English Lesson 55 Essay

What were Booker T Washington’s arguments against the slave system?Booker Washington was born as a slave in Virginia in 1858 or 1859. Because he was born as a slave, he has some interesting insights about the evils of slavery. One profound thing he said on the subject was that slavery is a disadvantage to both races. The way in which the blacks were oppressed is obvious. They were slaves to the whites, and were often treated as less than human. Washington says that (in the plantation he lived in) the whites were also negatively affected by slavery because they came to despise work. This meant that they wouldn’t be caught dead fixing anything around the house, and they also wouldn’t teach the slaves how to fix things either. This meant that the house was in a constant state of disrepair, paint on fences wearing out, gates and doors off of their hinges, and the like. Worse yet, according to Washington, the white children would almost never learn any trade or do much of anything productive.
Another thing that really stands out to me is that most of time, slaves were genuinely fond (or at the very least respectful) of their masters. They would grieve sincerely if one of them died, and cared for them if they were wounded. While some slaves were bitter towards their masters, this was usually when the master was cruel. And most of them were not cruel. Of course, this didn’t mean that they didn’t take freedom when they could, and many, if not all, were eagerly awaiting it. As a matter of fact, the blacks would often hear about news pertaining to the Civil War and their upcoming freedom before the whites did.
Booker Washington also talks about how while many of the former slaves left the plantations that had lived on, a good portion of them would come back. This was for several reasons. First of all, they found it difficult to make a living for themselves, especially the older ones. Thus, they would often come back to their previous masters to work for some sort of pay. Another contributing factor in staying was that they were often fond of their old masters. Together with pay, this was reason enough to work as they previously did, but in freedom instead of slavery.
Most who could, however, tried to make a living for themselves. This was especially true of the young people. Some, like Washington, even pursued an education. This was extremely difficult for them, as most schools would only accept whites. They had to make their own school, and for that they needed to find a teacher. This was also quite an issue, as, unfortunately, there were very few blacks that had been taught how to read. This meant that very few people could be schooled at first. One point that stands out for me is all of the hard work many of them did “just” to get an education, something we tend to take for granted now. Washington, for example, would work in the mine for several hours, go to school, come back to the mine and work for at least two more hours.


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