Benjamin Franklin and Booker T. Washington
Benjamin Franklin and Booker T. Washington are some of the most well-known authors in Americas’ history. Their famous autobiographies, Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin, have impacted the society of America today. While Washington and Franklin both came from different backgrounds, their autobiographies have a similar theme about the importance of hard work and dedication to accomplish great things. Therefore, the two autobiographies are both the embodiment of the importance of labor and education as a means of self-reformation. This is demonstrated in both works through Benjamin Franklins’ group Junto and his dedication to hard work, as well as Booker T. Washington’s morals on labor and founding the Tuskegee Institute. Education was one of the most important aspects of Benjamin Franklins’ life. Franklin had a strong passion for education that came from his own life experiences that he wanted to make accessible to others, therefore, he created a group called Junto.
Through this group Benjamin Franklin showed how it is important to educate yourself as well as educating others so that society can improve itself as a whole. This is shown in the quote, “I had form’d most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto…The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company” (Franklin 45). Junto was dedicated to discussing mutual improvement theories through educating each other on morals. Benjamin Franklin and the members of Junto desired to improve themselves, their community, and to help others. Education was also very important to Booker T. Washington as a means of self-improvement. Booker T. Washington had little accessibility to an education growing up as a slave, but had a greater appreciation for education as a free African American. Through his experiences as a slave Washington wanted to improve the lives of other free African Americans with education, and therefore founded the Tuskegee Institute.
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The Tuskegee Institute was a school dedicated to educating African Americans of the importance of knowledge, hard work, and experience in industries, so that they would be able to make a living for themselves. This is demonstrated in the quote, “We wanted to teach the students how to bath; how to care for their teeth and clothing…we wanted to give them such a practical knowledge of some one industry…that they would be sure of knowing how to make a living after they had left us” (Washington 61). They taught them the importance of hygiene, education, and a general knowledge of industries. Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute so that he could help African Americans make self-improvements to themselves through educating them on morals and life skills. Although education was a very important aspect of Benjamin Franklins’ everyday life, he also found hard work to be just as important and beneficial.
Benjamin Franklin believed that success and improvement in life not only came through education, but by working hard to improve your knowledge. This is exemplified in the quote, “This library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repair’d in some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended for me” (Franklin 61). By going to the library regularly to improve his education, Benjamin Franklin emphasizes not only getting an education, but also working hard to get an education to improve his work ethic. Hard work was also a very important tool to Booker T. Washington due to his difficult past. As a slave, Booker T. Washington had to do forced manual labor, but as a free African American, Washington began to understand the importance of hard work and how it impacted his life for the better.
Through his autobiography, Booker T. Washington inspires people to love labor, because it helps improve peoples’ morals and self-improvement. This is demonstrated in the quote, “At Hampton I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to labour, but learned to love labour, not alone for its financial value, but for labours’ own sake and for the independence and self-reliance which the ability to do something which the world wants done brings” (Washington 30). In this quote Booker emphasizes how his love for labor and hard work had improved him as a person and helped him succeed in his life. He inspires people to love hard work because it improves your morals, as well as helps with self-improvement on social, political, and economic independence. Washington believed that educating others on labor would help influence them on the importance of self-improvement so that society itself would grow to experience self-improvement and enlightenment. The two autobiographies have distinct similarities in the messages they portray to the readers. They both believed in the influence of education and hard work as a means of self-reformation. They also believed that dedication to improving yourself will help you succeed. Through their autobiographies Washington and Franklin demonstrated that with hard work and dedication one can accomplish great things.