This is the essay for the 55th lesson in the Autobiographies course from the Ronpaul curriculum. In this blog post, I will be covering the question of: What was Booker T. Washington’s opinion on the slave system?
Booker T. Washington was an influential person who was part of the last generation of people who were born into slavery. He was born in 1856 and in 1865, when Washington was 9 years old, the system of slavery was abolished. He worked very hard to get accepted into the Hampton Institute. When he was there, he worked even harder to stay there. After he finished his curriculum, the Hampton Institute president, Samuel C. Armstrong recommended him to become the first president of the Tuskegee Institute. Washington even made the students of the Institute work hard. Since the institute wasn’t even built, the institute was first based in a local church and later he made the students build the institute from scratch. Washington did many important things in his life, but one stood out more than the rest.
This one thing was, Booker T. Washington’s opinion on the slave system. He believed that it hurt the slaves, but also the owners. It hurt the slaves because they were property, not employees. The slaves couldn’t just quit, so they were only given the minimum that they could survive on. The owners were also hurt because the slave system gave them a twisted view of labor. These owners believed that the slaves would do all the manual labor while they would do the intellectual work. In reality, there was no such barrier, so this made it that these owners didn’t try to become good at manual labor. Another problem that plagued both groups, was the lack of economic efficiency. When you’re an employee you want to do a “good job” or you might lose your job. What is considered to be a good job differs between the CEO and the employee. These slaves had no such incentives. They didn’t get paid or have the ability to get another job, so they did the least amount of work possible. In the free-market talent could be used to make a living by being paid the value it brings to other people. But because slaves were locked in their jobs, a lot of talent was lost.