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Frederick Douglass Quotes


An American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer; born a slave as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey.
(1818 - 1895)

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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.
 

A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.
 

A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.
 

A man's character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.
 

America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.
[America]
 

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.
 

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.
 

Fugitive slaves were rare then, and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the advantage of being the first one out.
[Being]
 

I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.
 

I could, as a free man, look across the bay toward the Eastern Shore where I was born a slave.
 

I didn't know I was a slave until I found out I couldn't do the things I wanted.
 

I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard on this or the other side of the Atlantic, I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.
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I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
[Religion]
 

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.
 

I recognize the Republican party as the sheet anchor of the colored man's political hopes and the ark of his safety.
 

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
[Change]
 

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
 

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.
[Nature]
 

Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one's thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason . . . . There can be no right of speech where any man . . . [is] compelled to suppress his honest sentiments. Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.
 

Man's greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.
 


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