Although Up from Slavery has been criticized because Washington wears a mask that makes him seem in harmony with the commercial, industrial era, his autobiography is a social document that presents the principles of success in business and the conduct of a moral life in an industrial society. As in the case of most autobiographies, however, the entire story is not told in Up from Slavery. Washington humbles himself and emphasizes those events that show him struggling in slavery toward freedom and education.
To be successful in his venture, Washington had to play games and work hard. Establishing a school is no easy task, and in 1881, it was especially difficult. After Washington accepted this responsibility, however, he became devoted to making Tuskegee a success. For example, he notes that one thing he was determined to do was to keep the school’s credit high. He recalls the advice of George W. Campbell, the white man who asked General Armstrong to send someone to Tuskegee to establish a school: “Washington, always remember that credit is capital.” On the subject of acquiring funds for Tuskegee, which was a necessity, Washington noted that it gave him “an opportunity to meet some of the best people in the world—to be more covert, I think, I should say the best people of the world.” Washington was not confused about the role that he was playing; he accepted this role and played it well.
Up from Slavery is...
(The entire section is 436 words.)