Booker T. Washington was an ex-slave who was freed while still a boy with his fellow slaves when the Confederacy lost the Civil War. The basis of his autobiography is education. He wanted education from when he was very young. When he was older he established a school called Tuskegee.
Washington’s arguments against slavery are many. One of the foremost is the poverty of the slaves. He describes the shack in which he had lived with his mother, brother and sister. In his own words: “The cabin was without glass windows; it had only openings on the side which let it light, and also the cold, chilly air of winter. There was a door to the cabin—that is, something that was called a door—but the uncertain hinges by which it was hung and the large cracks in it, to say nothing of the fact that it was too small, made the room a very uncomfortable one. In addition to these openings there was in the right-hand corner of the room, the “cat-hole,”—a contrivance which almost every mansion or cabin in Virginia possessed during the ante-bellum period. The “cat-hole” was a square opening about seven by eight inches, provided for the purpose of letting the cat pass in and out of the house at will during the night. In the case of our particular cabin I could never understand the necessity for this convenience, since there were at least a half-dozen other places in the cabin that would have accommodated the cats. There was no wooden floor in our cabin, the naked earth being used as the floor.” This was the state in which he lived for his first years.
He talks about the evil effects of slavery upon both master and slave. The master had no sense of work; he was used to the slave doing everything for him. The slave on the other hand, had no sense of responsibility. He was used to the master providing everything for him. It was not a productive system. Neither master nor slave knew how to get on without the other. There was also no structure to the slaves’ lives. In many there was a temptation to steal.
These are Booker T. Washington’s arguments against slavery.