ᐅFrederick Douglass Quotes About Freedom and Slavery

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

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

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

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

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others

"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

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where

"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 am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend

"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

“A man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge

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

“Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting

"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

“Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions

"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

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

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

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

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

“There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty

"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

“I will unite with anyone to do good, but with no one to do harm.”

"I will unite with anyone to do good, but with no one to do harm." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

“Opportunity is important but exertion is indispensable.”

"Opportunity is important but exertion is indispensable." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

“To make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary

"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

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

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

“Educate your sons and daughters, send them to school, and show them that beside the

"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

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

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

"In life you don't get everything you pay for, but you must pay for everything you get." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

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

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

“The man who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will

"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

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

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

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

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

“No people to whom liberty is given can hold it as firmly and wear it as grandly as those

"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

“The simplest truths often meet the sternest resistance and are slowest in getting

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

“Mr. Lincoln was not only a great President, but a great man – too great to be small

"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

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

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

“Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers

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

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

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

“I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity…”

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

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

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

“What is possible for me is possible for you.”

"What is possible for me is possible for you." ~ Frederick Douglass

“The opposite of compromise is character.”

"The opposite of compromise is character." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

"The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Neither we, nor any other people, will ever be respected till we respect ourselves

"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

“The mind does not take its complexion from the skin.”

"The mind does not take its complexion from the skin." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer

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

“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the

"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

“We may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!!”

"We may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!!" ~ Frederick Douglass

“When a great truth once gets abroad in the world, no power on earth can imprison it,

"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

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

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

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

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

“Our destiny is largely in our hands.”

"Our destiny is largely in our hands." ~ Frederick Douglass

“No man can be truly free whose liberty is dependent upon the thought, feeling and action

"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

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

"I didn't know I was a slave until I found out I couldn't do the things I wanted." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

"I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs." ~ Frederick Douglass

“We are Americans, speaking the same language, adopting the same customs, holding the

"We are Americans, speaking the same language, adopting the same customs, holding the same general opinions... and shall rise and fall with Americans." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Be not discouraged. There is a future for you. . . . The resistance encountered now

"Be not discouraged. There is a future for you. . . . The resistance encountered now predicates hope. . ." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Liberty for all; chains for none.”

"Liberty for all; chains for none." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

“In a composite nation like ours, as before the law, there should be no rich, no poor,

"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

“In the struggle for justice, the only reward is the opportunity to be in the struggle. You can’t expect

"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

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

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

“Oppression makes a wise man mad.”

"Oppression makes a wise man mad." ~ Frederick Douglass

“There is a class of people who seem to think that if a man should fall overboard into the

"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

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

"Some know the value of education by having it. I know it's value by not having it." ~ Frederick Douglass

“The Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT. Read its preamble, consider

"The Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT. Read its preamble, consider it purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? it is neither." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need

"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

“One and God make a majority.”

"One and God make a majority." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, . . . neither persons nor property

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, . . . neither persons nor property will be safe." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

“The man who is right is a majority. He who has God and conscience on his side, has a majority

"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

“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: A day that reveals to him

"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

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

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

“The relation between the white and colored people of this country is the great,

"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

“Poverty, ignorance and degradation are the combined evils, these constitute the social

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

“Fortune may crowd a man’s life with fortunate circumstances and happy opportunities

"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

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

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

“I recognize the Republican Party as the sheet anchor of the colored man’s political hopes

"I recognize the Republican Party as the sheet anchor of the colored man's political hopes and the ark of his safety." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Our community belongs to us and whether it is mean or majestic, whether arrayed in glory or

"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

“If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough

"If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough to vote; taxation and representation should go together. If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag, fight for the government, he knows enough to vote." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Let us render the tyrant no aid.”

"Let us render the tyrant no aid." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single

"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

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

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

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

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

“Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows

"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

“The thought of only being a creature of the present and the past was troubling. I longed for

"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

“A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things

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

“The District of Columbia is the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the

"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

“Let us render the tyrant no aid; let us not hold the light by which he can trace the footprints

"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

“If I have advocated the cause of the Negro, it is not because I am a Negro, but because

"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

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

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

“A great man, tender of heart, strong of nerve, boundless patience and broadest sympathy

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

“In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just,

"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." ~ Frederick Douglass

“We succeed, not alone by the laborious exertions of our faculties, be they small or

"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

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

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

“I hear the mournful wail of millions!”

"I hear the mournful wail of millions!" ~ Frederick Douglass

“Intelligence is a great leveler here as elsewhere”

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

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

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

“In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation

"In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world." ~ Frederick Douglass

“A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth

"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

“The destiny of the colored American … is the destiny of America.”

"The destiny of the colored American ... is the destiny of America." ~ Frederick Douglass

“You degrade us and then ask why we are degraded. You shut our mouths and ask why

"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

“Yet people in general will say they like colored men as well as any other, but in their

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

“A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is

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

“America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself t

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

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress....This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or 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." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever... I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want

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

"I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!" ~ Frederick Douglass

“It’s a poor rule that won’t work both ways.

"It's a poor rule that won't work both ways." ~ Frederick Douglass

“My hopes were never brighter than now.”

"My hopes were never brighter than now." ~ 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

"[...] endless action and reaction. Those beautifully rounded pebbles which you gather on the sand and which you hold in your hand and marvel at their exceeding smoothness, were chiseled into their varies and graceful forms by the ceaseless action of countless waves. Nature is herself a great worker and never tolerates, without certain rebuke, any contradiction to her wise example. Inaction is followed by stagnation. Stagnation is followed by pestilence and pestilence is followed by death." ~ Frederick Douglass

"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?" ~ Frederick Douglass

"Viewing the man from the genuine abolitionist ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed cold, tardy, weak and unequal to the task. But, viewing him from the sentiments of his people, which as a statesman he was bound to respect, then his actions were swift, bold, radical and decisive. Taking the man in the whole, balancing the tremendous magnitude of the situation, and the necessary means to ends, Infinite Wisdom has rarely sent a man into the world more perfectly suited to his mission than Abraham Lincoln." ~ Frederick Douglass

"...I recognize the widest possible difference-so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

"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

"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 shelter under…which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection" ~ Frederick Douglass

"I ask you...to adopt the principles proclaimed by yourselves, by your revolutionary fathers, and by the old bell in Independence Hall." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Without Struggle There Is No Success" ~ Frederick Douglass

"Vainly you talk about voting it down. When you have cast your millions of ballots, you have not reached the evil. It has fastened its root deep into the heart of the nation, and nothing but God's truth and love can cleanse the land. We must change the moral sentiment." ~ 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

"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

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

"Despite of it all, the Negro remains... cool, strong, imperturbable, and cheerful." ~ Frederick Douglass

"The ballot is the only safety." ~ 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

"[John Brown's] zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine. Mine was as the taper light, his was as the burning sun... I could speak for the slave. John Brown could fight for the slave." ~ 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

"If there's no struggle, there's no progress." ~ 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

"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

"It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery, to the heaven of slavery. 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

"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 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

“The law on the side of freedom is of great advantage only when there is power

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

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

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

"It was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read." ~ 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

"E have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls. The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave trade go hand in hand." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Right is of no sex, truth is of no color." ~ Frederick Douglass

“Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has and never will. Show me

"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

"Having despised us, it is not strange that Americans should seek to render us despicable; having enslaved us, it is natural that they should strive to prove us unfit for freedom; having denounced us as indolent, it is not strange that they should cripple our enterprises." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

“Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document.

"Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? It is neither." ~ Frederick Douglass

"He who is whipped oftenest, is whipped easiest." ~ 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

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

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

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

"These were choice documents to me... They gave tongue to interesting thoughts of my own soul, which had frequently flashed through my mind, and died away for want of utterance." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

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

"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

"I glory in the conflict, that I may hereafter exult in the victory. I know that victory is certain." ~ Frederick Douglass

"What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. ... All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... Your interference is doing him positive injury." ~ Frederick Douglass

"These dear souls came not to Sabbath school because it was popular to do so, nor did I teach them because it was reputable to be thus engaged. Every moment they spent in that school, they were liable to be taken up, and given thirty-nine lashes. They came because they wished to learn. Their minds had been starved by their cruel masters. They had been shut up in mental darkness. I taught them, because it was the delight of my soul to be doing something that looked like the bettering the condition of my race" ~ Frederick Douglass

"Allow us the dignity to fight for our own freedom" ~ 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

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

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

"Grandmother pointed out my brother Perry, my sister Sarah, and my sister Eliza, who stood in the group. I had never seen my brother nor my sisters before; and, though I had sometimes heard of them, and felt a curious interest in them, I really did not understand what they were to me, or I to them. We were brothers and sisters, but what of that? Why should they be attached to me, or I to them? Brothers and sisters were by blood; but slavery had made us strangers. I heard the words brother and sisters, and knew they must mean something; but slavery had robbed these terms of their true meaning." ~ Frederick Douglass

"I had as well be killed running as die standing" ~ 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

"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

"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

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

"I could, as a free man, look across the bay toward the Eastern Shore where I was born a slave." ~ 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 Federal Government was never, in its essence, anything but an anti-slavery government." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

"Money is the measure of morality, and the success or failure of slavery as a money-making system, determines with many whether...it should be maintained or abolished." ~ 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 silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared

"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

"I have no protection at home, or resting place abroad. ... I am an outcast from the society of my childhood, and an outlaw in the land of my birth. I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were." ~ Frederick Douglass

"...of whom I can say with a grateful heart, 'I was hungry, and he gave me meat; I was thirsty, and he gave me drink; I was a stranger, and he took me in.'" ~ Frederick Douglass

"I have often sung to drown my sorrow, but seldom to express my happiness. Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. 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

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

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

"... and in thinking of my life, I almost forgot my liberty." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

"Heaven's blessing must attend all, and freedom must soon be given to the pining millions under a ruthless bondage." ~ 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

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

"In one point of view, we, the abolitionists and colored people, should meet [the Dred Scott] decision, unlooked for and monstrous as it appears, in a cheerful spirit. 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 system." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Men are whipped oftenest who are whipped easiest." ~ Frederick Douglass

"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!" ~ Frederick Douglass

"Self-Made Men are the men who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, friendly surroundings; to wealth inherited or to early approved means of education; who are what they are, without the aid of any favoring conditions by which other men usually rise in the world and achieve great results." ~ Frederick Douglass

"The day dawns; the morning star is bright upon the horizon! The iron gate of our prison stands half open. One gallant rush from the North will fling it wide open, while four millions of our brothers and sisters shall march out into liberty. The chance is now given you to end in a day the bondage of centuries, and to rise in one bound from social degradation to the place of common equality with all other varieties of men." ~ 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

"I have often wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. Any thing, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within sight or hearing, animate or inanimate." ~ Frederick Douglass

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

“Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave.”

"Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave." ~ 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

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

"My great and exceeding joy over these stupendous achievements, especially over the abolition of slavery (which had been the deepest desire and the great labor of my life), was slightly tinged with a feeling of sadness." ~ Frederick Douglass

"I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Men of Color, To Arms! The case is before you. This is our golden opportunity. Let us accept it, and forever wipe out the dark reproaches unsparingly hurled against us by our enemies. Let us win for ourselves the gratitude of our country, and the best blessings of our posterity through all time." ~ 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

“Slaves were expected to sing as well as to work. A silent slave was not liked, either by masters

"Slaves were expected to sing as well as to work. A silent slave was not liked, either by masters or overseers." ~ 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... Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker." ~ Frederick Douglass

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle." ~ Frederick Douglass

"I knew that however bad the Republican party was, the Democratic party was much worse. The elements of which the Republican party was composed gave better ground for the ultimate hope of the success of the colored mans cause than those of the Democratic party." ~ Frederick Douglass

"In a composite Nation like ours, made up of almost every variety of the human family, there should be, as before the Law, no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no black, no white, but one country, one citizenship equal rights and a common destiny for all. A government that cannot or does not protect the humblest citizen in his right to life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, should be reformed or overthrown, without delay." ~ Frederick Douglass

"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." ~ Frederick Douglass

"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! You're 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, ... 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." ~ Frederick Douglass

"[A] woman should have every honorable motive to exertion which is enjoyed by man, to the full extent of her capacities and endowments. The case is too plain for argument. Nature has given woman the same powers, and subjected her to the same earth, breathes the same air, subsists on the same food, physical, moral, mental and spiritual. She has, therefore, an equal right with man, in all efforts to obtain and maintain a perfect existence." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Power and those in control concede nothing ... without a demand. Hey never have and never will... Each and every one of us must keep demanding, must keep fighting, must keep thundering, must keep plowing, must keep on keeping things struggling, must speak out and speak up until justice is served because where there is no justice there is no peace." ~ Frederick Douglass

"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." ~ 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

"Without culture there can be no growth; without exertion, no acquisition; without friction, no polish; without labor, no knowledge; without action, no progress; and without conflict, no victory. The man who lies down a fool at night, hoping that he will waken wise in the morning, will rise up in the morning as he laid down in the evening." ~ Frederick Douglass

"The Constitutional framers were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settled" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final;" not slavery and oppression." ~ Frederick Douglass

"No, I make no pretension to patriotism. 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." ~ Frederick Douglass

"For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling in the nation must be quickened, the conscience of the nation must be roused, the propriety of the nation must be startled, the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed: and its crimes against God and man must be denounced." ~ Frederick Douglass

"One by one I have seen obstacles removed, errors corrected, prejudices softened, proscriptions relinquished, and my people advancing in all the elements that go to make up the sum of the general welfare. And I remember that God reigns in eternity, and that whatever delays, whatever disappointments and discouragements may come, truth, justice, liberty and humanity will ultimately prevail." ~ Frederick Douglass

"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." ~ Frederick Douglass

"I have observed this in my experience of slavery, - that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man." ~ Frederick Douglass

"The American Constitution is a written instrument full and complete in itself. No Court in America, no Congress, no President, can add a single word thereto, or take a single word threreto. It is a great national enactment done by the people, and can only be altered, amended, or added to by the people." ~ Frederick Douglass

"If we would reach a degree of civilization higher and grander than any yet attained, we should welcome to our ample continent all the nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples, and as fast as they learn our language and comprehend the duties of citizenship, we should incorporate them into the American body politic. The outspread wings of the American eagle are broad enough to shelter all who are likely to come." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Abolish slavery tomorrow, and not a sentence or syllable of the Constitution need be altered. It was purposely so framed as to give no claim, no sanction to the claim, of property in man. If in its origin slavery had any relation to the government, it was only as the scaffolding to the magnificent structure, to be removed as soon as the building was completed." ~ Frederick Douglass

"My theory of self-made men is, then, simply this; that they are men of work. Whether or not such men have acquired material, moral or intellectual excellence, honest labor faithfully, steadily and persistently pursued, is the best, if not the only, explanation of their success... All human experience proves over and over again, that any success which comes through meanness, trickery, fraud and dishonour, is but emptiness and will only be a torment to its possessor." ~ Frederick Douglass

"Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all of the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival." ~ Frederick Douglass

"The church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors.... For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! Welcome atheism! Welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by these Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done!" ~ Frederick Douglass

"Your national greatness, swelling vanity; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages." ~ Frederick Douglass

"[...] allowing only ordinary ability and opportunity, we may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!! Not transient and fitful effort, but patient, enduring, honest, unremitting and indefatigable work into which the whole heart is put[...] There is no royal road to perfection." ~ Frederick Douglass

"There are at the present moment many colored men in the Confederate army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers , but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops, and do all that soldiers may to destroy the Federal Government and build up that of the traitors and rebels." ~ Frederick Douglass

"I have one great political idea... That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, "Righteousness exalteth a nation - sin is a reproach to any people." This constitutes my politics, the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics... I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people." ~ Frederick Douglass

"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; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise." ~ Frederick Douglass