One of the opportunities which he most highly prized and one of his most effective means of influencing the whole body of students was through his Sunday evening talks in the Chapel. Over two thousand students, teachers, teachers' families, and townspeople would crowd into the Chapel to hear these talks. They were stenographically reported and published in the school paper. In this way he influenced not only the undergraduates, but a large number of graduates and others who subscribed to the paper largely for the purpose of following these talks. We here quote from a previously unpublished (except in the school paper) collection of these talks, delivered during the school term of 1913-14, under the title of "What Parents Would Like to Hear Concerning Students While at School." The first talk was called, "For Old and New Students." In it he said in part: "I suspect that each one of your parents would like to know that you are learning to read your Bible; not only to read it because you have to, but to read it every day in the year because you have learned to love the Bible; because you have learned day by day to make its teachings a part of you.... Each one of you, in beginning your school year, should have a Bible, and you should make that Bible a part of your school life, a part of your very nature, and always, no matter how busy the day may be, no matter how many mistakes, no matter how many failures you make in other directions, do not fail to find a few minutes to study or read your Bible.
"The greatest people in the world, those who are most learned; those who bear the burdens and responsibilities of the world, are persons who are not ashamed to let the world know not only that they believe in the Bible, but that they read it."
And this was the advice of a man who never preached what he did not practise and who only a few years before had been denounced by many of the preachers of his own race as a Godless man, building up a Godless school!
A little further on he said: "In many cases you have come from homes where there was no regular time for getting up in the morning, no regular time for eating your meals, and no regular time for going to bed.
"Now the basis of civilization is system, order, regularity. A race or an individual which has no fixed habits, no fixed place of abode, no time for going to bed, for getting up in the morning, for going to work; no arrangement, order, or system in all the ordinary business of life, such a race and such an individual are lacking in self-control, lacking in some of the fundamentals of civilization....
"If you take advantage of all these opportunities, if your minds are so disposed that you can welcome and make the most of these advantages, these habits of order and system will soon be so fixed, so ingrained, so thoroughly a part of you that you will no longer tolerate disorder anywhere, that you will not be willing to endure the old slovenly habits which so many of you brought with you when you came here."
And later, in speaking of the haphazard, slipshod, irregular meal, he said: "Instead of bringing the family together it has put them wider apart. A house in which the family table is a mere lunch-counter is not and cannot be a home."
And just before concluding this talk he said: "Now what is true of this school is true of the world at large. This is a little world of itself. It is a small sample of civilization, an experiment station, so to speak, in which we are trying to prepare you to live in a manner a little more orderly, a little more efficient, and a little more civilized than you have lived heretofore. If you are not able to live and succeed here, you will not be able to live and succeed in the world outside. If we do not want you here, if we cannot get on with you here, it will mean that the world outside will not want you, will not be able to get on with you."
Probably no educator ever kept more constantly before his own mind and before the minds of his students and teachers that the purpose of education is preparation for right living than did Booker Washington. Everything that did not make for this end he eliminated, regardless of customs and traditions, everything which did make for this end he included, equally regardless of customs and traditions.
In a talk called, "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother," the second of this series, he made this rather touching statement: "Many of your parents are poor. Not only that, but many of them are ignorant, at least, so far as books are concerned. Notwithstanding all this, in every case they have done something for you. It may have been, in many cases I know that it has been, a very little, but out of their poverty and out of their ignorance they have done something. They have made it possible, in the majority of cases, for you to come here, and no matter how poor they are, no matter how ignorant they are, their ambition is largely centred in you."
This is one of the many statements which show that Booker Washington had no illusions as to the ignorance and poverty of the rank and file of his people, and yet with this full knowledge and realization he never became discouraged.
In another of these talks, on "The Importance of Simplicity," he said: "In many cases young men in cities do not own anything in the world except what they are carrying around on their backs. They have a few collars and a few cuffs, some bright-colored socks and neckties, and that is all; nothing would be left of the man if you were to bury these things. A few collars and cuffs, neckties, and a few pieces of cheap jewelry—that is all there is of such men."
Later in the same talk he said: "Short, simple, direct sentences indicate education, indicate culture, indicate common sense. Some people think the way for them to show their education is by using big words, elaborate sentences, and by discussing subjects which nobody on earth can understand.
"Whenever you hear a man using words or talking on a subject that you can't understand, you can be very sure that the man does not understand himself what he is trying to talk about. If a man is talking about any subject, literary or what not, of which he is really master, he will be so direct, so simple, so perfectly clear and intelligible in the discussion of that subject that the most humble person can understand what he is saying."
In a talk on "Being Polite," he said: "It is often difficult, I might better say, it is always difficult, for persons to have genuine politeness in their hearts when they live in a country that is inhabited by different races. Here in the South, and throughout this country, for that matter, we come into contact with persons of another race, persons of another color. It takes some effort, some training, and often some determination to say, in dealing with a person of another race, of another color, I will be polite; I will be kind; I will be considerate."
In a talk on "Being Economical," he said: "You will help yourself and help this school if you will say to yourself constantly: 'This is my home; this property does not belong exclusively to the Trustees, but it is mine; I am a trustee, every student is a trustee of this institution. How can I make every dollar go as far as possible? How can I help cut down expenses here?'" And later on, "I want you to get into the habit of saying: 'This institution belongs to me, belongs to my race; every dollar that is spent here is spent for my benefit and for the benefit of my race; every cent that is wasted here is my loss and the loss of all the generations that come after me.'"
In a talk on "The Use of Time," he said: "You hear people speaking sometimes about 'killing time.' No civilized man should be allowed to kill time any more than he should be allowed to destroy any of the other natural resources. When you find a man engaged in 'killing time' you will find a man who is disobeying one of the most fundamental laws of civilization. A man who habitually devotes himself to 'killing time' is a dangerous citizen and the law against vagrancy is aimed against him."
In a talk on "Being All Right, But," he said: "You frequently hear it said of certain persons in one connection or another that 'they are all right, except,' or 'they are all right, but.' You are thinking, perhaps, of employing some one for this or that important service and among others the question is asked: 'What kind of disposition has this one or that one?' Very often you receive an answer something like this: 'They are all right, but——' That 'but' carries with it a lot of things. There are too many people in the world who are 'all right, but.' We want to get rid of just as many of these 'buts' as we can." And in concluding the same talk he said: "Think big thoughts, think about big questions, read big books, and, most of all, get into contact with the big people of your acquaintance and get out from under the control of the little people of your acquaintance. If you will do this, gradually you will find yourself better fitted for life; you will find yourself happier and better fitted to render service...."
In a talk on "The Power of Persistence," he said: "Always keep your eye on the student who seems to be dull, who is slow in his studies, who has to repeat his class, but who keeps plodding along doggedly, determinedly, until he has finished the course of study.
"Keep your eye on that student after he has gone out into the world. He has learned to endure, he has learned to stick to his job in season and out of season...."
In a talk on "Standing Still," he said: "People say of us that, as a race, we are not capable of going very far, not capable of making steady, persistent progress. We go a little way and there we stop, stand still, and stagnate.... Now one of the things which this school aims to do for you and through you is to change, as far as possible, the reputation of our people in so far as they are regarded as unprogressive, lacking in initiative and in ability to go forward unwaveringly."
The concluding talk of this series, and perhaps the strongest of them all, was entitled, "Thou Shalt Not Steal." In it he said: "I believe if you could get down into the deep, dark corners of your own hearts, and if you could get deep down into the hearts of your parents, you could find there, in both cases, a misgiving, a sense of danger, never clearly expressed but always present, a fear that some time, somewhere, trouble was in store for you and for them.
"This is so far true, in some cases of which I know, that if parents should some day learn that their children were in trouble they would not be surprised, because they have expected it, looked forward to it, and feared it; because they have known and suspected all along that you had never thoroughly learned to control yourself when dealing with other people's property...."
Later on he added: "This disposition to pilfer was, to a large extent, a part of the history of slavery. It was rare when colored people who belonged to a white family where they served as cooks, butlers, or in some other form of household service, did not feel that everything belonging to the white family belonged equally to them. Thus, when freedom came, it was difficult to get the colored cook to feel that she was a mere employee, that in the wages she received by the week or month she was being paid for her services for cooking. It was very hard to get her away from the customs and practises of slavery, especially when receiving very small wages.
"In many cases boys and girls have seen or have known that their mothers kept up this practice of pilfering from persons for whom they cooked. They have seen it going on day after day and year after year in their own homes and have observed that employers seem to expect it, wink at it, at any rate, put up with it. While they know, as their parents know, that it is wrong, they have nevertheless come to feel that it is one of the ways in which black folk and white folk get on together; one of the indirect ways, in other words, in which black people have learned to recompense themselves for disadvantages which they suffer in other directions."
In conclusion he said: "Each one of you can do something toward solving the race problem, for example, by making, each for himself, a reputation for honesty in the community in which you live. If in the part of the country where you now live members of our race have a reputation for carelessness, looseness in regard to the ownership of property, you can help to solve the race problem, and make life here in the South more comfortable for every other member of the race if you will win for yourself a reputation for downright honesty and integrity in all your dealings with your neighbors, whether they be white or black."
Mr. Washington once said, "In all my teaching I have watched carefully the influence of the toothbrush, and I am convinced that there are few single agencies of civilization that are more far-reaching." He made periodic tours of the students' rooms to find out what students if any were without toothbrushes. The possession and use of a toothbrush is one of the entrance requirements for Tuskegee. In this connection he used to tell with a chuckle the reply of the girl who in answer to his question as to whose toothbrush he found on the washstand said, "That is ours," referring to her roommate and herself.
In his tours of inspection of the students' rooms he would also inquire how many nightgowns they owned. He insisted that every student should have at least two nightgowns. He was constantly impressing upon the students that decent, respectable people do not sleep in the garments in which they work during the day. In fact, he preached the gospel of the nightgown and the toothbrush as insistently as he did the gospel of work and simplicity.
He constantly insisted that the welfare of the students should be at all times the dominant consideration in the conduct of the institution. When the teachers would sometimes complain that their welfare was not sufficiently considered he would remind them that the Institute was being conducted for the benefit of the students and that teachers were not required except for the benefit of the students. That the students should be happy was almost a mania with him. He was constantly sending for officers and teachers to inquire as to whether the students seemed happy.
To the delight of the students he would occasionally call a mass-meeting where he would call upon them one by one to get up and tell him of anything that was wrong, of anything that was keeping them from being as happy as he wanted them to be. It was understood that everything that a student said in such a meeting would be regarded as a confidence and that nothing that he said would be used against him. The teachers sometimes protested against the unbridled criticism which Mr. Washington permitted in these meetings. He, however, continued them without modification, and while many of the students' complaints were grossly exaggerated their statements nevertheless led to reforms in some important particulars. The meetings undoubtedly added greatly to the contentment and happiness of the student body.
He was always trying to protect the poorer students against the danger of being embarrassed or humiliated by the more fortunate ones. In this connection he was constantly resisting the importunities of students and teachers who wanted to charge admission fees to this or that game or entertainment. When the occasion really demanded and justified an admission fee he would make secret arrangements with the management to have the poorer students admitted at his personal expense.
His willingness to hear the students' grievances was a characteristic not always appreciated by the officers and teachers. He was a firm believer in the right of petition either for a group or an individual. No matter how pressed and driven he was with business no student or group of students, and no teacher or group of teachers, was too humble or obscure in the school's life to win a personal hearing. He would without hesitation reopen and painstakingly review a case, already decided by the Executive Council, if he thought there was the slightest chance that an injustice had been done. He insisted upon giving the accused not only "a square deal," but the benefit of every doubt. On the other hand, when there was no reasonable doubt of guilt no one could be more stern and unrelenting than he in meting out justice.
Mr. Washington always encouraged and helped every ambitious student who came to Tuskegee to develop his capacities to the utmost no matter whether they were large or small. Years ago a student, William Sidney Pittman, showed a particular aptitude for carpentry and draftsmanship. After working his way through Tuskegee he was very anxious to take a course in architecture. Mr. Washington arranged to have the Institute advance him the money for a three years' course at the Drexel Institute of Philadelphia, on the understanding that he would return to Tuskegee as a teacher after his graduation and from his earnings pay back to the school all that had been advanced for his training at Drexel. Pittman's record at Drexel was wholly satisfactory. He returned to Tuskegee and repaid his loan in accordance with the agreement. He has since won the competitive award for the design of the Negro Building at the Jamestown Exposition, has built a large number of public and semi-public buildings throughout the South, including the Carnegie Library at Houston, Texas; a Pythian Temple at Dallas, Texas, where he lives, for the Negro members of the Knights of Pythias; the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Building at Tuskegee, and a number of Young Men's Christian Association buildings for colored men. In 1907 he married Mr. Washington's only daughter, Portia Marshall Washington, after her graduation from Bradford Academy, Massachusetts. He is now generally regarded as the foremost architect of his race.
Somewhat later Mr. Washington succeeded in securing some scholarships which enabled promising Tuskegee graduates to take two years of post-graduate work in teaching methods at the Teachers' College of Columbia University. These scholarships were given by John Crosby Brown, V. Everett Macy, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. In each case these students were required to return to Tuskegee as teachers for two years—the same time as their course at Columbia. Dean Russell of the Teachers' College has testified to the earnestness and high character of these Tuskegee graduates.
As measured by the Tuskegee standard of success, which is service to others, perhaps the most successful of all Tuskegee's graduates is William H. Holtzclaw, the Principal of the Utica Normal and Industrial Institute of Mississippi. There is no school that has better emulated the best there is in Tuskegee Institute, and there is no graduate of Tuskegee that has followed more faithfully and effectively in Booker Washington's footsteps. Holtzclaw has told his own story in an admirably written and most interesting book entitled, "The Black Man's Burden." Starting in 1903 with a capital of seventy-five cents, no land and no buildings in a little one-room, ramshackle log cabin, which he did not own and in which he and his wife lived as well as taught, Holtzclaw now has an annual enrollment of nearly five hundred students and a faculty of thirty teachers. The school through its varied forms of extension work influences yearly about thirty thousand people. It owns seventeen hundred acres of land and conducts twenty different industries aside from its academic work. The buildings and property are valued at one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. It has also its own electric light plant and water-works and an endowment of over thirty-two thousand dollars. In concluding his book Mr. Holtzclaw says: "I see more clearly than ever before the great task that is before me, and I propose to continue the struggle. It is an appalling task: a State with more than a million Negroes to be educated, with half a million children of school age, 35 per cent. of whom at the present time attend no school at all (only 36 per cent. in average attendance), a State whose dual school system makes it impossible to furnish more than a mere pittance for the education of each child—yet these children must be educated, must be unfettered, set free. That freedom for which Christian men and women, North and South, have worked and prayed so long must be realized in the lives of these young people. This, then, is my task, the war that I must wage; and I propose to stay on the firing-line and fight the good fight of faith."
Another Tuskegee graduate in whom Mr. Washington was especially interested is Isaac Fisher. Fisher has been awarded the following prizes for his writings:
"What We've Learned About the Rum Question," $500; "German and American Methods of Regulating Trusts," $400 (in order to write this paper Mr. Fisher had to acquire a reading knowledge of German which he did alone and unaided in a few months' time); "Ten of the Best Reasons Why People Should Live in Missouri," $100; "A Plan to Give the South a System of Highways Suited to Its Needs," $100; "The Most Practicable Method of Beginning a Tariff Reduction," honorable mention. (Upon the request of the chief examiner of the United States Tariff Board this essay was sent to that body for its use.) Besides these, Mr. Fisher has taken several minor prizes for compositions on various subjects.
It would be difficult to say, however, whether Booker Washington showed greater interest in the most brilliant or the most backward students. Certain it is that the most backward students won his special attention and encouragement.
In the early days of the school there was a student by the name of Jailous Perdue whom Mr. Washington constantly encouraged and in whom he never lost faith in spite of his almost total failure to master his classroom work. Monroe N. Work, the statistician of the Institute and the editor of "The Negro Year Book," under the title "The Man Who Failed," has thus told Perdue's story:
"Back in the days when the cooking for students at Tuskegee was done out of doors in pots and the principal entrance requirement was a 'desire to make something of himself' a young man, Jailous Perdue, came to Tuskegee to get an education. He was financially poor and intellectually dull. Examinations he could not pass. After struggling along for several years and accumulating a lot of examination failures, he decided to quit school, go out to work and help educate his sisters. Although he had failed in his literary subjects, he had nevertheless got an education in how to use his hands. He had learned to be a carpenter. Out in the world he went and began to work at his trade. As soon as he had earned a little money he placed three of his sisters in school at Tuskegee, and with the help of his brother Augustus, who had graduated some time before, supported two of them there for three years and one for four years.
"In the meantime he had succeeded at his trade and gone into business for himself at Montgomery, Ala., as a contractor and builder. Here also he was successful and did thousands of dollars' worth of work. No job was too small nor too large for him to make a bid on. If he did not have a contract of his own he was not above working for some other contractor, and as a result he was always busy. He has superintended the construction of some of the largest buildings in Montgomery. Among the buildings the erection of which he has superintended are the Exchange Hotel, at a cost of $150,000; the First Baptist Church, at a cost of $175,000; the First National Bank Building, at a cost of $350,000; and the Bell Building, at a cost of $450,000. Perdue also assisted as foreman or assistant foreman in erecting many of the important buildings at Tuskegee Institute, such as the Principal's house, the chapel, the library, Rockefeller Hall, the Academic Building, and the Millbank Agricultural Building.
"It is hardly necessary to say that Mr. Perdue has accumulated property or that he owns a good home in Montgomery, for in these progressive days every black man in the South with any foresight is investing some part of his earnings in property. The most interesting and somewhat remarkable thing about the career of Perdue and the greatest measure of his success is that twenty-three years after he had left Tuskegee a literary failure he was asked to come back and become a member of the faculty as an instructor in carpentry. Thus it was that the man who failed succeeded and returned to the scene of his failure a success. Perdue was constantly encouraged by Mr. Washington. He came under the type of those who were not brilliant, but who were always in his opinion worthy of help and encouragement."
Washington A. Tate was even duller in books than Perdue. During his early years at Tuskegee he seemed unable to grasp the most rudimentary information. His native dullness was made unpleasant and aggressive by a combative disposition. He was constantly trying to prove to his exasperated teachers that he knew what he did not know. He was almost twenty-five years of age when he reached the Institute and entered the lowest primary grade. He had the greatest difficulty in passing any examinations and never succeeded in passing all that were required. Motions were constantly made and passed in faculty meetings to drop Tate, and were as constantly vetoed by Mr. Washington on the plea of giving him one more chance. Finally when Tate's time to graduate came the teachers in a body protested against giving him a diploma. Mr. Washington argued that a man who had made all the sacrifices Tate had made at his age to stay in school, a man who had worked early and late in fair weather and foul for the school, a man who had stuck to his task in the face of repeated failures and discouragements, had in him something better than the mere ability to pass examinations. Through Mr. Washington's intercession for him Tate got his diploma. The next day Mr. Washington had him employed to take charge of the school's piggery. Because of his hard, conscientious, and effective work in this capacity he was afterward recommended to the United States Department of Agriculture at Washington as the proper man to take charge of the United States demonstration work in Macon County, Ala. Tate proved to be one of the Government's most successful demonstration agents. He is now farming successfully on his own account in an adjoining county.
Booker Washington, as previously pointed out, saw very much more clearly than most educators that education's only purpose and sole justification lies in preparation for right living. A man who has passed all manner of examinations may not be prepared to live rightly and hence may not justly claim to be educated. A man who has failed to pass examinations may be prepared for right living and hence may justly be called an educated man. In other words, Booker Washington realized that education was primarily a matter of the development of character and only secondarily a matter of the acquisition of information.
RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS A YEAR
During recent years the expenses of Tuskegee Institute have run to between $250,000 and $300,000 a year. Of this sum Booker Washington had to raise over $100,000 annually aside from the large sums constantly demanded for new equipment such as the great central heating and power plant which was installed in 1915 at a cost of more than $245,000.
At the ceremonies commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Tuskegee Institute President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard was one of the speakers. He said that one of his "first impressions of Tuskegee Institute," after just a glimpse, was "that the oldest and now largest American Institution of learning was more than 200 years arriving at the possession of much less land, fewer buildings, and a smaller quick capital than Tuskegee had come to possess in twenty-five years. That's just a fact," he said, "Harvard University was not as rich after living two hundred years among the people of Massachusetts as Tuskegee is to-day, after having lived twenty-five years among the people of Alabama. And that's the first impression that I have received here.
"This evening I have received another impression from your Principal. He said that the great need of Tuskegee, to-day, was a considerable sum of money, which could be used at the discretion of the Trustees, to fill gaps, to make improvements, and to enlarge and strengthen the different branches of the institution. Now I should not find it possible to state in more precise terms the present needs of Harvard University. The needs of these two institutions, situated, to be sure, in very different communities, and founded on very different dates, are precisely the same." This comparison is the more striking when we realize that President Eliot had at the time been at the head of Harvard University for thirty years, five years longer than Tuskegee had been in existence—President Eliot of whom it was said, "When he goes to rich men they just throw up their hands and say, 'Don't shoot! How much do you want?'"
The magnitude of Booker Washington's financial task is indicated in his last annual report which he made to his Trustees in 1915. He reported:
"As of May 31st, we have received from all sources for current expenses $268,825.17; for buildings and improvements, $28,919.47; for endowment, $28,102.09; from undesignated legacies, $53,858.10, making the total receipts for the purposes named for the year $379,704.83.
"The gifts to the Endowment Fund for the year amounting to $28,102.09 now make the Fund stand at $1,970,214.17.
"The budget recommended for your consideration for the new year calls for an expenditure for current expenses, repairs, renewals, and equipment of $291,567.92...."
Later in the report he said: "Notwithstanding the depressed financial condition of a large part of the country, I feel it would be a great mistake for us in any degree to slacken our efforts to keep the school before the public or to get funds. I believe, as Dr. H.B. Frissell, Principal of the Hampton Institute, has often expressed it, that a large part of the mission of both Hampton and Tuskegee is to keep the cause of Negro education before the country, and that the benefits coming from such efforts of publicity do not confine themselves alone to Hampton and Tuskegee, but benefit all the schools in the South. With this end in view, I very much hope that the Trustees may see their way clear to encourage and help us as far as possible in holding a number of large public meetings during the coming year." These were brave words for a dying man. Five months later he died of sheer exhaustion shortly after addressing one of these "large public meetings." They also show the breadth of his conception of his task. You will note that he points out that such publicity as he urges, "benefits all the schools in the South"—not merely the schools for Negroes, but "all the schools." It never occurred to him to limit his sense of responsibility to his own school nor even to the schools for his own race. As previously mentioned he would sometimes devote an entire public address to an appeal for more and better schools for the poor whites of the South.
Booker Washington's money-raising efforts consumed two-thirds of his time and perhaps even more of his strength and energy. He planned these money-raising campaigns just as carefully as a good general plans a military campaign. His last big money-raising campaign was conducted during June, 1915. He and the Trustees of the Institute had been engaged for two or three years in the effort to raise the money to complete the cost of the central power and heating plant, but nearly $100,000 of the $245,000 needed had not been raised. This burden bore heavily upon him. At last, with the approval of the Trustees, he decided to make one last herculean effort not only to raise this huge sum, but in addition, the money necessary to end the school year free of debt. For this purpose he formulated a plan of campaign by which five representatives of the school should cover the chief centres of population throughout the Northern and Middle Western States. This was the outline of the territorial assignments of the collectors:
Frank P. Chisholm: New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut—important centre—Boston.
Charles W. Wood: New York east of Syracuse, and Binghamton—important centre—New York City.
Jesse O. Thomas: New York west of Syracuse and Binghamton, Pennsylvania—important centre—Philadelphia.
John D. Stevenson: Illinois, Wisconsin—important centre—Chicago.
Clarence A. Powell: Michigan, Ohio—important centres—Detroit and Cleveland.
Each representative carried letters of introduction to leading men and women in the various centres throughout his territory. All these letters were personally signed by Mr. Washington. At the close of each day each collector telegraphed Mr. Washington at Tuskegee giving the amount of subscriptions and pledges he had secured that day. The next morning Mr. Washington wired each collector, stating the total amount of gifts and pledges secured by all five collectors. When the Trustees met in New York City, on the last Thursday of June, 1915, all but four or five thousand dollars of the over $245,000 had been raised.
The Trustees themselves made up the difference by increasing by this amount their own subscriptions. Thus was successfully concluded the last great and difficult task which Booker Washington was to be permitted to perform.
Of the hundreds of invitations to speak here, there, and everywhere which kept pouring in upon him certain ones he definitely accepted because of the money-raising opportunities either direct or indirect which they offered; others of less promise he tentatively accepted to fall back upon in case the more desirable ones for any reason miscarried. Chautauqua engagements he considered only where they provided an opportunity for direct appeal for contributions for the work, or at least the chance to distribute printed matter. Chautauqua bureaus offering him as much as half the gate receipts above $500 in addition to a guarantee of $300 a night he turned down out of hand if they did not include one or both of these opportunities. No matter how much money they offered he would never accept such propositions unless they carried with them some opportunity to make a direct appeal for his work. It was sometimes suggested to him that he might receive these fees personally and then turn them over to the school. This he declined to do because he was unwilling to give even the appearance of capitalizing his reputation and oratorical gifts for his personal enrichment. Booker Washington was not one of those simple-hearted individuals who are guided solely by what they deem inherently right. He always strove to avoid the appearance of evil as well as the evil itself; and, with one unhappy exception, he always succeeded. He fully realized that his conduct was under constant scrutiny by enemies in both races eager to find some pretext to drag him down. So circumspect was he in his behavior that once only between the time he became a national character in 1895 until his death twenty years later did his critics succeed in distorting any deed of his into the semblance of misconduct. The very nature of the charge in this one instance was sufficient refutation for any person acquainted in even the slightest degree with the man's life, work, or character.
The press as well as the platform he constantly used to keep his work before the public for money-raising purposes. He had as good a "nose for a story" as the best of reporters, and every story that came his way was sure to find its way into print. No matter how driven with pressing matters nor how tired he never denied himself to "the newspaper boys." He believed that the more prominence, the more "limelight," he could secure the better, provided he used it for the promotion of his work. Thus he presented the apparent anomaly of being at the same time one of the most modest and unassuming of men and also one of the greatest advertisers of his day.
As well as the general press of both races he constantly used the school press for money-raising purposes. The school paper which circulates among donors and prospective donors as well as among the students, teachers, and graduates carries in each issue brief statements of some immediate and pressing needs and the money required to satisfy them. These needs are set forth in the following manner:
"WHAT $1,700 WILL DO"
"For a long while an important part of our extension work and publicity work has been greatly hindered and hampered because of the lack of a new and up-to-date printing press.
"One thousand and seven hundred dollars will supply us with this long-felt need and greatly add to the value and influence of our work."
"WHAT $3,000 WILL DO"
"One of our very greatest and most practical needs is a well but simply equipped Canning Factory. Three thousand dollars would help us to properly equip the Canning Factory we already have at Tuskegee. The factory will help not only in preserving large quantities of vegetables, fruits, berries, etc., during the summer, but at the same time could be used as a means of teaching large numbers of our girls a useful industry, and, more than that, the products could be used to sustain the institution during the winter months.
"We could not only use everything that might be put up in cans here at the school in feeding the students and teachers, but there is an increasing demand among the merchants of the South, in the large cities, for anything we can produce on the school grounds.
"We very much wish that some friend might see his way clear to give $3,000 with which to properly equip this factory."
The need for a new laundry building with equipment, a foundry, and a veterinary hospital were similarly presented. The funds to meet each of these needs were received as a result of these appeals, and a new list of needs is now being advertised.
In concluding his annual report each year Mr. Washington would summarize the immediate needs of the institution. In his last report he thus stated them:
1. $50 a year for annual scholarships for tuition for one student, the student himself providing for his own board and other personal expenses in labor and cash.
2. $1,200 for permanent scholarships.
3. Money for operating expenses in any amounts, however small.
4. $2,000 each for four teachers' cottages.
5. $40,000 for a building for religious purposes.
6. $16,000 to complete the Boys' Trades Building.
7. $50,000 for a Boys' Dormitory.
8. $50,000 for a Girls' Dormitory.
9. An addition to our Endowment Fund of at least $3,000,000.
A few months later, as he lay dying in a New York hospital, the following letter was received for him at Tuskegee. It was at once forwarded and passed him on his last journey to his home in the South. He never saw it. The donor, a Northern friend who withholds his name, has renewed the offer to the Trustees and they have accepted it.
November 8, 1915.
Dr. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.
DEAR MR. WASHINGTON: I have read your annual report and also your treasurer's report, and make you the following proposition: If you will raise enough money to pay all of your debts up to May 1, 1916, and add two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to your endowment fund, I will give you the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for your building fund, to be used in building the items such as Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8, and the "Barnes, etc.," mentioned under the head of "Special Needs," and for objects of similar character. The above does not include item No. 5, "Building for religious purposes," as I am not interested in that sort of work. I shall be glad to know whether this proposition interests you.
Yours very truly,
The interest of this giver was first aroused by his reading "Up from Slavery" when it appeared in book form in 1901. As soon as he had read the book he sent Dr. Washington a check for $10,000 for his work which he has renewed each year since until he made the above offer. "Up from Slavery" has brought more money to Tuskegee than all the other books, articles, speeches, and circulars written by Mr. Washington himself and the many others who have written or spoken about him and his work. Among its larger immediate results, aside from awakening the interest of the anonymous giver already mentioned, was its similar effect upon the late H.H. Rogers, Vice-President and active head at the time of the Standard Oil Company, and upon Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Rogers became so much interested that he not only gave large sums for the general needs of Tuskegee but eventually financed a large part of the rural school extension work, which has been described in earlier chapters, and which is now so important a part of the school's activities. Under Booker Washington's inspiration and guidance, too, Mr. Rogers later combined railroad building with race building. In building his Virginia railroad he undertook a wide-reaching work in agricultural education among the Negro farmers living within carting distance of his road. Booker Washington had demonstrated to his satisfaction that by increasing at the same time their wants and their ability to gratify their wants he would be building up business for his railroad.
Shortly after the publication in 1901 of "Up from Slavery," Frank N. Doubleday, of Doubleday, Page & Co., the publishers of the book, in playing golf with Mr. Carnegie mentioned Booker Washington and told him something of his life. Mr. Carnegie was interested and wanted to know more. Mr. Doubleday gave him a copy of "Up from Slavery." After reading the book he immediately got into communication with the author, told him of his interest in his life and work, and of his desire to help him. The result was that Mr. Carnegie agreed to pay for the construction and equipment of a library to be built by the students. Booker Washington, his Executive Council, and the school's architect, spent hours and hours of time in scrutinizing every detail to bring the cost down to the smallest possible figure consistent with an adequate result. The final cost to Mr. Carnegie was only $15,000. Mr. Carnegie was amazed that so large, convenient, and dignified a building could be built at so small a cost. Over and over again both to Mr. Washington and to friends of the school he expressed his surprise and pleasure at the result obtained by this relatively small expenditure. After that there was no doubt he would do more for the school. It was simply a question of how much more and what form it would take. In 1903 the following letter was received by the late William H. Baldwin, Jr., in his capacity as president of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees.
Andrew Carnegie 2 East 91st Street, New York
New York, April 17, 1903.
MY DEAR MR. BALDWIN: I have instructed Mr. Franks, Secretary, to deliver to you as Trustee of Tuskegee $600,000 of 5 per cent. U.S. Steel Company bonds to complete the Endowment Fund as per circular.
One condition only—the revenue of one hundred and fifty thousand of these bonds is to be subject to Booker Washington's order to be used by him first for his wants and those of his family during his life or the life of his widow—if any surplus is left he can use it for Tuskegee. I wish that great and good man to be free from pecuniary cares that he may devote himself wholly to his great Mission.
To me he seems one of the foremost of living men because his work is unique. The Modern Moses, who leads his race and lifts it through Education to even better and higher things than a land overflowing with milk and honey—History is to know two Washingtons, one white, the other black, both Fathers of their people. I am satisfied that the serious race question of the South is to be solved wisely only by following Booker Washington's policy which he seems to have been specially born—a slave among slaves—to establish, and even in his own day, greatly to advance.
So glad to be able to assist this good work in which you and others are engaged.
(Signed) ANDREW CARNEGIE.
To Mr. Wm. H. Baldwin, Jr., New York City, N.Y.
This great gift delighted Booker Washington not only for what it meant directly to his work, but because it so strikingly illustrated a truth which he had long and insistently impressed upon his staff and his students: namely, that if every dollar contributed were made to do the work of two, more dollars would be forthcoming from the same source.
The two events upon which Booker Washington's popular fame chiefly rests are his speech before the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta, Ga., in 1895, and the publication of "Up from Slavery" five years later. Since "Up from Slavery" played so great a part in aiding its author to secure funds for his work it seems appropriate to give here some account of how it came to be written, how it was written, and how it was received.
In the year 1900 the editors of the Outlook decided to illustrate in the concrete the opportunities of America by getting some of the Americans of greatest achievement to tell how they had risen by their own efforts from the very depths of untoward circumstances. For this purpose they selected Jacob A. Riis and Booker T. Washington. After much hesitancy on his part and urgency on theirs Booker Washington finally agreed to write the story of his life for serial publication in the Outlook. His hesitancy was due merely to the fact that he could not believe that the events of his life would be of any interest to the public. So convinced was he in this belief that he had the greatest difficulty in starting to write even after he had agreed to do so. Finally, after a particularly urgent letter from the editors, he stole some hours from his absorbing and exacting duties at Tuskegee to write the first chapter. After these efforts had been typewritten by his stenographer they produced only three and one-half pages—an amount of copy discouragingly inadequate for the first installment. He mailed the material, however, with a line of apology for its inadequacy and promising to send more the next day. On receipt of this scant initial copy the editors wrote him a letter of congratulation and approval which greatly encouraged him, in spite of his heavy and unrelenting administrative duties, to push ahead with new courage. Notwithstanding, however, the best intentions on the part of the writer and the most patiently insistent reminders on the part of the editors there were many and wide gaps in the supposedly consecutive series of chapters before the story was finally finished. Much of the story he dragged from his tired brain, and jotted down on odds and ends of paper on trains, while waiting in railway stations, in hotels, and in ten and fifteen minute intervals snatched from overburdened days in his office. The fact that it was a physical impossibility to give adequate time and attention to so important a piece of work distressed him and made him feel even more apologetic about the product.
The enthusiastic reception of his story by the editors and later by the public was accordingly particularly surprising and gratifying to him. After its serial publication he was soon almost overwhelmed with congratulatory letters and laudatory reviews. Julian Ralph in the New York Mail and Express wrote in part:
"It does not matter if the reader feels a prejudice against the Negro, or if he be a Negrophile, or if he has never cared one way or the other whether the Negro does or does not exist. Whatever be his feelings, 'Up from Slavery' is as remarkable as the most important book ever written by an American. That book is 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' Booker Washington's story is its echo and its antithesis. 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was the wail of a fettered, hope-forsaken race. 'Up from Slavery' is the triumphant cry of the same race, led by its Moses upon a trail which leads to an intelligent use of the freedom that came to it as an almost direct result of Mrs. Stowe's revolutionary novel. 'Up from Slavery' and 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' are inseparably linked in the history of our relations with our dark-skinned fellow-citizen. One book begins precisely where the other left off."
William Dean Howells in the North American Review said of it: "... What strikes you first and last is his constant common sense. He has lived heroic poetry, and he can, therefore, afford to talk simple prose.... The mild might of his adroit, his subtle statesmanship (in the highest sense it is not less than statesmanship, and involves a more Philippine problem in our midst), is the only agency to which it can yield...."
Among the congratulatory letters came one from Athens, Greece, signed "Bob Burdette, Mrs. Burdette, and the children" which greatly amused and delighted Mr. Washington. It reads, paraphrasing the passage in the book where he tells of the insistent stranger who unerringly seeks him out when he tries to get a little quiet and rest on a train, "'Is not this Booker T. Washington? We wish to introduce ourselves.' You see, you can't escape it. We read that sentence, and shouted with delight over it, in Damascus. I was going to write—'far-away Damascus'—but no place is far away now. Damascus is very near to Tuskegee, in fact, only six or seven thousand years older, and not more than fifty thousand years behind. It must have had a good start, too, for Abraham went there or sent there to get that wise and tactful 'steward of his house,' Eliezir. But Damascus has always remained in the same place, whereas Tuskegee has been marching on by leaps and bounds. But you are a busy man—we have heard that, even in this land. And I can see you reading this letter five lines at a time. No use sitting next the window, piling your hand-baggage up in the seat, and pulling your hat over your eyes, is there? No, for we come along just the same, sit on the arm of the seat, touch your elbow, and—'Is not this Booker T. Washington?' We have been travelling for a year. The Outlook has followed us week by week. And week by week we have reached out to clasp your hand, and have knelt to thank God for the story of your life—for its inspiration, its hopefulness, its trust, its fidelity to duty and purpose. Such a wonderful story, told in the elegance of simplicity that only a great heart can feel and write. We paused again and again to say 'God bless him.' And now we send you our hand clasp and message—'God bless him and all of his.' There, now! You may pile up your baggage a little higher—pull your hat down over your eyes a little farther—and pretend to sleep a little harder. We will leave you. But not in peace. More likely in pieces. For I see other people, crowding in from the other car, with their glittering eyes gimleted upon you."
Barret Wendell, Professor of English at Harvard University, wrote him: "Will you allow me to express the pleasure which your book, 'Up from Slavery,' has given me? For about twenty years a teacher of English, and mostly of English composition, I have become perhaps a judge as to matters of style. Certainly I have grown less and less patient of all writing which is not simple and efficient; and more and more to believe in a style which does its work with a simple, manly distinctness. It is hard to remember when a book, casually taken up, has proved, in this respect, so satisfactory as yours. No style could be more simple, more unobtrusive; yet few styles which I know seem, to me more laden—as distinguished from overburdened—with meaning. On almost any of your pages you say as much again as most men would say in the space; yet you say it so simply and easily that one has no effort in reading. One is simply surprised at the quiet power which can so make words do their work."
Thus was received the simple narrative of his life up to this time as hastily written down in odd moments snatched from his already overcrowded days. In this country alone more than 110,000 copies of the book have since been sold. It has been translated into French, Spanish, German, Hindustani, and Braille.
Booker Washington's philosophy as to money raising after a generation of constant and successful experience was summed up in this statement which he made in "Up from Slavery": "My experience in getting money for Tuskegee has taught me to have no patience with those people who are always condemning the rich because they are rich, because they do not give more to objects of charity. In the first place, those who are guilty of such sweeping criticisms do not know how many people would be made poor, and how much suffering would result, if wealthy people were to part all at once with any large proportion of their wealth in a way to disorganize and cripple great business enterprises. Then very few people have any idea of the large number of applications for help that rich people are constantly being flooded with. I know wealthy people who receive as many as twenty calls a day for help. More than once, when I have gone into offices of rich men, I have found half a dozen persons waiting to see them, and all come for the same purpose, that of securing money. And all these calls in person, to say nothing of the applications received through the mails. Very few people have any idea of the amount of money given away by persons who never permit their names to be known. I have often heard persons condemned for not giving away money, who, to my own knowledge, were giving away thousands of dollars every year so quietly that the world knew nothing about it.... Although it has been my privilege to be the medium through which a good many hundred thousand dollars have been received for the work at Tuskegee, I have always avoided what the world calls 'begging.' My experience and observation have convinced me that persistent asking outright for money from the rich does not, as a rule, secure help. I have usually proceeded on the principle that persons who possess sense enough to earn money have sense enough to know how to give it away, and that the mere making known of the facts regarding the work of the graduates has been more effective than outright begging. I think that the presentation of facts, on a high, dignified plane, is all the begging that most rich people care for."
Although this favorable estimate of the money-giving rich was based upon many years of successful experience it must not be supposed that Booker Washington did not have his share of rebuffs and discouragements. In fact, scarcely a day went by that he did not receive some such disheartening rebuff as the following note from a man who had for several years contributed a small sum each year to Tuskegee Institute:
——, May 10, 1913.
Mr. Warren Logan, Treasurer, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Ala.
DEAR SIR: I enclose my check for ten dollars in reply to President Washington's appeal of the 6th inst.
I do not understand why such an appeal should be necessary after the large gifts by Mr. Kennedy and others. The Indians have received much less than the Negroes in money and care, yet they beg less, and are more ready to imitate the whites in being self-reliant. All over the North I find the Negroes despised by the whites for their laziness and disposition to be dependent.
Mr. Washington's patient, circumstantial, and constructively informative reply is characteristic of his method of rejoinder. It also illustrates his habit of placing his reliance on facts and not on adjectives, and of so marshalling his facts that they fought his battles for him. He replied thus:
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, May 26, 1913.
MY DEAR SIR: Our Treasurer has shown me your letter of May 10th, in which you inquire as to why it should be necessary for Tuskegee to appeal to the public for additional funds, also stating that the Indians receive much less than Negroes in money and care.
Under the circumstances, I thought you would not object to my making the following report to you, covering the inquiries suggested in your letter.
The Indians from a financial standpoint are better off than any other race or class of people in this country. The 265,863 Indians in the United States own 72,535,862 acres of land, which is 273 acres for each Indian man, woman, and child. If all the land in the country were apportioned among the inhabitants there would be 20 acres per person. The value of property and funds belonging to Indians is $678,564,253, or $2,554 per capita, or about $10,000 per family. The Negroes, but lately emancipated, are by contrast poor and are struggling to rise.
The Indians are carefully looked after by the United States Government. In addition to the elaborately organized Indian Bureau at Washington, there are six thousand (6,000) persons in the Indian field service, to especially look after and supervise them. There is one director, supervisor, or teacher for each 44 Indians.
Some of the things that the Government does for the Indians are:
(1) Look after the health of the Indians; for this purpose there are in the field one Medical Supervisor, 100 regular and 60 contract physicians, 54 nurses, and 88 field matrons.
(2) Supervise their farming and stock raising. For the 24,489 Indians engaged in farming there are two general supervisors, 48 expert farmers, that is, men with experience and scientific knowledge, and 210 men in subordinate farming positions.
Over $7,000,000 have been spent in irrigating lands for Indians. Congress in 1911 appropriated $1,300,000 for this purpose. For the 890,000 Negro farmers in the South, the United States Government maintains 34 Agricultural Demonstration Agents.
For the supervision of the 44,985 Indians engaged in stock raising, the Government maintains 22 superintendents of live stock. For the 700,000 Negro farmers engaged in live stock raising there is only one Government expert working especially among them.
(3) A system of schools is maintained by the Government for Indian children. For this purpose there are 223 day schools, 79 reservation boarding schools, and 35 boarding schools away from reservations. In these schools in 1911 there were 24,500 pupils. For the support of these schools the United States Government for 1912 appropriated $3,757,495. To assist in teaching the 1,700,000 Negro children in the South there was received in 1911 from the United States Government $245,518.
In general the Indians are not taxed for any purpose. On the other hand, the Negroes are taxed the same as other persons and in this way contribute a considerable amount for their own education and the education of the whites. In this connection, I call your attention to the enclosed pamphlet "Public Taxation and Negro Schools."
I enclose herewith copy of my Last Annual Report, giving information as to the various activities of the Institution.
Yours very truly,
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
On October 25, 1915, a few weeks before he died, Mr. Washington delivered an address before the delegates to the National Council of Congregational Churches, in New Haven, Conn., in which he well illustrated his belief already quoted, "that a large part of the mission of both Hampton and Tuskegee is to keep the cause of Negro education before the country." He said in part:
"There is sometimes much talk about the inferiority of the Negro. In practice, however, the idea appears to be that he is a sort of super-man. He is expected with about one-fifth or one-tenth of what the whites receive for their education to make as much progress as they are making. Taking the Southern States as a whole, about $10.23 per capita is spent in educating the average white boy or girl, and the sum of $2.82 per capita in educating the average black child.
"In order to furnish the Negro with educational facilities so that the 2,000,000 children of school age now out of school and the 1,000,000 who are unable to read or write can have the proper chance in life it will be necessary to increase the $9,000,000 now being expended annually for Negro public school education in the South to about $25,000,000 or $30,000,000 annually."
And in conclusion he said: "At the present rate, it is taking not a few days or a few years, but a century or more to get Negro education on a plane at all similar to that on which the education of the whites now is. To bring Negro education up where it ought to be will take the combined and increased efforts of all the agencies now engaged in this work. The North, the South, the religious associations, the educational boards, white people and black people, all will have to cooperate in a great effort for this common end."
These were the last words he ever spoke at a great public meeting. They show his acute realization of the immensity of the task to which he literally gave his life, and his dread lest what had been accomplished be over-estimated with a consequent slackening of effort.
A very cordial friendship existed between Mr. Washington and his Trustees. Every man among them was his selection and joined the Board on his invitation. In the year 1912 they manifested their friendship and interest in the most practical of ways by volunteering to raise a guarantee fund of $50,000 a year for five years to help bridge the ever-widening gap between the income of the school and its unavoidably mounting expenses. To do this, aside from contributing handsomely themselves, almost all went out and "begged" of their friends. Mr. Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, for instance, after making his own liberal personal contribution, and soliciting funds among his Chicago friends, left his great and absorbing interests at a busy time of the year to go to New York and devote a week's time to "begging" money for Tuskegee among his friends and acquaintances, Messrs. Low, Willcox, Trumbull, Mason, and others also personally solicited funds. Many men have gotten millionaires to give large sums of money, but how many men have ever gotten millionaires both to give large sums and personally to solicit large sums for a purely unselfish purpose?
In his final report Booker Washington said of this guarantee fund: "It is not possible to describe in words what a relief and help this $50,000 guarantee fund has proven during the four years it has been in existence.... We shall have to begin now to consider some method of replacing these donations. The relief which has come to us because of this guarantee fund has been marked and far reaching."
The same qualities which enabled Booker Washington to get close to the plain people helped him to win the confidence of the great givers. Through his money-raising efforts he constantly added to his great stock of knowledge of human nature. Also the same qualities of heart and mind which enabled him to rise superior to the obstacles of race prejudice helped him to bear without discouragement or bitterness the many rebuffs of the money raiser. One cannot help speculating, however, on the loss to Tuskegee, to the Negro race, and to the general welfare, entailed by the necessity of his devoting two-thirds of his time, strength, and resourcefulness merely to the raising of money.
MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION
Booker Washington's chief characteristic as an administrator was his faculty for attention to minute details without losing sight of his large purposes and ultimate ends. His grasp of every detail seems more remarkable when one realizes the dimensions of his administrative task. Besides leading his race in America, and to some extent throughout the world, and raising between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand dollars each year, he administered an institution whose property and endowment are valued at almost four million dollars. Although the original property of the school was only a hundred acres of land with three small buildings, it now owns twenty-four hundred acres, with one hundred and eleven buildings, large and small, in its immediate vicinity. In addition to these twenty-four hundred acres of land the school now owns also about twenty thousand acres, being the unsold balance of a grant of twenty-five thousand acres of mineral land, made by the Federal Government as an endowment to the Institute in 1899.
The organization of the Institute ramifies throughout the entire county in which it is located. It has a resident student population of between fifteen hundred and two thousand boys and girls, with a teaching force of about two hundred men and women. It enrolls in its courses throughout the year from thirty-five hundred to four thousand persons. The receipts of its post office exceed those of the entire postal service of the Negro Republic of Liberia in Africa. In a given year the revenues of Liberia were $301,238 and the expenditures $314,000. In the same year the receipts from all sources of Tuskegee Institute were $321,864.87 and its expenditures $341,141.58.
Booker Washington so organized this great institution that it ran smoothly and without apparent loss of momentum for the nine months out of the twelve, during the greater part of which he was obliged to be absent raising the funds with which to keep it going. The Institute is in continuous session throughout the twelve months of the year. During the summer months a summer school for teachers is conducted in place of the academic department. For the purposes of this summer school all or most of the trades and industries are kept in operation.
The school is organized on this basis. There is, first, a Board of Trustees which holds the property in trust and advises the principal as to general policies, etc., and aids him in the raising of funds; second, the principal, who has sole charge of all administrative matters; third, an executive council, composed of the heads of departments, with the principal as its chairman. The following officers serve as members of this executive council: Principal, treasurer, secretary, general superintendent of industries, director mechanical industries, director department of research and Experiment Station, commandant, business agent, chief accountant, director agricultural department, registrar, medical director, dean women's department, director women's industries, chaplain, director extension department, superintendent buildings and grounds, dean Phelps Hall Bible Training School, director academic department.
The position of general superintendent of industries is held by John H. Washington, brother of Booker T. Washington. Mrs. Booker T. Washington fills the position of director women's industries.
After this executive council comes the faculty made up of the leading teachers who have charge of the instruction in the various divisions of the agricultural, industrial, and academic departments. This faculty Mr. Washington in turn subdivided into a series of standing and special committees having particular charge of certain phases of the work such as repairs, cleanliness, etc. The committee on cleanliness would, for instance, be expected to see that the boarding department was insisting upon the proper use of knives and forks and napkins—was serving the food hot and in proper dishes, and that the kitchens were at all times ready for inspection and models of cleanliness.
In the same way he constantly appointed committees to go into the academic classes and see that they were correlating their work with the trade work. The tendency to backslide is especially strong in an institution which, like Tuskegee, is working out original problems. It is fatally easy for the teachers in both academic and industrial classes to slip away from the correlative method, for which the institution stands, back to the traditional routine. The correlative method requires constant thought. As Mr. Washington well knew, the average person only thinks under constant prodding. Hence, the committees to do the prodding! It is so much easier to take one's problems from the textbooks than to dig them up in the shops or on the farm as to be practically irresistible unless one is being watched. Then, in the shops it requires a constant effort to work the theory in with the practice. If the instructors in the trades tended to become mere unthinking mechanics a vigilant committee was at hand to keep them true to their better lights. And if the committees themselves ever became slack, the all-seeing eye of the principal soon detected it and they in turn were "jacked up." Mr. Washington himself had a way of leisurely strolling about day or night into shop, classroom, or laboratory with a stenographer at his elbow. If he thus came upon a recitation in which no illustrative material was used, that teacher would receive within the next few hours a note such as this:
December 8, 1914.
MR. ——: After a visit to your class yesterday, I want to make this suggestion—that you get into close contact with some of the teachers here like Mrs. Jones of the Children's House, and Mrs. Ferguson, Head of the Division of Education, and Mr. Whiting of the Division of Mathematics, who understand our methods of teaching and try to learn our methods.
Your work yesterday was very far from satisfactory, not based upon a single human experience or human activity.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
Three days before he had sent the following note to the head of the academic department:
Mr. Lee, Director of the Academic Department:
I was very glad to see the wideawake class conducted by Mr. Smith this morning. His methods are certainly good.
On asking questions of the individual members of the class, I found that about half of the class did not know just what was to be found out from the measurements. If Mr. Smith will go to the new Laundry Building, in case he has not done so, he will find an opportunity to teach the same lessons in connection with a real building. I hope you will make this suggestion to him. Nothing takes the place of reality wherever we can get something real.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
Previous to this he had written Mr. Lee the following letter relative to the general problem of the teaching efficiency in his department:
November 24, 1914.
Mr. Lee, Director Academic Department:
When you return, I want to urge that you give careful but serious attention to the following suggestions:
First, I am convinced that we must arrange to give more systematic and constant attention to the individual teachers in your department in the way of seeing that they follow your wishes and policy regarding the dovetailing of the academic work into the industrial work.
I am quite convinced that the matter is taken up in rather a spasmodic way; that is, so long as you are on hand and can give the matter personal attention, it is followed, but when you cease to give personal attention to it or are away, matters go back to the old rut, or nearly so.
In some way we must all get together and help you to organize your department so that this will not be true.
There are two elements of weakness in the academic work: First, I very much fear that we take into it every year too many green teachers, who know nothing about your methods. This pulls the whole tone of the academic work down before you can train them into your methods. I am quite sure that though you might not get teachers who have had so much book training, that it would be worth your considering to employ a larger number of Hampton graduates or Tuskegee graduates, who have had in a measure the methods which you believe in instilled into them.
In my opinion, the time has come when you must consider seriously the getting rid of, or shifting, some of your older teachers. You have teachers in your department who have been here a good many years, and experience proves that they do not adapt themselves readily and systematically to your methods. I think it would be far better for the school to find employment for them outside of the Academic Department, or to let them take some clerical work in your department, than for them to occupy positions of importance and influence, which they are not filling satisfactorily and where they have an influence in hurting the character of the whole teaching.
All these matters I hope you will consider very carefully. I am sure that the time has come when definite and serious action is needed.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
First and last on these apparently aimless strolls with a stenographer he visited not only the classrooms and shops but every corner of the great institution. He would return to his office with a notebook full of memoranda of matters to be followed up or changed, and of people to be commended or censured for their efficient or inefficient handling of this, that, or the other piece of work. Once after writing a series of letters calling attention to ragged tablecloths, unclean napkins, and uncleanliness in other forms in kitchens, bakery, and dining-rooms without the desired result, he personally took charge of the situation, organized a squad of workers, put things in proper condition, and then insisted that they be kept in such condition.
His passion to utilize every fraction of time to its maximum advantage led him even to smuggle a stenographer into the formal annual exercises of the Bible Training School so that he might during the exercises clandestinely dictate notes for the head of the Bible school as to those features in which the program was weak, failed "to get across," did not hold the interest of the people, seemed to be over their heads, or whatever might be his diagnosis of the difficulty. He was not interested in the program for and of itself, but was keenly interested in its effect upon the people. If it interested and helped them, it was a good program; if it did not, it was a poor program and no amount of learning or technical perfection could redeem it. He sometimes reduced his more scholarly teachers to the verge of despair by his insistence that there should be nothing on the program at any exercise to which the public was invited which the every-day man and woman could not understand and appreciate.
In opening the chapter we mentioned Booker Washington's faculty for giving attention to apparently trivial details without losing sight of his large policies and purposes. This was part of his habit of taking nothing for granted. He never assumed that people would do or had done what they should do or should have done any more than he assumed they would not or had not done what they should. He neither trusted nor distrusted them. He kept himself constantly informed. Every person employed by the institution from the most important department heads down to the men who removed ashes and garbage were under the stimulating apprehension that his eye might be upon them at any moment. He harassed his subordinates by continually asking them if this or that matter had been attended to. He would sometimes ask three different people to do the same thing. This resulted in wasted effort on somebody's part, but it always accomplished the result, which was all that interested him. He took nothing for granted himself and he insisted that his subordinates take nothing for granted. He was a task master and a "driver" but he taxed himself more heavily and drove himself harder than he did any one else. Like other strong men, he had the weaknesses of his strength, and probably his most serious weakness was driving himself and his subordinates beyond his and their strength.
His eye was daily upon every part of the great machine which he had built up through an exhaustive system of daily reports. These reports were placed on his desk each morning when at the Institute and mailed to him each morning when away. They showed him the number of students in the hospital with the name, diagnosis, and progress of each case. From the poultry yard came reports giving the number of eggs in the incubators, the number hatched since the day before, the number of chickens which had died, the number of eggs and chickens sold, etc. Similarly daily reports came from the swine herd, the dairy herd, and all the other groups of live stock.
He received also each morning a report from the savings department giving the number of new depositors, the amounts of money deposited and withdrawn, and the condition of the bank at the close of the previous day. There was, too, a list of the requisitions approved by the Business Committee the previous day giving articles, prices, divisions, or departments in which each was to be used and totals for different classes of requisitions.
The Boarding Department head would report just what had been served the students at the three meals of the day before. In running over these menus he would give a contemptuous snort if he came upon any instance of what he called "feeding the students out of the barrel." By this he meant buying food which could as well or better have been raised on the Institute farms. He objected to this practice not only because it was more expensive, but because it eliminated the work of raising, preparing, and serving the foods which he regarded as a valuable exercise in civilization. He also insisted that everything raised on the farms should in one way or another be used by the students. Besides serving to the students every variety of Southern vegetable from the Institute's extensive truck gardens, he always insisted that their own corn be ground into meal and that they make their own preserves out of their own peaches, blackberries, and other fruits. In other words, he made the community feed itself just as far as possible. And this he did quite as much because of the knowledge of the processes of right living which it imparted as for the money which it saved.
The Treasurer also submitted a daily report of contributions and other receipts of the previous day with the name and address of each contributor. Mr. Washington arranged to receive and look over these daily reports even when travelling. Hence, in a sense, he was never absent. Only very rarely and under most unusual circumstances did he cut this means of daily contact with the multifold activities of the institution.
Although a task master, a driver, and a relentless critic, he was just in his dealings with his subordinates and his students, very appreciative of kindness or thoughtfulness, and generous in his approbation of tasks well done. Three of the younger children of officers of the school, while out walking with one of their teachers, discovered a fire in the woods near the Institute one day. After notifying the men working nearby, the children hurried home and wrote Mr. Washington a letter telling him about the fire. They had heard him warn people against the danger of forest fires and of the great harm they did. This letter the three children excitedly took to the Principal's home themselves, as it was on Sunday. He was not in, but the first letter he dictated on arriving at his office the next morning was this:
March 24, 1915.
Miss Beatrice Taylor, Miss Louise Logan, Miss Lenora Scott:
I have received your kind and thoughtful letter of yesterday regarding the forest fire and am very grateful to you for the information which it contains. It is very kind and thoughtful of you to write me. I shall pass your letter to Mr. Bridgeforth, the Head of the Department, and ask him to look after the matter.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
In the fall of the same year he addressed this letter of appreciation to Mr. Bridgeforth, director of the Agricultural Department, mentioned in the note of the children:
Principal's Office, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama
October 4, 1915.
Mr. G.R. Bridgeforth, Director of Agricultural Department:
I have been spending a considerable portion of each day in inspecting the farm, and I want to congratulate you and all of your assistants on account of the fine sweet potato crop which has been produced. It is certainly the finest crop produced in the history of the school.
You deserve equal commendation, especially in view of the season you have had to contend with, in connection with the fine hay crop, the pea crop, and the peanut crop.
I wish you would let the members of your force know how I feel regarding their work.
I believe if the farm goes on under present conditions, that at the end of the year it will very much please the Trustees to note the results accomplished especially so far as the Budget is concerned.
[Signed] BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Principal.
His quick mind and his keen sense of humor would sometimes lead him to make fun in a kindly way of his slower colleagues. The members of the Executive Council and the Faculty sometimes felt he treated them rather too much as if he were the teacher and they the pupils. His frequent humorous sallies and stories exasperated some of the more serious-minded members of his staff very much as Lincoln's sallies and stories exasperated some of the members of his Cabinet, particularly Secretary Stanton. This sense of humor was undoubtedly with Booker Washington as with Abraham Lincoln one of the great safety valves without which he could not have carried his heavy burden as long as he did.
Among other things he always insisted that the human element be put into the work of the institution and kept in it. He would reprimand a subordinate just as sharply for failure to be human as for a specific neglect of duty. He was particularly insistent that all letters to the parents of the students should be intimate and friendly rather than formal and stereotyped. He believed that nothing would more quickly or more surely kill the effectiveness of the school than the application of cut-and-dried theories and formulas to the handling of the students and their problems. He never lost sight of the fact that the most perfect educational machine becomes worthless if the soul goes out of it.
On his return from trips he would write a personal letter about their boy or girl to each parent whom he had met while away. After he had addressed a meeting and was shaking hands with those who came forward to meet him a man would say, as one once did, with embarrassed pride, "I 'spec you know my boy—he's down to your school. He's a tall, black boy an' wears a derby hat." When Mr. Washington got back to Tuskegee he sent for "the tall, black boy" with the derby hat and wrote his proud father all about him.
On his return from journeys he would write individual letters not only to the parents of students and to his hosts and hostesses, but to each and every person who had tried in any way to contribute to the pleasure and success of his trip. On returning from the State educational tours which we have described he would write personal letters of thanks and appreciation not only to every member of the general committee on arrangements which had managed his tour throughout the State, but also to every member of the local committees for the various towns and cities which he visited. He would also write such a letter to the Governor or Mayor or whatever public official or prominent citizen had introduced him. Usually on these tours school children, or a group of women representing a local colored women's club, would present him with flowers. He would in such cases insist that the name of each child or each woman in the group be secured so that he might on his return write to each one a personal letter of thanks. Many such letters are now among the treasured possessions of humble Negro homes throughout the country.
Recognizing that Tuskegee's chief claim to support from the public must be found in the achievements of her graduates he built up the Division of Records and Research to keep in constant touch with the graduates and gather information about them and their work. By this means he could find out in detail at a moment's notice what most of the graduates were doing and in terms of statistics what all were doing. Eighteen to twenty of them are building up or conducting schools on the model of Tuskegee Institute in parts of the South where they are most needed. With these he naturally sought to keep in particularly close touch.
With funds provided for the purpose by one of the Tuskegee Trustees, committees of Tuskegee officers and teachers are sent from time to time to visit these schools established by Tuskegee graduates. They act as friendly inspectors and advisers. The following is the plan of report drafted for the guidance of these committees: