Category Archives: Slavery

George Washington Last Will and Testament of a good man, Freed his slaves and made provisions for their education & welfare, Transformed by his interactions

George Washington Last Will and Testament of a good man, Freed his slaves and made provisions for their education & welfare, Transformed by his interactions

“If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation, for through this in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”…George Washington

“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.”…George Washington

“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”…George Washington

 

The paradigm throughout human history until George Washington’s birth was that if you conquered a people they became your slaves or worse.

Africans and negroes were considered a sub species by Europeans.

With interactions with people of color from Revolutionary War soldiers to poet Philiss Wheatley, Washington came to realize that they were humans more like himself and that slavery was wrong. Quite a evolution.

George Washington was put upon a pedestal and treated like a God but he was human with the typical human imperfections.

But he was a good man.

From the NY Times.

”An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves and the Creation of America”

“The breaking up of slave families for reasons of profit was, by Mr. Wiencek’s account, the first outrage to penetrate Washington’s self-interest. He traces Washington’s first awareness of this to time he spent in Williamsburg, Va., witnessing slave auctions held in response to an owner’s embezzling. ”In modern terms, it was as if the collapse of a Wall Street brokerage, due to the malfeasance of its officers, had led to the sale of the children of the cleaning staff to pay the debts of corporate vice presidents,” Mr. Wiencek writes.

And as a leader of soldiers, Washington was acutely aware of the importance of black soldiers even as he waffled over the question of their eventual freedom. ”George Washington won the Revolutionary War with an army that was more integrated than any military force until the Vietnam War,” Mr. Wiencek maintains. His book offers evidence that the role of black soldiers under Washington’s command was under-reported simply because it was taken for granted.

Rather than a debunking account, ”An Imperfect God” is one that measures the slow growth of Washington’s willingness to change. The author, with a great interest in genealogical research, points to many instances in which the situations of Washington’s own real and alleged family members (including West Ford, whose possible identity as Washington’s illegitimate son is explored but rejected — he may instead have been a nephew) could not help but provide impetus for change.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/03/books/books-of-the-times-washington-s-twisted-path-to-awareness-on-slavery.html

George Washington’s encounter with black poet Philiss Wheatley.

“In December of 1775, Washington – the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army – received a letter from Wheatley containing an ode written in his honor. The poem illustrates Wheatley’s somewhat surprisingly passionate patriotic sentiment, which factors strongly in much of her poetry. It ends with a stanza reading: “Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side, / Thy ev’ry action let the goddess guide. / A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, / With gold unfading, WASHINGTON! Be thine.”

Washington responded with a letter expressing his appreciation for Wheatley’s poem. He even considered publishing it but feared people might interpret that action as self-aggrandizing. Not only was this letter the only one Washington is known to have written to a former slave, but he addressed Wheatley as “Miss Phillis” and signed off as “Your obed[ien]t humble servant,”1 unusual and even paradoxical courtesies. Washington also extended an invitation for Wheatley to call on him at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.””

http://eachstorytold.com/2019/02/10/phillis-wheatley-poem-for-george-washington-washington-response-and-letter-rest-of-story/

From George Washington’s Last Will and Testament.

“Upon the decease ⟨of⟩ my wife, it is my Will & desire th⟨at⟩ all the Slaves which I hold in ⟨my⟩ own right, shall receive their free⟨dom⟩. To emancipate them during ⟨her⟩ life, would, tho’ earnestly wish⟨ed by⟩ me, be attended with such insu⟨pera⟩ble difficulties on account of thei⟨r interm⟩ixture by Marriages with the ⟨dow⟩er Negroes, as to excite the most pa⟨in⟩ful sensations, if not disagreeabl⟨e c⟩onsequences from the latter, while ⟨both⟩ descriptions are in the occupancy ⟨of⟩ the same Proprietor; it not being ⟨in⟩ my power, under the tenure by which ⟨th⟩e Dower Negroes are held, to man⟨umi⟩t them. And whereas among ⟨thos⟩e who will recieve freedom ac⟨cor⟩ding to this devise, there may b⟨e so⟩me, who from old age or bodily infi⟨rm⟩ities, and others who on account of ⟨the⟩ir infancy, that will be unable to ⟨su⟩pport themselves; it is m⟨y Will and de⟩sire that all who ⟨come under the first⟩ & second descrip⟨tion shall be comfor⟩tably cloathed & ⟨fed by my heirs while⟩ they live; and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living are unable, or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the Court until they shall arrive at the ag⟨e⟩ of twenty five years; and in cases where no record can be produced, whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgment of the Court, upon its own view of the subject, shall be adequate and final. The Negros thus bound, are (by their Masters or Mistresses) to be taught to read & write; and to be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeably to the Laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of Orphan and other poor Children. and I do hereby expressly forbid the Sale, or transportation out of the said Commonwealth, of any Slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence whatsoever. And I do moreover most pointedly, and most solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors hereafter named, or the Survivors of them, to see that th⟨is cla⟩use respecting Slaves, and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled at the Epoch at which it is directed to take place; without evasion, neglect or delay, after the Crops which may then be on the ground are harvested, particularly as it respects the aged and infirm; seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to the ⟨u⟩ncertain provision to be made by individuals. And to my Mulatto man William (calling himself William Lee) I give immediate freedom; or if he should prefer it (on account of the accidents which ha⟨v⟩e befallen him, and which have rendered him incapable of walking or of any active employment) to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so: In either case however, I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life, whic⟨h⟩ shall be independent of the victuals and cloaths he has been accustomed to receive, if he chuses the last alternative; but in full, with his freedom, if he prefers the first; & this I give him as a test⟨im⟩ony of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.”

“To the Trustees (⟨Go⟩vernors, or by whatsoever other name they may be designated) of the Academy in the Town of Alexandria, I give and bequeath, in Trust, four thousand dollars, or in other words twenty of the shares which I hold in the Bank of Alexandria, towards the support of a Free school established at, and annexed to, the said Academy; for the purpose of Educating such Orphan children, or the children of such other poor and indigent persons as are unable to accomplish it with their own means; and who, in the judgment of the Trustees of the said Seminary, are best entitled to the benefit of this donation. The aforesaid twenty shares I give & bequeath in perpetuity; the dividends only of which are to be drawn for, and applied by the said Trustees for the time being, for the uses above mentioned; the stock to remain entire and untouched; unless indications of a failure of the said Bank should be so apparent, or a discontinuance thereof should render a removal of this fund necessary; in either of these cases, the amount of the Stock here devised, is to be vested in some other Bank or public Institution, whereby the interest may with regularity & certainty be drawn, and applied as above. And to prevent misconception, my meaning is, and is hereby declared to be, that these twenty shares are in lieu of, and not in addition to, the thousand pounds given by a missive letter some years ago; in consequence whereof an annuity of fifty pounds has since been paid towards the support of this Institution.”

http://eachstorytold.com/2019/02/14/george-washington-last-will-and-testament-mount-vernon-july-9-1799-will-desire-all-slaves-i-hold-shall-receive-their-freedom/

 

 

More here:

https://citizenwells.com/

http://eachstorytold.com/

 

 

Booker T. Washington birthday April 5, 1856 in Hale’s Ford Virginia, Born into slavery, Sought knowledge worked tirelessly to become educated and to educate others, Noble man inspiration to humanity, Up from Slavery

Booker T. Washington birthday April 5, 1856 in Hale’s Ford Virginia, Born into slavery, Sought knowledge worked tirelessly to become educated and to educate others, Noble man inspiration to humanity, Up from Slavery

“I tried to emphasize the fact that while the Negro should not be deprived by unfair means of the franchise, political agitation alone would not save him, and that back of the ballot he must have property, industry, skill, economy, intelligence, and character, and that no race without these elements could permanently succeed.”… Booker T. Washington address, Atlanta Cotton states and International Exposition, Atlanta, Ga., September 18, 1895

” I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get entangled in the net of slavery. I have long since ceased to cherish any spirit of bitterness against the Southern white people on account of the enslavement of my race. No one section of our country was wholly responsible for its introduction, and, besides, it was recognized and protected for years by the General Government. Having once got its tentacles fastened on to the economic and social life of the Republic, it was no easy matter for the country to relieve itself of the institution. Then, when we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten million Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe. This is so to such an extent that Negroes in this country, who themselves or whose forefathers went through the school of slavery, are constantly returning to Africa as missionaries to enlighten those who remained in the fatherland. This I say, not to justify slavery – on the other hand, I condemn it as an institution, as we all know that in America it was established for selfish and financial reasons, and not from a missionary motive – but to call attention to a fact, and to show how Providence so often uses men and institutions to accomplish a purpose. When persons ask me in these days how, in the midst of what sometimes seem hopelessly discouraging conditions, I can have such faith in the future of my race in this country, I remind them of the wilderness through which and out of which, a good Providence has already led us.”…Booker T. Washington , “Up from Slavery”

 

I remember reading about Booker T. Washington when I was young.

I remember that I was impressed then.

I decided to revisit his life on his birthday today, April 5, 2018.

I am even more impressed with what I have read about him.

He is an inspiration to all humanity.

From Biography.com.

“Early Life

Born to a slave on April 5, 1856, Booker Taliaferro Washington’s life had little promise early on. In Franklin County, Virginia, as in most states prior to the Civil War, the child of a slave became a slave. Booker’s mother, Jane, worked as a cook for plantation owner James Burroughs. His father was an unknown white man, most likely from a nearby plantation. Booker and his mother lived in a one-room log cabin with a large fireplace, which also served as the plantation’s kitchen.

At an early age, Booker went to work carrying sacks of grain to the plantation’s mill. Toting 100-pound sacks was hard work for a small boy, and he was beaten on occasion for not performing his duties satisfactorily. Booker’s first exposure to education was from the outside of a school house near the plantation; looking inside, he saw children his age sitting at desks and reading books. He wanted to do what those children were doing, but he was a slave, and it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write.

After the Civil War, Booker and his mother moved to Malden, West Virginia, where she married freedman Washington Ferguson. The family was very poor, and nine-year-old Booker went to work in the nearby salt furnaces with his stepfather instead of going to school. Booker’s mother noticed his interest in learning and got him a book from which he learned the alphabet and how to read and write basic words. Because he was still working, he got up nearly every morning at 4 a.m. to practice and study. At about this time, Booker took the first name of his stepfather as his last name, Washington.

In 1866, Booker T. Washington got a job as a houseboy for Viola Ruffner, the wife of coal mine owner Lewis Ruffner. Mrs. Ruffner was known for being very strict with her servants, especially boys. But she saw something in Booker—his maturity, intelligence and integrity—and soon warmed up to him. Over the two years he worked for her, she understood his desire for an education and allowed him to go to school for an hour a day during the winter months.”

“Education

In 1872, Booker T. Washington left home and walked 500 miles to Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Along the way he took odd jobs to support himself. He convinced administrators to let him attend the school and took a job as a janitor to help pay his tuition. The school’s founder and headmaster, General Samuel C. Armstrong, soon discovered the hardworking boy and offered him a scholarship, sponsored by a white man. Armstrong had been a commander of a Union African-American regiment during the Civil War and was a strong supporter of providing newly freed slaves with a practical education. Armstrong became Washington’s mentor, strengthening his values of hard work and strong moral character.

Booker T. Washington graduated from Hampton in 1875 with high marks. For a time, he taught at his old grade school in Malden, Virginia, and attended Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. In 1879, he was chosen to speak at Hampton’s graduation ceremonies, where afterward General Armstrong offered Washington a job teaching at Hampton. In 1881, the Alabama legislature approved $2,000 for a “colored” school, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University). General Armstrong was asked to recommend a white man to run the school, but instead recommended Booker T. Washington. Classes were first held in an old church, while Washington traveled all over the countryside promoting the school and raising money. He reassured whites that nothing in the Tuskegee program would threaten white supremacy or pose any economic competition to whites.”

“Tuskegee Institute

Under Booker T. Washington’s leadership, Tuskegee became a leading school in the country. At his death, it had more than 100 well-equipped buildings, 1,500 students, a 200-member faculty teaching 38 trades and professions, and a nearly $2 million endowment. Washington put much of himself into the school’s curriculum, stressing the virtues of patience, enterprise, and thrift. He taught that economic success for African Americans would take time, and that subordination to whites was a necessary evil until African Americans could prove they were worthy of full economic and political rights. He believed that if African Americans worked hard and obtained financial independence and cultural advancement, they would eventually win acceptance and respect from the white community.”

Read more:

https://www.biography.com/people/booker-t-washington-9524663

 

 

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