We live in what is called the 'Black Belt of Mississippi' and our plantations embrace some of the richest and most fertile land that can be found in the entire 'Delta.' In some parts of the 'Delta' the Negro population outnumbers the white population in a ratio of five to one. In the town in which I live (Mound Bayou) we outnumber the white population in a ratio of five to nothing. (Laughter and applause.)

"Instead of whining and lamenting our lot, and bemoaning the racial prejudice which exists in our section of the country, we are taking advantage of some of the opposition and the tendency to segregate us and we are trying to show, through the leadership of this ex-slave of Jefferson Davis, that it is possible for us to build up a Negro community, a town owned and controlled by Negroes right there under his direct supervision. And as a result, on the Yazoo and Mound Bayou Branch of the Yazoo Central Railroad, we have one of the best-governed and most prosperous towns on the whole line. We have something like thirty to forty thousand acres of land in that rich and fertile country owned and controlled exclusively by Negro men and women. We have there the little town of Mound Bayou, which it is our privilege to represent, and so far as its management or government is concerned, we have control of everything. There we have a Negro Depot Agent, a Negro Express Agent, a Negro Postmaster, a Negro Mayor, a Board of Negro Aldermen and City Councilmen, and every other official of the city administration is a full-fledged Negro. In that town I am the banker, and I pass for a Negro." (Laughter and applause followed this sally, as the speaker is the blackest of full-blooded Africans.)

In concluding his address of welcome on this occasion Mr. Wanamaker said: "I do hope that meetings like this will come often and be held in every large city in the North. In exhibiting to the world the successful business men and women of your race, your league is doing exactly what every good merchant legitimately does, that is—you are showing your goods. (Laughter.) And you are delivering the goods. (Prolonged applause.) Your league is making an 'Annual Report' as it were; it is making a 'Yearly Inventory' of what your race has on hand, and though this large hall has been the scene of many delightful occasions (mainly connected with this business) your coming here to-day is the first meeting of its kind. (Applause.) I believe that this meeting ought to be put down as historical, and should serve as a set-off—in striking contrast to the stoning of William Lloyd Garrison, in the streets of Philadelphia, scarcely more than fifty years ago. (Prolonged applause.) This meeting will simply help to balance your account. (Applause.) The world is moving on, and it is a glorious thing to-day to find that, instead of stepping backward—contrary to the predictions of some—you are making such splendid strides forward under the fine leadership of Dr. Booker T. Washington—(applause)—as evidenced in this Business League Convention.

"In closing I want not only to pay just tribute to what you have achieved in music, in education, and religious life, but I think it fitting, on this occasion, and I have planned to show you a fine painting from the brush of the greatest artist of your race—the son of Bishop Tanner. I have seen his handiwork in some of the art galleries of the first rank in Europe. For the most part his paintings are religious in conception, and the peculiar beauty of them is that they deal with the heart, even as they are fine expressions of art. (Applause.) Before you leave I have planned to show you several other pictures of real merit that members of your race have produced. (Applause.)

"And oh—when I consider all these things, and when I gazed upon this vast and beautiful audience a few minutes ago, as you were singing so fervently our national anthem, 'America,' as I looked over the sea of earnest, intelligent faces, I wondered how on earth we could sing that song for a hundred years or more—I wondered how it was possible to keep a race like yours enslaved while, for years and years, the people of this nation sang that last line of that song, 'Let freedom ring!!!'" (Prolonged applause, tumultuous cheering, and the waving of countless handkerchiefs as Mr. Wanamaker resumed his seat.)

Aside from having the successful colored men and women tell one another and their less-successful fellows how they had achieved their success at these sessions of the league, Booker Washington also arranged to have one or more prominent white men speak. His reason for this, aside from the obvious one of helping to foster friendly feeling between the races, was, it may safely be hazarded, to impress upon his people that white people succeed by the possession and the application of the same qualities which bring success to colored people. At the Chicago meeting of the league in 1912 Julius Rosenwald spoke—Julius Rosenwald, the Jewish philanthropist who has done and is doing so much to help the Negro. It was he who offered $25,000 to any city in the United States which would raise $75,000 for a Young Men's Christian Association Building for colored men. It is he also who is helping Tuskegee in the building of rural schoolhouses as was explained in the third chapter. He is one of Tuskegee's trustees.

The late Robert C. Ogden, the New York manager of the Wanamaker business, addressed the convention of 1905 in New York. He was a man whom Booker Washington delighted to hold up to his people as an example of what a man could accomplish through his own unaided efforts. He had begun his business career at a salary of $5 a week, and from that as his starting-point he had risen to be the New York head of the greatest department store business in the country. He was for twenty-five years President of the Board of Trustees of Hampton, a member of the Tuskegee Board, and the originator and host of the annual educational pilgrimages which gave leading Northerners a first hand and intelligent insight into the dire need of education for the masses of the people both white and black throughout the South. Much of the educational activity in the South to-day may be traced to the early Ogden educational pilgrimages.

Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the New York meeting in 1910. He had just returned from Africa. He said later that nothing connected with his homecoming had touched him so deeply as the ovation given him by these, his fellow-citizens of African descent. Among other white men who have spoken before the league are Henry Clews, the banker; Dr. H.B. Frissell, the Principal of Hampton Institute, and Dr. J.H. Dillard, president of the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation of Negro Rural Schools.

One of Mr. Washington's many methods for inspiring his people to strive for business efficiency and success was to excite their imaginations by holding up before them the achievements of such men as John Wanamaker, Robert C. Ogden, William H. Baldwin, Jr., Henry H. Rogers, Julius Rosenwald, the Rockefellers, and Andrew Carnegie.

Out of the National Negro Business League have developed the following organizations which are affiliated with it:

The National Negro Funeral Directors' Association, The National Negro Press Association, The National Negro Bar Association, The National Negro Retail Merchants' Association, The National Association of Negro Insurance Men.

Booker Washington was able to speak with assurance and authority to the business men of his race because he practised what he preached. The business methods which he employed in conducting the business, in distinction from the educational affairs, of Tuskegee Institute, compare favorably with those of the best-managed industrial corporations. He may even have appeared to be over-insistent upon business accuracy, system, and efficiency, so anxious was he to belie the popular notion that Negroes must of necessity, because they are Negroes, be slipshod and unsystematic. In refutation of this familiar accusation he built up an institution almost as large as Harvard University which runs like clockwork without a single white man or woman having any part in its actual administration. Tuskegee itself is the most notable example of its founder's method of argument. No person knowing the facts about Tuskegee can ever again honestly say that Negroes are always and necessarily slipshod and unsystematic in their business methods.



In spite of his absorption in guiding the destinies of his race Booker Washington never lost interest in individuals however humble or in their individual affairs however small. This was strikingly shown in his relations to his students. He never wearied in his efforts to help in the solution of the life problems of the hundreds of raw boys and girls who each year flocked to Tuskegee and to Booker Washington with little but hope and ambition upon which to build their careers. With many of these newcomers he not infrequently had his initial talk before they knew who he was. This was made easy by his simple and unassuming manner, which was the exact opposite to what these unsophisticated youths expected in a great man. One of the graduates of Tuskegee in the book, "Tuskegee and Its People," thus describes his first meeting with Booker Washington. His experience was almost identical with that of many another entering student. He says:

"My first glimpse of Mr. Washington was had in the depot at Montgomery, Ala., where a friend and I, on our way to Tuskegee, had changed cars for the Tuskegee train. Two gentlemen came into the waiting-room where we were seated, one a man of splendid appearance and address, the other a most ordinary appearing individual, we thought. The latter, addressing us, inquired our destination. Upon being told that we were going to Tuskegee, he remarked that he had heard that Tuskegee was a very hard place—a place where students were given too much to do, and where the food was very simple and coarse. He was afraid we would not stay there three months. We assured him that we were not afraid of hard work, and meant to finish the course of study at Tuskegee at all hazards. He then left us. Very soon after the gentleman who had so favorably impressed us, and whom we afterward found to be the treasurer of the Tuskegee Institute, Mr. Warren Logan, came back and told us our interlocutor was none other than the Principal of the school to which we were going."

Booker Washington was always keenly interested to get at the reasons which had impelled the new students to come, and they would naturally state these reasons more freely to a friendly unknown person than they would to the Principal of the school. As previously mentioned, Booker Washington always kept his ear to the ground. These raw boys and girls brought him fresh and frank messages as to how the people were thinking and feeling about Tuskegee and those things for which it stands.

Some time after Mr. Washington's death the students of the Senior Class were asked to write brief themes describing their first impressions of him. In one of these themes the boy writer says, "His general attitude did not bear out my idea of how a great man should appear. I expected to see him with a diamond ring and riding in an automobile on a pleasure trip, which most great men do. He was quiet, not overdressed, nor yet self-conscious of the position he held and the influence he wielded among the people. He seemed to me a man of great thoughts, yet not realizing his greatness." Another boy writes: "One of my first questions after arriving at Tuskegee, September 9, 1912, and registering as a student was to ask, where is Mr. Washington? I was told that he hardly ever stayed here but was often in the North. Two weeks later he came, and my first opportunity to see him was one day on the street. I was so enthused over him that I went to my room and wrote a letter home trying to describe him.

"The following Sunday night he lectured in the Chapel. His title was, 'Have a Place to Put Everything and Put Everything in That Place.' In his talk he said: 'There are many people who have no system about their work nor home. Often you visit persons' homes and every member of the family is looking for the broom. The same is true of a match when the time comes to light the lamp.'

"That talk was the most impressive one that I ever heard before or since. From that talk I have reaped more benefit than any other. It was the talk that I took in and began practising. I first started in my room having a place to put everything and putting everything in that place. After getting my room systematized I then began putting this talk in practise at my work, etc...."

The next quotation is from the paper of a native African boy. He says: "My first impression, or, at least, the first time I heard the name of Booker T. Washington, was about the year 1902. I was then a young boy, just arrived in one of the Native Training Institutions existing in South Africa. These schools train young native boys primarily to become teachers in their communities. As a native African I had just acquired the elementary use of the English language, when the following incident took place: One, a native teacher from the upper part of the country, was announced and that he was to give a lecture to the 'Boys' Saturday Evening Society.'

"The meeting assembled, and I at once heard that the lecture was about a boy—Booker T. Washington—who obtained an education through his struggles.... I did not hear or understand more. But it is strange to say that this name was pinned in the bottom of my heart....

"It was during the coronation of King George V of England that I saw this name. I had now finished that school and was teaching. It was printed in a native paper that Booker T. Washington, an American Negro, made an excellent speech. I cannot, however, say the exact words of the editor, which were in greatest praise of that man, nor do I recall the circumstances under which Mr. Washington had spoken.

"When I wanted to come to school in this country I made up my mind to find the school—as I found later he was principal of one—where this man was leader; and so I came to Tuskegee Institute. I found the editor had well described the man's character and disposition."

Still another boy writes: "I first saw Dr. Washington at the Appalachian Exposition held at Knoxville, Tenn., in 1912. It was Negro Day and there were thousands of Negroes out to hear Dr. Washington speak.... At times he would make the people laugh and then again he would have a few crying. When I saw the tears in the eyes of his listeners, I looked at Dr. Washington and thought of him with awe because he was so highly honored. I thought of him with admiration because he could speak so well, and I thought of him with pride because he was a Negro.... His speech made me feel as if there were really a few Negro men and women in the world who were making a mark, and that there was a chance for more."

Booker Washington's interest in the lives of his students, as in all things else, showed his combination of breadth of view and attention to what less-thorough persons would have considered trivial details. When, for instance, in 1913 Tuskegee was visited by one of the very infrequent snowstorms which occur so far South, he himself went from building to building to see that they were properly heated and to many of the rooms, particularly of the poorer students, to make sure that they had sufficient bed-clothes. During the last three winters of his life he had a confidential agent make an early morning tour of all the dormitories to make sure that they were so heated that the students might dress in comfort on getting up in the morning.

Also when the weather was unusually cold he would make sure that the boys who drove the teams that hauled wood and other supplies were provided with gloves and warm clothing. One cold night he sent for Mr. Palmer, the Registrar of the school, and said to him: "I wish you would seek out the poor worthy students and see that it is made possible for them to secure proper shoes and warm clothing. Some of the most deserving of them will often actually suffer before they will ask for assistance. We'll look out for the expense some way." He was, in fact, as insistent that the students should have comforts as he was that they should not have luxuries.

His attention to details and the comfort of the students was well illustrated in the close watch he kept over the dining-rooms and kitchens which he inspected every day he was on the grounds. Tomkins dining-hall is the largest building on the Institute grounds and is one of the largest dining-halls in America. It can seat over two thousand persons at one time. Adjoining this hall is a spacious dining-room for the teachers as well as extensive kitchens and a bakery. Underneath it is a great assembly hall which seats twenty-five hundred. Mr. Washington would usually appear before breakfast to assure himself at first hand that the stewards, matrons, and cooks were giving the students warm, nourishing, and appetizing food upon which to begin the day's work on the farm and in the shops and classrooms. Nothing made him more indignant than to find the coffee served lukewarm and the cereal watery or the eggs stale. For such derelictions the guilty party was promptly located and admonition or discharge followed speedily. Probably in nothing was his instinct for putting first things first better shown than in his insistence upon proper food, properly prepared and served for both students and teachers.

He once said to his students, as previously quoted, "See to it that a certain ceremony, a certain importance, be attached to the partaking of food, etc...." To carry out this idea each table in this great hall has a centrepiece of ferns, mosses, or flowers gathered from the woods by the student selected by his or her companions to decorate the table for that week. Boys and girls sit together at the tables. On Sundays and holidays first and second prizes are given for the tables most artistically decorated. Frequently these prizes take the form of some coveted delicacy in the way of food. Each day when at the Institute Mr. Washington would walk through the dining-hall during the noon meal and criticise these centrepieces, and things generally. He would point out that a certain decoration was too gaudy and profuse and had in it inharmonious colors. He would then remove the unnecessary parts and the discordant colors and point to the improved effect. He would next stop at a table with nothing in the way of decoration except a few scrawny flowers stuck carelessly into a vase. Picking up the meagre display he would say, "The boy or girl who did this is guilty of something far worse than bad taste, and that is laziness!" At the next table he would have a word of praise for the simple and artistic effect which they had produced with a centrepiece of wood mosses and red berries. These comments would be interspersed with an occasional admonition to this boy or that girl for a slovenly manner of eating, or an inquiry of a newcomer as to where he had come from and whether he thought he was going to be happy in his new surroundings. An oft-repeated cause of merriment was his habit of stopping in the middle of the hall, calling for attention, and then asking the students if they were getting enough of various articles which he would name, such as sweet potatoes, corn, and blackberries. Cutting red tape was one of his special delights. Sometimes he would discover, for instance, that certain vegetables were not being served because the steward had objected to the price charged by the Farm Department. He would immediately order these vegetables served and tell the protesting steward that he could fight it out with the Farm Department while the students were enjoying the vegetables. From the dining-room he would finally disappear into the kitchens in his never-ceasing campaign for cleanliness. Over and over again would he repeat to students, teachers, and employees alike that the public would excuse them for what they lacked in the way of buildings, equipment, and even knowledge, but they would never be excused for shiftlessness, filth, litter, or disorder.

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