United States. Office of Education.om old cata.

Special report by the Bureau of education. Educational exhibits and conventions at the World's industrial and cotton centennial exposition, New Orleans, 1884-'85 .. online

. (page 128 of 129)
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treasure, is intensely interested in this matter.

The negro craves education. He wants to learn to make himself in-
telligent and more valuable, as a man and a citizen, in every sphere
of usefulness. Twenty-two years ago he entered the race of life, bound
up in the densest ignorance. Nearly every man's hand then was
against him. Having demonstrated his ability to acquire elementary,
classical, and professioual education quite as readily as any other race,
his value as a producer no less than a consumer, and his political im-
portance, he has now succeeded in arousing the sober reflection of his
fellow-citizens; and to-day all classes recognize the obligation of his
preparation for the duties and privileges of citizenship. Public opinion,
based upon substantial facts, declares that the progress made in educa-
tion amid the hindrances encountered, has been most flattering.

The educational exhibits — examination papers, drawings, and so on
— from every State and Territory in the Union, prove conclusively, from
actual residts, the ability of the race. Already we can point with pride
to a growing and distinguished class of scholars — authors, college pro-
fessors, teachers, lawyers, physicians, and clergymen — many of whom
were born under the yoke of slavery, besides the vast numbers who
have become intelligent business men, mechanics, farmers, and more
valuable and reliable laborers, and better citizens. These are but the
first fruits of a grand harvest. We can now discover a promising sil-
ver lining to the thick and murky cloud of ignorance which stdl over-
casts our sky.

The census of 1880 shows that there are 4,001,207 colored persons
ten years of age and over in this country, and that of this number
3,220,878, or 70 per cent., cannot write.

Over half of the illiterate voting population of the nation are col-
ored, although we form but one-eighth of the population. The increase
of school population among the whites in the South during the year
1880-'81 was 54,030, while the increase of enrollment was only 19,203,

949



136 EDUCATIONAL CONVENTIONS AT NEW ORLEANS EXPOSITION.

but little more than oue-thirtl what it ought to have been. Among the
negroes the comparison is still more unsatisfactory. Our increase in
school population was 125,930, while the increase in enrollment was
only 17,663— that is to say, that but little over one-seventh of the in
crease of our youths in the South were enrolled during that year. Ed-
ucate a man's head, hands, and heart, and he learns his duties and
privileges of his citizenship, and he becomes better and more valuable.
The negro is a man, therefore education ameliorates his condition and
enhances his material and moral worth.

To accomplish these results for our people, 18,000 public schools, with
1,000,000 scholars and 3 7,000 colored teachers, beside a number of white
teachers, are now in successful operation. The religious denominations,
too, are at work. The Methodist, Baptist, Congregational, and other
Kortheru denominations have dotted the South everywhere with their
high schools, colleges, and universities, as so many central fires, to pre-
pare teachers, ministers, physicians, artisans, and leaders for the race,
and to lighten up this Southland. The Methodist Episcopal Church
alone has disbursed over $1,500,000, over $500,000 of which has been
invested in permanent school pro|)erty, toward our higher education
since the war, beside the multiplied thousands of dollars expended
through her church extension, missionary, and other benevolent agen-
cies. Her freedmeu's aid institutions have taught over 100,000 pupils,
and these in turn have instructed 1,000,000 children, and still the work
goes on increasing every year. The Baptist Church, through her Home
Missionary Society, has spent over $ 1,000,000, over $400,000 of which
is in permanent property. The American Missionary Society, with her
twenty chartered and normal institutions and thirty-five other schools,
350 teachers, and 9,000 scholars, is quite abreast of either of these de-
nominations in this divine mission.

The Presbyterians, Unitarians, Friends, Episcopalians, and some of
the churches of the South, are more or less engaged in the good work.
These churches have expended over $25,000,000 for negro education
since Lincoln's proclamation. Their continued efforts and interest, and
the incessant labors of such philanthropists as Chamberlain, Gen. Pisk,
Dr. Bust, Dr. Braden, and our own Bishop Mallalieu in this city, Drs.
Streiby and lloj-, Drs. Morehouse and Haygood, and the charitable
remembrance of such noble Christian-hearted benefactors as John F.
Slater, Mrs. Valeria G. Stone, and many others whose names are house-
hold treasures among us, all inspire us with encouragement for the
future. The presence here of these students from our public schools,
from the Southern, Straight, Leland, and New Orleans Universities,
together with their overworked and underpaid teachers and faithful
presidents, all mark the coming dawn.

The presence among us to-day of such men as the Rev. Dr. Palmer,
the scholarly and eminent divine, whose superior qualifications place
him at the head of the Southern clergy; of Col. William Preston John-

950



EDUCATION DAY ADDRESSES. 137

ston, the distinguished university president; Eev. Dr. Thos. R. Mark-
ham, the popular pastor and one of the most influential Southern
divines; the generous temper manifested by Director-General Burk«
and by the other managers of this Exposition ; and the encouragement
afforded us by the recognized leaders and formulators of Southern pub-
lic opinion — all point to a better and brighter day for the future intel-
ligence and well-being of our people. Education is the consummate
flower of modern civdization, which gives fragrance to the condition of
all races and na,tions. Let us cultivate it. It is the great center around
which our national life and happiness revolve. Under its influence,
fostered by charitable, State, and national aid, the night of darkness
shall soon pass away. Ignorance, vices, and race prejudices shall perish,
and the sunshine of intelligence shall penetrate the darkest nook^ the
bonds of brotherhood shall be strengthened, and the blessings of our
free institutions, founded upon universal suffrage and protected by uni-
versal education, shall here be enjoyed by every race alike, and shall be
handed down to our children's children unimpaired.

ADDRESS OF COL. WILLIAM PRESTON JOHNSTON.

I am here by invitation, to-day, to address you on the subject of indus-
trial education in its bearings on the colored people. I presume I am
invited in view of the fact that I am known to favor industrial educa-
tion in all its aspects, in every race, class, and condition, and because I
am myself a teacher. But it may not be known to you, though I recall
the incident with pleasure, that the very first teaching I ever did
was in giving lessons in reading and ciphering to a colored man. He
was a very large and a very black man, indeed, and I was a very small
boy, but we were the best of friends. He was a cornfield hand, not one
of our own servants, but a neighbor's, and he used to walk several miles
on Saturday nights or Sundays, to say his lessons. He was only a mod-
erately apt scholar, and I was not a very skillful teacher, but what I
lacked in experience I made up in zeal. We had a great deal of talk
outside our lessons, and I hope we were both the better for it. You
will pardon this little reminiscence, but I offer it to show that I have,
in my humble way, been from the first anxious to impart to my colored
friends the best treasure I ever had, my share of knowledge. And I
wish to say right here, before I begin to discuss the subject matter in
baud, that if I know my own heart, no one can feel a sincerer or deeper
interest than I do in the welfare, happiness, and i)rogress of the colored
l)eople, with whom I have been brought up, and have been associated,
in so many ways, all my liie. The friendship I have toward your i)eo-
ple is honest and genuine, and I am always glad to lend you a helping
hand or a word of cheer when needed. It is prompted solely by this
feeling that I am here now. But I may well add that I am touched by

951



138 EDUCATIONAL CONVENTIONS AT NEW ORLEANS EXPOSITION.

this mark of your confidence in inviting me to confer and advise with
you on this important occasion.

Before we talk about how we are to educate a man, we ought to de-
cide what we are aiming at. To educate him is nothing more nor less
than to train him, or break him, into his work in life. You all know
what is meant when we talk of training, or breaking, a horse. It may be
to haul a dray, to draw a carriage, to run a race, or to take his paces
under the saddle. We train him for what he has got to do, however,
and not to dance hornpipes or play trick-mule in a circus. Now, just
so, educating a man is training or breaking him in for his work in life,
and not to make a show merely.

But a man's work is a good deal more difficult than a horse's. He
has to work like a horse, it is true; but a horse has somebody to think
for him, and the man has to do his own thinking, if lie is a man. More-
over a horse's morals consist in obej'ing the bit and curb of a master
mind; but a man, no matter how abject, has attectious and a conscience,
and these must be kept sound and healthy, or the man becomes a nui-
sance to himself and all the world.

Now a great philosopher, as Mr. Herbert Spencer is called, informs
ns that "knowledge immediately conducive to self-preservation is of
primary importance." In plainer language, the first thing we have to
learn is to keep out of the fire — to take care of ourselves. Fortunately,
nature and the rude exj)erieuce of most barbarous races heli) toward
this most important knowledge of all, though it leaves much for even
the most civilized to learn, and more for them to act upon. We see this
illustrated here in New Orleans, where we do not clean our streets and
back yards, though Azrael, the angel of death, is on the wing, holding
aloft the vial of [)estilence with broken seal and filled to the brim.

As self-preservation is the first law of nature — that is to say, in the
material world — we ought to learn in our very infancy all the laws and
rules to keep in health and good working order the machine we call our
body; and to this end we must be prepared, or educated, to provide for
it the food and clothing and dwelling place that are necessary for its
comfort and well being. It is not necessary or desirable that the body
should become the servant of the clothes it wears, or of the food it con-
sumes. Health, not luxury, should be our aim. But a man is badly
educated who does not easily win bread and .secure comfort for himself
and his family; and this, not through cunning arts, but by honest toil.
In training a man, we must train hiui first to make his own living, and
next to make a good living for his family. I f we can do this with the
great majority of men, the problem of education is nearly solved.

A very large proportion of the people of the world must make their
living by the sweat of the brow, by the labor of the hand. Only a
small number are needed for the professions, for managing that share
of the world's business in which the hands do not perform the greatest
part, though not the best part of the work. There is only oue physi-
952



EDUCATION DAY ADDRESSES. 139

ciau for 115 families, aud that is too many; there is only one lawyer
for 156 families; and, taking all the professions together, their members
include only one man out of every 220 of the entire population. There
are men evidently fitted by nature for professional life, and it is a great
pity when any such should be debarred from it, or kept out of it; but
they are exceptional men. The real trouble is that the wrong men get
into it, and the business of the world is badly done.

There is a mistake, too, in believing that professions necessarily con-
fer greater rewards in wealth, honor, or happiness, than industrial pur-
suits. The intellectual life confers a happiness of its own, a peace which
the world cannot give, but it is not the sort of happiness that most men
are seeking.

Xow, if there should be a rush to any profession, or indeed a very
small addition to its percentage, the supply would be greater than the
demand ; many would be left unemployed in it, and poverty and suffer-
ing would follow. This is not so with the hand workers. You cannot
have too much corn, for the world is your market.

But 1 will be told that you can have too many carpenters, or iron-
workers, or shoemakers. I confess this would be true under the old
system of education, tho,ugh not under the new.

But this is a large question, and one which I am not dealing with
to-day. On some other occasion I may attempt to show how I think
labor may protect itself from the oppressions of monopoly, and reconcile
justice, progress, and happiness, by the equable aud equitable condi-
tions of peace, instead of making hostility, or at best armed neutrality,
the basis of the social and economic life.

Suffice it now to say, that if a man must be taught, as was the case
in old times, to do a few things by rule of thumb, so that he would
know those things and nothing else, then, as soon as an invention came
along which showed a shorter, easier, and cheaper way of doing those
few things, he would be left liigh and dry on a shelf, to lift up his idle
hands to heaven in prayer and starve.

But such is not the case now under our new system of training,
though I admit that it was under the old apprenticeship system. We
do not make a carpenter, or a turner, or a blacksmith, or a foundryman
of him, but a mechanic. We teach him principles, and how to apply
them ; tools and how to use them. When one set of tools fails to pro-
vide a competence he turns his hand to another that will, for he has a
mastery of all.

Our modern education manages these things better than the old
method did. We put brains into the fingers. We find out the best
way to do a thing, aud the reason why it is the best way. Then in
teaching a man how to do it we teach his fingers to do the job, not like
a dumb, blind piece of machinery. But we say: "Come, ears, listen
while I tell you ; come, eyes, look upon this work, not with a dazed,
uncertain stare, but keenly ; come, tongue, tell me hoic to do this; and

953



140 EDUCATIONAL COXVENTIONS AT NEW ORLEANS EXPOSITION.

last of all, come, O thou captaiu of the Lost, Boss Braius, understand
this work, what it is for, how it is doue, why it is carried out in this
particular way and not iu another." And when Boss Brains takes
charge of a piece of business, my friends, it is well done. When you
find the mark of that master mechanic on it you may be satisfied.

Now, one thing about this new, or modern, education. What would
you think of a schoolmaster who would take up a book and read it
glibly, and then turn to a little beginner and say, " Now, my boy, you
have heard me read, take this book; and here is a spelling book, too,
with the alphabet in it, and lots of nice words ; you just learn your
letters, and spell these words all out, and then after you practice read-
ing you will get to be a nice reader like me." Would you blame the
boy for saying, " Master, I do not know how to do all this*' ? A sensible
schoolmaster would first teach the boy the words which make up the
sentences, and liow he must use all his faculties to learn, before he put
him to read by himself.

Nine numerals and a cipher, or zero, make up all the signs needed
for the vast numeration and complicated calculations in arithmetic. So
handicraft has its alphabet and its master- words. Its has its digits and
numerals. There are a few typical forms, as they are called, in wood
or iron, a few shapes into which the carpenter saws and planes his wood,
which, put together, make up all the vast variety we see in joinery, car-
penter's work, or cabinet-making.

He does not call these A, B, C, D, X, Y, Z. lie calls them square,
flat, dov^etail, mortice, tenon, etc., etc. When a man learns to make
these typical forms j>erfectly well, and how to put them together, he can
get anything he wants in wood by az^anging them properly. The little
schoolboy takes D, O, G, and finds it spells dog ; but when he arranges
the same letters dittereutly they spell (jod. So the worker in wood, who
is properly taught, soon begins to spell new words in wood ; and I have
seen a lad spell box with pieces of plank, after a few lessons. And so
he goes on, with the teacher showing him every step, spelling harder
and harder things in wood, till he can spell bureau without help, and,
may be, house ; and I exiiect that same of our boys will one of these days
be able to spell WorWa Exposition.

The same happens in teaching iron- working. The student has to
learn the typical forms, or letters, for iron. And these are as difl'erent
from the wood alphabet as Grreek is from Latin, or German from Eng-
lish. He has to work with difterent tools, too; and these must be
learned. But by this time he has been taught to think, and, though
the iron is harder than wood, the thinking has become easier. So much
for the alphabet and syllables and words of hand- work; so much for
the digits and ciphers.

This short and easy way I have of t^xplainitig hand-work will make
you understand what we are trying to do m the Tulane Manual Training
School. But you will understand it better, if you will go any day, ex-
954



EDUCATION DAY ADDRESSES. 141

cept Sunday, between three aud five o'clock, to the Govern iiient Baikl-
ing at the Exposition, and see the teachers and the boys, not saying,
but doing, their lessons.

You will see there, too, another teacher instructing the same classes
in drawing. I want every boy in the South, white and black, taught
how to draw. I do not wish this done as an accomplishment. Heaven
forbid that I should advise any large class of my countrymen to quit
the serious business of life to learn pretty things. We do not want
dudes of any complexion. But to know how to draw is to be able to
tell with your fingers and pencil to another man's eyes what you cannot
tell with your tongue to his ears. Hence it is another language, which
talks things instead of words, just as handicraft thinks in things instead
of in words. It is hard to be a first-rate mechanic without being able
to draw and read drawings, for thus only can you best arrive at what
is wanted.

I remember the time when th^ shoemakers used a tape to measure the
foot for a shoe; but, afterward, some genius caught the bright idea of
making you put your foot flat down, and then drawing its outline on
paper. After that any fool knew the shape of the sole better than a
wise man could before by half a dozen measurements; aud, ever since
then, shoes have been easier to wear.

Now iron-working and wood-working are not the only arts, and it
would be very desirable if others were taken up and taught on the
same general ideas that 1 have described. I am quite aware that other
trades are taught, but what 1 wish to see is the same scientific method
applied in them, as now in the manual training in wood and in iron. I
wish to see the elementary principles sought out by able men, the al-
phabet of the art invented, or formulated rather, and principles taught.
I wish Boss Brains in every shop.

Before the trustees of the Slater Fund had made their plans, one of
their number did me the honor to consult me as to how it should be
emploj'ed, and he heartily approved my emphatic recommendation that
it should go to the industrial education of the colored people. It was a
matter of sincere gratification with me when I saw that this disposition
was made of it.

And here I may say that your white brethren rejoice with you that
wealthy and generous men at the jS'orth have .been moved to bestow
such large donations for the exclusive education of our colored people,
amounting, it is said, to $15,000,000. We know that what helps you
helps us, though the gifts for the exclusive use of the white youth
amount onlj^ to two or three millions, and we cannot feel otherwise than
grateful when good fortune befalls you.

So, too, I am sure our colored friends are pleased to see the good
which is being done by the splendid donation of Mr. Paul Tulane for
the exclusive use of the white youth of Louisiana, who need it so much.
They will, in fact, themselves indirectly profit by it, for whatever raises

955



142 EDUCATIONAL CONVENTIONS AT NEW ORLEANS EXPOSITION.

tlie grcueral lev^el of education, and gives a broader, more tolerant, and
more Christian aspect to our civilization, will benefit tbeni.

Now, my friends, I have no wish to deter any young persons from
availing themselves of the best education they can get in any occupa-
tion for which they feel they have a special call or vocation. But you
must recollect that the man who spends his youth in preparing for a
learned profession for which he has no fitness, is after that not good
for much of anything. A gentleman once met Beau Brummell's body
servant coming down stairs with a clothes basket full of white cravats
rumpled by the beau in trying to tie one to suit himself. " Why, what
are those f" asked the astonished visitor. " Those," replied the valet,
"are our failures^ I fear that, under ordinary systems of college edu-
cation, the danger will be that we may have a basket full of failures as
useless as rumpled cravats for each one perfect success.

I belie v^e in the transcendent power of wise words, words which ex-
press well great thoughts; but talk without good thinking behind the
tine language is worse than the chatter of monkeys. It is what the
newspaper men call in expressive, but not very elegant, slang, " rot."
And so of the education which teaches this art of twaddle and bosh. We
are now wanting men who will do things, rather than those others who
merely talk about doing things. Without derogating at all from those
persons who honestly and conscientiously tal^e up tJie buvsiuess of teach-
ing or preaching, for instance, I can say that I believe the workers, the
handicraftsmen, will soon outstrip the ablest of those in wealUi and
social importance. The reason is plain enough. The former have only
religion and knowledge to offer, articles held very cheap in the market;
the latter have something to sell which everybody wants — skilled labor.

Now, my friends, I have said to you that education was a preparation
for life, a training or breaking in of the man for the work he has to do.
What is true of an individual is likewise true of a race or nation. Every
great nation now in the world has had an education not unlike that of
a man. It has risen by slow and painful steps from ignorance and bar-
barism, yea, from the depths of savagery, to the high plane of modern
civilization, on which it is now living with its destiny for better or worse, ac-
cording to the way it has profited by its advantages. Take, for example,
the most powerful, humane, and orderly of European nations, the British
people. When Disraeli was taunted by an Englishman as a Jew, he re-
torted truly and wittily : " When your ancestors were hunting the wild
boar in the marshes and forests of Germany, mine were princes and
poets in Israel."

Some of you may remember the story which led to the conversion of
the Anglo-Saxons, who were the forefathers of the modern English, to
Christianity by St. Augustine. Pope Gregory saw some beautiful Sax-
ons, or Angles — which is only another name ior the Saxons — for sale
in Eome ; and when told that they were Angles, he said, '' No; they are
not Angles, but angels, and like the cherubim." These poor children
95G



EDUCATION DAY ADDRESSES. 143

had })robably been sold by tbeir own parents, which was not unusual.
The Anglo-Saxon has risen from a savage hunter and child-dealer to a
man armed and equipped with all the infinite possibilities of civilization.
But in reaching this high estate he passed under the yoke of the Nor-
man. He went to school, so to speak, to one of the best and hardest
schoolmasters the world has ever known, the brilliant, energetic, organ-
izing Norman. He endured servitude, or to call things by their right
names, slavery, for centuries — for a period longer than the African has
endured it in America, with the grand and beneficent result that we
see. Other nations have had a similar experience. Is it not plain,
then, that, in the Providence of God, a nation, like a man, must learn



Online LibraryUnited States. Office of Education.om old cataSpecial report by the Bureau of education. Educational exhibits and conventions at the World's industrial and cotton centennial exposition, New Orleans, 1884-'85 .. → online text (page 128 of 129)