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Frederick Douglass Quotes

35 of the best book quotes from Frederick Douglass
  1. #1
    “ ‘A man is worked upon by what he works on,’ Frederick Douglass once said. He would know. He’d been a slave, and he saw what it did to everyone involved, including the slaveholders themselves. Once a free man, he saw that the choices people made, about their careers and their lives, had the same effect. What you choose to do with your time and what you choose to do for money works on you. The egocentric path requires, as Boyd knew, many compromises.”
  2. #2
    “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
  3. #3
    “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.”
  4. #4
    “I had a wholesome dread of the consequences of running in debt.”
  5. #5
    “For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bondage.”
  6. #6
    “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.”
  7. #7
    “When I went into their family, it was the abode of happiness and contentment. The mistress of the house was a model of affection and tenderness. Her fervent piety and watchful uprightness made it impossible to see her without thinking and feeling—“that woman is a Christian.”
  8. #8
    “We were both victims to the same overshadowing evil—she, as mistress, I, as slave.”
  1. #9
    “They attend with Pharisaical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and at the same time neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”
  2. #10
    “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.”
  3. #11
    “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.”
  4. #12
    “For no man who lives at all lives unto himself. He either helps or hinders all who are in anywise connected to him.”
  5. #13
    “It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. This is the inevitable result.”
  6. #14
    “Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity. I have ever regarded it as the first plain manifestation of that kind providence which has ever since attended me, and marked my life with so many favors.”
  7. #15
    “It was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man’s slave was deemed a disgrace indeed!”
  8. #16
    “I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.”

Books about America

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Abe's Honest Words book
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7.0
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Elizabeth Leads the Way book
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6.5
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The Crayon Man book
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6.5
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Audrey Hepburn book
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6.4
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Maya Angelou book
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6.4
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Old MacDonald Had a Truck book
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6.3
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National Parks of the USA book
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6.3
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  1. #17
    “I speak advisedly when I say this,—that killing a slave, or any colored person, in Talbot county, Maryland, is not treated as a crime, either by the courts or the community.”
  2. #18
    “I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday.”
  3. #19
    “If the lineal descendants of Ham are alone to be scripturally enslaved, it is certain that slavery at the south must soon become unscriptural; for thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who, like myself, owe their existence to white fathers, and those fathers most frequently their own masters.”
  4. #20
    “Slaves, when inquired of as to their condition and the character of their masters, almost universally say they are contented, and that their masters are kind. The slaveholders have been known to send in spies among their slaves, to ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their condition. The frequency of this has had the effect to establish among the slaves the maxim, that a still tongue makes a wise head. They suppress the truth rather than take the consequences of telling it.”
  5. #21
    “To be accused was to be convicted, and to be convicted was to be punished; the one always following the other with immutable certainty.”
  6. #22
    “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”
  7. #23
    “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 actions 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.”
  8. #24
    “Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound and seen in every thing. It was very present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. 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.”
  1. #25
    “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.”
  2. #26
    “The silver trump of freedom roused in my soul eternal wakefulness.”
  3. #27
    “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.”
  4. #28
    “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.”
  5. #29
    “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?”
  6. #30
    “A man is worked upon by what he works on. He may carve out his circumstances, but his circumstances will carve him out as well.”
  7. #31
    “A man who will enslave his own blood, may not be safely relied on for magnamity.”
  8. #32
    “We 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.”
  9. #33
    “But I should be false in the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I suppressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.”
  10. #34
    “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.”
  11. #35
    “Experience is a keen teacher;”

Books about slavery

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Abe's Honest Words book
Picture book
7.0
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Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom book
Picture book
6.0
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Before She Was Harriet book
Picture book
5.5
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Juneteenth for Mazie book
Picture book
5.5
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Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage book
Picture book
5.4
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Words Set Me Free book
Picture book
5.3
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Freedom Soup book
Picture book
5.1
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