Manual Labor and Booker T. Washington

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Booker T. Washington grew up as a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. He is unsure of the exact date of his birth or birthplace. His mother worked as the plantation cook and they lived in the kitchen. After he is freed, Washington moves to West Virginia with his family. He later goes on to begin his pursuit for education. Washington continuously mentions his appreciation for the hard labor he had to endure during his time as a slave.

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Manual labor helped Booker T. Washington throughout his life in many ways including: helping him overcome his obstacles, understanding independence, and morality through hard work.

Manual labor teaches the importance of helping others and working toward success. Booker T. shows that it has helped him overcome his obstacles. “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has received in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” (Washington 23). Booker says that by overcoming obstacles he had greater success in life. His life as a slave taught him the value of hard work and labor. Washington works for his enrollment into Hampton, by which he learned the importance of hard work and dignity. His lack of money also teaches him humility and sacrifice.

Hard labor teaches the importance of independence. It also shows and teaches a good attitude toward helping others. Booker learned this throughout the book, but sums it up pretty well in this quote, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others” (Washington 35). The quote shows that Booker seeker happiness and found this by helping others. While this may not directly corelate to labor, it is through the hard work he did, that brought him to this conclusion.

While many thinks that this style of education is wrong, Booker is the perfect example of why it’s right. He grows to strive for education and knowledge, but also worked for it. “…surprised to receive a letter from General Armstrong, asking me to return to Hampton, partly as a teacher…” (Washington 50). Booker was offered a job because of his hard work and dedication to school and education. He was later offered a job to run Hampton. This shows that hard work and dedication as well as a strive for knowledge and learning can take you great place.

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Manual Labor and Booker T. Washington. (2019, Aug 09). Retrieved from