Frederick Douglass quotes that rockSubmitted by Promisekept on Fri, 07/31/2009 - 17:24
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.