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

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Quotes by Frederick Douglass

Quotes by Frederick Douglass

  1. 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.
  2. A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.
  3. A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.
  4. A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.
  5. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.
  6. At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.
  7. Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, ‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us.
  8. 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.
  9. Fugitive slaves were rare then, and as a fugitive slave lecturer, I had the advantage of being the first one out.
  10. 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.
  11. I could, as a free man, look across the bay toward the Eastern Shore where I was born a slave.
  12. I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.
  13. I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
  14. 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.
  15. I recognize the Republican party as the sheet anchor of the colored man’s political hopes and the ark of his safety.
  16. If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
  17. It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
  18. 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.
  19. Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.
  20. 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.
  21. One and God make a majority.
  22. People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.
  23. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
  24. Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work.
  25. That which is inhuman cannot be divine.
  26. The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
  27. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
  28. The soul that is within me no man can degrade.
  29. The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.
  30. The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.
  31. There is not a man beneath the canopy of Heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.
  32. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
  33. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.
  34. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.
  35. We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.
  36. What to the Slave is the 4th of July.
  37. When men sow the wind it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind.
  38. Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
  39. Without a struggle, there can be no progress.