The Project Gutenberg eBook of Stories of Achievement, Volume III, Orators and Reformers

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Title: Stories of Achievement, Volume III, Orators and Reformers

Editor: Asa Don Dickinson

Release date: June 15, 2006 [eBook #18597]

Language: English


E-text prepared by Al Haines

Henry Ward Beecher

[Frontispiece: Henry Ward Beecher]



Orators and Reformers





In the preparation of this volume the publishers have received from several houses and authors generous permissions to reprint copyright material. For this they wish to express their cordial gratitude. In particular, acknowledgments are due to the Houghton Mifflin Company for the extract concerning Elihu Burritt; to George W. Jacobs & Co. for the extract from Booker T. Washington's "Frederick Douglass"; to P. B. Bromfield for permission to use passages from "The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher"; to the late Booker T. Washington for permission to reprint extracts from "Up From Slavery"; to Judge Ben. B. Lindsey for permission to reprint from "The Beast."



    The Orator Who Stammered

    "The Learned Blacksmith"

    The Conquest of a Bad Habit

    The Slave Who Stole Freedom

    The Boy Who Half-heartedly Joined the Church

    The Boy Who Slept Under the Sidewalk

    The Man Who Fights the Beast


(384-322 B. C.)


Modern critics are fond of discriminating between talent and genius. The fire of genius, it seems, will flame resplendent even in spite of an unworthy possessor's neglect. But the man with talent which must be carefully cherished and increased if he would attain distinction by its help—that man is the true self-helper to whom our hearts go out in sympathy. Every schoolboy knows that Demosthenes practised declamation on the seashore, with his mouth full of pebbles. This description of the unlovely old Athenian with the compelling tongue is Plutarch's contribution to the literature of self-help.

From Plutarch's "Lives of Illustrious Men."

The orator Callistratus was to plead in the cause which the city of Oropus had depending; and the expectation of the public was greatly raised, both by the powers of the orator, which were then in the highest repute, and by the importance of the trial. Demosthenes, hearing the governors and tutors agree among themselves to attend the trial, with much importunity prevailed on his master to take him to hear the pleadings. The master, having some acquaintance with the officers who opened the court, got his young pupil a seat where he could hear the orators without being seen. Callistratus had great success, and his abilities were extremely admired. Demosthenes was fired with a spirit of emulation. When he saw with what distinction the orator was conducted home, and complimented by the people, he was struck still more with the power of that commanding eloquence which could carry all before it. From this time, therefore, he bade adieu to the other studies and exercises in which boys are engaged, and applied himself with great assiduity to declaiming, in hopes of being one day numbered among the orators. Isaeus was the man he made use of as his preceptor in eloquence, though Isocrates then taught it; whether it was that the loss of his father incapacitated him to pay the sum of ten minae, which was that rhetorician's usual price, or whether he preferred the keen and subtle manner of Isaeus as more fit for public use.

Hermippus says he met with an account in certain anonymous memoirs that Demosthenes likewise studied under Plato, and received great assistance from him in preparing to speak in public. He adds, that Ctesibius used to say that Demosthenes was privately supplied by Callias the Syracusan and some others, with the systems of rhetoric taught by Isocrates and Alcidamus, and made his advantage of them.

When his minority was expired, he called his guardians to account at law, and wrote orations against them. As they found many methods of chicane and delay, he had great opportunity, as Thucydides says, to exercise his talent for the bar. It was not without much pain and some risk that he gained his cause; and, at last, it was but a very small part of his patrimony that he could recover. By this means, however, he acquired a proper assurance and some experience; and having tasted the honour and power that go in the train of eloquence, he attempted to speak in the public debates, and take a share in the administration. As it is said of Laomedon the Orchomenian, that, by the advice of his physicians, in some disorder of the spleen, he applied himself to running, and continued it constantly a great length of way, till he had gained such excellent health and breath that he tried for the crown at the public games, and distinguished himself in the long course; so it happened to Demosthenes, that he first appeared at the bar for the recovery of his own fortune, which had been so much embezzled; and having acquired in that cause a persuasive and powerful manner of speaking, he contested the crown, as I may call it, with the other orators before the general assembly.

In his first address to the people he was laughed at and interrupted by their clamours, for the violence of his manner threw him into a confusion of periods and a distortion of his argument; besides he had a weakness and a stammering in his voice, and a want of breath, which caused such a distraction in his discourse that it was difficult for the audience to understand him. At last, upon his quitting the assembly, Eunomous the Thriasian, a man now extremely old, found him wandering in a dejected condition in the Piraeus, and took upon him to set him right. "You," said he, "have a manner of speaking very like that of Pericles, and yet you lose yourself out of mere timidity and cowardice. You neither bear up against the tumults of a popular assembly nor prepare your body by exercise for the labour of the rostrum, but suffer your parts to wither away in negligence and indolence."

Another time, we are told, when his speeches had been ill-received, and he was going home with his head covered, and in the greatest distress, Satyrus, the player, who was an acquaintance of his, followed and went in with him. Demosthenes lamented to him, "That though he was the most laborious of all the orators, and had almost sacrificed his health to that application, yet he could gain no favour with the people; but drunken seamen and other unlettered persons were heard, and kept the rostrum, while he was entirely disregarded." "You say true," answered Satyrus, "but I will soon provide a remedy, if you will repeat to me some speech in Euripides or Sophocles." When Demosthenes had done, Satyrus pronounced the same speech; and he did it with such propriety of action, and so much in character, that it appeared to the orator quite a different passage. He now understood so well how much grace and dignity action adds to the best oration that he thought it a small matter to premeditate and compose, though with the utmost care, if the pronunciation and propriety of gesture were not attended to. Upon this he built himself a subterraneous study which remained to our times. Thither he repaired every day to form his action and exercise his voice; and he would often stay there for two or three months together, shaving one side of his head, that, if he should happen to be ever so desirous of going abroad, the shame of appearing in that condition might keep him in.

When he did go out on a visit, or received one, he would take something that passed in conversation, some business or fact that was reported to him, for a subject to exercise himself upon. As soon as he had parted from his friends, he went to his study, where he repeated the matter in order as it passed, together with the arguments for and against it. The substance of the speeches which he heard he committed to memory, and afterward reduced them to regular sentences and periods, meditating a variety of corrections and new forms of expression, both of what others had said to him, and he had addressed to them. Hence, it was concluded that he was not a man of much genius, and that all his eloquence was the effect of labour. A strong proof of this seemed to be that he was seldom heard to speak anything extempore, and though the people often called upon him by name, as he sat in the assembly, to speak to the point debated, he would not do it unless he came prepared. For this many of the orators ridiculed him; and Pytheas, in particular, told him, "That all his arguments smelled of the lamp." Demosthenes retorted sharply upon him, "Yes, indeed, but your lamp and mine, my friend, are not conscious to the same labours." To others he did not pretend to deny his previous application, but told them, "He either wrote the whole of his orations, or spoke not without first committing part to writing." He further affirmed, "That this shewed him a good member of a democratic state; for the coming prepared to the rostrum was a mark of respect for the people. Whereas, to be regardless of what the people might think of a man's address shewed his inclination for oligarchy, and that he had rather gain his point by force than by persuasion." Another proof they gave us of his want of confidence on any sudden occasion is, that when he happened to be put into disorder by the tumultuary behaviour of the people, Demades often rose up to support him in an extempore address, but he never did the same for Demades.…

Upon the whole it appears that Demosthenes did not take Pericles entirely for his model. He only adopted his action and delivery, and his prudent resolutions not to make a practice of speaking from a sudden impulse, or on any occasion that might present itself; being persuaded that it was to that conduct he owed his greatness. Yet, while he chose not often to trust the success of his powers to fortune, he did not absolutely neglect the reputation which may be acquired by speaking on a sudden occasion; and if we believe Eratosthenes, Demetrius the Phalerean, and the comic poets, there was a greater spirit and boldness in his unpremeditated orations than in those he had committed to writing. Eratosthenes says that in his extemporaneous harangues he often spoke as from a supernatural impulse; and Demetrius tells us that in an address to the people, like a man inspired, he once uttered this oath in verse:

By earth, by all her fountains, streams, and floods! …

As for his personal defects, Demetrius the Phalerean gives us an account of the remedies he applied to them; and he says he had it from Demosthenes in his old age. The hesitation and stammering of his tongue he corrected by practising to speak with pebbles in his mouth; and he strengthened his voice by running or walking uphill, and pronouncing some passage in an oration or a poem during the difficulty of breath which that caused. He had, moreover, a looking-glass in his house before which he used to declaim and adjust all his motions.

It was said that a man came to him one day, and desired him to be his advocate against a person from whom he had suffered by assault. "Not you, indeed," said Demosthenes, "you have suffered no such thing." "What," said the man, raising his voice, "have I not received those blows?" "Ay, now," replied Demosthenes, "you do speak like a person that has been injured." So much in his opinion do the tone of voice and the action contribute to gain the speaker credit in what he affirms.

His action pleased the commonalty much; but people of taste (among whom was Demetrius the Phalerean) thought there was something in it low, inelegant, and unmanly. Hermippus acquaints us, Aesion being asked his opinion of the ancient orators and those of that time, said, "Whoever has heard the orators of former times must admire the decorum and dignity with which they spoke. Yet when we read the orations of Demosthenes, we must allow they have more art in the composition and greater force." It is needless to mention that in his written orations there was something extremely cutting and severe; but in his sudden repartees there was also something of humour.…

When a rascal surnamed Chalcus attempted to jest upon his late studies and long watchings, he said, "I know my lamp offends thee. But you need not wonder, my countryman, that we have so many robberies, when we have thieves of brass [chalcus] and walls only of clay." Though more of his sayings might be produced, we shall pass them over, and go on to seek the rest of his manners and character in his actions and political conduct.

He tells us himself that he entered upon public business in the time of the Phocian war, and the same may be collected from his Philippics. For some of the last of them were delivered after that war was finished; and the former relate to the immediate transactions of it. It appears, also, that he was thirty-two years old when he was preparing his oration against Midias; and yet at that time he had attained no name or power in the administration.…

He had a glorious subject for his political ambition to defend the cause of Greece against Philip. He defended it like a champion worthy of such a charge, and soon gained great reputation both for eloquence and for the bold truths which he spoke. He was admired in Greece, and courted by the king of Persia. Nay, Philip himself had a much higher opinion of him than the other orators; and his enemies acknowledged that they had to contend with a great man. For Aeschines and Hyperides, in their very accusations, give him such a character.

I wonder, therefore, how Theopompus could say that he was a man of no steadiness, who was never long pleased either with the same persons or things. For, on the contrary, it appears that he abode by the party and the measures which he first adopted; and was so far from quitting them during his life that he forfeited his life rather than he would forsake them.…

It must be acknowledged, however, that he excelled all the orators of his time, except Phocion, in his life and conversation. And we find in his orations that he told the people the boldest truths, that he opposed their inclinations and corrected their errors with the greatest spirit and freedom. Theopompus also acquaints us that when the Athenians were for having him manager of a certain impeachment, and insisted upon it in a tumultuary manner, he would not comply, but rose up and said, "My friends, I will be your counsellor whether you will or no; but a false accuser I will not be how much soever you may wish it.…"

Demosthenes, through the whole course of his political conduct, left none of the actions of the kin of Macedon undisparaged. Even in time of peace he laid hold on every opportunity to raise suspicions against him among the Athenians, and to excite their resentment. Hence Philip looked upon him as a person of the greatest importance in Athens; and when he went with nine other deputies to the court of that prince, after having given them all audience, he answered the speech of Demosthenes with greater care than the rest. As to other marks of honour and respect, Demosthenes had not an equal share in them; they were bestowed principally upon Aeschines and Philocrates. They, therefore, were large in the praise of Philip on all occasions, and they insisted, in particular, on his eloquence, his beauty, and even his being able to drink a great quantity of liquor. Demosthenes, who could not bear to hear him praised, turned these things off as trifles. "The first," he said, "was the property of a sophist, the second of a woman, and the third of a sponge; and not one of them could do any credit to a king."

Afterward, it appeared that nothing was to be expected but war; for, on the one hand, Philip knew not how to sit down in tranquillity; and, on the other, Demosthenes inflamed the Athenians. In this case, the first step the orator took was to put the people upon sending an armament to Euboea, which was brought under the yoke of Philip by its petty tyrants. Accordingly he drew up an edict, in pursuance of which they passed over to that peninsula, and drove out the Macedonians. His second operation was the sending succor to the Byzantians and Perinthians, with whom Philip was at war. He persuaded the people to drop their resentment, to forget the faults which both those nations had committed in the confederate war, and to send a body of troops to their assistance. They did so, and it saved them from ruin. After this, he went ambassador to the states of Greece; and, by his animating address, brought them almost all to join in the league against Philip.…

Meantime Philip, elated with his success at Amphissa, surprised Elatea, and possessed himself of Phocis. The Athenians were struck with astonishment, and none of them durst mount the rostrum; no one knew what advice to give; but a melancholy silence reigned the city. In this distress Demosthenes alone stood forth, and proposed that application should be made to the Thebans. He likewise animated the people in his usual manner, and inspired them with fresh hopes; in consequence of which he was sent ambassador to Thebes, some others being joined in commission with him. Philip, too, on his part, as Maryas informs us, sent Anyntus and Clearchus, two Macedonians, Doachus the Thessalian, Thrasidaeus the Elean, to answer the Athenian deputies. The Thebans were not ignorant what way their true interest pointed, but each of them had the evils of war before his eyes; for their Phocian wounds were still fresh upon them. However, the powers of the orator, as Theopompus tells us, rekindled their courage and ambition so effectually that all other objects were disregarded. They lost sight of fear, of caution, of every prior attachment, and, through the force of his eloquence, fell with enthusiastic transports into the path of honour.

So powerful, indeed, were the efforts of the orator that Philip immediately sent ambassadors to Athens to apply for peace. Greece recovered her spirits, whilst she stood waiting for the event; and not only the Athenian generals, but the governors of Boeotia, were ready to execute the commands of Demosthenes. All the assemblies, as well those of Thebes as those of Athens, were under his direction: he was equally beloved, equally powerful, in both places; and, as Theopompus shows, it was no more than his merit claimed. But the superior power of fortune, which seems to have been working at revolution, and drawing the liberties of Greece to a period at that time, opposed and baffled all the measures that could be taken. The deity discovered many tokens of the approaching event.




This man's career is the star example of the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties. For years, while earning his living at the forge, he denied himself all natural pleasures that he might devote every possible minute to cramming his head with seemingly useless scraps of knowledge.

The acquisition of knowledge merely for its own sake is of course foolishness, but it is a very rare kind of foolishness. Nearly always the learned man pays his debt to society in full measure, if we but give him time enough. So it was with "The Learned Blacksmith." From his deep learning, Elihu Burritt at last drew the inspiration which made him a powerful advocate in the cause of the world's peace.

From "Captains of Industry," by James Parton. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1884.

Elihu Burritt, with whom we have all been familiar for many years as the Learned Blacksmith, was born in 1810 at the beautiful town of New Britain, in Connecticut, about ten miles from Hartford. He was the youngest son in an old-fashioned family of ten children. His father owned and cultivated a small farm, but spent the winters at the shoemaker's bench, according to the rational custom of Connecticut in that day. When Elihu was sixteen years of age his father died, and the lad soon after apprenticed himself to a blacksmith in his native village.

He was an ardent reader of books from childhood up, and he was enabled to gratify this taste by means of a very small village library, which contained several books of history, of which he was naturally fond. This boy, however, was a shy, devoted student, brave to maintain what he thought right, but so bashful that he was known to hide in the cellar when his parents were going to have company.

As his father's long sickness had kept him out of school for some time, he was the more earnest to learn during his apprenticeship—particularly mathematics, since he desired to become, among other things, a good surveyor. He was obliged to work from ten to twelve hours a day at the forge, but while he was blowing the bellows he employed his mind in doing sums in his head. His biographer gives a specimen of these calculations which he wrought out without making a single figure:

"How many yards of cloth, three feet in width, cut into strips an inch wide, and allowing half an inch at each end for the lap, would it require to reach from the centre of the earth to the surface, and how much would it all cost at a shilling a yard?"

He would go home at night with several of these sums done in his head, and report the results to an elder brother, who had worked his way through Williams College. His brother would perform the calculations upon a slate, and usually found his answers correct.

When he was about half through his apprenticeship he suddenly took it into his head to learn Latin, and began at once through the assistance of the same elder brother. In the evenings of one winter he read the Aeneid of Virgil; and, after going on for a while with Cicero and a few other Latin authors, he began Greek. During the winter months he was obliged to spend every hour of daylight at the forge, and even in the summer his leisure minutes were few and far between. But he carried his Greek grammar in his hat, and often found a chance, while he was waiting for a large piece of iron to get hot, to open his book with his black fingers, and go through a pronoun, an adjective, or part of a verb, without being noticed by his fellow-apprentices.

So he worked his way until he was out of his time, when he treated himself to a whole quarter's schooling at his brother's school, where he studied mathematics, Latin, and other languages. Then he went back to the forge, studying hard in the evenings at the same branches, until he had saved a little money, when he resolved to go to New Haven and spend a winter in study. It was far from his thoughts, as it was from his means, to enter Yale College, but he seems to have had an idea that the very atmosphere of the college would assist him. He was still so timid that he determined to work his way without asking the least assistance from a professor or tutor.

He took lodgings at a cheap tavern in New Haven, and began the very next morning a course of heroic study. As soon as the fire was made in the sitting-room of the inn, which was at half-past four in the morning, he took possession, and studied German until breakfast-time, which was half-past seven. When the other boarders had gone to business, he sat down to Homer's Iliad, of which he knew nothing, and with only a dictionary to help him.

"The proudest moment of my life," he once wrote, "was when I had first gained the full meaning of the first fifteen lines of that noble work. I took a short triumphal walk, in favor of that exploit."

Just before the boarders came back for their dinner he put away all his Greek and Latin books and took up a work in Italian, because it was less likely to attract the notice of the noisy crowd. After dinner he fell again upon his Greek, and in the evening read Spanish until bedtime. In this way he lived and labored for three months, a solitary student in the midst of a community of students; his mind imbued with the grandeurs and dignity of the past while eating flapjacks and molasses at a poor tavern.

Returning to his home in New Britain, he obtained the mastership of an academy in a town near by, but he could not bear a life wholly sedentary; and at the end of a year abandoned his school and became what is called a "runner" for one of the manufacturers of New Britain. This business he pursued until he was about twenty-five years of age, when, tired of wandering, he came home again, and set up a grocery and provision store, in which he invested all the money he had saved. Soon came the commercial crash of 1837, and he was involved in the widespread ruin. He lost the whole of his capital, and had to begin the world anew.

He resolved to return to his studies in the languages of the East. Unable to buy or find the necessary books, he tied up his effects in a small handkerchief and walked to Boston, one hundred miles distant, hoping there to find a ship in which he could work his passage across the ocean, and collect oriental works from port to port. He could not find a berth. He turned back, and walked as far as Worcester, where he found work, and found something else which he liked better. There is an antiquarian society at Worcester, with a large and peculiar library, containing a great number of books in languages not usually studied, such as the Icelandic, the Russian, the Celtic dialects, and others. The directors of the society placed all their treasures at his command, and he now divided his time between hard study of languages and hard labor at the forge. To show how he passed his days, I will copy an entry or two from his private diary he then kept:

"Monday, June 18. Headache; 40 pages Cuvier's Theory of the Earth; 64 pages French; 11 hours forging.

"Tuesday, June 19. 60 lines Hebrew; 30 pages French; 10 pages Cuvier; 8 lines Syriac; 10 lines Danish; 10 lines Bohemian; 9 lines Polish; 15 names of stars; 10 hours forging.

"Wednesday, June 20. 25 lines Hebrew; 8 lines Syriac; 11 hours forging."

He spent five years at Worcester in such labors as these. When work at his trade became slack, or when he had earned a little more money than usual, he would spend more time in the library; but, on the other hand, when work in the shop was pressing, he could give less time to study. After a while he began to think that he might perhaps earn his subsistence in part by his knowledge of languages, and thus save much waste of time and vitality at the forge. He wrote a letter to William Lincoln, of Worcester, who had aided and encouraged him; and in this letter he gave a short history of his life, and asked whether he could not find employment in translating some foreign work into English. Mr. Lincoln was so much struck with his letter that he sent it to Edward Everett, and he, having occasion soon after to address a convention of teachers, read it to his audience as a wonderful instance of the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties. Mr. Everett prefaced it by saying that such a resolute purpose of improvement against such obstacles excited his admiration, and even his veneration.

"It is enough," he added, "to make one who has good opportunities for education hang his head in shame."

All this, including the whole of the letter, was published in the newspapers, with eulogistic comments, in which the student was spoken of as the "Learned Blacksmith." The bashful scholar was overwhelmed with shame at finding himself suddenly famous. However, it led to his entering upon public life. Lecturing was then coming into vogue, and he was frequently invited to the platform. Accordingly, he wrote a lecture, entitled "Application and Genius," in which he endeavored to show that there is no such thing as genius, but that all extraordinary attainments are the results of application. After delivering this lecture sixty times in one season, he went back to his forge at Worcester, mingling study with labor in the old way.

On sitting down to write a new lecture for the following season, on the "Anatomy of the Earth," a certain impression was made upon his mind which changed the current of his life. Studying the globe, he was impressed with the need that one nation has of other nations, and one zone of another zone; the tropics producing what assuages life in the northern latitudes and northern lands furnishing the means of mitigating tropical discomforts. He felt that the earth was made for friendliness and coöperation, not for fierce competition and bloody wars.

Under the influence of these feelings, his lecture became an eloquent plea for peace, and to this object his after life was chiefly devoted. The dispute with England upon the Oregon boundary induced him to go to England with the design of travelling on foot from village to village, preaching peace, and exposing the horrors and folly of war. His addresses attracting attention, he was invited to speak to larger bodies, and, in short, he spent twenty years of his life as a lecturer upon peace, organizing Peace Congresses, advocating low uniform rates of ocean postage, and spreading abroad among the people of Europe the feeling which issued, at length, in the arbitration of the dispute between the United States and Great Britain, an event which posterity will, perhaps, consider the most important of this century. He heard Victor Hugo say at the Paris Congress of 1850:

"A day will come when a cannon will be exhibited in public museums, just as an instrument of torture is now, and people will be amazed that such a thing could ever have been.…"

Elihu Burritt spent the last years of his life upon a little farm which he had contrived to buy in his native town. He was never married, but lived with his sister and her daughters. He was not so very much richer in worldly goods than when he started out for Boston, with his property wrapped in a small handkerchief. He died in March, 1879, aged sixty-nine years.




Happily few human beings sink to the depths in which John B. Gough found himself at the age of twenty-five years. By sheer force of will he raised himself from the slough in which he wallowed, till he attained a position honored among men, and performed a service of exceptional usefulness to society.

His story, as told in his own vivid words, is one of the most absorbing in the annals of self-help. His example must have helped thousands among the myriads whom he thrilled by the dramatic recital of his experience.

From his "Autobiography."

I boarded in Grand Street at this time, and soon after laid the foundation of many of my future sorrows. I possessed a tolerably good voice, and sang pretty well, having also the faculty of imitation rather strongly developed; and being well stocked with amusing stories, I was introduced into the society of thoughtless and dissipated young men, to whom my talents made me welcome. These companions were what is termed respectable, but they drank. I now began to attend the theatres frequently, and felt ambitious of strutting my part upon the stage. By slow but sure degrees I forgot the lessons of wisdom which my mother had taught me, lost all relish for the great truths of religion, neglected my devotions, and considered an actor's situation to be the ne plus ultra of greatness.

During my residence at Newburyport my early serious impressions on one occasion in a measure revived, and I felt some stinging of conscience for my neglect of the Sabbath and religious observances. I recommenced attending a place of worship, and for a short time I attended the Rev. Mr. Campbell's church, by whom, as well as by several of his members, I was treated with much Christian kindness. I was often invited to Mr. Campbell's house, as well as to the house of some of his hearers, and it seemed as if a favorable turning-point or crisis in my fortunes had arrived. Mr. Campbell was good enough to manifest a very great interest in my welfare, and frequently expressed a hope that I should be enabled, although late in life, to obtain an education. And this I might have acquired had not my evil genius prevented my making any efforts to obtain so desirable an end. My desire for strong liquors and company seemed to present an insuperable barrier to all improvement; and after a few weeks every aspiration after better things had ceased; every bud of promised comfort was crushed. Again I grieved the spirit that had been striving with my spirit, and ere long became even more addicted to the use of the infernal draughts, which had already wrought me so much woe, than at any previous period of my existence.

And now my circumstances began to be desperate indeed. In vain were all my efforts to obtain work, and at last I became so reduced that at times I did not know when one meal was ended, where on the face of the broad earth I should find another. Further mortification awaited me, and by slow degrees I became aware of it. The young men with whom I had associated, in barrooms and parlors, and who wore a little better clothing than I could afford, one after another began to drop my acquaintance. If I walked in the public streets, I too quickly perceived the cold look, the averted eye, the half recognition, and to a sensitive spirit such as I possessed such treatment was almost past endurance. To add to the mortification caused by such a state of things, it happened that those who had laughed the loudest at my songs and stories, and who had been social enough with me in the barroom, were the very individuals who seemed most ashamed of my acquaintance. I felt that I was shunned by the respectable portion of the community also; and once, on asking a lad to accompany me in a walk, he informed me that his father had cautioned him against associating with me. This was a cutting reproof, and I felt it more deeply than words can express. And could I wonder at it? No. Although I may have used bitter words against that parent, my conscience told me that he had done no more than his duty in preventing his son being influenced by my dissipated habits. Oh! how often have I lain down and bitterly remembered many who had hailed my arrival in their company as a joyous event. Their plaudits would resound in my ears, and peals of laughter ring again in my deserted chamber; then would succeed stillness, broken only by the beatings of my agonized heart, which felt that the gloss of respectability had worn off and exposed my threadbare condition. To drown these reflections, I would drink, not from love of the taste of the liquor, but to become so stupefied by its fumes as to steep my sorrows in a half oblivion; and from this miserable stupor I would wake to a fuller consciousness of my situation, and again would I banish my reflections by liquor.

There lived in Newburyport at that time a Mr. Law, who was a rum seller, and I had spent many a shilling at his bar; he proposed to me that he would purchase some tools, and I could start a bindery on my own account, paying him by installments. He did so; and I thought it an act of great kindness then, and for some time afterward, till I found he had received pay from me for tools he had never paid for himself, and I was dunned for the account he had failed to settle. He even borrowed seventy-five dollars from me after I signed the pledge, which has never been repaid. "Such is life."

Despite all that had occurred, my good name was not so far gone but that I might have succeeded, by the aid of common industry and attention, in my business. I was a good workman, and found no difficulty in procuring employment, and, I have not the slightest doubt, should have succeeded in my endeavor to get on in the world but for the unhappy love of stimulating drinks, and my craving for society. I was now my own master; all restraint was removed, and, as might be expected, I did as I pleased in my own shop. I became careless, was often in the barroom when I should have been at my bindery, and instead of spending my evenings at home in reading or conversation, they were almost invariably passed in the company of the rum bottle, which became almost my sole household deity. Five months only did I remain in business, and during that short period I gradually sunk deeper and deeper in the scale of degradation. I was now the slave of a habit which had become completely my master, and which fastened its remorseless fangs in my very vitals. Thought was a torturing thing. When I looked back, memory drew fearful pictures, the lines of lurid flame, and, whenever I dared anticipate the future, hope refused to illumine my onward path. I dwelt in one awful present; nothing to solace me—nothing to beckon me onward to a better state.

I knew full well that I was proceeding on a downward course, and crossing the sea of time, as it were, on a bridge perilous as that over which Mahomet's followers are said to enter paradise. A terrible feeling was ever present that some evil was impending which would soon fall on my devoted head, and I would shudder as if the sword of Damocles, suspended by its single hair, was about to fall and utterly destroy me.

Warnings were not wanting, but they had no voice of terror for me. I was intimately acquainted with a young man in the town, and well remember his coming to my shop one morning and asking the loan of ninepence with which to buy rum. I let him have the money, and the spirit was soon consumed. He begged me to lend him a second ninepence, but I refused; yet, during my temporary absence, he drank some spirit of wine which was in a bottle in the shop, and used by me in my business. He went away, and the next I heard of him was that he had died shortly afterward. Such an awful circumstance as this might well have impressed me, but habitual indulgence had almost rendered me impervious to salutary impressions. I was, at this time, deeper in degradation than at any period before which I can remember.

My custom now was to purchase my brandy—which, in consequence of my limited means, was of the very worst description—and keep it at the shop, where, by little and little, I drank it, and continually kept myself in a state of excitement.

This course of procedure entirely unfitted me for business, and it not unfrequently happened, when I had books to bind, that I would instead of attending to business keep my customers waiting, whilst in the company of desolute companions I drank during the whole day, to the complete ruin of my prospects in life. So entirely did I give myself up to the bottle that those of my companions who fancied they still possessed some claims to respectability gradually withdrew from my company. At my house, too, I used to keep a bottle of gin, which was in constant requisition. Indeed, go where I would, stimulant I must and did have. Such a slave was I to the bottle that I resorted to it continually, and in vain was every effort which I occasionally made to conquer the debasing habit. I had become a father; but God in his mercy removed my little one at so early an age that I did not feel the loss as much as if it had lived longer, to engage my affections.

A circumstance now transpired which attracted my attention, and led me to consider my situation, and whither I was hurrying. A lecture was advertised to be delivered by the first reformed drunkard, Mr. I. J. Johnson, who visited Newburyport, and I was invited by some friends, who seemed to feel an interest, to attend and hear what he had to say. I determined after some consideration to go and hear what was to be said on the subject. The meeting was held in the Rev. Mr. Campbell's church, which was pretty well crowded. I went to the door, but would go no farther; but in the ten minutes I stood there, I heard him in graphic and forcible terms depict the misery of the drunkard and the awful consequences of his conduct, both as they affected himself and those connected with him. My conscience told that he spoke the truth—for what had I not suffered! I knew he was right, and I turned to leave the church when a young man offered me the pledge to sign. I actually turned to sign it; but at that critical moment the appetite for strong drink, as if determined to have the mastery over me, came in all its force. Oh, how I wanted it! and remembering that I had a pint of brandy at home I deferred signing, and put off to "a more convenient season," a proceeding that might have saved me so much after sorrow. I, however, compromised the matter with my conscience by inwardly resolving that I would drink up what spirit I had by me, and then think of leaving off altogether.

I forgot the impressions made upon me by the speaker at the meeting. Still, I madly drained the inebriating cup, and speedily my state was worse than ever. Oh, no, I soon ceased to think about it, for my master passion, like Aaron's rod, swallowed up every thought and feeling opposed to it which I possessed.

My business grew gradually worse, and at length my constitution became so impaired that even when I had the will I did not possess the power to provide for my daily wants. My hands would at times tremble so that I could not perform the finer operations of my business, the finishing and gilding. How could I letter straight, with a hand burning and shaking from the effects of a debauch. Sometimes, when it was absolutely necessary to finish off some work, I have entered the shop with a stern determination not to drink a single drop until I completed it. I have bitterly felt that my failing was a matter of common conversation in the town, and a burning sense of shame would flush my fevered brow at the conviction that I was scorned by the respectable portion of the community. But these feelings passed away like the morning cloud or early dew, and I pursued my old course.

One day I thought I would not go to work, and a great inducement to remain at home existed in the shape of my enemy, West India rum, of which I had a quantity in the house. Although the morning was by no means far advanced, I sat down, intending to do nothing until dinner-time. I could not sit alone without rum, and I drank glass after glass until I became so stupefied that I was compelled to lie down on the bed, where I soon fell asleep. When I awoke it was late in the afternoon, and then, as I persuaded myself, too late to make a bad day's work good. I invited a neighbor, who, like myself, was a man of intemperate habits, to spend the evening with me. He came, and we sat down to our rum, and drank foully together until late that night, when he staggered home; and so intoxicated was I that, in moving to go to bed, I fell over the table, broke a lamp, and lay on the floor for some time, unable to rise. At last I managed to get to bed, but, oh, I did not sleep, only dozed at intervals, for the drunkard never knows the blessings of undisturbed repose. I awoke in the night with a raging thirst. No sooner was one draught taken than the horrible dry feeling returned; and so I went on, swallowing repeated glassfuls of the spirit until at last I had drained the very last drop which the jug contained. My appetite grew by what it fed on; and, having a little money by me, I with difficulty got up, made myself look as tidy as possible, and then went out to buy more rum, with which I returned to the house.

The fact will, perhaps, seem incredible, but so it was that I drank spirits continually without tasting a morsel of food for the next three days. This could not last long; a constitution of iron strength could not endure such treatment, and mine was partially broken down by previous dissipation.

I began to experience a feeling hitherto unknown to me. After the three days' drinking to which I have just referred, I felt, one night, as I lay on my bed, an awful sense of something dreadful coming over me. It was as if I had been partially stunned, and now in an interval of consciousness was about to have the fearful blow, which had prostrated me, repeated. There was a craving for sleep, sleep, blessed sleep, but my eyelids were as if they could not close. Every object around me I beheld with startling distinctness, and my hearing became unnaturally acute. Then, to the ringing and roaring in my ears would suddenly succeed a silence so awful that only the stillness of the grave might be compared with it.

At other times, strange voices would whisper unintelligible words, and the slightest noise would make me start like a guilty thing. But the horrible, burning thirst was insupportable, and to quench it and induce sleep I clutched again and again the rum bottle, hugged my enemy, and poured the infernal fluid down my parched throat. But it was no use, none; I could not sleep. Then I bethought me of tobacco; and staggering from my bed to a shelf near by, with great difficulty I managed to procure a pipe and some matches. I could not stand to light the latter, so I lay again on the bed, and scraped one on the wall. I began to smoke, and the narcotic leaf produced a stupefaction. I dozed a little, but, feeling a warmth on my face, I awoke and discovered my pillow to be on fire! I had dropped a lighted match on the bed. By a desperate effort I threw the pillow on the floor, and, too exhausted to feel annoyed by the burning feathers, I sank into a state of somnolency.

How long I lay, I do not exactly know; but I was roused from my lethargy by the neighbors, who, alarmed by the smell of fire, came to my room to ascertain the cause. When they took me from my bed, the under part of the straw with which it was stuffed was smouldering, and in a quarter of an hour more must have burst into a flame. Had such been the case, how horrible would have been my fate! for it is more than probable that, in my half-senseless condition, I should have been suffocated, or burned to death. The fright produced by this incident, and a very narrow escape, in some degree sobered me, but what I felt more than anything else was the exposure now; all would be known, and I feared my name would become, more than ever, a byword and a reproach.

Will it be believed that I again sought refuge in rum? Yes, so it was. Scarcely had I recovered from the fright than I sent out, procured a pint of rum, and drank it all in less than an hour. And now came upon me many terrible sensations. Cramps attacked me in my limbs, which raked me with agony, and my temples throbbed as if they would burst. So ill was I that I became seriously alarmed, and begged the people of the house to send for a physician. They did so, but I immediately repented having summoned him, and endeavored, but ineffectually, to get out of his way when he arrived. He saw at a glance what was the matter with me, ordered the persons about me to watch me carefully, and on no account to let me have any spirituous liquors. Everything stimulating was vigorously denied me; and there came on the drunkard's remorseless torture: delirium tremens, in all its terrors, attacked me. For three days I endured more agony than pen could describe, even were it guided by the mind of Dante. Who can feel the horrors of the horrible malady, aggravated as it is by the almost ever-abiding consciousness that it is self-sought. Hideous faces appeared on the wall and on the ceiling and on the floors; foul things crept along the bedclothes, and glaring eyes peered into mine. I was at one time surrounded by millions of monstrous spiders that crawled slowly over every limb, whilst the beaded drops of perspiration would start to my brow, and my limbs would shiver until the bed rattled again. Strange lights would dance before my eyes, and then suddenly the very blackness of darkness would appall me by its dense gloom. All at once, while gazing at a frightful creation of my distempered mind, I seemed struck with sudden blindness. I knew a candle was burning in the room but I could not see it, all was so pitchy dark. I lost the sense of feeling, too, for I endeavored to grasp my arm in one hand, but consciousness was gone. I put my hand to my side, my head, but felt nothing, and still I knew my limbs and frame were there. And then the scene would change! I was falling—falling swiftly as an arrow—far down into some terrible abyss; and so like reality was it that as I fell I could see the rocky sides of the horrible shaft, where mocking, jibing, fiend-like forms were perched; and I could feel the air rushing past me, making my hair stream out by the force of the unwholesome blast. Then the paroxysm sometimes ceased for a few moments, and I would sink back on my pallet, drenched with perspiration, utterly exhausted, and feeling a dreadful certainty of the renewal of my torments.

By the mercy of God I survived this awful seizure; and when I rose, a weak, broken-down man, and surveyed my ghastly features in a glass, I thought of my mother, and asked myself how I had obeyed the instructions I had received from her lips, and to what advantage I had turned the lessons she had taught me. I remembered her prayers and tears, thought of what I had been but a few short months before, and contrasted my situation with what it then was. Oh! how keen were my own rebukes; and in the excitement of the moment I resolved to lead a better life, and abstain from the accursed cup.

For about a month, terrified by what I had suffered, I adhered to my resolution, then my wife came home, and in my joy at her return I flung my good resolutions to the wind, and foolishly fancying that I could now restrain my appetite, which had for a whole month remained in subjection, I took a glass of brandy. That glass aroused the slumbering demon, who would not be satisfied by so tiny a libation. Another and another succeeded, until I was again far advanced in the career of intemperance. The night of my wife's return I went to bed intoxicated.

I will not detain the reader by the particulars of my everyday life at this time; they may easily be imagined from what has already been stated. My previous bitter experience, one would think, might have operated as a warning; but none save the inebriate can tell the almost resistless strength of the temptations which assail him. I did not, however, make quite so deep a plunge as before. My tools I had given into the hands of Mr. Gray, for whom I worked, receiving about five dollars a week. My wages were paid me every night, for I was not to be trusted with much money at a time, so certain was I to spend a great portion of it in drink. As it was, I regularly got rid of one third of what I daily received, for rum.

My wardrobe, as it had, indeed, nearly always been whilst I drank to excess, was now exceedingly shabby, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I could manage to procure the necessaries of life. My wife became very ill. Oh! how miserable I was! Some of the women who were in attendance on my wife told me to get two quarts of rum. I procured it, and as it was in the house, and I did not anticipate serious consequences, I could not withstand the strong temptation to drink. I did drink, and so freely that the usual effect was produced. How much I swallowed I cannot tell, but the quantity, judging from the effects, must have been considerable.

Ten long weary days of suspense passed, at the end of which my wife and her infant both died. Then came the terribly oppressive feeling that I was forgotten of God, as well as abandoned by man. All the consciousness of my dreadful situation pressed heavily, indeed, upon me, and keenly as a sensitive mind could, did I feel the loss I had experienced. I drank now to dispel my gloom, or to drown it in the maddening cup. And soon was it whispered, from one to another, until the whole town became aware of it, that my wife and child were lying dead, and that I was drunk! But if ever I was cursed with the faculty of thought, in all its intensity, it was then. And this was the degraded condition of one who had been nursed in the lap of piety, and whose infant tongue had been taught to utter a prayer against being led into temptation. There in the room where all who had loved me were; lying in the unconscious slumber of death was I, gazing, with a maudlin melancholy imprinted on my features, on the dead forms of those who were flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. During the miserable hours of darkness I would steal from my lonely bed to the place where my dead wife and child lay, and, in agony of soul, pass my shaking hand over their cold faces, and then return to my bed after a draught of rum, which I had obtained and hidden under the pillow of my wretched couch.

How apt the world is to judge of a man pursuing the course I did as one destitute of all feeling, with no ambition, no desire for better things! To speak of such a man's pride seems absurd, and yet drink does not destroy pride, ambition, or high aspirations. The sting of his misery is that he has ambition but no expectation; desire for better things but no hope; pride but no energy; therefore the possession of these very qualities is an additional burden to his load of agony. Could he utterly forget his manhood, and wallow with the beasts that perish, he would be comparatively happy. But his curse is that he thinks. He is a man, and must think. He cannot always drown thought or memory. He may, and does, fly for false solace to the drink, and may stun his enemy in the evening, but it will rend him like a giant in the morning. A flower, or half-remembered tune, a child's laughter, will sometimes suffice to flood the victim with recollections that either madden him to excess or send him crouching to his miserable room, to sit with face buried in his hands, while the hot, thin tears trickle over his swollen fingers.

I believe this to be one reason why I shrink from society; why I have so often refused kind invitations; why, though I love my personal friends as strongly and as truly as any man's friends are ever loved, I have so steadily withdrawn from social parties, dinners, or introductions. This is the penalty I must ever pay.

A man can never recover from the effects of such a seven years' experience, morally or physically.

The month of October had nearly drawn to a close, and on its last Sunday evening I wandered out into the streets, pondering as well as I was able to do—for I was somewhat intoxicated—on my lone and friendless condition. My frame was much weakened and little fitted to bear the cold of winter, which had already begun to come on. But I had no means of protecting myself against the bitter blast, and, as I anticipated my coming misery, I staggered along, houseless, aimless, and all but hopeless.

Some one tapped me on the shoulder. An unusual thing that, to occur to me, for no one now cared to come in contact with the wretched, shabby-looking drunkard. I was a disgrace, "a living, walking disgrace." I could scarcely believe my own senses when I turned and met a kind look; the thing was so unusual, and so entirely unexpected that I questioned the reality of it, but so it was. It was the first touch of kindness which I had known for months; and simple and trifling as the circumstance may appear to many, it went right to my heart, and like the wing of an angel, troubled the waters in that stagnant pool of affection, and made them once more reflect a little of the light of human love. The person who touched my shoulder was an entire stranger. I looked at him, wondering what his business was with me. Regarding me very earnestly, and apparently with much interest, he said:

"Mr. Gough, I believe?"

"That is my name," I replied, and was passing on.

"You have been drinking to-day," said the stranger, in a kind voice, which arrested my attention, and quite dispelled any anger at what I might otherwise have considered an officious interference in my affairs.

"Yes, sir," I replied. "I have——"

"Why do you not sign the pledge?" was the next query.

I considered for a moment or two, and then informed the strange friend who had so unexpectedly interested himself in my behalf that I had no hope of ever again becoming a sober man, and that I was without a single friend in the world who cared for me; that I fully expected to die very soon, cared not how soon, or whether I died drunk or sober, and, in fact, that I was in a condition of utter recklessness.

The stranger regarded me with a benevolent look, took me by the arm, and asked me how I should like to be as I once was, respectable and esteemed, well clad, and sitting as I used to, in a place of worship; enabled to meet my friends as in old times, and receive from them the pleasant nod of recognition as formerly; in fact, become a useful member of society?

"Oh," I replied, "I should like all these things first-rate; but I have no expectation that such a thing will ever happen. Such a change cannot be possible."

"Only sign our pledge," remarked my friend, "and I will warrant that it will be so. Sign it, and I will introduce you myself to good friends, who will feel an interest in your welfare and take a pleasure in helping you to keep your good resolution. Only, Mr. Gough, sign the pledge, and all will be as I have said; ay, and more, too!"

Oh! how pleasantly fell these words of kindness and promise on my crushed and bruised heart. I had long been a stranger to feelings such as now awoke in my bosom; a chord had been touched which vibrated to the tone of woe. Hope once more dawned; and I began to think, strange as it appeared, that such things as my friend promised me might come to pass. On the instant I resolved to try, at least, and said to the stranger:

"Well, I will sign it."

"When?" he asked.

"I cannot do so to-night," I replied, "for I must have some more drink presently, but I certainly will to-morrow."

"We have a temperance meeting to-morrow evening," he said; "will you sign it then?"

"I will."

"That is right," said he, grasping my hand; "I will be there to see you."

"You shall," I remarked, and we parted.

I went on my way much touched by the kind interest which at last some one had taken in my welfare. I said to myself: "If it should be the last act of my life, I will perform my promise and sign it, even though I die in the attempt, for that man has placed confidence in me, and on that account I love him."

I then proceeded to a low groggery in Lincoln Square, and in the space of half an hour drank several glasses of brandy; this in addition to what I had taken before made me very drunk, and I staggered home as well as I could.

Arrived there, I threw myself on the bed and lay in a state of insensibility until morning. The first thing which occurred to my mind on awaking was the promise I had made on the evening before, to sign the pledge; and feeling, as I usually did on the morning succeeding a drunken bout, wretched and desolate, I was almost sorry that I had agreed to do so. My tongue was dry, my throat parched, my temples throbbed as if they would burst, and I had a horrible burning feeling in my stomach which almost maddened me, and I felt that I must have some bitters or I should die. So I yielded to my appetite, which would not be appeased, and repaired to the same hotel where I had squandered away so many shillings before; there I drank three or four times, until my nerves were a little strung, and then I went to work.

All that day the coming event of the evening was continually before my mind's eye, and it seemed to me as if the appetite which had so long controlled me exerted more power over me than ever. It grew stronger than I had any time known it, now that I was about to rid myself of it. Until noon I struggled against its cravings, and then, unable to endure my misery any longer, I made some excuse for leaving the shop, and went nearly a mile from it in order to procure one more glass wherewith to appease the demon who had so tortured me. The day wore wearily away, and when evening came I determined, in spite of many a hesitation, to perform the promise I had made to the stranger the night before. The meeting was to be held at the lower town hall, Worcester; and thither, clad in an old brown surtout, closely buttoned up to my chin that my ragged habiliments beneath might not be visible, I went. I took a place among the rest, and when an opportunity of speaking offered itself, I requested permission to be heard, which was readily granted.

When I stood up to relate my story, I was invited to the stand, to which I repaired, and on turning to face the audience, I recognized my acquaintance who had asked me to sign. It was Mr. Joel Stratton. He greeted me with a smile of approbation, which nerved and strengthened me for my task, as I tremblingly observed every eye fixed upon me. I lifted my quivering hand and then and there told what rum had done for me. I related how I was once respectable and happy, and had a home, but that now I was a houseless, miserable, scathed, diseased, and blighted outcast from society. I had scarce a hope remaining to me of ever becoming that which I once was, but, having promised to sign the pledge, I had determined not to break my word, and would now affix my name to it. In my palsied hand I with difficulty grasped the pen, and, in characters almost as crooked as those of old Stephen Hopkins on the Declaration of Independence, I signed the total abstinence pledge, and resolved to free myself from the inexorable tyrant.

Although still desponding and hopeless, I felt that I was relieved from a part of my heavy load. It was not because I deemed there was any supernatural power in the pledge which would prevent my ever again falling into such depths of woe as I had already become acquainted with, but the feeling of relief arose from the honest desire I entertained to keep a good resolution. I had exerted a moral power which had long remained lying by perfectly useless. The very idea of what I had done strengthened and encouraged me. Nor was this the only impulse given me to proceed in my new pathway, for many who witnessed my signing and heard my simple statement came forward, kindly grasped my hand, and expressed their satisfaction at the step I had taken. A new and better day seemed already to have dawned upon me.

As I left the hall, agitated and enervated, I remember chuckling to myself, with great gratification, "I have done it—I have done it!" There was a degree of pleasure in having put my foot on the head of the tyrant who had so long led me captive at his will, but although I had "scotched the snake," I had not killed him, for every inch of his frame was full of venomous vitality, and I felt that all my caution was necessary to prevent his stinging me afresh. I went home, retired to bed, but in vain did I try to sleep. I pondered upon the step I had taken, and passed a restless night. Knowing that I had voluntarily renounced drink, I endeavored to support my sufferings, and resist the incessant craving of my remorseless appetite as well as I could, but the struggle to overcome it was insupportably painful. When I got up in the morning my brain seemed as though it would burst with the intensity of its agony; my throat appeared as if it were on fire; and in my stomach I experienced a dreadful burning sensation, as if the fire of the pit had been kindled there. My hands trembled so that to raise water to my feverish lips was almost impossible. I craved, literally gasped, for my accustomed stimulant, and felt that I should die if I did not have it; but I persevered in my resolve, and withstood the temptations which assailed me on every hand.

Still, during all this frightful time I experienced a feeling somewhat akin to satisfaction at the position I had taken. I made at least one step toward reformation. I began to think that it was barely possible I might see better days, and once more hold up my head in society. Such feelings as these would alternate with gloomy forebodings and thick coming fancies of approaching ill. At one time hope, and at another fear, would predominate, but the raging, dreadful, continued thirst was always present, to torture and tempt me.

After breakfast I proceeded to the shop where I was employed, feeling dreadfully ill. I determined, however, to put a bold face on the matter, and, in spite of the cloud which seemed to hang over me, attempt work. I was exceedingly weak, and fancied, as I almost reeled about the shop, that every eye was fixed upon me suspiciously, although I exerted myself to the utmost to conceal my agitation. I was suffering; and those who have never thus suffered cannot comprehend it. The shivering of the spine, then flushes of heat, causing every pore of the body to sting, as if punctured with some sharp instrument; the horrible whisperings in the ear, combined with a longing cry of the whole system for stimulants. One glass of brandy would steady my shaking nerves; I cannot hold my hand still; I cannot stand still. A young man but twenty-five years of age, and I have no control of my nerves; one glass of brandy would relieve this gnawing, aching, throbbing stomach, but I have signed the pledge. "I do agree that I will not use it; and I must fight it out." How I got through the day I cannot tell. I went to my employer and said:

"I signed the pledge last night."

"I know you did."

"I mean to keep it."

"So they all say, and I hope you will."

"You do not believe that I will; you have no confidence in me."

"None whatever."

I turned to my work, broken-hearted, crushed in spirit, paralyzed in energy, feeling how low I had sunk in the esteem of prudent and sober-minded men. Suddenly the small iron bar I had in my hand began to move; I felt it move, I gripped it; still it moved and twisted; I gripped still harder; yet the thing would move till I could feel it, yes, feel it, tearing the palm out of my hand, then I dropped it, and there it lay, a curling, shiny snake! I could hear the paper shavings rustle as the horrible thing writhed before me! If it had been a snake I should not have minded it. I was never afraid of a snake. I should have called some one to look at it, I could have killed it, I should not have been terrified at a thing; but I knew it was a cold dead bar of iron, and there it was, with its green eyes, its forked, darting tongue, curling in all its shiny loathsomeness, and the horror filled me so that my hair seemed to stand up and shiver, and my skin lift from the scalp to the ankles, and I groaned out, "I cannot fight this through! Oh! my God, I shall die!" when a gentleman came into the shop with a cheerful "Good-morning, Mr. Gough."

"Good-morning, sir."

"I saw you sign the pledge last night."

"Yes, sir, I did it."

"I was very glad to see you do it, and many young men followed your example. It is such men as you that we want, and I hope you will be the means of doing a great deal of good. My office is in the exchange; come in and see me. I shall be happy to make your acquaintance. I have only a minute or two to spare, but I thought I would just call in and tell you to keep up a brave heart. Good-bye, God bless you. Come in and see me."

That was Jesse Goodrich, then a practising attorney and counselor at law, in Worcester, now dead; but to the last of his life my true and faithful friend. It would be impossible to describe how this little act of kindness cheered me. With the exception of Mr. Stratton, who was a waiter at a temperance hotel, no one had accosted me for months in a manner which would lead me to think any one cared for me, or what might be my fate. Now I was not altogether alone in the world; there was a hope of my being rescued from the "slough of despond," where I had been so long floundering. I felt that the fountain of human kindness was not utterly sealed up, and again a green spot, an oasis, small, indeed, but cheering, appeared in the desert of my life. I had something to live for; a new desire for life seemed suddenly to spring up; the universal boundary of human sympathy included even my wretched self in its cheering circle. All these sensations were generated by a few kind words at the right time. Yes, now I can fight; and I did fight—six days and six nights—encouraged and helped by a few words of sympathy. He said, "Come in and see me." I will. He said he would be pleased to make my acquaintance. He shall. He said, "Keep up a brave heart!" By God's help I will. And so encouraged I fought on with not one hour of healthy sleep, not one particle of food passing my lips, for six days and six nights.

On the evening of the day following that on which I signed the pledge I went straight home from my workshop, with a dreadful feeling of some impending calamity haunting me. In spite of the encouragement I had received, the presentiment of coming evil was so strong that it bowed me almost to the dust with apprehension. The slakeless thirst still clung to me; and water, instead of allaying it, seemed only to increase its intensity.

I was fated to encounter one struggle more with my enemy before I became free. Fearful was that struggle. God in his mercy forbid that any young man should endure but a tenth part of the torture which racked my frame and agonized my heart.

As in the former attack, horrible faces glared upon me from the walls—faces ever changing, and displaying new and still more horrible features; black bloated insects crawled over my face, and myriads of burning, concentric rings were revolving incessantly. At one moment the chamber appeared as red as blood, and in a twinkling it was dark as the charnel house. I seemed to have a knife with hundreds of blades in my hand, every blade driven through the flesh, and all so inextricably bent and tangled together that I could not withdraw them for some time; and when I did, from my lacerated fingers the bloody fibres would stretch out all quivering with life. After a frightful paroxysm of this kind I would start like a maniac from my bed, and beg for life, life! What I of late thought so worthless seemed now to be of unappreciable value. I dreaded to die, and clung to existence with a feeling that my soul's salvation depended on a little more of life.

In about a week I gained, in a great degree, the mastery over my accursed appetite; but the strife had made me dreadfully weak. Gradually my health improved, my spirits recovered, and I ceased to despair. Once more was I enabled to crawl into the sunshine; but, oh, how changed! Wan cheeks and hollow eyes, feeble limbs and almost powerless hands plainly enough indicated that between me and death there had indeed been but a step; and those who saw me might say as was said of Dante, when he passed through the streets of France, "There's the man that has been in hell."




To Booker T. Washington, the teller of the tale which follows, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation brought freedom when he was but three years old. But Mr. Washington's struggles, first for an education, later in behalf of his black brethren, have endowed him with understanding and warm sympathy for Douglass, the man who, in his own generation, preceded Washington as the foremost colored citizen of the United States.

In later days, when the Underground Railway was in full operation, the slave who ran away could be sure of aid and comfort at any one of its many stations that he might find it possible to reach. But Douglass—pioneer among these dark-skinned adventurers for freedom—must needs rely almost wholly upon his own wit and courage in making his escape.

From "Frederick Douglass," by Booker T. Washington. Copyright, 1906, by George W. Jacobs & Company.

Frederick Douglass was born in the little town of Tuckahoe, in Talbot County, on the eastern shore of Maryland, supposedly in the month of February, 1817.…

Until he was seven years of age, young Fred felt few of the privations of slavery. In these childhood days he probably was as happy and carefree as the white children in the "big house." At liberty to come and go and play in the open sunshine, his early life was typical of the happier side of the negro life in slavery. What he missed of a mother's affection and a father's care was partly made up to him by the indulgent kindness of his good grandmother.

When Fred was between seven and eight years of age his grandmother was directed by her master to take her grandson to the Lloyd plantation. After the boy arrived at his new home, he was put in charge of a slave-woman for whom the only name we know is "Aunt Katy." This change brought him the first real hardship of his life. As an early consequence of it, he lost the care and guidance of his grandmother, his freedom to play, good food, and that affection which means so much to a child. When he came under the care of Aunt Katy, he began to feel for the first time the sting of unkindness. He has given a very disagreeable picture of this foster-mother. She was a woman of a hateful disposition, and treated the little stranger from Tuckahoe with extreme harshness. Her special mode of punishment was to deprive him of food. Indeed he was forced to go hungry most of the time, and if he complained was beaten without mercy. He has described his misery on one particular night. After being sent supperless to bed, his suffering very soon became more than he could bear, and when everybody else in the cabin was asleep he quietly took some corn and began to parch it before the open fireplace. While thus trying to appease his hunger by stealth, and feeling dejected and homesick, "who but my own dear mother should come in?" The friendless, hungry, and sorrowing little boy found himself suddenly caught up in her strong and protecting arms.

"I shall never forget," he says, "the indescribable expression of her countenance when I told her that Aunt Katy had said that she would starve the life out of me. There was a deep and tender glance at me, and a fiery look of indignation for Aunt Katy at the same moment, and when she took the parched corn from me and gave me, instead, a large ginger-cake, she read Aunt Katy a lecture which was never forgotten. That night I learned, as never before, that I was not only a child, but somebody's child. I was grander on my mother's knee than a king upon his throne. But my triumph was short. I dropped off to sleep and waked in the morning to find my mother gone, and myself again at the mercy of the virago in my master's kitchen."

There is no record of another meeting between mother and son. She probably died shortly afterward, because if she had been within walking distance, he certainly would have seen her again. Her memory in his child's mind was always that of a real and near personality. When he became older, and conscious of his superiority to his fellows, he was wont to say: "I am proud to attribute my love of letters, such as I may have, not to my presumed Anglo-Saxon father, but to my sable, unprotected, and uncultivated mother." Thus, after his mother died, his vivid imagination kept before him her image, as she appeared to him that last time he saw her, through all his struggles for a fuller and freer life for himself and his race.

With the loss of his mother and grandmother, he came more and more to realize the peculiar relation in which he and those about him stood to Colonel Lloyd and Captain Anthony. His active mind soon grasped the meaning of "master" and "slave." While still a lad, longing for a mother's care, he began to feel himself within the grasp of the curious thing that he afterward learned to know as "slavery." As he grew older in years and understanding, he came also to see what manner of man his master was. He described Captain Anthony as a "sad man." At times he was very gentle, and almost benevolent. But young Douglass was never able to forget that this same kindly slave-holder had refused to protect his cousin from a cruel beating by her overseer. The spectacle he had witnessed, when this beautiful young slave was whipped, had made a lasting and painful impression upon him. Vaguely he began to recognize the outlines of the institution which at once permitted, and to a certain degree made necessary, these cruelties. It was at this point that he began to speculate on the origin and nature of slavery. Meanwhile he became, in the course of his life on the plantation, the witness of other scenes quite as harrowing, and the memory mingled with his reflections, and embittered them.

During this time an event occurred which gave a new direction and a new impetus to the thoughts and purposes slowly taking form within him. This event was the successful escape of his Aunt Jennie and another slave. It caused a great commotion on the plantation. Nothing could happen in a Southern community that excited so many and such varied emotions as the escape of a slave from bondage: terror and revenge, hope and fear, mingled with the images of the pursued and the pursuers, with speculation in regard to the capture of the fugitive, and with prayers for his success in the minds of the slaves.…

From now on his quick and comprehending mind saw and suffered things that formerly never affected him. The hard and sometimes cruel discipline, toil from sunrise to sunset, scant food, the stifling of ambitions—all these began now to be perceived and felt, and the impression they left sank into the soul of this rebellious boy. He saw a slave killed by an overseer, on no other charge than that of being "impudent." "Crimes" of this nature were committed, as far as he could see, with impunity, and the memory of them haunted him by day and by night.

Thus far Douglass had not felt the overseer's whip. He was too small for anything except to run errands and to do light chores. Of course, he had been cuffed about by Aunt Katy; he says he seldom got enough to eat, and he suffered continually from cold, since his entire wardrobe consisted of a tow sack.…

When Fred became nine years old the most important event in his life occurred. His master determined to send him to Baltimore to live with Hugh Auld, a brother of Thomas Auld. Baltimore at this time was little more than a name to young Douglass. When he reached the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Auld and felt the difference between the plantation cabin and this city home, it was to him, for a time, like living in Paradise. Mrs. Auld is described as a lady of great kindness of heart, and of a gentle disposition. She at once took a tender interest in the little servant from the plantation. He was much petted and well fed, permitted to wear boy's clothes and shoes, and for the first time in his life had a good soft bed to sleep in. His only duty was to take care of and play with Tommy Auld, which he found both an easy and agreeable task.

Young Douglass yet knew nothing about reading. A book was as much of a mystery to him as the stars at night. When he heard his mistress read aloud from the Bible, his curiosity was aroused. He felt so secure in her kindness that he had the boldness to ask her to teach him. Following her natural impulse to do kindness to others, and without, for a moment, thinking of the danger, she at once consented. He quickly learned the alphabet and in a short time could spell words of three syllables. But alas, for his young ambition! When Mr. Auld discovered what his wife had done, he was both surprised and pained. He at once stopped the perilous practice, but it was too late. The precocious young slave had acquired a taste for book learning. He quickly understood that these mysterious characters called letters were the keys to a vast empire from which he was separated by an enforced ignorance. In discussing the matter with his wife, Mr. Auld said: "If you teach him to read, he will want to know how to write, and with this accomplished, he will be running away with himself." Mr. Douglass, referring to this conversation in later years, said: "This was decidedly the first anti-slavery speech to which I had ever listened. From that moment, I understood the direct pathway from slavery to freedom."

During the subsequent six years that he lived in Baltimore in the home of Mr. Auld he was more closely watched than he had been before this incident, and his liberty to go and come was considerably curtailed. He declares that he was not allowed to be alone, when this could be helped, lest he would attempt to teach himself. But these were unwise precautions, since they but whetted his appetite for learning and incited him to many secret schemes to elude the vigilance of his master and mistress. Everything now contributed to his enlightenment and prepared him for that freedom for which he thirsted. His occasional contact with free colored people, his visit to the wharves where he could watch the vessels going and coming, and his chance acquaintance with white boys on the street, all became a part of his education and were made to serve his plans. He got hold of a blue-back speller and carried it with him all the time. He would ask his little white friends in the street how to spell certain words and the meaning of them. In this way he soon learned to read. The first and most important book owned by him was called the "Columbian Orator." He bought it with money secretly earned by blacking boots on the street. It contained selected passages from such great orators as Lord Chatham, William Pitt Fox, and Sheridan. These speeches were steeped in the sentiments of liberty, and were full of references to the "rights of man." They gave to young Douglass a larger idea of liberty than was included in his mere dream of freedom for himself, and in addition they increased his vocabulary of words and phrases. The reading of this book unfitted him longer for restraint. He became all ears and all eyes. Everything he saw and read suggested to him a larger world lying just beyond his reach. The meaning of the term "Abolition" came to him by a chance look at a Baltimore newspaper.

Slavery and Abolition! The distance between these two points of existence seemed to have lessened greatly after he had comprehended their meaning. "When I heard the Word 'Abolition,' I felt the matter to be my personal concern. There was hope in this word." As he afterward went about the city on his ordinary errands, or when at the wharf, even performing tasks that were not set for him to do, he was like another being. That word "Abolition" seemed to sing itself into his very soul, and when he permitted his thoughts to dwell on the possibilities that it opened to him, he was buoyed up with joyous expectations. He tried to find out something from everybody. He learned to write by copying letters on fences and walls and challenging his white playmates to find his mistakes; and at night, when no one suspected him of being awake, he copied from an old copy-book of his young friend Tommy. Before he had formulated any plans for freedom for himself, he learned the important trick of writing "free passes" for runaway slaves.

Notwithstanding his progress in gaining knowledge, his considerate master and kind mistress, his loving companion in Tommy, his good home, food, and clothes, he was not happy or contented. None of these things could stifle his yearning to be free. He has aptly described his own feelings at this time in speaking of Mrs. Auld: "Poor lady, she did not understand my trouble, and I could not tell her. Nature made us friends, but slavery made us enemies. She aimed to keep me ignorant, but I resolved to know, although knowledge only increased my misery. My feelings were not the result of any marked cruelty in the treatment I received. It was slavery, not its mere incidents, I hated. Their feeding and clothing me well could not atone for taking my liberty from me. The smiles of my master could not remove the deep sorrow that dwelt in my young bosom. We were both victims of the same overshadowing evil—she as mistress, I as slave. I will not censure her too harshly.…"

After Douglass learned how to write with tolerable ease, he began to copy from the Bible and the Methodist hymn books at night when he was supposed to be asleep. He always regarded this religious experience as the most important part of his education; it had the effect, not only of enlarging his mind, but also of restraining his impatience, and softening a disposition that was growing hard and bitter with brooding over the disadvantages suffered by himself and his race. He greatly needed something that would help him to look beyond his bondage and encourage him to hope for ultimate freedom.

While he was undergoing this, to him, novel religious experience, and while he was gradually being adjusted to the situation in which he found himself, there came one of those dreaded changes in the fortunes of slavemasters that made the status of the slave painfully uncertain. His real master, Captain Anthony, died, and this event, complicated with some family quarrel, resulted in Douglass being recalled from Baltimore to the plantation.…

A man named Edward Covey, living at Bayside, at no great distance from the campground where Thomas Auld was converted, had a wide reputation for "breaking in unruly niggers." Covey was a "poor white" and a farm renter. To this man Douglass was hired out for a year. In the month of January, 1834, he started for his new master, with his little bundle of clothes. From what we have already seen of this sensitive, thoughtful young slave of seventeen years, it is not difficult to understand his state of mind. Up to this time he had had a comparatively easy life. He had seldom suffered hardships such as fell to the lot of many slaves whom he knew. To quote his own words: "I was now about to sound profounder depths in slave-life. Starvation made me glad to leave Thomas Auld's, and the cruel lash made me dread to go to Covey's." Escape, however, was impossible. The picture of the "slave-driver," painted in the lurid colors that Mr. Douglass's indignant memories furnished him, shows the dark side of slavery in the South. During the first six weeks he was with Covey he was whipped, either with sticks or cowhides, every week. With his body one continuous ache from his frequent floggings, he was kept at work in field or woods from the dawn of day until the darkness of night. He says: "Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me in body, soul, and spirit. The overwork and the cruel chastisements of which I was the victim, combined with the ever-growing and soul-devouring thought, 'I am a slave—a slave for life, a slave with no rational ground to hope for freedom,' had done their worst."

He confesses that at one time he was strongly tempted to take his own life and that of Covey. Finally, his sufferings of body and soul became so great that further endurance seemed impossible. While in this condition he determined upon the daring step of returning to his master, Thomas Auld, in order to lay before him the story of abuse. He felt sure that, if for no other reason than the protection of property from serious impairment, his master would interfere in his behalf. He even expected sympathy and assurances of future protection. In all this he was grievously disappointed. Auld not only refused sympathy and protection, but would not even listen to his complaints, and immediately sent him back to his dreaded master to face the added penalty of running away. The poor, lone boy was plunged into the depths of despair. A feeling that he had been deserted by both God and man took possession of him.

Covey was lying in wait for him, knowing full well that he must return as defenseless as he went away. As soon as Douglass came near the place where the white man was hiding, the latter made a leap at Fred for the purpose of tying him for a flogging. But Douglass escaped and took to the woods, where he concealed himself for a day and a night. His condition was desperate. He felt that he could not endure another whipping, and yet there seemed to him no alternative. His first impulse was to pray, but he remembered that Covey also prayed. Convinced, at length, that there was no appeal but to his own courage, he resolved to go back and face whatever must come to him. It so happened that it was a Sunday morning and, much to his surprise, he met Covey, who was on his way to church, and who, when he saw the runaway, greeted him with a pleasant smile. "His religion," says Douglass, "prevented him from breaking the Sabbath, but not from breaking my bones on any other day of the week."

On Monday morning Douglass was up early, half hoping that he would be permitted to resume his work without punishment. Covey was astir betimes, too, and had laid aside his Sunday mildness of manner. His first business was to carry out his fixed purpose of whipping the young runaway. In the meantime Fred had likewise fully decided upon a course of action. He was ready to submit to any kind of work, however hard or unreasonable, but determined to defend himself against any attempt at another flogging. In the cold passion that took possession of him, the slave-boy became utterly reckless of consequences, reasoning to himself that the limit of suffering at the hands of this relentless slave-breaker had already been reached. He was resolved to fight and did fight. He began his morning work in peace, obeying promptly every order from his master, and while he was in the act of going up to the stable-loft for the purpose of pitching down some hay, he was caught and thrown by Covey, in an attempt to get a slip knot about his legs. Douglass flew at Covey's throat recklessly, hurled his antagonist to the ground, and held him firmly. Blood followed the nails of the infuriated young slave. He scarcely knew how to account for his fighting strength, and his daredevil spirit so dumfounded the master that he gaspingly said: "Are you going to resist me, you young scoundrel?" "Yes, sir," was the quick reply.

Finding himself baffled, Covey called for assistance. His cousin Hughes came to aid him, but as he was attempting to put a noose over the unruly slave's foot, Douglass promptly gave him a blow in the stomach which at once put him out of the combat and he fled. After Hughes had been disabled, Covey called on first one and then another of his slaves, but each refused to assist him. Finding himself fairly outdone by his angry antagonist, Covey quit; with the discreet remark: "Now, you young scoundrel, you go to work; I would not have whipped you half so hard if you had not resisted."

Douglass had thus won his first victory, and was never again threatened or flogged by his master. The effect of this encounter, as far as he himself was concerned, was to increase his self-respect, and to give him more courage for the future. He said that, "when a slave cannot be flogged, he is more than half free." To the other slaves he became a hero, and Covey was not anxious to advertise his complete failure to break in this "unruly nigger." It speaks well for the natural dignity and good sense of young Douglass that he neither boasted of his triumph nor did anything rash as a consequence of it, as might have been expected from a boy of his age and spirit.…

[A carefully planned attempt at escape failed dismally, but he remained undaunted.]

Ever since the first trouble with Auld, he had been pushing his plans to redeem his pledge to himself that he would run away on Monday, September 3, 1838. These were anxious days, and many small details had to be mastered. He must carefully avoid anything in manner or word which could excite the slightest suspicion. He had to test the fidelity of a number of free colored people whose aid, in secret ways, was very essential to him. Who these persons were has never been revealed, and, in fact, it was not until many years after emancipation that Mr. Douglass disclosed to the public how he succeeded in making his daring escape. "Murder itself," he says, "was not more severely and surely punished in the State of Maryland than aiding and abetting the escape of a slave."

Young Douglass's flight had no outward semblance of dramatic incident or thrilling episode, and yet, as he modestly says, "the courage that could risk betrayal and the bravery which was ready to encounter death, if need be, in pursuit of freedom, were features in the undertaking. My success was due to address rather than to courage, to good luck rather than bravery. My means of escape were provided by the very means which were making laws to hold and bind me more securely to slavery."

By the laws of the State of Maryland, every free colored person was required to have what were called "free papers," which must be renewed frequently, and, of course, a fee was always charged for renewal. They contained a full and minute description of the holder, for the purpose of identification. This device, in some measure, defeated itself, since more than one man could be found to answer the general description; hence many slaves could get away by impersonating the real owners of these passes, which were returned by mail after the borrowers had made good their escape. To use these papers in this manner was hazardous both for the fugitives and for the lenders. Not every freeman was willing to put in jeopardy his own liberty that another might be free. It was, however, often done, and the confidence that it necessitated was seldom betrayed. Douglass had not many friends among the free colored people in Baltimore who resembled him sufficiently to make it safe for him to use their papers. Fortunately, however, he had one who owned a "sailor's protection," a document describing the holder and certifying to the fact that he was a "free American sailor." This "protection" did not describe its bearer very accurately. But it called for a man very much darker than himself, and a close examination would have betrayed him at the start. In the face of all these conditions young Douglass Was relying upon something besides a dubious written passport. This something was his desperate courage. He had learned to act the part of a freeman so well that no one suspected him of being a slave. He had early acquired the habit of studying human nature. As he grew to understand men, he no longer dreaded them. No one knew better than he the kind of human nature that he had to deal with in this perilous undertaking. He knew the speech, manner, and behavior that would excite suspicion; hence he avoided asking for a ticket at the railway station, because this would subject him to examination. He so managed that just as the train started he jumped on, his bag being thrown after him by some one in waiting. He knew that scrutiny of him in a crowded car en route would be less exacting than at the station. He had borrowed a sailor's shirt, tarpaulin, cap, and black cravat, tied in true sailor fashion, and he acted the part of an "old salt" so perfectly that he excited no suspicion. When the conductor came to collect his fare and inspected his "free papers," Douglass, in the most natural manner, said that he had none, but promptly showed his "sailor's protection," which the railway official merely glanced at and passed on without further question. Twice on the trip he thought he was detected. Once when his car stood opposite a south-bound train, Douglass observed a well-known citizen of Baltimore, who knew him well, sitting where he could see him distinctly. At another time, while still in Maryland, he was noticed by a man who had met him frequently at the shipyards. In neither of these cases, however, was he interfered with or molested. When he got into the free State of Pennsylvania, he felt more joy than he dared express. He had by his cool temerity and address passed every sentinel undetected, and no slave, to his knowledge, he afterward said, ever got away from bondage on so narrow a margin of safety.




There is great encouragement for the seemingly backward, hesitant youth in the story of Henry Ward Beecher's early life.

He tells us that he used to be laughed at for talking as though he had pudding in his mouth. Yet he became one of the greatest orators the world has seen.

He joined the church merely because he was expected to do so. It was only "pride and shamefacedness" that prevented him from expressing his doubts as to whether he was a Christian. When he actually came to take the step he wondered whether he should be struck dead for not feeling more; and afterward he walked home crying and wishing he knew what he ought to do and how he ought to do it. Yet he became one of the greatest religious leaders of his time.

From the "Biography of Henry Ward Beecher," by W. C. Beecher and Scoville. C. L. Webster Co., 1888.

"If I had had the influence of a discreet, sympathetic Christian person to brood over and help and encourage me, I should have been a Christian child from my mother's lap, I am persuaded; but I had no such influence. The influences of a Christian family were about me, to be sure, but they were generic; and I revolved these speculative experiences, my strong religious habitudes taking the form of speculation all through my childhood. I recollect that from the time that I was about ten years old I began to have periods when my susceptibilities were so profoundly impressed that the outward manifestations of my nature were changed. I remember that when my brother George—who was next older than I, and who was beginning to be my helpful companion, to whom I looked up—became a Christian, being awakened and converted in college, it seemed as though a gulf had come between us, and as though he was a saint on one side of it while I was a little reprobate on the other side. It was awful to me. If there had been a total eclipse of the sun I should not have been in more profound darkness outwardly than I was inwardly. I did not know whom to go to; I did not dare to go to my father; I had no mother that I ever went to at such a time; I did not feel like going to my brother; and I did not go to anybody. I felt that I must try to wrestle out my own salvation.

"Once, on coming home, I heard the bell toll, and I learned that it was for the funeral of one of my companions with whom I had been accustomed to play, and with whom I had grown up. I did not know that he had been sick, but he had dropped into eternity; and the ringing, swinging, booming of that bell, if it had been the sound of an angel trumpet of the last day, would not have seemed to me more awful. I went into an ecstasy of anguish. At intervals, for days and weeks, I cried and prayed. There was scarcely a retired place in the garden, in the woodhouse, in the carriage-house, or in the barn that was not a scene of my crying and praying. It was piteous that I should be in such a state of mind, and that there should be nobody to help me and lead me out into the light. I do not recollect that to that day one word had been said to me, or one syllable had been uttered in the pulpit, that lead me to think there was any mercy in the heart of God for a sinner like me. For a sinner that had repented it was thought there was pardon; but how to repent was the very thing I did not know. A converted sinner might be saved, but for a poor, miserable, faulty boy, that pouted, and got mad at his brothers and sisters, and did a great many naughty things, there was no salvation so far as I had learned. My innumerable shortcomings and misdemeanors were to my mind so many pimples that marked my terrible depravity; and I never had the remotest idea of God except that he was a sovereign who sat with a sceptre in his hand and had his eye on me, and said: 'I see you, and I am after you.' So I used to live in perpetual fear and dread, and often I wished myself dead. I tried to submit and lay down the weapons of my rebellion, I tried to surrender everything; but it did not seem to do any good, and I thought it was because I did not do it right. I tried to consecrate myself to God, but all to no purpose. I did everything, so far as I could, that others did who professed to be Christians, but I did not feel any better. I passed through two or three revivals. I remember, when Mr. Nettleton was preaching in Litchfield, going to carry a note to him from father; and for a sensitive, bashful boy like me it was a severe ordeal. I went to the room where he was speaking, with the note in my trembling hand, and had to lay it on the desk beside him. Before I got halfway across the floor I was dazed and everything seemed to swim around me, but I made out to get the note to him, and he said: 'That's enough; go away, boy,' and I sort of backed and stumbled toward the door (I was always stumbling and blundering in company) and sat down. He was preaching in those whispered tones which always seem louder than thunder to the conscience, although they are only whispers in the ear. He had not uttered more than three sentences before my feelings were excited, and the more I listened the more awful I felt; and I said to myself: 'I will stay to the inquiry meeting.' I heard Mr. Nettleton talking about souls writhing under conviction, and I thought my soul was writhing under conviction. I had heard father say that after a person had writhed under conviction a week or two they began to come out, and I said: 'Perhaps I will get out'; and that thought produced in me a sort of half-exhilaration of joy. I stayed to the inquiry meeting, felt better, and trotted home with the hope that I was on the way toward conversion. I went through this revival with that hope strengthened; but it did not last long."

It is evident from this chapter that if we would understand Henry Ward Beecher and the influences that went to the formation of his character and to the success of his life, other things than parentage, home, school, or nature must be taken into the account. The vast things of the invisible realm have begun to speak to him, and his nature has proved to be peculiarly sensitive to their influence.

He is thus early groping, unresting, and unsatisfied; but it is among mountains, and not in marshes or quicksands. Some day these mountain truths, among which he now wanders in darkness, shall be radiant in his sight with the Divine Compassion, and his gloom shall give place to abiding love, joy, and peace.

It was in 1827, and Henry was fourteen years old, when he entered the Mount Pleasant Institute. "He was admitted to the institution at a price about half the usual charge, for one hundred dollars per year. His appearance was robust and healthy, rather inclined to fulness of form, with a slight pink tinge on his cheeks and a frequent smile upon his face. In his manners and communications he was quiet, orderly, and respectful. He was a good-looking youth." This is the testimony of one of his teachers, Mr. George Montague.

"I think he must have been fond of children, for he was always ready for a frolic with me. I don't remember how he spoke, except that he talked a good deal and was full of life and fun." So says a friend in whose home he boarded, in a letter written during the past year.

No place could have been better fitted to the condition of the boy, as he then was, than the one chosen. He was tired of the city with its brick walls, stone pavements, and artificial restrictions, and longed for the freedom and the freshness of the country. Amherst at that time was only a small village, fighting back with indifferent success the country that pressed in upon it from every side, and offering this city-sick lad, almost within a stone's throw of the school, the same kind of fields and forests that were around him at Litchfield, and spreading out for him a landscape equal in beauty to that of his childhood home.

Besides, he has an object in view that stirs his blood. He is to fit himself for the navy; his father has promised his influence to get him an appointment, if wanted, and Admiral Nelson and all other brave admirals and commodores are his models. For the first time in his life he takes hold of study with enthusiasm.

The institution was very popular in its day, and a great advance upon the old academy. It was semi-military in its methods, and in its government there was great thoroughness without severity. Its teachers possessed superior qualifications, and all were men of great kindness as well as of marked ability. Among them were two men who especially had great influence in directing his energies and preparing him not only for Amherst College but for the greater work beyond, and who were ever remembered by him with the deepest gratitude.

The first of these was W. P. Fitzgerald, the teacher of mathematics at Mount Pleasant School:

"He taught me to conquer in studying. There is a very hour in which a young nature, tugging, discouraged, and weary with books, rises with the consciousness of victorious power into masterhood. For ever after he knows that he can learn anything if he pleases. It is a distinct intellectual conversion.

"I first went to the blackboard, uncertain, soft, full of whimpering. 'That lesson must be learned,' he said, in a very quiet tone, but with a terrible intensity and with the certainty of Fate. All explanations and excuses he trod under foot with utter scornfulness. 'I want that problem. I don't want any reasons why I don't get it.'

"'I did study it two hours.'

"'That's nothing to me; I want the lesson. You need not study it at all, or you may study it ten hours—just to suit yourself. I want the lesson. Underwood, go to the blackboard!'

"'Oh! yes, but Underwood got somebody to show him his lesson.'

"'What do I care how you get it? That's your business. But you must have it.'

"It was tough for a green boy, but it seasoned him. In less than a month I had the most intense sense of intellectual independence and courage to defend my recitations.

"In the midst of a lesson his cold and calm voice would fall upon me in the midst of a demonstration—'No!' I hesitated, stopped, and then went back to the beginning; and, on reaching the same spot again, 'No!' uttered with the tone of perfect conviction, barred my progress. 'The next!' and I sat down in red confusion. He, too, was stopped with 'No!' but went right on, finished, and, as he sat down, was rewarded with, 'Very well.'

"'Why,' whimpered I, 'I recited it just as he did, and you said No!'

"'Why didn't you say Yes, and stick to it? It is not enough to know your lesson. You must know that you know it. You have learned nothing until you are sure. If all the world says No, your business is to say Yes and to prove it!'"

The other helper of this period was John E. Lovell.

In a column of the Christian Union, of July 14, 1880, devoted to "Inquiring Friends," appeared this question with the accompanying answer:

"We heard Mr. Beecher lecture recently in Boston and found the lecture a grand lesson in elocution. If Mr. Beecher would give through the column of 'Inquiring Friends' the methods of instruction and practice pursued by him, it would be very thankfully received by a subscriber and student.

"E. D. M."

"I had from childhood a thickness of speech arising from a large palate, so that when a boy I used to be laughed at for talking as if I had pudding in my mouth. When I went to Amherst I was fortunate in passing into the hands of John Lovell, a teacher of elocution, and a better teacher for my purpose I cannot conceive. His system consisted in drill, or the thorough practice of inflexions by the voice, of gesture, posture, and articulation. Sometimes I was a whole hour practising my voice on a word—like 'justice.' I would have to take a posture, frequently at a mark chalked on the floor. Then we would go through all the gestures, exercising each movement of the arm and the throwing open the hand. All gestures except those of precision go in curves, the arm rising from the side, coming to the front, turning to the left or right. I was drilled as to how far the arm should come forward, where it should start from, how far go back, and under what circumstances these movements should be made. It was drill, drill, drill, until the motions almost became a second nature. Now I never know what movements I shall make. My gestures are natural, because this drill made them natural to me. The only method of acquiring an effective education is by practice, of not less than an hour a day, until the student has his voice and himself thoroughly subdued and trained to right expression.

"H. W. B."

Mr. Montague says: "Mr. Beecher submitted to Mr. Lovell's drilling and training with a patience which proved his interest in the study to be great. The piece which was to be spoken was committed to memory from Mr. Lovell's mouth, the pupil standing on the stage before him, and every sentence and word, accent and pronunciation, position and movement of the body, glance of the eye and tone of voice, all were subjects of study and criticism. And day after day, often for several weeks in continuance, Mr. Beecher submitted to this drilling upon the same piece, until his teacher pronounced him perfect."

His dramatic power was displayed and noted at this early period. Dr. Thomas Field, a classmate in the school, says: "One incident occurred during our residence in Mount Pleasant which left an abiding impression on my mind. At the exhibition at the close of the year, either 1828 or 1829, the drama of 'William Tell' was performed by some of the students, and your father took the part of the tyrant Gessler. Although sixty years have passed, I think now, as I thought then, that it was the most impressive performance I ever witnessed.…"

In a letter dated December 24, 1828, addressed to his sister Harriet—the first that has come to our hands from Mount Pleasant—he gives some account of his manner of life at school, and various experiences:


.… I have to rise in the morning at half-past five o'clock, and after various little duties, such as fixing of room, washing, etc., which occupies about an hour, we proceed to breakfast, from thence to chapel, after which we have about ten minutes to prepare for school. Then we attend school from eight to twelve. An hour at noon is allowed for diversions of various sorts. Then dinner. After that school from half-past one to half-past four. At night we have about an hour and a half; then tea. After tea we have about ten minutes; then we are called to our rooms till nine.

Now I will tell you how I occupy my spare time in reading, writing, and playing the flute. We are forming a band here. I shall play either the flute or hautboy. I enjoy myself pretty well. In Latin I am studying Sallust. As to ease, all I have to do is study straight ahead. It comes pretty easy. My Greek is rather hard. I am as yet studying the grammar and Jacob's Greek Reader. In elocution, we read and speak alternately every other day.

.… I find it hard to keep as a Christian ought to. To be sure, I find delight in prayer, but I cannot find time to be alone sufficiently. We have in our room only two, one besides myself, but he is most of my play-hours practising on some instrument or other. I have some time, to be sure, but it is very irregular, and I never know when I shall have an opportunity for private devotions until the time comes. I do not like to read the Bible as well as to pray, but I suppose it is the same as it is with a lover, who loves to talk with his mistress in person better than to write when she is afar off.…

Your affectionate brother,

His religious experience, of which we have heard nothing, since he left Litchfield, the life in Boston apparently not being very favorable to it, again attracts our attention at this point. He says:

"When I was fourteen years of age, I left Boston and went to Mount Pleasant. There broke out while I was there one of those infectious religious revivals which have no basis of judicious instruction, but spring from inexperienced zeal. It resulted in many mushroom hopes, and I had one of them; but I do not know how or why I was converted. I only know I was in a sort of day-dream, in which I hoped I had given myself to Christ.

"I wrote to father expressing this hope; he was overjoyed, and sent me a long, kind letter on the subject. But in the course of three or four weeks I was nearly over it; and I never shall forget how I felt, not long afterward, when a letter from father was handed me in which he said I must anticipate my vacation a week or two and come home and join the Church on the next Communion Sabbath. The serious feelings I had were well-nigh gone, and I was beginning to feel quite jolly again, and I did not know what to do. I went home, however, and let them take me into the Church. A kind of pride and shamefacedness kept me from saying I did not think I was a Christian, and so I was made a Church member."

In an editorial in the Independent, written in 1862, upon the disbanding of this old church, the Bowdoin Street—originally Hanover Street—Church, Boston, he describes this event:

"If somebody will look in the old records of Hanover Street Church about 1829 they will find a name there of a boy about fifteen years old who was brought into the Church on a sympathetic wave, and who well remembers how cold and almost paralyzed he felt while the committee questioned him about his 'hope' and 'evidences,' which, upon review, amounted to this: that the son of such a father ought to be a good and pious boy. Being tender-hearted and quick to respond to moral sympathy, he had been caught and inflamed in a school excitement, but was just getting over it when summoned to Boston to join the Church! On the morning of the day he went to Church without seeing anything he looked at. He heard his name called from the pulpit among many others, and trembled; rose up with every emotion petrified; counted the spots on the carpet; looked piteously up at the cornice; heard the fans creak in the pews near him; felt thankful to a fly that lit on his face, as if something familiar at last had come to break an awful trance; heard faintly a reading of the Articles of Faith; wondered whether he should be struck dead for not feeling more—whether he should go to hell for touching the bread and wine that he did not dare to take nor to refuse; spent the morning service uncertain whether dreaming, or out of the body, or in a trance; and at last walked home crying, and wishing he knew what, now that he was a Christian, he should do, and how he was to do it. Ah! well, there is a world of things in children's minds that grown-up people do not imagine, though they, too, once were young."

Unsatisfactory in many respects as was his religious experience, it seems to have been powerful enough to change his whole ideal of life. We hear no more of his becoming a sailor. He appears to have yielded to the inevitable, and henceforth studies with the ministry in view.

That he became a minister, as did his brothers, by reason of the unswerving faith and prayer of the parents, is already well known. "Out of six sons not one escaped from the pulpit. My mother dedicated me to the work of the foreign missionary; she laid her hands upon me, wept over me, and set me apart to preach the Gospel among the heathen, and I have been doing it all my life long, for it so happens one does not need to go far from his own country to find his audience before him."

Ushered into the preparation for the ministry by the parental faith, stumbling and discouraged and ready to give up the work, another hand was not wanting to open still more clearly the way, draw back the curtains, and let in the light:

"I beheld Him as a helper, as the soul's mid-wife, as the soul's physician, and I felt because I was weak I could come to Him; because I did not know how, and, if I did know, I had not the strength, to do the things that were right—that was the invitation that He gave to me out of my conscious weakness and want. I will not repeat the scene of that morning when light broke fairly on my mind; how one might have thought that I was a lunatic escaped from confinement; how I ran up and down through the primeval forest of Ohio, shouting, 'Glory, glory!' sometimes in loud tones and at other times whispered in an ecstasy of joy and surprise. All the old troubles gone, and light breaking in on my mind, I cried: 'I have found my God; I have found my God!' From that hour I consecrated myself to the work of the ministry anew, for before that I had about made up my mind to go into some other profession."

His early training school for effective preaching was well selected. It was, as is well known, one of the little villages on the banks of the Ohio River, where the wants of river bargemen and frontiersmen demanded his attention. It was there he decided what his life work should be.

"My business shall be to save men, and to bring to bear upon them those views that are my comfort, that are the bread of life to me; and I went out among them almost entirely cut loose from the ordinary church institutions and agencies, knowing nothing but 'Christ, and Him crucified,' the sufferer for mankind. Did not the men round me need such a Saviour? Was there ever such a field as I found? Every sympathy of my being was continually solicited for the ignorance, for the rudeness, for the aberrations, for the avarice, for the quarrelsomeness of the men among whom I was, and I was trying every form and presenting Christ as a medicine to men. I went through the woods and through camp-meetings and over prairies. Everywhere my vacations were all missionary tours, preaching Christ for the hope of salvation. I am not saying this to show you how I came to the knowledge of Christ, but to show you how I came to the habits and forms of my ministry. I tried everything on to folks."

Added to the forces of experience and surroundings was always that of his own personal, natural endowment. This he found fault with and tried to change, as most people do at some period of their lives, but finally accepted and concluded to use as best he could, without murmuring, but always conscious of its limitations.

"I have my own peculiar temperament, I have my own method of preaching, and my method and temperament necessitate errors. I am not worthy to be related in the hundred-thousandth degree to those more happy men who never make a mistake in the pulpit. I make a great many. I am impetuous. I am intense at times on subjects that deeply move me. I feel as though all the ocean were not strong enough to be the power beyond my words, nor all the thunders that were in the heavens, and it is of necessity that such a nature as that should give such intensity at times to parts of doctrine as to exaggerate them when you come to bring them into connection with a more rounded-out and balanced view. I know it—I know it as well as you do. I would not do it if I could help it; but there are times when it is not I that is talking, when I am caught up and carried away so that I know not whether I am in the body or out of the body, when I think things in the pulpit that I never could think in the study, and when I have feelings that are so far different from any that belong to the lower or normal condition that I neither can regulate them nor understand them. I see things and I hear sounds, and seem, if not in the seventh heaven, yet in a condition that leads me to understand what Paul said—that he heard things which it was not possible for a man to utter. I am acting under such a temperament as that. I have got to use it, or not preach at all. I know very well I do not give crystalline views nor thoroughly guarded views; there is often an error on this side and an error on that, and I cannot stop to correct them. A man might run around, like a kitten after its tail, all his life, if he were going around explaining all his expressions and all the things he had written. Let them go. They will correct themselves. The average and general influence of a man's teaching will be more mighty than any single misconception, or misapprehension through misconception.

"There is a deep enjoyment in having devoted yourself, soul and body, to the welfare of your fellowmen, so that you have no thought and no care but for them. There is a pleasure in that which is never touched by any ordinary experiences in human life. It is the highest. I look back to my missionary days as being transcendently the happiest period of my life. The sweetest pleasures I have ever known are not those that I have now, but those that I remember, when I was unknown, in an unknown land, among a scattered people, mostly poor, and to whom I had to go and preach the Gospel, man by man, house by house, gathering them on Sundays, a few—twenty, fifty, or a hundred as the case might be—and preaching the Gospel more formally to them as they were able to bear it."




Two or three years before the outbreak of the Civil War a little black baby was born in the slave quarters on a Virginia plantation. This was not a surprising event and nobody except the mother paid it any attention. Even the father of the child ignored it. For some years the boy "just growed," after the manner of Topsy. Nobody helped him. But the boy differed in one way from his thoughtless little playmates. There was a mysterious something in him that drove him eagerly to avail himself of any opportunity for self-improvement that came along. If the opportunity, as generally happened, failed to "come along," he went after it with all his might and main.

He devoted his life unreservedly to the service of his coloured brethren, and through his own bitter experience he knew full well the best way in which to help them.

From "Up From Slavery," by Booker T. Washington. Doubleday, Page & Co., 1901.

I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at some time. As nearly as I have been able to learn, I was born near a crossroads post-office called Hale's Ford and the year was 1858 or 1859. I do not know the month or the day. The earliest impressions I can now recall are of the plantation and the slave quarters, the latter being the part of the plantation where the slaves had their cabins.

My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings. This was so, however, not because my owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as compared with many others. I was born in a typical log-cabin, about fourteen by sixteen feet square. In this cabin I lived with my mother and a brother and sister till after the Civil War, when we were all declared free.

Of my ancestry I know almost nothing. In the slave quarters, and even later, I heard whispered conversations among the coloured people of the tortures which the slaves, including, no doubt, my ancestors on my mother's side, suffered in the middle passage of the slaveship while being conveyed from Africa to America. I have been unsuccessful in securing any information that would throw any accurate light upon the history of my family, beyond my mother. She, I remember, had a half-brother and a half-sister. In the days of slavery not very much attention was given to family history and family records—that is, black family records. My mother, I suppose, attracted the attention of a purchaser who was afterward my owner and hers. Her addition to the slave family attracted about as much attention as the purchase of a new horse or cow. Of my father I know even less than of my mother. I do not even know his name. I have heard reports to the effect that he was a white man who lived on one of the nearby plantations. Whoever he was, I never heard of his taking the least interest in me or providing in any way for my rearing. But I do not find especial fault with him. He was simply another unfortunate victim of the institution which the Nation unhappily had engrafted upon it at that time.…

I cannot remember having slept in a bed until after our family was declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation. Three children—John, my older brother, Amanda, my sister, and myself—had a pallet on the dirt floor, or, to be more correct, we slept in and on a bundle of filthy rags laid upon the dirt floor.

From the time that I can remember anything, almost every day of my life has been occupied in some kind of labour; though I think I would now be a more useful man had I had time for sports. During the period that I spent in slavery I was not large enough to be of much service, still I was occupied most of the time in cleaning the yards, carrying water to the men in the fields, or going to the mill, to which I used to take the corn, once a week, to be ground. The mill was about three miles from the plantation. This work I always dreaded. The heavy bag of corn would be thrown across the back of the horse, and the corn divided about evenly on each side; but in some way, almost without exception, on these trips the corn would so shift as to become unbalanced and would fall off the horse, and often I would fall with it. As I was not strong enough to reload the corn upon the horse, I would have to wait, sometimes for many hours, till a chance passerby came along who would help me out of my trouble. The hours while waiting for some one were usually spent in crying. The time consumed in this way made me late in reaching the mill, and by the time I got my corn ground and reached home it would be far into the night. The road was a lonely one, and often led through dense forests. I was always frightened. The woods were said to be full of soldiers who had deserted from the army, and I had been told that the first thing a deserter did to a Negro boy when he found him alone was to cut off his ears. Besides, when I was late in getting home I knew I would always get a severe scolding or a flogging.

I had no schooling whatever while I was a slave, though I remember on several occasions I went as far as the schoolhouse door with one of my young mistresses to carry her books. The picture of several dozen boys and girls in a schoolroom engaged in study made a deep impression upon me, and I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.

So far as I can now recall, the first knowledge that I got of the fact that we were slaves, and that freedom of the slaves was being discussed, was early one morning before day, when I was awakened by my mother kneeling over her children and fervently praying that Lincoln and his armies might be successful, and that one day she and her children might be free.…

I cannot remember a single instance during my childhood or early boyhood when our entire family sat down to the table together, and God's blessing was asked, and the family ate a meal in a civilized manner. On the plantation in Virginia, and even later, meals were gotten by the children very much as dumb animals get theirs. It was a piece of bread here and a scrap of meat there. It was a cup of milk at one time and some potatoes at another. Sometimes a portion of our family would eat out of the skillet or pot, while some one else would eat from a tin plate held on the knees, and often using nothing but the hands with which to hold the food. When I had grown to sufficient size, I was required to go to the "big house" mealtimes to fan the flies from the table by means of a large set of paper fans operated by a pulley. Naturally much of the conversation of the white people turned upon the subject of freedom and the war, and I absorbed a good deal of it. I remember that at one time I saw two of my young mistresses and some lady visitors eating ginger-cakes, in the yard. At that time those cakes seemed to me to be absolutely the most tempting and desirable things that I had ever seen; and I then and there resolved that, if I ever got free, the height of my ambition would be reached if I could get to the point where I could secure and eat ginger-cakes in the way that I saw those ladies doing.…

The first pair of shoes that I recall wearing were wooden ones. They had rough leather on the top, but the bottoms, which were about an inch thick, were of wood. When I walked they made a fearful noise, and besides this they were very inconvenient, since there was no yielding to the natural pressure of the foot. In wearing them one presented an exceedingly awkward appearance. The most trying ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy, however, was the wearing of a flax shirt. In the portion of Virginia where I lived it was common to use flax as part of the clothing for the slaves. That part of the flax from which our clothing was made was largely the refuse, which, of course, was the cheapest and roughest part. I can scarcely imagine any torture, except, perhaps, the pulling of a tooth, that is equal to that caused by putting on a new flax shirt for the first time. It is almost equal to the feeling that one would experience if he had a dozen or more chestnut burrs, or a hundred small pinpoints in contact with his flesh. Even to this day, I can recall accurately the tortures that I underwent when putting on one of these garments. The fact that my flesh was soft and tender added to the pain. But I had no choice. I had to wear the flax shirt or none; and had it been left to me to choose, I should have chosen to wear no covering.…

Until I had grown to be quite a youth this single garment was all that I wore.…

From the time that I can remember having any thoughts about anything, I recall that I had an intense longing to learn to read. I determined when quite a small child, that, if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspapers. Soon after we got settled in some manner in our new cabin in West Virginia, I induced my mother to get hold of a book for me. How or where she got it I do not know, but in some way she procured an old copy of Webster's "blue-back" spelling-book, which contained the alphabet, followed by such meaningless words as "ab," "ba," "ca," "da." I began at once to devour this book, and I think that it was the first one I ever had in my hands. I had learned from somebody that the way to begin to read was to learn the alphabet, so I tried in all the ways I could think of to learn it—all of course without a teacher, for I could find no one to teach me. At that time there was not a single member of my race anywhere near us who could read, and I was too timid to approach any of the white people. In some way, within a few weeks, I mastered the greater portion of the alphabet. In all my efforts to learn to read my mother shared fully my ambition and sympathized with me and aided me in every way that she could. Though she was totally ignorant, so far as mere book knowledge was concerned, she had high ambitions for her children, and a large fund of good, hard common sense which seemed to enable her to meet and master every situation. If I have done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother.…

The opening of the school in the Kanawha Valley 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. This decision seemed to cloud my every ambition. The disappointment was made all the more severe by reason of the fact that my place of work was where I could see the happy children passing to and from school, morning and afternoons. Despite this disappointment, however, I determined that I would learn something, anyway. I applied myself with greater earnestness than ever to the mastering of what was in the "blue-back" speller.

My mother sympathized with me in my disappointment, and sought to comfort me in all the ways she could, and to help me find a way to learn. After a while I succeeded in making arrangements with the teacher to give me some lessons at night, after the day's work was done. These night lessons were so welcome that I think I learned more at night than the other children did during the day. My own experiences in the night school gave me faith in the night-school idea, with which, in after years, had to do both at Hampton and Tuskegee. But my boyish heart was still set upon going to the day school, and I let no opportunity slip to push my case. 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.

The schoolhouse was some distance from the furnace, and as I had to work till nine o'clock, and the school opened at nine, I found myself in a difficulty. School would always be begun before I reached it, and sometimes my class had recited. To get around this difficulty I yielded to a temptation for which most people, I suppose, will condemn me; but since it is a fact, I might as well state it. I have great faith in the power and influence of facts. It is seldom that anything is permanently gained by holding back a fact. There was a large clock, in a little office in the furnace. This clock, of course, all the hundred or more workmen depended upon to regulate their hours of beginning and ending the day's work. I got the idea that the way for me to reach school on time was to move the clock hands from half-past eight up to nine o'clock mark. This I found myself doing morning after morning, till the furnace "boss" discovered that something was wrong, and locked the clock in a case. I did not mean to inconvenience anybody. I simply meant to reach that schoolhouse in time.

When, however, I found myself at the school for the first time, I also found myself confronted with two other difficulties. In the first place, I found that all of the other children wore hats or caps on their heads, and I had neither hat nor cap. In fact, I do not remember that up to the time of going to school I had ever worn any kind of covering upon my head, nor do I recall that either I or anybody else had even thought anything about the need of covering for my head. But, of course when I saw how all the other boys were dressed, I began to feel quite uncomfortable. As usual, I put the case before my mother, and she explained to me that she had no money with which to buy a "store hat," which was a rather new institution at that time among the members of my race and was considered quite the thing for young and old to own, but that she would find a way to help me out of the difficulty. She accordingly got two pieces of "homespun" (jeans) and sewed them together, and I was soon the proud possessor of my first cap.…

My second difficulty was with regard to my name, or, rather, a name. From the time when I could remember anything, I had been called simply "Booker." Before going to school it had never occurred to me that it was needful or appropriate to have an additional name. When I heard the school-roll called, I noticed that all of the children had at least two names, and some of them indulged in what seemed to me the extravagance of having three. I was in deep perplexity, because I knew that the teacher would demand of me at least two names, and I had only one. By the time the occasion came for the enrolling of my name, an idea occurred to me which I thought would make me equal to the situation; and so, when the teacher asked me what my full name was, I calmly told him "Booker Washington," as if I had been called by that name all my life; and by that name I have since been known. Later in my life I found that my mother had given me the name of "Booker Taliaferro," soon after I was born, but in some way that part of my name seemed to disappear and for a long while was forgotten, but as soon as I found out about it I revived it, and, made my full name "Booker Taliaferro Washington." I think there are not many men in our country who have had the privilege of naming themselves in the way that I have.…

The time that I was permitted to attend school during the day was short, and my attendance was irregular. It was not long before I had to stop attending day school altogether, and devote all of my time again to work. I resorted to the night school again. In fact, the greater part of the education I secured in my boyhood was gathered through the night school after my day's work was done. I had difficulty often in securing a satisfactory teacher. Sometimes, after I had secured one to teach me at night, I would find, much to my disappointment, that the teacher knew but little more than I did. Often I would have to walk miles at night in order to recite my night-school lessons. There was never a time in my youth, no matter how dark and discouraging the days might be, when one resolve did not continually remain with me, and that was a determination to secure an education at any cost.

After I had worked in the salt furnace for some time, work was secured for me in a coal mine which was operated mainly for the purpose of securing fuel for the salt furnace.…

In those days, and later as a young man, I used to try to picture in my imagination the feelings and ambitions of a white boy with absolutely no limit placed upon his aspirations and activities. I used to envy the white boy who had no obstacles placed in the way of his becoming a congressman, governor, bishop, or President by reason of the accident of his birth or race. I used to picture the way that I would act under such circumstances; how I would begin at the bottom and keep rising until I reached the highest round of success.…

One day while at work in the coal mine I happened to overhear two miners talking about a great school for coloured people somewhere in Virginia. This was the first time that I had ever heard anything about any kind of school or college that was more pretentious than the little coloured school in our town.

In the darkness of the mine I noiselessly crept as close as I could to the two men who were talking. I heard one tell the other that not only was the school established for the members of my race, but that opportunities were provided by which poor but worthy students could work out all or a part of the cost of board, and at the same time be taught some trade or industry.

As they went on describing the school, it seemed to me that it must be the greatest place on earth, and not even Heaven presented more attractions for me at that time than did the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, about which these men were talking. I resolved at once to go to that school, although I had no idea where it was, or how many miles away, or how I was going to reach it; I remembered only that I was on fire constantly with one ambition, and that was to go to Hampton. This thought was with me day and night.…

In the fall of 1872 I determined to make an effort to get there, although, as I have stated, I had no definite idea of the direction in which Hampton was, or of what it would cost to go there. I do not think that any one thoroughly sympathized with me in my ambition to go to Hampton unless it was my mother, and she was troubled with a grave fear that I was starting out on a "wild-goose chase." At any rate, I got only a half-hearted consent from her that I might start. The small amount of money that I had earned had been consumed by my stepfather and the remainder of the family, with the exception of a very few dollars, and so I had very little with which to buy clothes and pay my travelling expenses.…

Finally the great day came, and I started for Hampton. I had only a small, cheap satchel that contained what few articles of clothing I could get. My mother at the time was rather weak and broken in health. I hardly expected to see her again, and thus our parting was all the more sad. She, however, was very brave through it all. At that time there were no through trains connecting that part of West Virginia with eastern Virginia. Trains ran only a portion of the way, and the remainder of the distance was travelled by stage-coaches.

The distance from Maiden to Hampton is about five hundred miles. I had not been away from home many hours before it began to grow painfully evident that I did not have enough money to pay my fare to Hampton.…

By walking, begging rides both in wagons and in the cars, in some way, after a number of days, I reached the city of Richmond, Virginia, about eighty-two miles from Hampton. When I reached there, tired, hungry, and dirty; it was late in the night. I had never been in a large city before, and this rather added to my misery. When I reached Richmond I was completely out of money. I had not a single acquaintance in the place, and, being unused to city ways, I did not know where to go. I applied at several places for lodging, but they all wanted money, and that was what I did not have. Knowing nothing else better to do, I walked the streets. In doing this I passed by many food-stands where fried chicken and half-moon apple pies were piled high and made to present a most tempting appearance. At that time it seemed to me that I would have promised all that I expected to possess in the future to have gotten hold of one of those chicken legs or one of those pies. But I could not get either of these, nor anything else to eat.

I must have walked the streets till after midnight. At last I became so exhausted that I could walk no longer. I was tired, I was hungry, I was everything but discouraged. Just about the time when I reached extreme physical exhaustion, I came upon a portion of a street where the board sidewalk was considerably elevated. I waited for a few minutes, till I was sure that no passersby could see me, and then crept under the sidewalk and lay for the night upon the ground, with my satchel of clothing for a pillow. Nearly all night I could hear the tramp of feet above my head. The next morning I found myself somewhat refreshed, but I was extremely hungry, because it had been a long time since I had had sufficient food. As soon as it became light enough for me to see my surroundings I noticed that I was near a large ship, and that this ship seemed to be unloading a cargo of pig iron. I went at once to the vessel and asked the captain to permit me to help unload the vessel in order to get money for food. The captain, a white man, who seemed to be kind-hearted, consented. I worked long enough to earn money for my breakfast, and it seems to me, as I remember it now, to have been about the best breakfast that I have ever eaten.

My work pleased the captain so well that he told me if I desired I could continue working for a small amount per day. This I was very glad to do. I continued working on this vessel for a number of days. After buying food with the small wages I received there was not much left to add to the amount I must get to pay my way to Hampton. In order to economize in every way possible, so as to be sure to reach Hampton in a reasonable time, I continued to sleep under the same sidewalk that gave me shelter the first night I was in Richmond.…

When I had saved what I considered enough money with which to reach Hampton, I thanked the captain of the vessel for his kindness, and started again. Without any unusual occurrence I reached Hampton, with a surplus of exactly fifty cents with which to begin my education, To me it had been a long, eventful journey; but the first sight of the large, three-story brick school building seemed to have rewarded me for all that I had undergone in order to reach the place.…

It seemed to me to be the largest and most beautiful building I had ever seen. The sight of it seemed to give me new life. I felt that a new kind of existence had now begun—that life would now have a new meaning. I felt that I had reached the promised land, and I resolved to let no obstacle prevent me from putting forth the highest effort to fit myself to accomplish the most good in the world.

As soon as possible after reaching the grounds of the Hampton Institute I presented myself before the head teacher for assignment to a class. Having been so long without proper food, a bath, and change of clothing, I did not, of course, make a very favourable impression upon her, and I could see at once that there were doubts in her mind about the wisdom of admitting me as a student. I felt that I could hardly blame her if she got the idea that I was a worthless loafer or tramp. For some time she did not refuse to admit me, neither did she decide in my favour, and I continued to linger about her, and to impress her in all the ways I could with my worthiness. In the meantime I saw her admitting other students, and that added greatly to my discomfort, for I felt, deep down in my heart, that I could do as well as they, if I could only get a chance to show her what was in me.

After some hours had passed, the head teacher said to me, "The adjoining recitation-room needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it."

It occurred to me at once that here was my chance. Never did I receive an order with more delight. I knew that I could sweep, for Mrs. Ruffner had thoroughly taught me how to do that when I lived with her.

I swept the recitation-room three times. Then I got a dusting-cloth and I dusted it four times. All the woodwork around the walls, every bench, table, and desk, I went over four times with my dusting-cloth. Besides every piece of furniture had been moved and every closet and corner in the room had been thoroughly cleaned. I had the feeling that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room. When I was through, I reported to the head teacher. She was a "Yankee" woman who knew just where to look for dirt. She went into the room and inspected the floor and closets; then she took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the woodwork, about the walls, and over the table and benches. When she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she quietly remarked: "I guess you will do to enter this institution."

I was one of the happiest souls on earth. The sweeping of that room was my college examination, and never did any youth pass an examination for entrance into Harvard or Yale that gave him more genuine satisfaction. I have passed several examinations since then, but I have always felt that this was the best one I ever passed.…

Life at Hampton was a constant revelation to me; was constantly taking me into a new world. The matter of having meals at regular hours, or eating on a tablecloth, using a napkin, the use of the bathtub and of the toothbrush, as well as the use of sheets upon the bed, were all new to me.…

I sometimes feel that almost the most valuable lesson I got at the Hampton Institute was in the use and value of the bath.

For some time, while a student at Hampton, I possessed but a single pair of socks, but when I had worn these till they became soiled, I would wash them at night and hang them by the fire to dry, so that I might wear them again the next morning.

The charge for my board at Hampton was ten dollars per month. I was expected to pay a part of this in cash and to work out the remainder. To meet this cash payment, as I have stated, I had just fifty cents when I reached the institution. Aside from a very few dollars that my brother John was able to send me once in a while, I had no money with which to pay my board. I was determined from the first to make my work as janitor so valuable that my services would be indispensable. This I succeeded in doing to such extent that I was soon informed that I would be allowed the full cost of my board in return for my work. The cost of tuition was seventy dollars a year. This, of course, was wholly beyond my ability to provide. If I had been compelled to pay the seventy dollars for tuition, in addition to providing for my board, I would have been compelled to leave the Hampton school. General Armstrong, however, very kindly got Mr. S. Griffitts Morgan, of New Bedford, Mass., to defray the cost of my tuition during the whole time that I was at Hampton.…

After having been for a while at Hampton, I found myself in difficulty because I did not have books and clothing. Usually, however, I got around the trouble about books by borrowing from those who were more fortunate than myself. As to clothes, when I reached Hampton I had practically nothing. Everything that I possessed was in a small hand satchel. My anxiety about clothing was increased because of the fact that General Armstrong made a personal inspection of the young men in ranks, to see that their clothes were clean. Shoes had to be polished, there must be no buttons off the clothing, and no grease-spots. To wear one suit of clothes continually, while at work and in the schoolroom, and at the same time keep it clean, was rather a hard problem for me to solve. In some way I managed to get on till the teachers learned that I was in earnest and meant to succeed, and then some of them were kind enough to see that I was partly supplied with second-hand clothing that had been sent in barrels from the North. These barrels proved a blessing to hundreds of poor but deserving students. Without them I question whether I should ever have gotten through Hampton.…

I was completely out of money when I graduated. In company with other Hampton students, I secured a place as a table waiter in a summer hotel in Connecticut, and managed to borrow enough money with which to get there. I had not been in this hotel long before I found out that I knew practically nothing about waiting on a hotel table. The head waiter, however, supposed that I was an accomplished waiter. He soon gave me charge of a table at which there sat four or five wealthy and rather aristocratic people. My ignorance of how to wait upon them was so apparent that they scolded me in such a severe manner that I became frightened and left their table, leaving them sitting there without food. As a result of this I was reduced from the position of waiter to that of a dish-carrier.

But I determined to learn the business of waiting, and did so within a few weeks, and was restored to my former position. I have had the satisfaction of being a guest in this hotel several times since I was a waiter there.

At the close of the hotel season I returned to my former home in Malden, and was elected to teach the coloured school at that place. This was the beginning of one of the happiest periods of my life. I now felt that I had the opportunity to help the people of my home town to a higher life. I felt from the first that mere book education was not all that the young people of that town needed. I began my work at eight o'clock in the morning, and, as a rule, it did not end until ten o'clock at night. In addition to the usual routine of teaching, I taught the pupils to comb their hair, and to keep their hands and faces clean, as well as their clothing. I gave special attention to teaching them the proper use of the toothbrush and the bath.

In all my teaching I have watched carefully the influence of the toothbrush, and I am convinced that there are few single agencies of civilization that are more far-reaching.

There were so many of the older boys and girls in the town, as well as men and women, who had to work in the daytime but still were craving an opportunity for some education, that I soon opened a night school. From the first, this was crowded every night, being about as large as the school that I taught in the day. The efforts of some of the men and women, who in many cases were over fifty years of age, to learn, were in some cases very pathetic.

My day- and night-school work was not all that I undertook. I established a small reading-room and a debating society. On Sundays I taught two Sunday-schools, one in the town of Malden in the afternoon, and the other in the morning at a place three miles distant from Malden. In addition to this, I gave private lessons to several young men whom I was fitting to send to the Hampton Institute. Without regard to pay and with little thought of it, I taught any one who wanted to learn, anything that I could teach him. I was supremely happy in the opportunity of being able to assist somebody else. I did receive, however, a small salary from the public fund for my work as a public school teacher.…

In May, 1881, near the close of my first year in teaching the night school at Hampton Institute, in a way that I had not dared expect, the opportunity opened for me to begin my life-work. One night in the chapel, after the usual chapel exercises were over, General Armstrong referred to the fact that he had received a letter from some gentlemen in Alabama asking him to recommend some one to take charge of what was to be a normal school for the coloured people in the little town of Tuskegee in that State. These gentlemen seemed to take it for granted that no coloured man suitable for the position could be secured, and they were expecting the General to recommend a white man for the place. The next day General Armstrong sent for me to come to his office, and, much to my surprise, asked me if I thought I could fill the position in Alabama. I told him that I would be willing to try. Accordingly he wrote to the people who had applied to him for the information, that he did not know of any white man to suggest, but if they would be willing to take a coloured man, he had one whom he could recommend. In this letter he gave them my name.

Several days passed before anything more was heard about the matter. Some time afterward, one Sunday evening during the chapel exercises, a messenger came in and handed the General a telegram. At the end of the exercises he read the telegram to the school. In substance, these were its words: "Booker T. Washington will suit us. Send him at once.…"

I reached Tuskegee early in June, 1881. The first month I spent in finding accommodations for the school, and in travelling through Alabama, examining into the actual life of the people, especially in the country districts, and in getting the school advertised among the class of people that I wanted to have attend it. The most of my travelling was done over the country road, with a mule and a cart or a mule and a buggy wagon for conveyance. I ate and slept with the people in their little cabins. I saw their farms, their schools, their churches. Since in the case of the most of these visits there had been no notice given in advance that a stranger was expected, I had the advantage of seeing the real, everyday life of the people.…

I confess that what I saw during my month of travel and investigation left me with a very heavy heart. The work to be done in order to lift these people up seemed almost beyond accomplishing. I was only one person, and it seemed to me that the little effort which I could put forth could go such a short distance toward bringing about results. I wondered if I could accomplish anything, and if it were worth while for me to try.

On one thing I felt more strongly convinced than ever, after spending this month in seeing the actual life of the coloured people, and that was that, in order to lift them up, something must be done more than merely to imitate New England education as it then existed. I saw more clearly than ever the wisdom of the system which General Armstrong had inaugurated at Hampton. To take the children of such people as I had been among for a month, and each day give them a few hours of mere book education, I felt would be almost a waste of time.

After consultation with the citizens of Tuskegee, I set July 4, 1881, as the day for the opening of the school in the little shanty and church which had been secured for its accommodation. The white people, as well as the coloured, were greatly interested in the starting of the new school, and the opening day was looked forward to with much earnest discussion. There were not a few white people in the vicinity of Tuskegee who looked with some disfavour upon the project. They questioned its value to the coloured people, and had a fear that it might result in bringing about trouble between the races. Some had the feeling that in proportion as the Negro received education, in the same proportion would his value decrease as an economic factor in the State. These people feared the result of education would be that the Negroes would leave the farms, and that it would be difficult to secure them for domestic service.

The white people who questioned the wisdom of starting this new school had in their minds pictures of what was called an educated Negro, with a high hat, imitation gold eye-glasses, a showy walking-stick, kid gloves, fancy boots, and what not—in a word, a man who was determined to live by his wits. It was difficult for these people to see how education would produce any other kind of a coloured man.…

On the morning that the school opened thirty students reported for admission. I was the only teacher. The students were about equally divided between the sexes.… The greater part of the thirty were public school teachers, and some of them were nearly forty years of age.

At the end of the first six weeks a new and rare face entered the school as a co-teacher. This was Miss Olivia A. Davidson, who later became my wife.…

Miss Davidson and I began consulting as to the future of the school from the first. The students were making progress in learning books and in developing their minds; but it became apparent at once, that, if we were to make any permanent impression upon those who had come to us for training, we must do something besides teach them mere books. The students had come from homes where they had had no opportunities for lessons which would teach them how to care for their bodies. With few exceptions, the homes in Tuskegee in which the students boarded were but little improvement upon those from which they had come. We wanted to teach the students how to bathe; how to care for their teeth and clothing. We wanted to teach them what to eat, and how to eat it properly, and how to care for their rooms. Aside from this, we wanted to give them such a practical knowledge of some one industry, together with the spirit of industry, thrift, and economy, that they would be sure of knowing how to make a living after they had left us. We wanted to teach them to study actual things instead of mere books alone.…

We wanted to give them such an education as would fit a large proportion of them to be teachers, and at the same time cause them to return to the plantation districts and show the people there how to put new energy and new ideas into farming, as well as into the intellectual and moral and religious life of the people.

All these ideals and needs crowded themselves upon us with a seriousness that seemed well-nigh overwhelming. What were we to do? We had only the little old shanty and the abandoned church which the good coloured people of the town of Tuskegee had kindly loaned us for the accommodation of the classes. The number of students was increasing daily. The more we saw of them, and the more we travelled through the country districts, the more we saw that our efforts were reaching, to only a partial degree, the actual needs of the people whom we wanted to lift up through the medium of the students whom we should educate and send out as leaders.

The more we talked with the students, who were then coming to us from several parts of the State, the more we found that the chief ambition among a large proportion of them was to get an education so that they would not have to work any longer with their hands.…

About three months after the opening of the school, and at the time when we were in the greatest anxiety about our work, there came into the market for sale an old and abandoned plantation which was situated about a mile from the town of Tuskegee. The mansion house—or "big house," as it would have been called—which had been occupied by the owners during slavery, had been burned. After making a careful examination of this place, it seemed to be just the location that we wanted in order to make our work effective and permanent.

But how were we to get it? The price asked for it was very little—only five hundred dollars—but we had no money, and we were strangers in the town and had no credit. The owner of the land agreed to let us occupy the place if we could make a payment of two hundred and fifty dollars down, with the understanding that the remaining two hundred and fifty dollars must be paid within a year. Although five hundred dollars was cheap for the land, it was a large sum when one did not have any part of it.

In the midst of the difficulty I summoned a great deal of courage and wrote to my friend General J. F. B. Marshall, the Treasurer of the Hampton Institute, putting the situation before him and beseeching him to lend me the two hundred and fifty dollars on my own personal responsibility. Within a few days a reply came to the effect that he had no authority to lend me money belonging to the Hampton Institute, but that he would gladly lend me the amount needed from his own personal funds.…

I lost no time in getting ready to move the school on to the new farm. At the time we occupied the place there were standing upon it a cabin, formerly used as the dining-room, an old kitchen, a stable, and an old hen-house. Within a few weeks we had all of these structures in use. The stable was repaired and used as a recitation-room, and very presently the hen-house was utilized for the same purpose.…

Nearly all the work of getting the new location ready for school purposes was done by the students after school was over in the afternoon. As soon as we got the cabins in condition to be used I determined to clear up some land so that we could plant a crop. When I explained my plan to the young men, I noticed that they did not seem to take to it very kindly. It was hard for them to see the connection between clearing land and education. Besides, many of them had been school-teachers, and they questioned whether or not clearing land would be in keeping with their dignity. In order to relieve them from any embarrassment, each afternoon after school I took my axe and led the way to the woods. When they saw that I was not afraid or ashamed to work, they began to assist with more enthusiasm. We kept at the work each afternoon, until we had cleared about twenty acres and had planted a crop.

At the end of three months enough was secured to repay the loan of two hundred and fifty dollars to General Marshall, and within two months more we had secured the entire five hundred dollars and had received a deed of the one hundred acres of land.…

Our next effort was in the direction of increasing the cultivation of the land, so as to secure some return from it, and at the same time give the students training in agriculture. All the industries at Tuskegee have been started in natural and logical order, growing out of the needs of a community settlement. We began with farming, because we wanted something to eat.

Many of the students, also, were able to remain in school but a few weeks at a time, because they had so little money with which to pay their board. Thus another object which made it desirable to get an industrial system started was in order to make it available as a means of helping the students to earn money enough so that they might be able to remain in school during the nine months' session of the school year.…

From the very beginning, at Tuskegee, I was determined to have the students do not only the agricultural and domestic work, but to have them erect their own building. My plan was to have them, while performing this service, taught the latest and best methods of labour, so that the school would not only get the benefit of their efforts, but the students themselves would be taught to see not only utility in labour, but beauty and dignity would be taught, in fact, how to lift labour up from mere drudgery and toil, and would learn to love work for its own sake. My plan was not to teach them to work in the old way, but to show them how to make the forces of nature—air, water, steam, electricity, horsepower—assist them in their labour.…

I now come to that one of the incidents in my life which seems to have excited the greatest amount of interest, and which perhaps went further than anything else in giving me a reputation that in a sense might be called National. I refer to the address which I delivered at the opening of the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition at Atlanta, Ga., September 18, 1895.…

In the spring of 1895 I received a telegram from a prominent citizen in Atlanta asking me to accompany a committee from that city to Washington for the purpose of appearing before a committee of Congress in the interest of securing Government help for the Exposition. The committee was composed of about twenty-five of the most prominent and most influential white men of Georgia. All the members of this committee were white men except Bishop Grant, Bishop Gaines, and myself. The Mayor and several other city and State officials spoke before the committee. They were followed by the two coloured bishops. My name was the last on the list of speakers. I had never before appeared before such a committee, nor had I ever delivered any address in the capital of the Nation. I had many misgivings as to what I ought to say, and as to the impression that my address would make. While I cannot recall in detail what I said, I remember that I tried to impress upon the committee, with all the earnestness and plainness of any language that I could command, that if Congress wanted to do something which would assist in ridding the South of the race question and making friends between the two races, it should in every proper way encourage the material and intellectual growth of both races. I said that the Atlanta Exposition would present an opportunity for both races to show what advance they had made since freedom, and would at the same time afford encouragement to them to make still greater progress.

I tried to emphasize the fact that while the Negro should not be deprived by unfair means of the franchise, political agitation alone would not save him, and that back of the ballot he must have property, industry, skill, economy, intelligence, and character, and that no race without these elements could permanently succeed. I said that in granting the appropriation Congress could do something that would prove to be of real and lasting value to both races, and that it was the first great opportunity of the kind that had been presented since the close of the Civil War.

I spoke for fifteen or twenty minutes, and was surprised at the close of my address to receive the hearty congratulations of the Georgia committee and of the members of Congress who were present. The committee was unanimous in making a favourable report, and in a few days the bill passed Congress. With the passing of this bill the success of the Atlanta Exposition was assured.

Soon after this trip to Washington the directors of the Exposition decided that it would be a fitting recognition of the coloured race to erect a large and attractive building which should be devoted wholly to showing the progress of the Negro since freedom. It was further decided to have the building designed and erected wholly by Negro mechanics. This plan was carried out. In design, beauty, and general finish the Negro Building was equal to the others a on the grounds.…

As the day for the opening of the Exposition drew near, the Board of Directors began preparing the programme for the opening exercises. In the discussion from day to day of the various features of this programme, the question came up as to the advisability of putting a member of the Negro race on for one of the opening addresses, since the Negroes had been asked to take such a prominent part in the Exposition. It was argued, further, that such recognition would mark the good feeling prevailing between the two races. Of course there were those who were opposed to any such recognition of the rights of the Negro, but the Board of Directors, composed of men who represented the best and most progressive element in the South, had their way, and voted to invite a black man to speak on the opening day. The next thing was to decide upon the person who was thus to represent the Negro race. After the question had been canvassed for several days, the directors voted unanimously to ask me to deliver one of the opening-day addresses, and in a few days after that I received the official invitation.

The receiving of this invitation brought to me a sense of responsibility that it would be hard for any one not placed in my position to appreciate. What were my feelings when this invitation came to me? I remembered that I had been a slave; that my early years had been spent in the lowest depths of poverty and ignorance, and that I had had little opportunity to prepare me for such a responsibility as this. It was only a few years before that time that any white man in the audience might have claimed me as his slave; and it was easily possible that some of my former owners might be present to hear me speak.

I knew, too, that this was the first time in the entire history of the Negro that a member of my race had been asked to speak from the same platform with white Southern men and women on any important National occasion. I was asked now to speak to an audience composed of the wealth and culture of the white South, the representative of my former masters. I knew, too, that while the greater part of my audience would be composed of Southern people, yet there would be present a large number of Northern white, as well as a great many men and women of my own race.

I was determined to say nothing that I did not feel from the bottom of my heart to be true and right. When the invitation came to me, there was not one word of intimation as to what I should say or as to what I should omit. In this I felt that the Board of Directors had paid a tribute to me. They knew that by one sentence I could have blasted, in a large degree, the success of the Exposition. I was also painfully conscious of the fact that, while I must be true to my own race in my utterances, I had it in my power to make such an ill-timed address as would result in preventing any similar invitation being extended to a black men again for years to come. I was equally determined to be true to the North, as well as to the best element of the white South, in what I had to say.

The papers, North and South, had taken up the discussion of my coming speech, and as the time for it drew near this discussion became more and more widespread. Not a few of the Southern white papers were unfriendly to the idea of my speaking. From my own race I received many suggestions as to what I ought to say. I prepared myself as best I could for the address, but as the eighteenth of September drew nearer, the heavier my heart became, and the more I feared that my effort would prove a failure and disappointment.

The invitation had come at a time when I was very busy with my school work, as it was the beginning of our school year. After preparing my address, I went through it, as I usually do with all those utterances which I consider particularly important, with Mrs. Washington, and she approved of what I intended to say. On the sixteenth of September, the day before I was to start for Atlanta, so many of the Tuskegee teachers expressed a desire to hear my address that I consented to read it to them in a body. When I had done so, and had heard their criticisms and comments, I felt somewhat relieved, since they seemed to think well of what I had to say.

In the course of the journey from Tuskegee to Atlanta both coloured and white people came to the train to point me out, and discussed with perfect freedom, in my hearing, what was going to take place the next day. We were met by a committee in Atlanta. Almost the first thing I heard when I got off the train in that city was an expression something like this, from an old coloured man near by: "Dat's de man of my race what's gwine to make a speech at de Exposition to-morrow. I'se sho' gwine to hear him."

Atlanta was literally packed, at the time, with people from all parts of the country, and with representatives of foreign governments, as well as with military and civic organizations. The afternoon papers had forecasts of the next day's proceedings in flaring headlines. All this tended to add to my burden. I did not sleep much that night. The next morning, before day, I went carefully over what I intended to say. I also kneeled down and asked God's blessing upon my effort. Right here, perhaps, I ought to add that I make it a rule never to go before an audience, on any occasion, without asking the blessing of God upon what I want to say.…

Early in the morning a committee called to escort me to my place in the procession which was to march to the Exposition grounds.

The procession was about three hours in reaching the Exposition grounds, and during all of this time the sun was shining down upon us disagreeably hot. When we reached the grounds, the heat, together with my nervous anxiety, made me feel as if I were about ready to collapse, and to feel that my address was not going to be a success. When I entered the audience-room, I found it packed with humanity from bottom to top, and there were thousands outside who could not get in.

The room was very large, and well suited to public speaking. When I entered the room, there were vigorous cheers from the coloured portion of the audience, and faint cheers from some of the white people. I had been told, while I had been in Atlanta, that while many white people were going to be present to hear me speak, simply out of curiosity, and that others who would be present would be in full sympathy with me, there was a still larger element of the audience which would consist of those who were going to be present for the purpose of hearing me make a fool of myself, or, at least, of hearing me say some foolish thing, so that they could say to the officials who had invited me to speak, "I told you so!"

One of the trustees of the Tuskegee Institute, as well as my personal friend, Mr. William H. Baldwin, Jr., was at the time General Manager of the Southern Railroad, and happened to be in Atlanta on that day. He was so nervous about the kind of reception that I would have, and the effect that my speech would produce, that he could not persuade himself to go into the building, but walked back and forth in the grounds outside until the opening exercises were over.…

Governor Bullock introduced me with the words, "We have with us to-day a representative of Negro enterprise and Negro civilization."

When I arose to speak there was considerable cheering, especially from the coloured people. As I remember it now, the thing that was uppermost in my mind was the desire to say something that would cement the friendship of the races and bring about hearty coöperation between them. So far as my outward surroundings were concerned, the only thing that I recall distinctly now is that when I got up I saw thousands of eyes looking intently into my face.




[Judge Lindsey is known all the world over for his work in the Juvenile Court in Denver, Colorado. To his courtroom there come visitors from every State in this nation, investigators from Europe and officials from China and Japan to study his laws and observe his methods. But to himself, his famous Juvenile Court is side issue, a small detail in his career. For years he has been engaged in a fight of which the founding of his Juvenile Court was only a skirmish.

Without money, without powerful friends, without personal popularity, this one man has codified laws, instituted reforms, founded charities, and balked corruption.]

From "The Beast," by Ben B. Lindsey and Harvey J. O'Higgins. Doubleday, Page & Company, 1910.


I came to Denver in the spring of 1880, at the age of eleven, as mildly inoffensive a small boy as ever left a farm—undersized and weakly, so that at the age of seventeen I commonly passed as twelve, and so unaccustomed to the sight of buildings that I thought the five-story Windsor Hotel a miracle of height and magnificence. I had been living with my maternal grandfather and aunt on a farm in Jackson, Tennessee, where I had been born; and I had come with my younger brother to join my parents, who had finally decided that Denver was to be their permanent home. The conductors on the trains had taken care of us, because my father was a railroad man, at the head of the telegraph system; and we had been entertained on the way by the stories of an old forty-niner with a gray moustache, who told us how he had shot buffalo on those prairies where we now saw only antelope. I was not precocious; his stories interested me more than anything else on the journey; and I stared so hard at the old pioneer that I should recognize him now, I believe, if I saw him on the street.

My schooling was not peculiar; there was nothing "holier than thou" in my bringing up. My father, being a Roman Catholic convert from the Episcopalian Church, sent me to Notre Dame, Indiana, to be educated; and there, to be sure, I read the "Lives of the Saints," aspired to be a saint, and put pebbles in my small shoes to "mortify the flesh," because I was told that a good priest, Father Hudson—whom I all but worshipped—used to do so. But even at Notre Dame, and much more in Denver, I was homesick for the farm; and at last I was allowed to return to Jackson to be cared for by my Protestant relatives. They sent me to a Baptist school till I was seventeen. And when I was recalled to Denver, because of the failure of my father's health, I went to work to help earn for the household, with no strong attachment for any church and with no recognized membership in any.

I suppose there is no one who does not look back upon his past and wonder what he should have become in life if this or that crucial event had not occurred to set his destiny. It seems to me that if it had not been for the sudden death of my father I, too, might have found our jungle beast a domestic tabby, and have fed it its prey without realizing what I was about. I should have been a lawyer, I know; for I had had the ambition from my earliest boyhood, and I had been confirmed in it by my success in debating at school. (Once, at Notre Dame, I spoke for a full hour in successful defence of the proposition that Colorado was the "greatest state in the Union," and proved at least that I had a lawyer's "wind.") But I should probably have been a lawyer who has learned his pleasant theories of life in the colleges. And on the night that my father died, the crushing realities of poverty put out an awful and compelling hand on me, and my struggle with them began.

I was eighteen years old, the eldest of four children. I had been "writing proofs" in the Denver land office, for claimants who had filed on Government land; and I had saved $150 of my salary before my work there ceased. I found, after my father's death, that this $150 was all we had in the world, and $130 of it went for funeral expenses. His life had been insured for $15,000, and we believed that the premiums had all been paid, but we could not find the last receipt; the agent denied having received the payment; the policy had lapsed on the day before my father's death; and we got nothing. Our furniture had been mortgaged; we were allowed only enough of it to furnish a little house on Santa Fé Avenue; and later we moved to a cottage on lower West Colfax Avenue, in which Negroes have since lived.

I went to work at a salary of $10 a month, in a real estate office—as office boy—and carried a "route" of newspapers in the morning before the office opened, and did janitor work at night when it closed. After a month of that, I got a better place, as office boy, with a mining company, at a salary of $25 a month. And finally, my younger brother found work in a law office and I "swapped jobs" with him—because I wished to study law!

It was the office of Mr. R. D. Thompson, who still practises in Denver; and his example as an incorruptibly honest lawyer has been one of the best and strongest influences of my life.

I had that one ambition—to be a lawyer. Associated with it I seem to have had an unusual curiosity about politics. And where I got either the ambition or the curiosity, I have no idea. My father's mother was a Greenleaf,[1] and related to the author of "Greenleaf on Evidence," but my father himself had nothing of the legal mind. As a boy, living in Mississippi, he had joined the Confederate army when he was preparing for the University of Virginia, had attained the rank of captain, had become General Forrest's private secretary, and had written—or largely helped to write—General Forrest's autobiography. He was idealistic, enthusiastic, of an inventive genius, with a really remarkable command of English, and an absorbing love of books. My mother's father was a Barr, from the north of Ireland, a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, her mother was a Woodfalk of Jackson County, Tennessee, a Methodist. The members of the family were practical, strong-willed, able men and women, but with no bent, that I know of, toward either law or politics.

And yet, one of the most vivid memories of my childhood in Jackson is of attending a political rally with my grandfather and hearing a Civil War veteran declaim against Republicans who "waved the bloody shirt"—a memory so strong that for years afterward I never saw a Republican without expecting to see the gory shirt on his back, and wondering vaguely why he was not in jail. When I came to Denver, where the Republicans were dominant, I felt myself in the land of the enemy. And when I "swapped" myself into Mr. Thompson's office, I was surprised to find that my employer, though a Republican from Pittsburg, was so human that one of the first things he did was to give me a suit of clothes. If there is anything more ridiculously dangerous than to blind a child's mind with such prejudices, I do not know what it is.

However, my own observations of what was going on about me were already opening my eyes. I had read, in the newspapers, of how the Denver Republicans won the elections by fraud—by ballot-box stuffing and what not—and I had followed one "Soapy" Smith on the streets, from precinct to precinct, with his gang of election thieves, and had seen them vote not once but five times openly. I had seen a young man, whom I knew, knocked down and arrested for "raising a disturbance" when he objected to "Soapy" Smith's proceeding; and the policeman who arrested him did it with a smile and a wink.

When I came to Mr. Thompson to ask him how he, a Republican, could countenance such things, he assured me that much of what I had been reading and hearing of election frauds was a lie—the mere "whine" of the defeated party—and I saw that he believed what he said. I knew that he was an honest, upright man; and I was puzzled. What puzzled me still more was this: although the ministers in the churches and "prominent citizens" in all walks of life denounced the "election crooks" with the most laudable fervor, the election returns showed that the best people in the churches joined the worst people in the dives to vote the same ticket, and vote it "straight." And I was most of all puzzled to find that when the elections were over, the opposition newspaper ceased its scolding, the voice of ministerial denunciation died away, and the crimes of the election thieves were condoned and forgotten.

I was puzzled. I saw the jungle of vice and party prejudice, but I did not yet see "the Cat." I saw its ears and its eyes there in the underbrush, but I did not know what they were. I thought they were connected with the Republican party.

And then I came upon some more of the brute's anatomy. Members of the Legislature in Denver were accused of fraud in the purchase of state supplies, and—some months later—members of the city government were accused of committing similar frauds with the aid of civic officials and prominent business men. It was proved in court, for example, that bills for $3 had been raised to $300, that $200 had been paid for a bundle of hay worth $2, and $50 for a yard of cheesecloth worth five cents; barrels of ink had been bought for each legislator, though a pint would have sufficed; and an official of the Police Department was found guilty of conniving with a gambler named "Jim" Marshall to rob an express train. I watched the cases in court. I applauded at the meetings of leading citizens who denounced the grafters and passed resolutions in support of the candidates of the opposition party. I waited to see the criminals punished. And they were not punished. Their crimes were not denied. They were publicly denounced by the courts and by the investigating committees, but somehow, for reasons not clear, they all went scot-free, on appeals. Some mysterious power protected them, and I, in the boyish ardor of my ignorance, concluded that they were protected by the Republican "bloody shirt"—and I rushed into that (to me) great confederation of righteousness and all-decent government, the Democratic party.

It would be laughable to me now, if it were not so "sort of sad."

Meanwhile, I was busy about the office, copying letters, running errands, carrying books to and from the court rooms, reading law in the intervals, and at night scrubbing the floors. I was pale, thin, big-headed, with the body of an underfed child, and an ambition that kept me up half the night with Von Holst's "Constitutional Law," Walker's "American Law," or a sheepskin volume of Lawson's "Leading Cases in Equity." I was so mad to save every penny I could earn that instead of buying myself food for luncheon, I ate molasses and gingerbread that all but turned my stomach; and I was so eager to learn my law that I did not take my sleep when I could get it. The result was that I was stupid at my tasks, moody, melancholy, and so sensitive that my employer's natural dissatisfaction with my work put me into agonies of shame and despair of myself. I became, as the boys say, "dopy." I remember that one night, after I had scrubbed the floors of our offices, I took off the old trousers in which I had been working, hung them in a closet, and started home; and it was not until the cold wind struck my bare knees that I realized I was on the street in my shirt. Often, when I was given a brief to work up for Mr. Thompson, I would slave over it until the small hours of the morning and then, to his disgust—and my unspeakable mortification—find that my work was valueless, that I had not seized the fundamental points of the case, or that I had built all my arguments on some misapprehension of the law.

Worse than that, I was unhappy at home. Poverty was fraying us all out. If it was not exactly brutalizing us, it was warping us, breaking our healths, and ruining our dispositions. My good mother—married out of a beautiful Southern home where she had lived a life that (as I remembered it) was all horseback rides and Negro servants—had started out bravely in this debasing existence in a shanty, but it was wearing her out. She was passing through a critical period of her life, and she had no care, no comforts. I have often since been ashamed of myself that I did not sympathize with her and understand her, but I was too young to understand, and too miserable myself to sympathize. It seemed to me that my life was not worth living—that every one had lost faith in me—that I should never succeed in the law or anything else—that I had no brains—that I should never do anything but scrub floors and run messages. And after a day that had been more than usually discouraging in the office and an evening of exasperated misery at home, I got a revolver and some cartridges, locked myself in my room, confronted myself desperately in the mirror, put the muzzle of the loaded pistol to my temple, and pulled the trigger.

The hammer snapped sharply on the cartridge; a great wave of horror and revulsion swept over me in a rush of blood to my head, and I dropped the revolver on the floor and threw myself on my bed.

By some miracle the cartridge had not exploded; but the nervous shock of that instant when I felt the trigger yield and the muzzle rap against my forehead with the impact of the hammer—that shock was almost as great as a very bullet in the brain. I realized my folly, my weakness; and I went back to my life with something of a man's determination to crush the circumstances that had almost crushed me.

Why do I tell that? Because there are so many people in the world who believe that poverty is not sensitive, that the ill-fed, overworked boy of the slums is as callous as he seems dull. Because so many people believe that the weak and desperate boy can never be anything but a weak and vicious man. Because I came out of that morbid period of adolescence with a sympathy for children that helped to make possible one of the first courts established in America for the protection as well as the correction of children. Because I was never afterward as afraid of anything as of my own weakness, my own cowardice—so that when the agents of the Beast in the courts and in politics threatened me with all the abominations of their rage if I did not commit moral suicide for them, my fear of yielding to them was so great that I attacked them more desperately than ever.

It was about this time, too, that I first saw the teeth and the claws of our metaphorical man-eater. That was during the conflict between Governor Waite and the Fire and Police Board of Denver. He had the appointment and removal of the members of this Board, under the law, and when they refused to close the public gambling houses and otherwise enforce the laws against vice in Denver, he read them out of office. They refused to go, and defied him, with the police at their backs. He threatened to call out the militia and drive them from the City Hall. The whole town was in an uproar.

One night, in the previous summer, I had followed the excited crowds to Coliseum Hall to hear the Governor speak, and I had seen him rise like some old Hebrew prophet, with his long white beard and patriarchal head of hair, and denounce iniquity and political injustice and the oppressions of the predatory rich. He appealed to the Bible in a calm prediction that, if the reign of lawlessness did not cease, in time to come "blood would flow in the land even unto the horses' bridles." (And he earned for himself, thereby, the nickname of "Bloody Bridles" Waite.)

Now it began to appear that his prediction was about to come true; for he called out the militia, and the Board armed the police. My brother was a militiaman, and I kept pace with him as his regiment marched from the Armouries to attack the City Hall. There were riflemen on the towers and in the windows of that building; and on the roofs of the houses for blocks around were sharpshooters and armed gamblers and the defiant agents of the powers who were behind the Police Board in their fight. Gatling guns were rushed through the streets; cannon were trained on the City Hall; the long lines of militia were drawn up before the building; and amid the excited tumult of the mob and the eleventh-hour conferences of the Committee of Public Safety, and the hurry of mounted officers and the marching of troops, we all waited with our hearts in our mouths for the report of the first shot. Suddenly, in the silence that expected the storm, we heard the sound of bugles from the direction of the railroad station, and at the head of another army—a body of Federal soldiers ordered from Fort Logan by President Cleveland, at the frantic call of the Committee of Public Safety—a mounted officer rode between the lines of militia and police, and in the name of the President commanded peace.

The militia withdrew. The crowds dispersed. The police and their partisans put up their guns, and the Beast, still defiant, went back sullenly to cover. Not until the Supreme Court had decided that Governor Waite had the right and the power to unseat the Board—not till then was the City Hall surrendered; and even so, at the next election (the Beast turning polecat), "Bloody Bridles" Waite was defeated after a campaign of lies, ridicule, and abuse, and the men whom he had opposed were returned to office.

I had eyes, but I did not see. I thought the whole quarrel was a personal matter between the Police Board and Governor Waite, who seemed determined merely to show them that he was master; and if my young brother had been shot down by a policeman that night, I suppose I should have joined in the curses upon poor old "Bloody Bridles."

However, my prospects in the office had begun to improve. I had had my salary raised, and I had ceased doing janitor work. I had become more of a clerk and less of an office boy. A number of us "kids" had got up a moot court, rented a room to meet in, and finally obtained the use of another room in the old Denver University building, where, in the gaslight, we used to hold "quiz classes" and defend imaginary cases. (That, by the way, was the beginning of the Denver University Law School.) I read my Blackstone, Kent, Parsons—working night and day—and I began really to get some sort of "grasp of the law." Long before I had passed my examinations and been called to the bar, Mr. Thompson would give me demurrers to argue in court; and, having been told that I had only a pretty poor sort of legal mind, I worked twice as hard to make up for my deficiencies. I argued my first case, a damage suit, when I was nineteen. And at last there happened one of those lucky turns common in jury cases, and it set me on my feet.

A man had been held by the law on several counts of obtaining goods under false pretences. He had been tried on the first count by an assistant district attorney, and the jury had acquitted him. He had been tried on the second count by another assistant, who was one of our great criminal lawyers, and the jury had disagreed. There was a debate as to whether it was worth while to try him for a third time, and I proposed that I should take the case, since I had been working on it and thought there was still a chance of convicting him. They let me have my way, and though the evidence in the third charge was the same as before—except as to the person defrauded—the jury, by good luck, found against him. It was the turning point in my struggle. It gave me confidence in myself; and it taught me never to give up.

And now I began to come upon "the Cat" again.

I knew a lad named Smith, whom I considered a victim of malpractice at the hands of a Denver surgeon whose brother was at the head of one of the great smelter companies of Colorado. The boy had suffered a fracture of the thigh-bone, and the surgeon—because of a hasty and ill-considered diagnosis, I believed—had treated him for a bruised hip. The surgeon, when I told him that the boy was entitled to damages, called me a blackmailer—and that was enough. I forced the case to trial.

I had resigned my clerkship and gone into partnership with a fine young fellow whom I shall call Charles Gardener[2]—though that was not his name—and this was to be our first case. We were opposed by Charles J. Hughes, Jr., the ablest corporation lawyer in the state; and I was puzzled to find the officers of the gas company and a crowd of prominent business men in court when the case was argued on a motion to dismiss it. The judge refused the motion, and for so doing—as he afterward told me himself—he was "cut" in his Club by the men whose presence in the court had puzzled me. After a three weeks' trial, in which we worked night and day for the plaintiff—with X-ray photographs and medical testimony and fractured bones boiled out over night in the medical school where I prepared them—the jury stood eleven to one in our favour, and the case had to be begun all over again. The second time, after another trial of three weeks, the jury "hung" again, but we did not give up. It had been all fun for us—and for the town. The word had gone about the streets: "Go up and see those two kids fighting the corporation heavyweights. It's more fun than a circus." And we were confident that we could win; we knew that we were right.

One evening after dinner, when we were sitting in the dingy little back room on Champa Street that served us as an office, A. M. Stevenson—"Big Steve"—politician and attorney for the Denver City Tramway Company, came shouldering in to see us—a heavy-jowled, heavy-waisted, red-faced bulk of good-humour—looking as if he had just walked out of a political cartoon. "Hello, boys," he said jovially. "How's she going? Making a record for yourselves up in court, eh? Making a record for yourselves. Well!"

He sat down and threw a foot up on the desk and smiled at us, with his inevitable cigarette in his mouth—his ridiculously inadequate cigarette. (When he puffed it, he looked like a fat boy blowing bubbles.) "Wearing yourselves out, eh? Working night and day? Ain't you getting about tired of it?"

"We got eleven to one each time," I said. "We'll win yet."

"Uh-huh. You will, eh?" He laughed amusedly. "One man stood out against you each time, wasn't there?"

There was.

"Well," he said, "there always will be. You ain't going to get a verdict in this case. You can't. Now I'm a friend of you boys, ain't I? Well, my advice to you is you'd better settle that case. Get something for your work. Don't be a pair of fools. Settle it."

"Why can't we get a verdict?" we asked.

He winked a fat eye. "Jury'll hang. Every time. I'm here to tell you so. Better settle it." [3]

We refused to. What was the use of courts if we could not get justice for this crippled boy? What was the use of practising law if we could not get a verdict on evidence that would convince a blind man? Settle it? Never!

So they went to our client and persuaded the boy to give up.

"Big Steve," attorney for the tramway company! The gas company's officers in court! The business men insulting the judge in his Club! The defendant's brother at the head of one of the smelter companies! I began to "connect up" "the Cat."

Gardener and I held a council of war. If it was possible for these men to "hang" juries whenever they chose, there was need of a law to make something less than a unanimous decision by a jury sufficient to give a verdict in civil cases. Colorado needed a "three-fourths jury law." Gardener was a popular young man, a good "mixer," a member of several fraternal orders, a hail-fellow-well-met, and as interested as I was in politics. He had been in the insurance business before he took up law, and he had friends everywhere. Why should he not go into politics?—as he had often spoken of doing.

In the intervals of the Smith suit, we had had a case in which a mother, whose child had been killed by a street car, had been unable to recover damages from the tramway company, because the company claimed, under the law, that her child was worthless alive or dead; and there was need of a statute permitting such as she to recover damages for distress and anguish of mind. We had had another case in which a young factory worker had been injured by the bursting of an emery wheel; and the law held that the boy was guilty of "contributory negligence" because he had continued to work at the wheel after he had found a flaw in it—although he had had no choice except to work at it or leave the factory and find employment elsewhere. There was need of a law giving workmen better protection in such circumstances. Why should not Gardener enter the Legislature and introduce these bills?—which I was eager to draft. Why not, indeed! The state needed them; the people wanted them; the courts were crippled and justice was balked because of the lack of them. Here was an opportunity for worthy ambition to serve the community and help his fellow-man.

That night, with all the high hopes and generous ideals and merciful ignorance of youth, we decided—without knowing what we were about—to go into the jungle and attack the Beast!


Denver was then, as it is now, a beautiful city, built on a slope, between the prairies and mountains, always sunny, cool, and clear-skyed with the very sparkle of happiness in its air; and on the crown of its hill, facing the romantic prospect of the Rockies, the State Capitol raised its dome—as proud as the ambition of a liberty-loving people—the symbol of an aspiration and the expression of its power. That Capitol, I confess, was to me a sort of granite temple erected by the Commonwealth of Colorado to law, to justice, to the ideals of self-government that have made our republic the promised land of all the oppressed of Europe; and I could conceive of no nobler work than to serve those ideals in the assembly halls of that building, with those eternal mountains on the horizon and that sun of freedom overhead. Surely a man may confess so much, without shame, of his youth and his inexperience.… It is not merely the gold on the dome of the Capitol that has given it another look to me now.

It was the year 1897. I was about twenty-eight years old, and my partner, Gardener, was three years younger. He was more worldly-wise than I was, even then; for while I had been busy with briefs and court-work, he had been the "business head" of the firm, out among business friends and acquaintances—"mixing," as they say—and through his innumerable connections, here and there, with this man and that fraternity, bringing in the cases that kept us employed. He was a "Silver Republican"; I, a Democrat. But we both knew that if he was to get into politics it must be with the backing of the party "organization" and the endorsement of the party "boss."

The "Silver Republican" boss of the day was a man whom we both admired—George Graham. Everybody admired him. Everybody was fond of him. "Why," they would tell you, "there isn't a man in town who is kinder to his family. He's such a good man in his home! And he's so charitable!" At Christmas time, when free baskets of food were distributed to the poor, George Graham was chairman of the committee for their distribution. He was prominent in the fraternal orders and used his political power to help the needy, the widow, and the orphan. He had an engaging manner of fellowship, a personal magnetism, a kindly interest in aspiring young men, a pleasant appearance—smooth and dark in complexion, with a gentle way of smiling. I liked him; and he seemed to discover an affection for both Gardener and me, as we became more intimate with him, in the course of Gardener's progress toward his coveted nomination by the party.

That progress was so rapid and easy that it surprised us. We knew, of course, that we had attracted some public attention and much newspaper notice by our legal battles with "the corporation heavyweights" in our three big cases against the surgeon, the tramway company, and the factory owner. But this did not account to us for the ease with which Gardener penetrated to the inner circles of the Boss's court. It did not explain why Graham should come to see us in our office, and call us by our first names. The explanation that we tacitly accepted was one more personal and flattering to us. And when Gardener would come back from a chat with Graham, full of "inside information" about the party's plans—about who was to be nominated for this office at the coming convention, and what chance So-and-so had for that one—the sure proofs (to us) that he was being admitted to the intimate secrets of the party and found worthy of the confidence of those in power—I was as proud of Gardener as only a young man can be of a friend who has all the brilliant qualities that he himself lacks. Gardener was a handsome fellow, well built, always well dressed, self-assured and ambitious; I did not wonder that the politicians admired him and made much of him. I accepted his success as a tribute to those qualities in him that had already attached me to him with an affection rather more than brotherly.

We said nothing to the politicians about our projected bills. Indeed, from the first, my interest in our measures of reform was greater than Gardener's. His desire to be in the Legislature Was due to a natural ambition to "get on" in life, to acquire power in the community as well as the wealth and distinction that come with power. Such ambitions were, of course, beyond me; I had none of the qualities that would make them possible; and I could only enjoy them, as it were, by proxy, in Gardener's person. I enjoyed, in the same way, his gradual penetration behind the scenes in politics. I saw, with him, that the party convention, to which we had at first looked as the source of honours, was really only a sort of puppet show of which the Boss held the wires. All the candidates for nomination were selected by Graham in advance—in secret caucus with his ward leaders, executive committeemen, and such other "practical" politicians as "Big Steve"—and the convention, with more or less show of independence, did nothing but ratify his choice. When I spoke of canvassing some of the chosen delegates of the convention, Gardener said: "What's the use of talking to those small fry? If we can get the big fellows, we've got the rest. They do what the big ones tell them—and won't do anything they aren't told. You leave it to me." I had only hoped to see him in the Lower House, but he, with his wiser audacity, soon proclaimed himself a candidate for the Senate. "We can get the big thing as easy as the little one," he said. "I'm going to tell Graham it's the Senate or nothing for me." And he got his promise. And when we knew, at last, that his name was really on "the slate" of candidates to be presented to the convention, we were ready to throw up our hats and cheer for ourselves—and for the Boss.

The convention met in September, 1898. There had been a fusion of Silver Republicans, Democrats, and Populists, that year, and the political offices had been apportioned out among the faithful machine-men of these parties. Gardener was nominated by "Big Steve," in a eulogistic speech that was part of the farce; and the convention ratified the nomination with the unanimity of a stage mob. We knew that his election was as sure as sunrise, and I set to work looking up models for my bills with all the enthusiasm of the first reformer.

Meanwhile there was the question of the campaign and of the campaign expenses. Gardener had been assessed $500 by the committee as his share of the legitimate costs of the election, and Boss Graham generously offered to get the money for him "from friends." We were rather inclined to let Graham do so, feeling a certain delicacy about refusing his generosity and being aware, too, that we were not millionaires. But Graham was not the only one who made the offer; for example, Ed. Chase, since head of the gambler's syndicate in Denver, made similar proposals of kindly aid; and we decided, at last, that perhaps it would be well to be quite independent. Our law practice was improving. Doubtless, it would continue to improve now that we were "in right" with the political powers. We put up $250 each and paid the assessment.

The usual business of political rallies, mass-meetings, and campaign speeches followed in due course, and in November, 1898, Gardener was elected a State Senator on the fusion ticket. I had been busy with my "three-fourths jury" bill, studying the constitution of the State of Colorado, comparing it with those of the other states, and making myself certain that such a law as we proposed was possible. Unlike most of the state constitutions, Colorado's preserved inviolate the right of jury trial in criminal cases only, and therefore it seemed to me that the Legislature had plenary power to regulate it in civil suits. I found that the Supreme Court of the state had so decided in two cases, and I felt very properly elated; there seemed to be nothing to prevent us having a law that should make "hung" juries practically impossible in Colorado and relieve the courts of an abuse that thwarted justice in scores of cases. At the same time I prepared a bill allowing parents to recover damages for "anguish of mind" when a child of theirs was killed in an accident; and, after much study, I worked up an "employer's liability" bill to protect men who were compelled by necessity to work under needlessly dangerous conditions. With these three bills in his pocket, Senator Gardener went up to the Capitol, like another David, and I went joyfully with him to aid and abet.

Happy? I was as happy as if Gardener had been elected President and I was to be his Secretary of State. I was as happy as a man who has found his proper work and knows that it is for the good of his fellows. I would not have changed places that day with any genius of the fine arts who had three masterpieces to unveil to an admiring world.

I did not know, of course—but I was soon to learn—that the Legislature's time was almost wholly taken up with the routine work of government, that most of the bills passed were concerned with appropriations and such necessary details of administration, and that only twenty or thirty bills such as ours—dealing with other matters—could possibly be passed, among the hundreds offered. It was Boss Graham who warned us that we had better concentrate on one measure, if we wished to succeed with any at all, and we decided to put all our strength behind the "three-fourths jury" bill. Since Graham seemed to doubt its constitutionality, I went to the Attorney General for his opinion, and he referred me to his assistant—whom I convinced. I came back with the assistant's decision that the Legislature had power to pass such a law, and Gardener promptly introduced it in the Senate.

It proved at once mildly unpopular, and after a preliminary debate, in which the senators rather laughed at it as visionary and unconstitutional, it was referred to the Attorney General for his opinion. We waited, confidently. To our amazement he reported it unconstitutional, and the very assistant who had given me a favourable opinion before, now conducted the case against it. Nothing daunted, Gardener fought to get it referred to the Supreme Court, under the law; and the Senate sent it there. I got up an elaborate brief, had it printed at our expense, and spent a day in arguing it before the Supreme Court judges. They held that the Court had already twice found the Legislature possessed of plenary powers in such matters, and Gardener brought the bill back into the Senate triumphantly, and got a favourable report from the Judiciary Committee.

By this time, Boss Graham was seriously alarmed. He had warned Gardener that the bill was distasteful to him and to those whom he called his "friends." It was particularly distasteful, it seemed, to the Denver City Tramway Company. And he could promise, he said, that if we dropped the bill, the railway company would see that we got at least four thousand dollars' worth of litigation a year to handle. To both Gardener and myself, flushed with success and roused to the battle, this offer seemed an amusing confession of defeat on the part of the opposition; and we went ahead more gaily than ever.

We were enjoying ourselves. If we had been a pair of chums in college, we could not have had a better time. Whenever I could get away from my court cases and my office work, I rushed up to watch the fight in the Senate, as eagerly as a Freshman hurrying from his studies to see his athletic room-mate carry everything before him in a football game. The whole atmosphere of the Capitol—with its corridors of coloured marble, its vistas of arch and pillar, its burnished metal balustrades, its great staircases—all its majesty of rich grandeur and solidity of power—affected me with an increased respect for the functions of government that were discharged there and for the men who had them to discharge. I felt the reflection of that importance beaming upon myself when I was introduced as "Senator Gardener's law partner, sir"; and I accepted the bows and greetings of lobbyists and legislators with all the pleasure in the world.

When Gardener got our bill up for its final reading in the Senate, I was there to watch, and it tickled me to the heart to see him. He made a fine figure of an orator, the handsomest man in the Senate; and he was not afraid to raise his voice and look as independent and determined as his words. He had given the senators to understand that any one who opposed his bill would have him as an obstinate opponent on every other measure; and the Senate evidently realized that it would be wise to let him have his way. The bill was passed. But it had to go through the Lower House, too, and it was sent there, to be taken care of by its opponents—with the tongue in the cheek, no doubt.

I met Boss Graham in the corridor. "Hello, Ben," he greeted me. "What's the matter with that partner of yours?" I laughed; he looked worried. "Come in here," he said. "I'd like to have a talk with you." He led me into a quiet side room and shut the door. "Now look here," he said. "Did you boys ever stop to think what a boat you'll be in with this law that you're trying to get, if you ever have to defend a corporation in a jury suit? Now they tell me down at the tramway offices"—the offices of the Denver City Tramway Company—"that they're going to need a lot more legal help. There's every prospect that they'll appoint you boys assistant counsel. But they can't expect to do much, even with you bright boys as counsel, if they have this law against them. You know that all the money there is in law is in corporation business. I don't see what you're fighting for."

I explained, as well as I could, that we were fighting for the bill because we thought it was right—that it was needed. He did not seem to believe me; he objected that this sort of talk was not "practical."

"Well," I ended, "we've made up our minds to put it through. And we're going to try."

"You'll find you're making a mistake, boy," he warned me. "You'll find you're making a mistake."

We laughed over it together—Gardener and I. It was another proof to us that we had our opponents on their knees. We thought we understood Graham's position in the matter; he had made no disguise of the fact that he was intimate and friendly with Mr. William G. Evans—the great "Bill" Evans—head of the tramway company and an acknowledged power in politics. And it was natural to us that Graham should do what he could to induce us to spare his friends. That was all very well, but we had made no pledges; we were under no obligations to any one except the public whom we served. Gardener was making himself felt. He did not intend to stultify himself, even for Graham's good "friends." I, of course, went along with him, rejoicing.

He had another bill in hand (House Bill 235) to raise the tax on large foreign insurance companies so as to help replenish the depleted treasury of the state. Governor Thomas had been appealing for money; the increased tax was conceded to be just, and it would add at least $100,000 in revenue to the public coffers. Gardener handled it well in the Senate, and—though we were indirectly offered a bribe of $2,500 to drop it—he got it passed and returned it to the Lower House. He had two other bills—one our "anguish of mind" provision and the second a bill regulating the telephone companies; but he was not able to move them out of committee. The opposition was silent but solid.

It became my duty to watch the two bills that we had been able to get as far as the House calendar on final passage—to see that they were given their turn for consideration. The jury bill came to the top very soon, but it was passed over, and next day it was on the bottom of the list. This happened more than once. And once it disappeared from the calendar altogether. The Clerk of the House, when I demanded an explanation, said that it was an oversight—a clerical error—and put it back at the foot. I began to suspect jugglery, but I was not yet sure of it.

One day while I was on this sentry duty, a lobbyist who was a member of a fraternal order to which I belonged, came to me with the fraternal greeting and a thousand dollars in bills. "Lindsey," he said, "this is a legal fee for an argument we want you to make before the committee, as a lawyer, against that insurance bill. It's perfectly legitimate. We don't want you to do anything except in a legal way. You know our other lawyer has made an able argument, showing how the extra tax will come out of the people in increased premiums"—and so on. I refused the money and continued trying to push along the bill. In a few days he came back to me, with a grin. "Too bad you didn't take that money," he said. "There's lots of it going round. But the joke of it is, I got the whole thing fixed up for $250. Watch Cannon." I watched Cannon—Wilbur F. Cannon, a member of the House and a "floor leader" there. He had already voted in favour of the bill. But—to anticipate somewhat the sequence of events—I saw Wilbur F. Cannon, in the confusion and excitement of the closing moments of the session, rush down the aisle toward the Speaker's chair and make a motion concerning the insurance bill—to what effect I could not hear. The motion was put, in the midst of the uproar, and declared carried; and the bill was killed. It was killed so neatly that there is to-day no record of its decease in the official account of the proceedings of the House! Expert treason, bold and skilful! [4]

Meanwhile, I had been standing by our jury bill. It went up and it went down on the calendar, and at last when it arrived at a hearing it was referred back to the Judiciary Committee with two other anti-corporation bills. The session was drawing toward the day provided by the constitution for its closing, and we could no longer doubt that we were being juggled out of our last chance by the Clerk and the Speaker—who was Mr. William G. Smith, since known as "Tramway Bill." [5]

"All right," Gardener said. "Not one of Speaker Smith's House bills will get through the Senate until he lets our jury bill get to a vote." He told Speaker Smith what he intended to do and next day he began to do it.

That afternoon, tired out, I was resting, during a recess of the House, in a chair that stood in a shadowed corner, when the Speaker hurried by heavily, evidently unaware of me, and rang a telephone. I heard him mention the name of "Mr. Evans," in a low, husky voice. I heard, sleepily, not consciously listening; and I did note at first connect "Mr. Evans" with William G. Evans of the tramway company. But a little later I heard the Speaker say: "Well, unless Gardener can be pulled off, we'll have to let that 'three-fourths' bill out. He's raising hell with a lot of our measures over in the Senate…  What?… Yes.… Well, get at it pretty quick."

Those hoarse, significant words wakened like the thrill of an electric shock—wakened to an understanding of the strength of "special interests" that were opposed to us—and wakened in me, too, the anger of a determination to fight to a finish. The Powers that had "fixed" our juries, were now fixing Legislature. They had laughed at us in the courts; they were going to laugh at us in the Capitol!

Speaker Smith came lumbering out. He was a heavily built man, with a big jaw. And when he saw me there, confronting him, his face changed from a look of displeased surprise to one of angry contempt—lowering his head like a bull—as if he were saying to himself: "What! That d—— little devil! I'll bet he heard me!" But he did not speak. And neither did I. He went off about whatever business he had in hand, and I caught up my hat and hastened to Gardener to tell him what I had heard.

When the House met again, in committee of the whole, the Speaker, of course, was not in the Chair, and Gardener found him in the lobby. Gardener had agreed with me to say nothing of the telephone conversation but he threatened Smith that unless our jury bill was "reported out" by the Judiciary Committee and allowed to come to a vote, he would oppose every House bill in the Senate and talk the session to death. Smith fumed and blustered, but Gardener, with the blood in his face, out-blustered and out-fumed him. The Speaker, later in the day, vented some of his spleen by publicly threatening to eject me from the floor of the House as a lobbyist. But he had to allow the bill to come up, and it was finally passed, with very little opposition—for reasons which I was afterward to understand.

It had yet to be signed by the Speaker; and it had to be signed before the close of the session or it could not become a law. I heard rumours that some anti-corporation bills were going to be "lost" by the Chief Clerk, so that they might not be signed; and I kept my eye on him. He was a fat-faced, stupid-looking, flabby creature—by name D. H. Dickason—who did not appear capable of doing anything very daring. I saw the chairman of the Enrolling Committee place our bill on Dickason's desk, among those waiting for the Speaker's signature; and—while the House was busy—I withdrew it from the pile and placed it to one side, conspicuously, so that I could see it from a distance.

When the time came for signing—sure enough! the Clerk was missing, and some bills were missing with him. The House was crowded—floor and galleries—and the whole place went into an uproar at once. Nobody seemed to know which bills were gone; every member who had an anti-corporation bill thought it was his that had been stolen; and they all together broke out into denunciations of the Speaker, the Clerk, and everybody else whom they thought concerned in the outrage. One man jumped up on his chair and tried to dominate the pandemonium, shouting and waving his hands. The galleries went wild with noisy excitement. Men threatened each other with violence on the floor of the House, cursing and shaking their fists. Others rushed here and there trying to find some trace of the Clerk. The Speaker, breathless from calling for order and pounding with his gavel, had to sit down and let them rage.

At last, from my place by the wall, on the outskirts of the hubbub, I saw the Clerk dragged down the aisle by the collar, bleeding, with a blackened eye, apparently half drunk and evidently frightened into an abject terror. He had stolen a bill introduced by Senator Bucklin, providing that cities could own their own water works and gas works; but the Senator's wife had been watching him; she had followed him to the basement and stopped him as he tried to escape to the street; and it was the Senator now who had him by the neck.

They thrust him back into his chair, got the confusion quieted, and with muttered threats of the penitentiary for him and everybody concerned in the affair, they got back to business again with the desperate haste of men working against time. And our jury bill was signed!

It was signed; and we had won! (At least we thought so.) And I walked out of the crowded glare of the session's close, into an April midnight that was as wide as all eternity and as quiet. It seemed to me that the stars, even in Colorado, had never been brighter; they sparkled in the clear blackness of the sky with a joyful brilliancy. A cool breeze drew down from the mountains as peacefully as the breath in sleep. It was a night to make a man take on his hat and breathe out his last vexation in a sigh.

We had won. What did it matter that the Boss, the Speaker, the Clerk and so many more of these miserable creatures were bought and sold in selfishness? That spring night seemed to answer for it that the truth and beauty of the world were as big above them as the heavens that arched so high above the puny dome-light, of the Capitol. Had not even we, two "boys"—as they called us—put a just law before them and made them take up the pen and sign it? If we had done so much without even a whisper from the people and scarcely a line from the public press to aid and back us, what would the future not do when we found the help that an aroused community would surely give us? Hope? The whole night was hushed and peaceful with hope. The very houses that I passed—walking home up the tree-lined streets—seemed to me in some way so quiet because they were so sure. All was right with the world. We had won.

[1] A New England family, to which the poet Whittier was related.

[2] This is one of the few fictitious names used in the story. Judge Lindsey wishes it disguised "for old sake's sake."

[3] Many of the conversations reported in this volume are given from memory, and they are liable to errors of memory in the use of a word or a turn of expression. But they are not liable to error in substance. They are the unadorned truth, clearly recollected.—B. B. L.

[4] Wilbur F. Cannon is now Pure Food Commissioner in Colorado.

[5] Smith is now tax agent in the tramway offices.