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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861.

As a black man, we say if we cannot stand up, let us fall down.  We desire to be a man among men while we do live; and when we cannot, we wish to die.  It is evident, painfully evident to every reflecting mind, that the means of living, for colored men, are becoming more and more precarious and limited.  Employments and callings formerly monopolized by us, are so no longer.

White men are becoming house-servants, cooks and stewards on vessels—­at hotels.—­They are becoming porters, stevedores, wood-sawers, hod-carriers, brick-makers, white-washers and barbers, so that the blacks can scarcely find the means of subsistence—­a few years ago, a white barber would have been a curiosity—­now their poles stand on every street.  Formerly blacks were almost the exclusive coachmen in wealthy families:  this is so no longer; white men are now employed, and for aught we see, they fill their servile station with an obsequiousness as profound as that of the blacks.  The readiness and ease with which they adapt themselves to these conditions ought not to be lost sight of by the colored people.  The meaning is very important, and we should learn it.  We are taught our insecurity by it.  Without the means of living, life is a curse, and leaves us at the mercy of the oppressor to become his debased slaves.  Now, colored men, what do you mean to do, for you must do something?  The American Colonization Society tells you to go to Liberia.  Mr. Bibb tells you to go to Canada.  Others tell you to go to school.  We tell you to go to work; and to work you must go or die.  Men are not valued in this country, or in any country, for what they are; they are valued for what they can do.  It is in vain that we talk of being men, if we do not the work of men.  We must become valuable to society in other departments of industry than those servile ones from which we are rapidly being excluded.  We must show that we can do as well as be; and to this end we must learn trades.  When we can build as well as live in houses; when we can make as well as wear shoes; when we can produce as well as consume wheat, corn and rye—­then we shall become valuable to society.  Society is a hard-hearted affair.—­With it the helpless may expect no higher dignity than that of paupers.  The individual must lay society under obligation to him, or society will honor him only as a stranger and sojourner. How shall this be done?  In this manner; use every means, strain every nerve to master some important mechanical art.  At present, the facilities for doing so are few—­institutions of learning are more readily opened to you than the work-shop; but the Lord helps them who will help themselves, and we have no doubt that new facilities will be presented as we press forward.

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