Quotes from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

- ‘I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any accurate record containing it.’
- ‘I remember the first time I ever witnessed [whipping]. I was quite a child, but I well remember it. I shall never forget it whilst I remember any thing. It was the first of a long series of such outrages, of which I was doomed to be a witness and a participant. It struck me with awful force. It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery, through which I was about to pass. It was a most terrible spectacle. I wish I could commit to paper the feelings with which I beheld it.’
- ‘Very many of their sleeping hours are consumed in preparing for the field the coming day; and when this is done, old and young, male and female, married and single, drop down side by side, on one common bed, - the cold, damp floor, - each covering himself or herself with their miserable blankets; and there they sleep till they are summoned to the field by the driver’s horn.’
- ‘He whipped, but seemed to take no pleasure in it. He was called by the slaves a good overseer.’
- ‘I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing when they are most unhappy.’
- ‘His horrid crime was not even submitted to judicial investigation. It was committed in the presence of slaves, and they of course could neither institute a suit, nor testify against him; and thus the guilty perpetrator of one of the bloodiest and most foul murders goes unwhipped of justice, and uncensored by the community in which he lives.’
- ‘I was seldom whipped by my old master, and suffered little from any thing else than hunger and cold. I suffered much from hunger, but much more from cold.’ his childhood
- ‘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.’
- ‘Thus is slavery the enemy of both the slave and the slaveholder.’
- ‘Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read.’
- ‘A single word from the white men was enough – against all our wishes, prayers, and entreating – to sunder forever the dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings.’
- ‘A great many times have we poor creatures been nearly perishing with hunger, when food in abundance lay mouldering in the safe and smoke-house, and our pious mistress was aware of the fact; and yet that mistress and her husband would kneel every morning, and pray that God would bless them in basket and store!’
- ‘The children were regarded as being quite an addition to his wealth.’
- ‘Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; and the dark might of slavery dosed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!’
- ‘Is there any God? – Why am I a slave?’
- ‘Of all the slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst.’
- ‘I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes,- a justifier of the most appalling barbarity,- a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds,- and a dark shelter, under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection.’
- ‘Does a slave look satisfied? It is said, he has the devil in him, and it must be whipped out.’
- ‘It was necessary to keep our religious masters at St. Michael’s unacquainted with the fact, that, instead of spending the Sabbath in wrestling, boxing, and drinking whiskey, we were trying to learn how to read the will of God; for they had much rather see us engaged in those degrading sports, than to see us behaving like intellectual, moral, and accountable beings.’
- ‘There stood slavery, a stern reality, glaring frightfully upon us,- its robes already crimsoned with the blood of millions, and even now feasting itself greedily upon our own flesh.’
- ‘I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.’
- ‘                                ‘Love not the world,’ the preacher said,
                                    And winked his eye, and shook his head;
                                    He seized on Tom, and Dick, and Ned,
                                    Cut short their meat, and clothes, and bread,
                                    Yet still loved heavenly union.
                                    Another preacher whining spoke
                                    Of One whose heart for sinners broke;
                                    He tied old Nanny to an oak,
                                    And drew the blood at every stroke,
                                    And prayed for heavenly union.’
                                                                                                Unknown, A PARODY
- ‘Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book may do something toward throwing light on the American slave system, and hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in bonds – faithfully relying upon the power of truth, love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts – and solemnly pledging myself anew to the sacred cause,- I subscribe myself,
                                                FREDERICK DOUGLASS
LYNNMass. , April 28, 1845

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