39 Best Frederick Douglass Quotes

39 Best Frederick Douglass Quotes

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Frederick Douglass was a African American social reformist, author, and statesman from Talbot County, Maryland. He wrote many autobiographies which gained traction and earned him fame. Some of his works include Life and Times of Frederick Douglass and My Bondage and My Freedom. He died on February 20, 1895 at the age of 77.

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

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

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

“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slave-holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of
this land.”

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

“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.”

“I say nothing of father, for he is shrouded in a mystery I have never been able to penetrate. Slavery does away with fathers, as it does away with families. Slavery has no use for either
fathers or families, and its laws do not recognize their existence in the social arrangements of the plantation.”

“I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong.”

“In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy,
but simply justice.”

“In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky — her grand old woods — her fertile fields — her beautiful rivers — her mighty lakes, and star-crowned
mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery and wrong, — when I
remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm
blood of my outraged sisters, I am filled with unutterable loathing.”

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

“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.”

“It is not uncommon to charge slaves with great treachery toward each other, but I must say I never loved, esteemed, or confided in men more than I did in these. They were as true as steel,
and no band of brothers could be more loving.”

“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.”

“Let us render the tyrant no aid.”

“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.”

“Old as the everlasting hills; immovable as the throne of God; and certain as the purposes of eternal power, against all hinderances, and against all delays, and despite all the mutations of
human instrumentalities, it is the faith of my soul, that this anti-slavery cause will triumph.”

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

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

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

“Right is of no sex, Truth is of no color, God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.”

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

“The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation’s history — the very ring-bolt in the chain of your yet undeveloped destiny. Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you
to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The
principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”

“The ground which a colored man occupies in this country is, every inch of it, sternly disputed.”

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

“The man who is right is a majority. We, who have God and conscience on our side, have a majority against the universe.”

“The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied it’s privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation
boasting of its liberty, boasting of it’s humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons
denied by law the right of marriage?”

“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.”

“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.”

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

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

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it
never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till
they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

“This very attempt to blot out forever the hopes of an enslaved people may be one necessary link in the chain of events preparatory to the downfall and complete overthrow of the whole slave

“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.”

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

“We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country. … We are here, and here we are likely to be.”

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

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

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