Quotes

Frederick Douglass’ most popular quotes have been extracted from his autobiographies, publications and speeches.

Education

“Intelligence is a great leveler here as elsewhere”
– Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

“Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave”.
– Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

“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, Blessings of Liberty and Education. Speech. 1894.

Society

“Poverty, ignorance and degradation are the combined evils, these constitute the social disease of the free colored people of the US.”
– Frederick Douglass, Letter to Mrs. Stowe, Rochester, March 8, 1853.

Yet people in general will say they like colored men as well as any other, but in their proper place!
– Frederick Douglass, The Church and Prejudice. Speech. November 4, 1841.

Freedom

“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, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

“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, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

“Abolition of slavery had been the deepest desire and the great labor of my life”
– Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

“The law on the side of freedom is of great advantage only when there is power to make that law respected”.
– Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

Civil War

“Civil war was not a mere strife for territory and dominion, but a contest of civilization against barbarism”.
– Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

“A war undertaken and brazenly carried for the perpetual enslavement of the colored men, calls logically and loudly for the colored men to help suppress it.”
– Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, Rochester, March2, 1863.

Suffrage and Civil Rights

“If the negro knows enough to fight for his country he knows enough to vote; if he knows enough to pay taxes for the support of the government, he knows enough to vote; if he knows as much when sober, as an Irishman knows when drunk, he knows enough to vote”.
– Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

“The ballot is the only safety.”
– Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.
“By depriving us of suffrage, you affirm our incapacity to form an intelligent judgment respecting public men and public measures; you declare before the world that we are unfit to exercise the elective franchise, and by this means lead us to undervalue ourselves, to put a low estimate upon ourselves, and to feel that we have no possibilities like other men.”
– Frederick Douglass, What the Black Man Wants. Speech. April, 1865.

Success

“Self-Made Men are those who owe little or nothing to birth, relationship, or 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. . . They are in a peculiar sense indebted to themselves for themselves.”
– Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men Speech.

“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, Self-Made Men Speech.

“The next best thing to success is a valid apology for non-success. It possesses the means of covering the small with the glory of the great.”
– Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men Speech.

“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, Self-Made Men Speech.

“Opportunity is important but exertion is indispensable.”
– Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men Speech.

“We may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!!”
– Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men Speech.

“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, Self-Made Men Speech.

“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, Self-Made Men Speech.

 

 

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