booker t. washington portrait

Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree

conferred by Dartmouth College, September 25, 1901

Dartmouth's official archive a 'copy-and-paste' image.


  1. Booker Washington was not present in 1901, but travelled to and spoke at Dartmouth in 1909. The reports of his visit and speech were recorded in The Dartmouth Bi-Monthly (April 21, '09).
  2. Those reports, like records of the day, failed to capitalize Negro (or black or white). This omission was of concern to some then. Due respect, not political correctness, compels us to choose to modify the following reports accordingly.
  3. BTW sent a thank-you note to his Dartmouth hosts. I happened to locate it in the Dartmouth Archives and posted a copy-and-paste copy of Booker T. Washington's thank-you note here.


Webster Hall Thronged to Hear Booker T. Washington

Friday evening, Dr. Booker T. Washington, lecturing under the auspices of the Christian Association, held a packed house to an enthusiastic pitch for two hours, with the story of his remarkable life and work.

His is the history of achievement: achievement in the face of prodigious, almost impossible odds. He was a slave boy in Virginia during the war; when freed he had to toil in the mines of West Virginia to support his mother; he learned in a vague way of a school for Negroes, and determined under most disheartening conditions to go there, to learn, to work to make "free from ignorance" the darkened intellect of his race. Years were spent in unselfish labor, and he was finally able to establish a little school in a log cabin and hencoop in Tuskegee, Alabama. This was in I881. Today that institution, with about fifteen hundred men and women students, ninety-six buildings, and worth about $950,000, is exerting an inestimable uplift among the masses' of our ten million Negroes. The students are taught the "dignity of labor," practicability of skill, sound ideas of economy, learning, and morals, and are responding with justifying appreciation and vigorous action.

Mr. Washington is representative of the capability of his race, and America may well hearken to the voice of one who has devoted his life to the cause of his distressed people with such tremendous energy, and indomitable perseverance.

The opportunity of hearing Mr. 'Washington was especially gratifying to Dartmouth men in view of' the fact that Dartmouth, during the celebration of the 'Webster centennial, conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL. D. President Tucker, in conferring the degree, spoke of him as "the leader of a people out of childhood into manhood."

Dr. Booker T. Washington, "leader of a race out of childhood into manhood," whom Dartmouth honored with an LL.D at the Webster Centennial in 1901, honored Dartmouth Friday evening, February 17, with his presence and his eloquent wqrds.

Doctor Washington spoke in Webster Hall, under the auspices of the Christian Association, and for neary two hours, held a crowded house at an enthusiastic pitch. He told the story of his early struggles in obtaining an education, and in founding the Tuskegee Institute in 1881. This institute, of which he is still president, has grown from a "modest school in a hencoop" to a commanding institution possessing ninety-six buildings, 1400 students, and 156 instructors. In the student enrollment, thirty-seven states and seven foreign countries are represented.

"There is a vast difference between being worked and working."

   "The students of Tuskegee are taught the dignity of labor," said Dr. Washington. "There is a vast difference between being worked and working. Everybody who has to work is a slave; everybody who works because he wants to is a free man. The Negro's prejudice to agricultural training has passed. The greatest work that has yet been accomplished at Hampton and Tuskegee is that of teaching the Negro race that all labor is beautiful, dignified, and attractive."

"The hardest man to help is the man that is down when he thinks he is up."

Alluding to the "Negro problem," Doctor Washington affirmed that there is only one possible solution—"there must be generosity enough, kindness enough, love enough, and Christianity enough, to allow the white race and the black race to live and work out the problem side by side. The hardest man to help is the man that is down when he thinks he is up. The Negro is down, and he knows it, he is in darkness, and he longs to find the light. The fact that fifty-seven per cent of all Negroes in America can both read and write, proves conclusively that the race has in store a perfect day."