As an abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was a powerful voice in the fight against slavery. He was also a gifted writer and orator, and his words continue to inspire people today. In this blog post, we’ve gathered together some of the most famous Frederick Douglass quotes. These quotes cover a wide range of topics, including freedom, justice, and education.

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

“A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.”― Frederick Douglass

“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

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

“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.”― Frederick Douglass

“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

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

“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

“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

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”― Frederick Douglass

“A smile or a tear has not nationality; joy and sorrow speak alike to all nations, and they, above all the confusion of tongues, proclaim the brotherhood of man.”― Frederick Douglass

“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.” ― Frederick Douglass

 “A man without force, is without the essential dignity of humanity. Human nature is so constituted, that it cannot honour a helpless man, although it can pity him.”― Frederick Douglass

“We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake…the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes…denounced.” ― Frederick Douglass

 “To be accused was to be convicted, and to be convicted was to be punished; the one always following the other with immutable certainty.” ― Frederick Douglass

“Another advantage I gained in my new master was, he made no pretensions to, or profession of, religion; and this, in my opinion, was truly a great advantage.”― Frederick Douglass

“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

 “Is it possible for the human mind to conceive of a more horrible state of society?”― Frederick Douglass

“Truth shines with brighter light and intense heat at every moment, and a country torn and rent and bleeding implores relief from its distress and agony.” ― Frederick Douglass

“Your faculties remained yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner.”― Frederick Douglass

“I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one.”― Frederick Douglass

“No man whose vision is bounded by colour can come into contact with what is highest and best in the world.”― Frederick Douglass

“As a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favour.”― Frederick Douglass

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

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

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

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

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

 “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

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

“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

“For no man who lives at all lives unto himself. He either helps or hinders all who are in anywise connected to him.”― Frederick Douglass

“Without any appeal to books, to laws, or to authorities of any kind, it was enough to accept God as a father, to regard slavery as a crime. I”― Frederick Douglass

“For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bondage.”― Frederick Douglass

 “They suppress the truth rather than take the consequence of telling it, and in so doing prove themselves a part of the human family.”― Frederick Douglass

“He treated me as a man… He did not let me feel for a moment that there was any difference in the colour of our skins.”― Frederick Douglass

“I will give Mr. Freeland the credit of being the best master I ever had, till I became my own master.” ― Frederick Douglass

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

“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

“Right is of no sex, Truth is of no colour, God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.” ― Frederick Douglass

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

“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.” ― Frederick Douglass

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

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” ― Frederick Douglass

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

“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

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

“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

“What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice.” ― Frederick Douglass

“There is not a man beneath the canopy of Heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.”― Frederick Douglass

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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“A war undertaken and brazenly carried for the perpetual enslavement of the coloured men, calls logically and loudly for the coloured men to help suppress it.”― 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

“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

“Poverty, ignorance and degradation are the combined evils, these constitute the social disease of the free coloured people of the US.”― Frederick Douglass

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

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

“There is not a man beneath the canopy of Heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.”― Frederick Douglass

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

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

“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

“Some know the value of education by having it. I know its value by not having it.” ― Frederick Douglass

“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

“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.”― Frederick Douglass

“A smile or a tear has not nationality; joy and sorrow speak alike to all nations, and they, above all the confusion of tongues, proclaim the brotherhood of man.” ― Frederick Douglass

“Those who profess to favour freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground.” ― Frederick Douglass

“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.”― Frederick Douglass

“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

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

“Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.” ― Frederick Douglass

“Right is of no sex, Truth is of no colour, God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.”― Frederick Douglass

“When men sow the wind it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind.”― Frederick Douglass

“For my part, I should prefer death to hopeless bondage.”― Frederick Douglass

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

“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.”― Frederick Douglass

“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 silver trump of freedom roused in my soul eternal wakefulness.”― Frederick Douglass

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

“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”― Frederick Douglass

“To be accused was to be convicted, and to be convicted was to be punished; the one always following the other with immutable certainty.”― Frederick Douglass

“I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday.”― Frederick Douglass

“I speak advisedly when I say this,—that killing a slave, or any coloured person, in Talbot county, Maryland, is not treated as a crime, either by the courts or the community.”― Frederick Douglass

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

“It was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man’s slave was deemed a disgrace indeed!”― Frederick Douglass‘”

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ― Frederick Douglass

“Those who profess to favour freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground.” ― Frederick Douglass

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

“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

“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.”― Frederick Douglass

“A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and colour of things about him.” ― Frederick Douglass

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” ― Frederick Douglass

“man is worked upon by what he works on. He may carve out his circumstances, but his circumstances will carve him out as well.”― Frederick Douglass

“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

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