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Born a slave in Virginia, Washington was freed by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (when it went into effect in the South, in 1865). At age 9, began working in deplorable conditions in salt furnaces and later in the coal mines of West Virginia. In the few hours not spent working, he went to school. Washington eventually went to the Hampton Institute in Virginia and became a teacher.
Washington dedicated his life to education as a means of obtaining equality. He founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama (1881), and the National Negro Business League (1900).
Washington's autobiography, "Up From Slavery" was published in 1901 and was an extremely popular book. He was also an advisor to Theodore Roosevelt, the President of the United States.
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