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50 Famous Quotes By Frederick Douglass That Will Change Your Life

50 Famous Frederick Douglass Quotes
Frederick Douglass was a great African-American reformer and also an excellent writer, editor, and public speaker. He expressed his ideologies and feelings about slavery, education, empowerment of women, success, and religion through his incisive writing and comprehensive speeches. Frederick Douglass' quotes help gain an insight into his life and line of thought.
Quotabulary Staff
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
The Orator Douglass
Apart from his extraordinary work in literature, Douglass delivered speeches to express his ideologies about the society and measures to improve the conditions of life. Four of his most remembered speeches include The Church and Prejudice, Self-Made Men, Speech at Philadelphia for the Promotion of Colored Enlistments, and What to The Slave is 4th of July?.
Being a slave in some of his early years of life, Frederick Douglass witnessed human suffering and misery firsthand, and believed that knowledge is the only path to freedom from slavery. His never-ending hunger for knowledge not only made him learn to read and write, but also to teach other slaves to do so.

After struggling his way out of the cruel system of slavery, Douglass was all free to convert his previously gained knowledge and experiences into text and literature. He wrote his first autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which was published in 1845 and received excellent reviews, becoming an immediate bestseller in the United States. This triggered his writing instinct, and Douglass continued his literary work along with his fight for women's rights, emancipation, and suffrage.

People all over the world still remember Frederick Douglass through his evergreen quotations and sayings. We give you a glance at some of them.
Inspiring Quotes by Frederick Douglass
Pot Work
"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."
"It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.""
"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. 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."
"Without struggle there is no success."
"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."
Integrity Quote
"The Right is of no Sex-Truth is of no Color-God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren."
"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."
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."
"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."
"Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."
Right or Wrong
"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."
"I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs."
"I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."
"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."
"The ground which a colored man occupies in this country is, every inch of it, sternly disputed."
Religious Slavery
"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."
"I didn't know I was a slave until I found out I couldn't do the things I wanted."
"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."
"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."
"We were both victims to the same overshadowing evil―she, as mistress, I, as slave."
Justice Quotes
"The man who is right is a majority. We, who have God and conscience on our side, have a majority against the universe."
"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."
"Alas! I had not then learned the measure of "man's inhumanity to man," nor to what limitless extent of wickedness he will go for the love of gain."
"A man who will enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for magnanimity."
"Man's own greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done."
The Winner Snail Crosses the Finish Line
"Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get."
"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."
"Nothing valuable shall be obtained without labor and agony."
"One generation cannot safely rest on the achievements of another, and ought not so to rest."
"Truth is proper and beautiful in all times and all places."
Bowing Nails
"My hands were no longer tied by my religion."
"Enforced morality is artificial morality."
"A difference of opinion, like a discord in music, sometimes gives the highest effects of harmony."
"Human government is for the protection of rights, and not for the destruction of rights."
"I have gone through all of this. I have had fifty years of it, and yet I have not lost either heart or hope."
Fish Jumping from Tank
"It may be with men as someone has said about tea: if you wish to get its strength you must put it into hot water."
"You are not judged by the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed."
"The binding quality of law is its reasonableness."
"The world moves, but only by fighting every inch of its disputed way."
"You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man."
Ball Under Glass
"Whatever delays, disappointments and discouragements may come, truth, justice, liberty and humanity will prevail."
"Men have their choice in this world. They can be angels, or they may be demons. In the apocalyptic vision, John describes a war in heaven. You have only to strip that vision of its gorgeous Oriental drapery, divest it of its shining and celestial ornaments, clothe it in the simple and familiar language of common sense, and you will have before you the eternal conflict between right and wrong, good and evil, liberty and slavery, truth and falsehood, the glorious light of love, and the appalling darkness of human selfishness and sin. The human heart is a seat of constant war... Just what takes place in individual human hearts, often takes place between nations, and between individuals of the same nation."
"Properly speaking, there are in the world no such men as self-made men. That term implies an individual independence of the past and present which can never exist."
"I shall see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave's point of view. Standing, there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July!"
"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim."
Foot Injured Ballerina
"Let us render the tyrant no aid; let us not hold the light by which he can trace the footprints of our flying brother."
"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."
"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."
"A man's character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him."
"We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future."
If you were really moved by this great man's quotes, you could surely glance through some of his popular books which include A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, My Bondage and My Freedom, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, and The Heroic Slave.