Life Lessons from Booker T. Washington 

“Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having except as a result of hard work.”          Booker T. Washington 

If you’ve been around Hamilton Connections, you know some of the things that make us tick. We love people. We love merging talent and opportunity. We love the joy of doing purposeful work. 

We also love hard work. The old-fashioned kind that sticks to a job until the end. The kind that recognizes the value in simply working hard. 

This kind of work ethic is part of our American heritage. It’s part of what we just celebrated on Labor Day. One hard-working hero in America’s history is Booker T. Washington! We wanted to share some of our favorite lessons we can all learn from his incredible story and example. 

Booker T. Washington started his life on a plantation in Virginia. Born in 1856, Booker was born a slave. Nine years later, when the ending of the Civil War brought freedom came, he moved with his family to Malden, West Virginia. He learned to read and loved it. His hunger for knowledge was unquenchable. He went to school every day after working the wee hours of the morning (from 4 am-9 am) in salt mines. When he was just 16 years old, Booker walked for 500 miles to Hampton Institute. Washington not only worked at the school to pay his tuition but also excelled as a student.  Talk about dedication! 

His quest for knowledge and his willingness to work hard continued. At 25, he was recommended for principal at the newly developed Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now known as Tuskegee University. He took the job and remained there until he died in 1915. 

His work ethic followed him from boyhood into the rest of his life. Booker T. Washington became a renowned public speaker, author of five books (including his autobiography Up From Slavery, published in 1901), and a counselor to multiple sitting U.S. Presidents. Under his leadership, Tuskegee flourished.

His inspirational story offers valuable life lessons. The truths he taught and lived are still applicable today, both at work and at home.