Why was Booker sent back to work at the furnace?

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In his youth, Booker T. Washington grew up in Malden, a small town in West Virginia. In chapter 2 of his autobiography, he explains,

"At that time salt-mining was the great industry in that part of West Virginia."

In the same chapter, he explains that life on the salt mines...

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In his youth, Booker T. Washington grew up in Malden, a small town in West Virginia. In chapter 2 of his autobiography, he explains,

"At that time salt-mining was the great industry in that part of West Virginia."

In the same chapter, he explains that life on the salt mines was exhausting and filled with challenges:

"Though I was a mere child, my stepfather put me and my brother at work in one of the furnaces. Often I began work as early as four o'clock in the morning."

He was excited when he heard that a school for slaves was starting in his region. He saw education as a means to progress toward freedom. While this opportunity thrilled him, he soon realized that there was a barrier preventing him from going to school, this road to freedom: his stepfather.

"The opening of the school in the Kanawha Valley, however, brought to me one of the keenest disappointments that I ever experienced. I had been working in a salt-furnace for several months, and my stepfather had discovered that I had a financial value, and so, when the school opened, he decided that he could not spare me from my work."

At first, his stepfather mandated work in the furnaces, not allowing him to partake at all in the new educational opportunity. As time continued, through the perseverance of Booker T. Washington and his mother, his father compromised: he was allowed to go to school during the day with his friends as long as he met all of his work requirements:

"Finally I won, and was permitted to go to the school in the day for a few months, with the understanding that I was to rise early in the morning and work in the furnace till nine o'clock, and return immediately after school closed in the afternoon for at least two more hours of work."

He soon ran into a problem: he was unable to get off of work at nine and get to school on time. So, he solved his problem by turning back the clock by a half hour, not because he wanted to be dishonest or slack off on his work, but because he didn't want to miss any learning. His employer soon realized that someone was changing the time and put the clock in a case. His temporary solution did not help for long in getting him to school on time.

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