0 votes

Frederick Douglass quotes that rock

While researching liberty and tyranny quotes, I came across some rare jewels among those by Frederick Douglass.

I was hooked. What else had he written and done that I was unaware of?

Well, I am only halfway through "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave -Written by Himself" and among the most powerful insights he offers from his unique perspective is the corrupting influence that the slave holders themselves suffered by enslaving others.

"My new mistress proved to be all she appeared when I first met her at the door,--a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings. She had never had a slave under her control previously to myself, and prior to her marriage she had been dependent upon her own industry for a living. She was by trade a weaver; and by constant application to her business, she had been in a good degree preserved from the blighting and dehumanizing effects of slavery. I was utterly astonished at her goodness. I scarcely knew how to behave towards her. She was entirely unlike any other white woman I had ever seen. I could not approach her as I was accustomed to approach other white ladies. My early instruction was all out of place. The crouching servility, usually so acceptable a quality in a slave, did not answer when manifested toward her. Her favor was not gained by it; she seemed to be disturbed by it. She did not deem it impudent or unmannerly for a slave to look her in the face. The meanest slave was put fully at ease in her presence, and none left without feeling better for having seen her. Her face was made of heavenly smiles, and her voice of tranquil music.

But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon. " (Chapter VI opening words)

The rest of the book can be read online at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Literature/Douglass/Autobiography/

Douglass described watching her decent in tyranny in tragic detail, but in that huge adversity he learned that by breaking the law, and learning to read, the key to freeing his body was in first freeing his mind.

If you, my fellow DPers, have any Douglass quotes among your favorites, or works by or about him that you might recommend, please post 'em!

Liberty_Belle suggested I post this one I sent her :

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.




Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Douglass quotes~

I LOVE the one above and would love to recite it dramatically on the Capitol steps!! I'm going to have to read the book you suggested! I have a great used book store in town and I love to get the old editions. So much can be learned from history but it seems the lessons learned at such great cost and so passionately and carefully written go unheeded! ~ I also love reading about politics in Ancient Rome!

Frederick Douglass quotes
Here are three I really like....

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground."

"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."

"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

*************
"I truly wish that real life would no longer surpass the worst excesses of my nightmarish imaginings... Arthur Silber **

"I think we are living in a world of lies: lies that don't even know they are lies, because they are the children and grandchildren of lies." ~ Chris Floyd

True to myself

I'm not sure where I got the quote you want to passionately deliver to the District of Corruption, but it was much later in his life than the book I quoted from above.

The "true to myself" quote comes from the close of Chapter V, just before that. Since I can copy and paste from the website were the whole book is posted, here is the quote in context:

I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor. But I should be false to 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. From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.

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

Thank you for the full context

* It is so much more beautiful in full! Thank you for the link to the book but I prefer to have an old worn copy and cherish a read in the hammock or cozy with lots of pillows on a rainy day! I don't mean to gloss over the lesson you refer to in the OP about the change in the lady's attitude. I have read

"The Authoritarians" by Altmeyer http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/Introduction_link...

andd also Erich Fromm Escape from Freedom
http://home.wxs.nl/~brouw724/Frommenglisch.html

These helped me when I have been most frustrated as to WHY don't people "get it?" It helped me to understand and to keep the "love" in the "revolution" We must be careful not to become what we fight against!

gotta go for now!
Peace!
****
"I truly wish that real life would no longer surpass the worst excesses of my nightmarish imaginings... Arthur Silber **

"I think we are living in a world of lies: lies that don't even know they are lies, because they are the children and grandchildren of lies." ~ Chris Floyd

Education and slavery are incompatible with each other.

So simply stated, and so very very true.