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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Quotes

22 of the best book quotes from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  1. #1
    “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.”
  2. #2
    “For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bondage.”
  3. #3
    “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.”
  4. #4
    “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.”
  5. #5
    “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. #6
    “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. #7
    “It was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man’s slave was deemed a disgrace indeed!”
  1. #8
    “I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.”
  2. #9
    “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.”
  3. #10
    “I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday.”
  4. #11
    “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.”
  5. #12
    “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.”
  6. #13
    “To be accused was to be convicted, and to be convicted was to be punished; the one always following the other with immutable certainty.”
  7. #14
    “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

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  1. #15
    “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.”
  2. #16
    “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.”
  3. #17
    “The silver trump of freedom roused in my soul eternal wakefulness.”
  4. #18
    “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.”
  5. #19
    “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.”
  6. #20
    “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.”
  7. #21
    “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.”
  8. #22
    “Experience is a keen teacher;”
Book Topics › freedom
Children's Books About Freedom