Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
  • Born: February 14, 1817
  • Died: February 20, 1895
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Abolitionist, Suffragist, Author, Editor, Diplomat

98

Quotes

70

Citations

194

Concepts

0

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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. In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave.

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
Abraham Lincoln is the most powerful slave catcher in America. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
All great reforms go together. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future Compliments, Insults & Rebukes ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
But why are the Southerners so willing to make these sacrifices? The answer plainly is, they see in this policy the only hope of saving something of their old sectional peculiarities and power. Once firmly seated in Congress, their alliance with Northern Democrats re-established, their States restored to their former position inside the Union, they can easily find means of keeping the Federal government entirely too busy with other important matters to pay much attention to the local affairs of the Southern States. Under the potent shield of State Rights, the game would be in their own hands. Policy & Policy Making
Canting hypocrisy Miscellaneous ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Every one of us should be ashamed to be free while his brother is a slave. Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Everybody has asked the question… “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! Discrimination & Prejudice ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
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. Justice & Injustice ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
For better or for worse, (as in some of the old marriage ceremonies,) the negroes are evidently a permanent part of the American population. They are too numerous and useful to be colonized, and too enduring and self-perpetuating to disappear by natural causes. Here they are, four millions of them, and, for weal or for woe, here they must remain. Minorities & Women
He whipped her to make her scream and then he whipped her to make her hush. Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
He who would be free must strike the first blow. Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Henceforth let the war cry be Down with Slavery—the cause of Treason Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
I could live for the slave. John Brown could die for him. Miscellaneous ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
I was a changed being after that fight. I was nothing before. I was a man now. Human Nature ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
I would welcome the news that the slaves had risen. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
If there is no struggle there is no progress…. 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. Human Nature
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
If we could make men sober, we would have no slavery. Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
If you want to permanently change men's minds and hearts, you have to trust in the power of the spoken word. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
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. Equality & Equal Opportunity
In the struggle for justice the only reward is the opportunity to be in the struggle. Justice & Injustice
It is always a dangerous symptom when men pray to know what is their duty. Miscellaneous
Judge Taney can do many things, but he cannot…change the essential nature of things—making evil good, and good, evil. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Judging from my own observation and experience, I believe these holidays to be among the most effective means, in the hands of slaveholders, of keeping down the spirit of insurrection among the slaves. 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. These holidays serve the purpose of keeping the minds of the slaves occupied with prospective pleasure, within the limits of slavery Miscellaneous ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Let the slaves and free colored people be called into service and formed into a liberating army … Military & Veterans ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Lincoln's paper proclamation must now become iron, lead and fire. Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Mexico seems a doomed victim to Anglo Saxon cupidity and love of dominion. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
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. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
My motto is EXTERMINATION.... The slave-holders not only forfeit their right to liberty, but to life itself. Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Nations, not less than individuals, reap as they sow. The dreadful calamities of the past few years came not by accident, nor unbidden, from the ground. You shudder to-day at the harvest of blood sown in the spring-time of the Republic by your patriot fathers. The principle of slavery, which they tolerated under the erroneous impression that it would soon die out, became at last the dominant principle and power at the South. It early mastered the Constitution, became superior to the Union, and enthroned itself above the law. Policy & Policy Making ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other fastened about his own neck. Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S.—let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship. Citizenship & Patriotism
Oppression makes a wise man mad. Freedom & Liberty
Our rulers do wrong from choice and right from necessity. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Outraged men will seek revenge. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Power
Right is of no sex – Truth is of no color. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Slavery, like all other great systems of wrong, founded in the depths of human selfishness, and existing for ages, has not neglected its own conservation. It has steadily exerted an influence upon all around it favorable to its own continuance. And to-day it is so strong that it could exist, not only without law, but even against law. Custom, manners, morals, religion, are all on its side everywhere in the South; and when you add the ignorance and servility of the ex-slave to the intelligence and accustomed authority of the master, you have the conditions, not out of which slavery will again grow, but under which it is impossible for the Federal government to wholly destroy it, unless the Federal government be armed with despotic power, to blot out State authority, and to station a Federal officer at every cross-road. This, of course, cannot be done, and ought not even if it could. Discrimination & Prejudice ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
So long as my voice can be heard on this or the other side of the Atlantic, I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
That was a sacred effort. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
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, in spite of all the laws the Federal government can put upon the national statute-book. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The Ballot or the Bullet Voters, Voting & Elections
The church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors… Religion & God ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
The destiny of colored Americans is the destiny of America. We shall never leave you. Minorities & Women
The destiny of the colored American... is the destiny of America. Miscellaneous
The language is, "We the people"; not we the white people, not even we the citizens, not we the privileged class, not we the high, not we the low, but we the people; not we the horses, sheep, and swine, and wheelbarrows, but we the people, we the inhabitants [of America; and if Negroes are people, they are included in the benefits for which the Constitution of America was ordained and established. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The limits of tyrants are proscribed by the endurance of those whom they suppress. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The majority spent the holidays in sports, ball playing, wrestling, boxing, running foot races, dancing, and drinking whisky; and this latter mode of spending the time was generally most agreeable to their masters. A slave who would work during the holidays, was thought, by his master, undeserving of holidays. Such a one had rejected the favor of his master. There was, in this simple act of continued work, an accusation against slaves; and a slave could not help thinking, that if he made three dollars during the holidays, he might make three hundred during the year. Not to be drunk during the holidays, was disgraceful; and he was esteemed a lazy and improvident man, who could not afford to drink whisky during Christmas. Miscellaneous ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
The point we must aim at is to obtain admittance for our children to the nearest and the best schoolhouse. Discrimination & Prejudice
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 Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
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 Freedom & Liberty ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
The want of learning is a calamity to any people. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The white and colored people of this country [can] be blended into a common nationality… States. Nations & Nationhood
The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery. Happiness & Unhappiness ;Minorities & Women ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
The work does not end with the abolition of slavery but only begins. Discrimination & Prejudice ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
There has been no word equal to it in convincing power. I have spoken, but my word is feeble in comparison.
There is no progress without struggle. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
There is not a nation on Earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. Freedom & Liberty ;Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
Thought the colored man is no longer subject to be bought and sold, he is still surrounded by an adverse sentiment which fetters all his movements. In his downward course he meets with no resistance, but his course upward is resisted at every step of his progress. Discrimination & Prejudice ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
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. Discrimination & Prejudice ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker Freedom & Liberty
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future. Future ;History
We want no black Ireland in America. We want no aggrieved class in America. Discrimination & Prejudice
What does it amount to if the Black man, after having been made free by the letter of your law ... is to be subject to the [former] slaveholder's shotgun? Minorities & Women ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
What then to the American black Slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him ... constant injustice. Justice & Injustice ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
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. Such a truth is woman's right to equal liberty with man. She was born with it. It was hers before she comprehended it. It is prescribed upon all the powers and faculties of her soul, and no custom, law nor usage can ever destroy it. Equality & Equal Opportunity
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. Society ;Justice & Injustice
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. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
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.
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. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
A man's character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.
America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Future
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Time
Fugitive slaves were rare then, and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the advantage of being the first one out.
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. Freedom & Liberty
I could, as a free man, look across the bay toward the Eastern Shore where I was born a slave.
I didn't know I was a slave until I found out I couldn't do the things I wanted.
I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. Religion & God
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 recognize the Republican party as the sheet anchor of the colored man's political hopes and the ark of his safety.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. Families, Children & Parenting
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. Nature
Man's greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.
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.
One and God make a majority. Religion & God
People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Power
Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The soul that is within me no man can degrade.
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. Freedom & Liberty
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.
What to the Slave is the 4th of July.
When men sow the wind it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind.
Without a struggle, there can be no progress.