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Autograph Notes for his Emancipation Day Address, January 1, 1895
Four leaves of notes in the hand of Booker T. Washington, unsigned, written on the rectos of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute stationery, and headed in his hand: "Emancipation Address Montgomery, Ala." and dated "Jan. 1 '95." The pages are of irregular sizes, apparently culled from scrap paper around his office, and are pinned together with an old straight pin. Washington was a talented improvisational speaker, and rarely wrote his speeches out whole, delivering them from notes and talking points such as these -- usually a list of phrases that would presumably trigger an idea or anecdote. For example, this speech begins with the following phrases on separate lines: "Two flags. Ahead of all Negroes. In and out of slavery. Ignorance costs more than ed. Intelligence rules (Indians)," and so forth. This particular speech however, was an important precursor to Washington's landmark "Atlanta Compromise Speech." On page four of these notes, appears the phrase "Cast down bucket," wording that nine months later would become the essence of the catch phrase that symbolized one of the most important speeches ever delivered by an African-American.On September 18, 1895 Washington spoke before a predominantly white audience at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. His "Atlanta Compromise" address was one of the most important and influential speeches in American history, particularly among those outside the sphere of politics. In the speech, he related an anecdote to the audience that became the catch phrase for both the speech and Washington's philosophy: "A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal, 'Water, water; we die of thirst!' The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back, 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' A second time the signal, 'Water, water; send us water!' ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered, 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: 'Cast down your bucket where you are'--- cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded." In the speech, Washington went on to urge the white audience members to do the same as he recommended to his own race: to cast down their buckets where they were, in order to reap the benefits of friendship, labor, and the profits that could be reaped by utilizing the talented and industrious members of the black race who were their neighbors.Despite some occasionally expressed resentment about Washington's perceived role as an accommodationist, few individuals of any race or time period compiled such a record of accomplishment in the face of more concerted opposition.An exceptionally important artifact presaging a pivotal moment, not only in black history, but in the history of America. .
      [Bookseller: Between the Covers- Rare Books, Inc. ABA]
Last Found On: 2014-10-10           Check availability:      Biblio    


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