Up from Slavery

1. Up From Slavery is used by Doubleday, Page, and Company as the title of Booker T. Washington’s because they want to help whites in America realize who African-Americans really are and how Washington was able to rise above it all and become a successful citizen in the US even through his hard times. Washington had a first autobiography published called The Story of My Life and Work, and he did not believe that this book told the real story of his life and hated it.

As he wrote the articles for Up From Slavery, Washington was able to better explain the details of his life through facts and not just generalizations. These articles went through his life and characterized what he went through to get where he was. If one looks at this title from the literal point of view, slavery is the absolute bottom for any human. You have no rights and are told what to do everyday. The only place one can go from slavery is up and Booker T. Washington through this series of essays, showed whites and blacks that going up can be done.

Up From Slavery is a perfect title for Washington’s compilation of essays because he was able to start with nothing as a born child slave in Virginia and then later in his life write multiple books and founded the Tuskegee Institute. At the end of Up From Slavery, Washington states that he was back in Richmond, Virginia, a city which only twenty-five years before saw him sleeping under a sidewalk with no money and no home. He was now back to speak at a hall which blacks had only just been allowed to use. This is exactly what the title meant, from poverty to riches, Washington came Up From Slavery to live a successful life.

6. As Booker T. Washington looked back on his years at Hampton, he emphasized just a couple of things. He talked a lot about the people at the school who became his mentors as the years went on and how they impacted him more than his textbooks could educate him. He talked about Miss Mary F. Mackie and how she came to be someone he could talk to when he was down and she would help him find his way again. The person he most talked about was General Samuel C. Armstrong. He loved this man until the day the general died and Washington describes him as being the most life changing person he had ever met.

These people played an influential part in Washington’s life and gave him the will to keep moving forward. Washington even said in the one of the essays that the people he met helped him learn more then what he learned in any textbook at Hampton College. Along with talking about the people he met, Washington talked a lot about his jobs and paying off his debts to Hampton. Washington did not want to owe anyone any money and worked as hard as he could to not have any debt. At the end of his first year, he still owed Hampton sixteen dollars and would do everything he could to pay that back by the end of the summer.

Washington ended up not making the money back but to his surprise was allowed to return to the college because the treasurer knew when he got the money, he would pay it back. Money problems plagued Washington through his whole career at Hampton. He continued to write about how many times he did not know if he would be able to continue his education at Hampton, but it all worked out in the end. Washington’s education at Hampton greatly had an impact on his strategy of racial uplift. After he got his education, he believed that blacks needed an education and to have economical success before they could receive political and social equality.

Becoming educated and making money go hand in hand, but they also maybe two of the hardest things to do for an African-American in the US. If they were equal to whites in how they were educated and with how much money they had, Washington thought it would be easier to be equal in politics and in society in general. 12. Booker T. Washington used many quotes of others and included letters written to him in Up From Slavery. I believe he did this because he was quoted in the introduction saying, “My general plan is to give the first place to facts and incidents and to hang generalizations on these facts” (p. 6).

By quoting what others said to him and placing letters in the story, readers gain the idea that all of these things he is saying can be proven. The reader can look at a piece from the story and have some sort of evidence that can support it. Booker T. Washington was smart enough and educated enough to know that sometimes when authors write stories about themselves, they may try to make themselves look better by stretching the truth. Although many of autobiographies written today are written to make someone look good, most of the autobiographies written in the late 1800s and early 1900s are just people wanting to tell their story.

Nobody knows if he was actually telling the truth, but with the evidence he was able to provide nobody would question him. Washington was showing the readers that he did all of the things he talked about in the stories and he had evidence to prove it. To accompany that, many whites in the South would have been skeptical that an African-American could accomplish so much after being a slave from birth. He needed evidence so those who did not believe the stories would take him seriously. It may seem odd to some, but those comments helped make many skeptics into believers. 13.

I believe that certain autobiographies can not be used as historical documents but some can be used as historical documents and Up From Slavery is one of them. As discussed in the last question, Booker T. Washington using comments from others and using letters that were sent to him allow most everything in the stories to be verified. Others may argue because the stories are written with the writers point of view and their opinions are easily seen throughout the book. This is true in some cases and most of the time these autobiographies are written by celebrities that are looking to make even more money then they already have.

Booker T. Washington wanted to take the time to tell his story, to allow others to see what he had been through and for whites to see the that blacks could come from nothing and make something for themselves in the world. Although the story was written by Washington, he was quoted saying he tried to make it objective as possible by giving the facts foremost and generalizing later so that others can form their opinion before they see Washington’s. At this point in history, many influential people wrote autobiographies because it was easier to tell their story through a book rather then word of mouth.

They write their story to inspire their fellow Americans to be like them. Whether its Booker T. Washington talking about his life of getting out of slavery or someone like Henry Ford talking about how he revolutionized the car industry, influential people just wanted to tell their story. Washington really cared about his race and wanted to see them gain equality. When other authors write introductions about the autobiography and then there are other documents about Booker T. Washington, then it should be a no brainer that this particular autobiography is a historical document.