|Washington letter to Manning 1915|
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Washington was arguably the most famous African American in the United States. He was born enslaved and grew up to be a successful educator and spokesman for African Americans. He graduated from Hampton Institute and beginning in 1881 he headed the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now called Tuskegee Institute. Under his leadership Tuskegee aimed to equip its students with teaching diplomas and useful skills in agricultural, domestic and mechanical work.
|Washington photograph 1909|
When he became President Theodore Roosevelt was convinced that the nation's growth required African-Americans to take a fuller role in national affairs. He began to consult with Washington on a regular basis. On October 16, 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt invited Washington to dinner at the White House.The time was one of immense progress and widespread bigotry. The dinner, when publicized, set off a national scandal accompanied by lynchings and other racial persecutions.
Until his death Dr. Washington worked tirelessly on behalf of Tuskegee, and the Smith Collection includes a variety of letters signed by him to promote expansion efforts at the school.
Washington letter 1900
|Washington Letter 1896|
Sources:LWS Collection (LWS 4974)
Danzer, Gerald A. et al., The Americans, McDougal Littell, 2003
Davis, Deborah, Guest of Honor, Atria Publishing, 2012
Blog Post by Michael P. Collins, Volunteer, Cultural Resources, MNHP