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Washington's mother was the plantation cook. She had three children: Washington, his older brother John, and his younger sister Amanda. Despite the family's poverty, she also adopted an orphan boy, James. Washington comments about how much his mother supported his education. She somehow procured a Webster spelling book for him to learn his alphabet, and she sewed a cap for him in order to fit in with the children at school. Washington greatly respected her for refusing to go into debt to purchase a store-bought cap, instead solving the problem by making one herself. She passed away during one of his summer breaks while he was studying at the Hampton Institute.
Miss Mary F. Mackie
Mary F. Mackie was the head teacher at Hampton and controlled who would be admitted. Washington impressed her with his diligence while cleaning the recitation room, and she hired him as a janitor along with allowing him to enter the institution. The position was instrumental in allowing Washington to study, as it paid for nearly all of his board. Mackie became a good friend and worked alongside Washington to prepare the school for students' entrance. He respected the way she cleaned windows, dusted rooms, put beds in order, and so on, despite being a member of one of the oldest and most cultured northern families.