Page:Boys Life of Booker T. Washington.djvu/54

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BOOKER T. WASHINGTON

speeches made by the young negro teacher of Malden.

He made such a reputation as a speaker in this campaign that everybody took it for granted that he would now study law and enter politics. A well-known judge tried to persuade him to do this and offered to teach him law. This was very flattering, and for a while Washington considered it. But all the time he had the feeling that there was something else he must do. He felt that he could succeed in law and politics, but he also felt that it would be selfish; that he would be doing something largely to benefit himself only.

Most of the negro men in politics, at that time, were vicious and ignorant. Of course there were many exceptions; but, as a general thing, the negro who was in politics during that period was uneducated and often dishonest. Washington tells of passing a crowd of men one day as they were at work on a building. He heard the men saying to one of the others, "Hurry up, Gov.," and "Hurry, Governor." He paid no attention at first but finally made inquiry and found that the negro spoken to had at one time been the lieutenant governor of the state.

Washington felt that the greatest thing he could do was to engage in the kind of work that would help his own people most. He did not want to preach. He thought there were too many preachers already. He had the belief that the most