The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 402 pages of information about The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861.
were rapidly passing away from the colored people.  Under the caption of “Learn Trades or Starve,” he tried to drive home the truth that if the free people of color did not soon heed his advice, foreigners then immigrating in large numbers would elbow them from all lucrative positions.  In his own words, “every day begins with the lesson and ends with the lesson that colored men must find new employments, new modes of usefulness to society, or that they must decay under the pressing wants to which their condition is bringing them."[1]

[Footnote 1:  Douglass, The Life and Times of, p. 248.]

Douglass believed in higher education and looked forward to that stage in the development of the Negroes when high schools and colleges could contribute to their progress.  He knew, however, that it was foolish to think that persons accustomed to the rougher and harder modes of living could in a single leap from their low condition reach that of professional men.  The attainment of such positions, he thought, was contingent upon laying a foundation in things material by passing “through the intermediate gradations of agriculture and the mechanic arts."[1] He was sure that the higher institutions then open to the colored people would be adequate to the task of providing for them all the professional men they then needed, and that the facilities for higher education so far as the schools and colleges in the free States were concerned would increase quite in proportion to the future needs of the race.

[Footnote 1:  Ibid., p. 249.]

Douglass deplored the fact that education and emigration had gone together.  As soon as a colored man of genius like Russworm, Garnett, Ward, or Crummell appeared, the so-called friends of the race reached the conclusion that he could better serve his race elsewhere.  Seeing themselves pitted against odds, such bright men had had to seek more congenial countries.  The training of Negroes merely to aid the colonization scheme would have little bearing on the situation at home unless its promoters could transplant the majority of the free people of color.  The aim then should be not to transplant the race but to adopt a policy such as he had proposed to elevate it in the United States.[1]

[Footnote 1:  Douglass, The Life and Times, p. 250.]

Vocational education, Douglass thought, would disprove the so-called mental inferiority of the Negroes.  He believed that the blacks should show by action that they were equal to the whites rather than depend on the defense of friends who based their arguments not on facts but on certain admitted principles.  Believing in the mechanical genius of the Negroes he hoped that in the establishment of this institution they would have an opportunity for development.  In it he saw a benefit not only to the free colored people of the North, but also to the slaves.  The strongest argument used by the slaveholder in defense

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The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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