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What Experience Has Taught Me An Autobiography of Thomas William Burton:
By way of introduction to the reading public of Dr. Thomas W. Burton, the author of this book, I desire to say that the effort that is made a success, though it may be opposed by difficulties, encourages many a hitherto despondent one.
Encouragement is what humanity stands in need of, and especially those who have not been in the midst of the most favorable surroundings for mental and moral development. I am sure that anyone reading this volume will find much to inspire him to earnest and continued effort.
We have here the history of a man who, like Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, has come up from obscurity and by dint of hard study and honesty, and above all by being a man of God, has come to honorable distinction.
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About the Author
I was born May 4, 1860, in Madison County, Kentucky, a little way from Richmond (its county seat) and near the banks of Tates Creek and Shallow Ford. My father and mother were slaves at the time of my birth. My father's name was Edward, and the name of my mother was Eliza. I don't remember very much about my father, because he died when I was only five years of age. I remember more about my mother, because I was nine years of age when she died. My father and mother were blessed with fifteen children, of which I was the youngest.
There were other slaves on the place besides our family. My mother could weave, and did the weaving for those who were on the place. I can remember seeing mother sitting at her loom, day after day, weaving the blue and brown jeans for the men folks, and the linsey and tow-linen for the women and children. In summertime, I wore only one garment, and that was a tow-linen shirt. It was made something on the order of the Mother Hubbard, and was very cool and nice, too.
My father and mother were not educated. They knew nothing about books, only my mother knew her alphabet; and that she taught me, and is about all I knew concerning an education until I became twenty-one years of age. Mother was a good woman; she was a member of the white Christian Church, as there was not a colored Church in that neighborhood. So every Sunday mother would take us children to Shallow Ford meeting-house, known as Mt. Gilead, until I was a big boy.
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