Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. Profoundly inspirational Frederick Douglass quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.
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Famous Frederick Douglass Quotes
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
I had a wholesome dread of the consequences of running in debt.
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.
I will unite with anyone to do good, but with no one to do harm.
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.
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
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.
I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity…
If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude.
What to the Slave is the 4th of July.
I should esteem it a privilege to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other. I am your fellow-man, but not your slave.
A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.
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.
A great man, tender of heart, strong of nerve, boundless patience and broadest sympathy, with no motive apart from his country.
Inspirational Frederick Douglass Quotes
Every one of us should be ashamed to be free while his brother is a slave.
A smile or a tear has not nationality; joy and sorrow speak alike to all nations, and they, above all the confusion of tongues, proclaim the brotherhood of man.
We may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!!
The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.
Our destiny is largely in our hands.
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.
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.
Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work.
My hopes were never brighter than now.
Let us render the tyrant no aid; let us not hold the light by which he can trace the footprints of our flying brother.
Fugitive slaves were rare then, and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the advantage of being the first one out.
People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.
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.
A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.
You are not judged by the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed.
A man, at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing.
The soul that is within me no man can degrade.
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.
A man is worked on by what he works on.
There is not a man beneath the canopy of Heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.
A man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.
I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.
The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
The destiny of the colored American … is the destiny of America.
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.
Experience is a keen teacher;
Top Frederick Douglass Quotes
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.
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.
Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.
Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
A man who will enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for magnamity.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bondage.
From apparently the basest metals we have the finest toned bells.
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.
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.
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.
Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.
Men talk of the Negro problem. There is no Negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have honesty enough, loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough to live up to their Constitution
Some know the value of education by having it. I know its value by not having it.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
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.
A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.
The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
Right is of no sex, Truth is of no color, God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.
For no man who lives at all lives unto himself. He either helps or hinders all who are in anywise connected to him.
What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice.
I will give Mr. Freeland the credit of being the best master I ever had, till I became my own master.
He treated me as a man… He did not let me feel for a moment that there was any difference in the color of our skins.
They suppress the truth rather than take the consequence of telling it, and in so doing prove themselves a part of the human family.
One and God make a majority.
You have to take power. No one gives it.
I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.