Booker T. Washington's Atlanta Exposition

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    This technically should be in the “Since 1877” forum, but oh well. I just had a question about the meaning of a term. In his speech at the Atlanta Exposition, Booker T. Washington offers the following observation:

    “Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden.”

    I was wondering what he means by “real estate” there. Does it have the same meaning as now, or did it refer to farming or something else? And is there a particular place to go or tool to use to find old word meanings like that? I suppose an old dictionary or encyclopedia.


    Washington was referring to agricultural skills and land something Tuskegee promoted at the time. He did not mean buying and selling land, though that could always have been an ancillary effect. He did want black Americans to be self sufficient, and then as now, that meant holding property. Look up Webster’s Dictionary in Google Books, but select “Free Google e-books” so it pulls up older editions.

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