48 Motivational Frederick Douglass Quotes For Success

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; February 1818 – February 20, 1985) was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings.
In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave. These Frederick Douglass quotes will inspire you in life.

Best Frederick Douglass Quotes

  1. “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass
  2. “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.” ― Frederick Douglass
  3. “The American people have this to learn: that 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 person nor property is safe.” ― Frederick Douglass
  4. “Allowing only ordinary ability and opportunity, we may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!! Not transient and fitful effort, but patient, enduring, honest, unremitting and indefatigable work into which the whole heart is put[…] There is no royal road to perfection.” ― Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass quotes on success
  5. “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ― Frederick Douglass
  6. “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
  7. “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” ― Frederick Douglass

  8. “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.” ― Frederick Douglass
  9. “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” ― Frederick Douglass
  10. “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
  11. “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
  12. “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
  13. “My hopes were never brighter than now.” ― Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass quotes on hope
  14. “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” ― Frederick Douglass

  15. “The man who is right is a majority. He who has God and conscience on his side, has a majority against the universe.” ― Frederick Douglass
  16. “People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.” ― Frederick Douglass
  17. “The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.” ― Frederick Douglass
  18. “Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work.” ― Frederick Douglass
  19. “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” ― Frederick Douglass
  20. “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?
    I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.” ― Frederick Douglass
  21. “Our destiny is largely in our hands.” ― Frederick Douglass

  22. “A gentleman will not insult me, and no man, not a gentleman can insult me.” ― Frederick Douglass
  23. “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
  24. “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” ― Frederick Douglass
  25. “I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.” ― Frederick Douglass
  26. “A woman should have every honorable motive to exertion which is enjoyed by man, to the full extent of her capacities and endowments. The case is too plain for argument. Nature has given woman the same powers, and subjected her to the same earth, breathes the same air, subsists on the same food, physical, moral, mental and spiritual. She has, therefore, an equal right with man, in all efforts to obtain and maintain a perfect existence.” ― Frederick Douglass
  27. “The silver trump of freedom roused in my soul eternal wakefulness.” ― Frederick Douglass
  28. “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ― Frederick Douglass
  29. “Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work.” ― Frederick Douglass

  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.” ― Frederick Douglass,
  31. “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” ― Frederick Douglass
  32. “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.” ― Frederick Douglass
  33. “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
  34. “The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.” ― Frederick Douglass

  35. “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” ― Frederick Douglass
  36. “Some know the value of education by having it. I know it’s value by not having it.” ― Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass quotes on education
  37. “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.” ― Frederick Douglass
  38. “I had as well be killed running as die standing.” ― Frederick Douglass

  39. “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
  40. “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ― Frederick Douglass
  41. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” ― Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass quotes struggle
  42. “Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude.” ― Frederick Douglass
  43. Experience is a keen teacher;” ― Frederick Douglass

  44. “I, therefore, hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’ I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which everywhere surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . 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 together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, maybe heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.” ― Frederick Douglass
  45. “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.” ― Frederick Douglass

  46. “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will… Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get.” ― Frederick Douglass
  47. “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.” ― Frederick Douglass
  48. “For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others.” ― Frederick Douglass

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