Frederick Douglass Quotes

Frederick Douglass was a prominent American advocate for social reform, abolition, eloquent public speaking, and impactful antislavery writings. He achieved his freedom after escaping from slavery in Maryland, later emerging as a notable leader in the abolitionist movement, gaining recognition for his influential oratory skills and anti-slavery literature in Massachusetts and New York. Wikipedia

“Men are whipped oftenest who are whipped easiest.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The Federal Government was never, in its essence, anything but an anti-slavery government.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It is the mission of the printer to diffuse light and knowledge by a judicious intermingling of black with white.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The opposite of compromise is character.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Did John Brown fail? John Brown began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the constitution is a Glorious Liberty Document!” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Fortune may crowd a man’s life with fortunate circumstances and happy opportunities, but they will, as we all know, avail him nothing unless he makes a wise and vigorous use of them.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I have observed this in my experience of slavery, that whenever my condition was improved, instead of increasing my contentment; it only increased my desire to be free, and set me thinking of plans to gain my freedom.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The man who is right is a majority. He who has God and conscience on his side, has a majority against the universe.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has and never will. Show me the exact amount of wrong and injustices that are visited upon a person and I will show you the exact amount of words endured by these people.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The silver trump of freedom roused in my soul eternal wakefulness.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man who will enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for magnamity.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man’s troubles are always half disposed of when he finds endurance the only alternative.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe, and lo! the chattel becomes a man.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: A day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustices and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“They attend with Pharisaical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and at the same time neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man, at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“You have to take power. No one gives it.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“In all the relations of life and death, we are met by the color line.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I do not think much of the good luck theory of self-made men. It is worth but little attention and has no practical value.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“H. H. GARNET. We need a thousand such representative.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A great man, tender of heart, strong of nerve, boundless patience and broadest sympathy, with no motive apart from his country.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Civil war was not a mere strife for territory and dominion, but a contest of civilization against barbarism.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I say, this picture sometimes appalled us, and made us rather bear those ills we had. Than fly to others, that we knew not of.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Men and women, old and young, married and single, were ranked with horses, sheep, and swine.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“When men sow the wind it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I hear the mournful wail of millions!” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It is better to be part of a great whole than to be the whole of a small part.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The story of our inferiority is an old dodge, as I have said; for wherever men oppress their fellows, wherever they enslave them, they will endeavor to find the needed apology for such enslavement and oppression in the character of the people oppressed and enslaved. When.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“As those who believe in the visibility of ghosts can easily see them, so it is always easy to see repulsive qualities in those we despise and hate.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The better you treat a slave, the more you destroy his value as a slave, and enhance the probability of his eluding the grasp of the slaveholder; the more kindly you treat him, the more wretched you make him, while you keep him in the condition of a slave.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man is worked upon by what he works on. He may carve out his circumstances, but his circumstances will carve him out as well.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these excellent qualities, and her home of its early happiness. Conscience cannot stand much violence.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I had as well be killed running as die standing.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“If I have advocated the cause of the Negro, it is not because I am a Negro, but because I am a man.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“When I went into their family, it was the abode of happiness and contentment. The mistress of the house was a model of affection and tenderness. Her fervent piety and watchful uprightness made it impossible to see her without thinking and feeling – “that woman is a Christian.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“From the first I saw no chance of bettering the condition of the freedman until he should cease to be merely a freedman and should become a citizen.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The truth was, that he had not whipped me at all. I considered him as getting entirely the worst end of the bargain; for he had drawn no blood from me, but I had from him. The whole six months afterwards, that I spent with Mr. Covey, he never laid the weight of his finger upon me in anger. He would occasionally say, he didn’t want to get hold of me again.

“What is possible for me is possible for you.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Right is of no Sex-Truth is of no Color-God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Another advantage I gained in my new master was, he made no pretensions to, or profession of, religion; and this, in my opinion, was truly a great advantage.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Reason is imprisoned here, and passions run wild. Like the fires of the prairie, once lighted, they are at the mercy of every wind, and must burn, till they have consumed all that is combustible within their remorseless grasp.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Some know the value of education by having it. I know it’s value by not having it.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The ballot is the only safety.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man is worked on by what he works on.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The more men you make free, the more freedom is strengthened, and the more men you give an interest in the welfare and safety of the State, the greater is the security of the State.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It is good to think that in Heaven all troubles will be over, that war and carnage will be no more, that all injustice, cruelty and wrong shall be no more; but incomparably better is it for a man to gird on the whole armour of truth and righteousness, and wage war with these evils, and banish them from the Earth – and thus have the will of God done on Earth as done in Heaven.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Reader! Are you with the man-stealers in sympathy and purpose, or on the side of their down-trodden victims? If with the former, then you are the foe of God and man.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Men who live by robbing their fellow men of their labor and liberty have forfeited their right to know anything of the thoughts, feelings, or purposes of those whom they rob and plunder. They have by the single act of slaveholding voluntarily placed themselves beyond the laws of justice and honor, and have become only fitted for companionship with thieves and pirates – the common enemies of God and of all mankind.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I admit that the slave does sometimes sing, dance and appear to be merry. But what does this prove? It only proves to my mind, that though slavery is armed with a thousand stings, it is not able entirely to kill the elastic spirit of the bondman.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It was necessary to keep our religious masters at St. Michael’s unacquainted with the fact, that, instead of spending the Sabbath in wrestling, boxing, and drinking whisky, we were trying to learn how to read the will of God; for they had much rather see us engaged in those degrading sports, than to see us behaving like intellectual, moral, and accountable beings.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“We are free to say that in respect to political rights, we hold women to be justly entitled to all we claim for men.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Driven intosemi-exile by civil and barbarous laws, and by a system which cannot be thought of without a shudder, I was fullyjustified in turning, if possible, the tide of the moral universeagainst the heaven-daring outrage.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Men talk much of a new birth. The fact is fundamental. But the mistake is in treating it as an incident which can only happen to a man once in a lifetime: whereas the whole journey of life is a succession of them. A new life springs up in the soul with the discovery of every new agency by which the soul is raised to a higher level of wisdom: goodness and joy.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Intelligence is a great leveler here as elsewhere.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“You are not judged by the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Prior to his conversion, he relied upon his own depravity to shield and sustain him in his savage barbarity; but after his conversion, he found religious sanction and support for his slaveholding cruelty.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“That a man might do something very audacious and desperate for money, power or fame, was to the general apprehension quite possible; but, in face of plainly-written law, in face of constitutional guarantees protecting each state against domestic violence, in face of a nation of forty million of people, that nineteen men could invade a great State to liberate a despised and hated race, was to the average intellect and conscience, too monstrous for belief.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“They who study mankind with a whip in their hands will always go wrong.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“They love the heathen on the other side of the globe. They can pray for him, pay money to have the Bible put into his hand, and missionaries to instruct him; while they despise and totally neglect the heathen at their own doors. Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of this land;.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Our destiny is largely in our hands.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“They are thought pictures – the outstanding headlands of the meandering shores of life, and are points to steer by on the broad sea of thought and experience. They body forth in living forms and colors the ever varying lights and shadows of the soul.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Every one of us should be ashamed to be free while his brother is a slave.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“He who would be free must strike the first blow.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The name given me by my mother was, “Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey.” I, however, had dispensed with the two middle names long before I left Maryland so that I was generally known by the name of “Frederick Bailey.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man must be disposed to judge of emancipation by other tests than whether it has increased the produce of sugar, – and to hate slavery for other reasons than because it starves men and whips women, – before he is ready to lay the first stone of his anti-slavery life.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Yet people in general will say they like colored men as well as any other, but in their proper place.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The simplest truths often meet the sternest resistance and are slowest in getting general acceptance.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Poverty, ignorance and degradation are the combined evils, these constitute the social disease of the free colored people of the US.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It is no disparagement to truth, that it can only prevail where reason prevails. War begins where reason ends. The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Beat and cuff your slave, keep him hungry and spiritless, and he will follow the chain of his master like a dog; but, feed and clothe him well, – work him moderately – surround him with physical comfort, – and dreams of freedom intrude. Give him a bad master, and he aspires to a good master; give him a good master, and he wishes to become his own master.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I speak advisedly when I say this, – that killing a slave, or any colored person, in Talbot county, Maryland, is not treated as a crime, either by the courts or the community.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“If a slave has a bad master, his ambition is to get a better; when he gets a better, he aspires to have the best; and when he gets the best, he aspires to be his own master.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“In a composite nation like ours, as before the law, there should be no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common country, common citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“They seemed to think that the greatness of their masters was transferable to themselves. It was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man’s slave was deemed a disgrace indeed!” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free than to live slaves.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I recognize the Republican party as the sheet anchor of the colored man’s political hopes and the ark of his safety.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Slavery is indeed gone, but its shadow still lingers over the country and poisons more or less the moral atmosphere of all sections of the republic.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The District of Columbia is the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the people and by the people.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence. From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Is it possible for the human mind to conceive of a more horrible state of society?” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A war undertaken and brazenly carried for the perpetual enslavement of the colored men, calls logically and loudly for the colored men to help suppress it.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The law on the side of freedom is of great advantage only when there is power to make that law respected.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Without any appeal to books, to laws, or to authorities of any kind, it was enough to accept God as a father, to regard slavery as a crime. I.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“They suppress the truth rather than take the consequence of telling it, and in so doing prove themselves a part of the human family.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“You degrade us and then ask why we are degraded. You shut our mouths and ask why we don’t speak. You close your colleges and seminaries against us and then ask why we don’t know.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I know no class of my fellowmen, however just, enlightened, and humane, which can be wisely and safely trusted absolutely with the liberties of any other class.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A slave is someone who sits down, and waits for someone to free them.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy, is a curse, not a blessing to mankind.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Oppression makes a wise man mad.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Should a slave, when assaulted, but raise his hand in self defense, the white assaulting party is fully justified by southern, or Maryland, public opinion, in shooting the slave down.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Truth is proper and beautiful in all times and in all places.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Allow us the dignity to fight for our own freedom.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Abolition of slavery had been the deepest desire and the great labor of my life.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I’ll try it. I had as well die with ague as the fever, I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes! God helping me, I will. It cannot be that I shall live and die a slave.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“In the struggle for justice, the only reward is the opportunity to be in the struggle. You can’t expect that you’re going to have it tomorrow. You just have to keep working on it.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Praying for freedom never did me any good til I started praying with my feet.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I glory in conflict that I may hereafter exult in victory.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“There is a class of people who seem to think that if a man should fall overboard into the sea with a Bible in his pocket it would hardly be possible to drown. I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I will give Mr. Freeland the credit of being the best master I ever had, till I became my own master.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Inaction is followed by stagnation. Stagnation is followed by pestilence and pestilence is followed by death.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I could, as a free man, look across the bay toward the Eastern Shore where I was born a slave.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Shields Green was not one to shrink from hardships or dangers. He was a man of few words, and his speech was singularly broken; but his courage and self-respect made him quite a dignified character.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Educate your sons and daughters, send them to school, and show them that beside the cartridge box, the ballot box, and the jury box, you also have the knowledge box.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I was, for weeks, a poor, broken-hearted mourner, traveling through the darkness and misery of doubts and fears. I finally found that change of heart which comes by “casting all one’s care” upon God, and by having faith in Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer, Friend, and Savior of those who diligently seek Him. After.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Mr. Lincoln was not only a great President, but a great man – too great to be small in anything. In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Heaven’s blessing must attend all, and freedom must soon be given to the pining millions under a ruthless bondage.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Experience proves that those are oftenest abused who can be abused with the greatest impunity. Men are whipped oftenest who are whipped easiest.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Slavery blunts the edge of all our rebukes of tyranny abroad – the criticisms that we make upon other nations, only call forth ridicule, contempt, and scorn. In a word, we are made a reproach and a by-word to a mocking earth, and we must continue to be so made, so long as slavery continues to pollute our soil.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“In all my interviews with Mr. Lincoln I was impressed with his entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race. He was the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely, who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color…” ~ Frederick Douglass

“When a great truth once gets abroad in the world, no power on earth can imprison it, or prescribe its limits, or suppress it. It is bound to go on till it becomes the thought of the world.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man without force, is without the essential dignity of humanity. Human nature is so constituted, that it cannot honor a helpless man, although it can pity him.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Liberty for all; chains for none.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life! Have not I as good a right to be free as you have?” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“At this moment, I saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon the slave and slaveholder.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Experience is a keen teacher;.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I escaped from slavery and became a leading abolitionist and speaker.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Let us render the tyrant no aid.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Neither we, nor any other people, will ever be respected till we respect ourselves and we will never respect ourselves till we have the means to live respectfully.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“As a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“We succeed, not alone by the laborious exertions of our faculties, be they small or great, but by the regular, thoughtful and systematic exercise of them.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bondage.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I love the religion of Christianity – which cometh from above – which is a pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of good fruits, and without hypocrisy.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I expose slavery in this country, because to expose it is to kill it. Slavery is one of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is death.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Fugitive slaves were rare then, and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the advantage of being the first one out.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“In life you don’t get everything you pay for, but you must pay for everything you get.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“My hopes were never brighter than now.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The Christianity of America is a Christianity, of whose votaries it may be as truly said, as it was of the ancient scribes and Pharisees, ‘They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The Constitution of the United States knows no distinction between citizens on account of color. Neither does it know any difference between a citizen of a state and a citizen of the United States.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“To enslave men, successfully and safely, it is necessary to have their minds occupied with thoughts and aspirations short of the liberty of which they are deprived. A certain degree of attainable good must be kept before them.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“No man can be truly free whose liberty is dependent upon the thought, feeling and action of others, and who has himself no means in his own hands for guarding, protecting, defending and maintaining that liberty.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Our community belongs to us and whether it is mean or majestic, whether arrayed in glory or covered in shame, we cannot but share its character and destiny.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“American labor rights activist, on activities of the National Farm Workers Association Human law may know no distinction among men in respect of rights, but human practice may.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The thought of only being a creature of the present and the past was troubling. I longed for a future too, with hope in it. The desire to be free, awakened my determination to act, to think, and to SPEAK.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The soul that is within me no man can degrade.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“We were both victims to the same overshadowing evil – she, as mistress, I, as slave.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Truth shines with brighter light and intenser heat at every moment, and a country torn and rent and bleeding implores relief from its distress and agony.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Let us render the tyrant no aid; let us not hold the light by which he can trace the footprints of our flying brother.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Slaves were expected to sing as well as to work. A silent slave was not liked, either by masters or overseers.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It’s a poor rule that won’t work both ways.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“What upon Earth is the matter with the American people? Do they really covet the world’s ridicule as well as their own social and political ruin?” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Beat and cuff your slave, keep him hungry and spiritless, and he will follow the chain of his master like a dog. Feed and clothe him well, work him moderately, surround him with physical comfort and dreams of freedom intrude.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The arm of the Federal government is long, but it is far too short to protect the rights of individuals in the interior of distant States. They must have the power to protect themselves, or they will go unprotected, spite of all the laws the Federal government can put upon the national statute-book.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“There is not, beneath the sky, an enemy to filial affection so destructive as slavery. It had made my brothers and sisters strangers to me; it converted the mother that bore me, into a myth; it shrouded my father in mystery, and left me without an intelligible beginning in the world.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“My long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place; and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“One and God make a majority.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“A government, founded on impartial liberty, where all have a voice and a vote, irrespective of color or of sex – what is there to hinder such a government from standing firm.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hatethe corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial, and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“How do you feel,” said a friend to me, “when you are hooted and jeered on the street on account of your color?” “I feel as if an ass had kicked, but had hit nobody,” was my answer.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The sunlight that has brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The man who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“No people to whom liberty is given can hold it as firmly and wear it as grandly as those who wrench their liberty from the iron hand of the tyrant.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“This war, disguise it as they may, is virtually nothing more or less than perpetual slavery against universal freedoms.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“What to the Slave is the 4th of July.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“In studying the character and works of a great man, it is always desirable to learn in what he is distinguished from others, and what have been the causes if this difference.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“To make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken the moral and mental vision and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrow of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least, such is my experience.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The relation between the white and colored people of this country is the great, paramount, imperative, and all-commanding question for this age and nation to solve.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes, – a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, – a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, – and a dark shelter under, which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Mr. Severe’s place was filled by a Mr. Hopkins. He was a very different man. He was less cruel, less profane, and made less noise, than Mr. Severe. His course was characterized by no extraordinary demonstrations of cruelty. He whipped, but seemed to take no pleasure in it. He was called by the slaves a good overseer.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Such are the limitations of the common mind, and so thoroughly engrossing are the cares of common life, that only the few among men can discern through the glitter and dazzle of present prosperity the dark outlines of approaching disasters, even though they may have come up to our very gates, and are already within striking distance. The yawning seam and corroded bolt conceal their defects from the mariner until the storm calls all hands to the pumps.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Opportunity is important but exertion is indispensable.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“Immense wealth, and its lavish expenditure, fill the great house with all that can please the eye, or tempt the taste. Here, appetite, not food, is the great desideratum.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“There are at present many Coloured men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and labourers, but real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets.” ~ Frederick Douglass

“The table groans under the heavy and blood-bought luxuries gathered with painstaking care, at home and abroad. Fields, forests, rivers and seas, are made tributary here. Immense wealth, and its lavish expenditure, fill the great house with all that can please the eye, or tempt the taste.” ~ Frederick Douglass

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