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Booker T. Washington (1859-1915)


This essay gives the brief histories Booker. T Washington and General Armstrong. It discusses these two men’s friendship, their lives and personalities. It also gives the reason for their respect to each other.

Booker. T Washington

Booker T. Washington was born as a slave at western Virginia farm in the year1859 during the time of severe slavery. Washington states, “From the time that I can remember anything, almost every day of my life has been occupied in some kind of labor.” Due to this slavery, his exact birth day date and month is not known as well as his ancestry (Knol).  . He was a very substantial force in shaping the progress agenda of the black people in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Washington become the leader of the Negro race in and he was well recognized America. Although he struggled to realize success proof to other black men and women that they could raise themselves, he received much criticism that he kept the Negro down in his place. Also, his leadership became more controversial. His mother gave him a copy of a book known as Webster’s blue-black spelling book which inspired him to begin his education. He started attending night classes where he was about the values of hard work for economic and moral strength. In the year 1881, booker t. was invited to Alabama where he was given a responsibility as a principal at a normal school in Tuskegee (Washington T. Pg 3). From 1881 to his death in the year 1915, he exerted much influence on the consciousness of the Negroes. Some organizations and the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People opposed Washington’s policies of racial accommodation. He put more emphasis on industrial and economic education rather than civil and political rights (Cunnigen D, Dennis M & Glascoe G. Pg 33). He said, “In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress” (Profcover). His Christian character and his education give an insight into himself and his approaches.

General Armstrong

General Chapman Armstrong was born in 1839 in Wailuku and he was the founder of the Hampton Institute and he was a pragmatic accommodationist who dedicated his life and energies to the actions that aimed at changing the hearts, minds and the social structures of the Negroes. He asserted that “it meant something to Hampton School, and perhaps to the ex-slaves of America, that, from 1820 to 1860, the distinctly missionary period, there was worked out in the Hawaiian Islands, the problem of emancipation, enfranchisement and Christian civilization of dark-skinned Polynesian people in many respects like the Negro race.” He educated and inspired them to resume their inferior positions in the South's social structures (Lindsey F. Pg 1-2)

His greatest success was Booker T. Washington who graduated from Hampton and the first principal of Tuskegee Institute. Armstrong was inspired by Washington’s statement that “In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress”. This made him to develop his vision for the Indian education and he had a dream of a model multiracial society at the Hampton Institute. He was recruited into the army where he rose to higher ranks. At the age of 51 his left side of the body was paralyzed by strokes which led to his death. He was buried at the school cemetery as simple soldier. (Lindsey F. Pg 6).

Washington's friendship with General Armstrong

Washington said that the greatest benefit he received when he joined Hampton washis friendship with General Armstrong who would become his benefactor and mentor (Haskins J & Jim H. Pg 105). When he made the most important decision of enrolling in Hampton, they became friends with General Armstrong who was the principal of the school. Armstrong made arrangements for the northern philanthropist to pay tuition fees for Washington. Booker T. was made a school janitor and he was given a room in the school. He graduated from Hampton min the year 1875 and he was given a responsibility of teaching in a program for the Native Americans. He was offered a position of a principal of a school that trained back teachers in Tuskegee which was authorized by the legislature of Alabama after spending two years teaching in his native West Virginia. This position was offered to him through the influence of General Armstrong because of their close friendship. This position made Washington to be famous in the entire world. It was General Armstrong who taught Washington the important doctrines of economic advancement and conciliation of the whites. Washington recruited many students from the county and he held the institute’s first classes (Haskins J & Jim H. Pg 106).

Reasons why Booker T. Washington and General Armstrong held respect for each other

Booker T. Washington respected General Chapman Armstrong because he was the most influential person in his life. Also he gave him respect because he led the black troops in the Civil War and his ability to convince the freedmen that there future laid entirely in industrial and practical education. Armstrong also instilled Christian virtues in the freedmen. On the other hand general Armstrong respected booker t. Washington because he was extraordinarily clever and ambitious person. General Armstrong's also respected him because he effectively assimilated his emphasis on industrial skills and the required building of character.



These two men shaped the black American education as they improved the industrial education which enabled the African-American people to get a share in the national industrialization.

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