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Hampton Negro Conference. Number III. July 1899.

1899VA-State-Hampton_Proceedings (62).pdf

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61

for the Anglo-Saxon to attain to the heights of business perfection that he has reached; the Negro has had but a third of a century/ during our enslavement, while here and there a trusted servant was allowed to take the crops to market or, to a certain extend handle a small part of his master's funds, no opportunity was ever given for acquiring or exercising those principles which enable a man to successfully manage business enterprises. Because of our failures in business and because of our glaring lack of trained business men it is often asserted that the Negro does not possess those qualities which make merchants, bankers, and manager of financial organizations but the success of a Negro here and there in these lines proves the assertion to be altogether true. Rather may it be said that he has had no change to develop or to exercise those qualities. Excluded in the North as well as in the South from clerkships in the stores where successful merchants are trained, from positions in the counting rooms of railroads, insurance companies, and banks where are learned the details of the management of these institutions, and therefore dependent upon his own small affairs for training in these lines, is it any wonder that his steps along the paths of business are faltering and feeble, and that failure often overtakes him.

Though the past thirty years have been years of bitter experience, the dawn of a brighter day is upon us; whereas thirty four years ago we owned nothing, it is estimated that to day we pay taxes on three hundred millions of dollars worth of property; here and there we find a few of our number more successful than the rest, worth $10,000 to $300,000; in several cities we have established savings banks whose reputation and credit extend beyond their own locality; we are making beginnings in the life insurance business which give promise of expanding to creditable dimensions; in numerous localities we find successful merchants who have built up good trades in their respective lines; we are beginning to establish cooperative ventures in various parts of the South which are bringing the masses together and teaching them the valuable lessons of combining their small, weak force in order to create and maintain large, strong organizations.

I hope I may be pardoned if I dwell for a while upon what the people of our little town of Hampton and the adjoining county have done and are doing in a business way. The Negroes of this county, probably the smallest in the area in the state, enjoy the proud distinction of paying taxes on more property than do the Negroes of any other county in Virginia, except those where are located large cities like Richmond, Norfolk and Portsmouth. The

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