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Frederick Douglass

Date de naissance: 1818
Date de décès: 20. février 1895
Autres noms:பிரெடரிக் டக்ளஸ், فردریک داقلاس, ფრედერიკ დუგლასი, Φρέντερικ Ντάγκλας

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Frederick Douglass, né Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey en 1817 ou 1818, et mort le 20 février 1895 à Washington DC, est un orateur, abolitionniste, éditeur et fonctionnaire américain. Né esclave, il réussit à s'instruire et s'enfuir. Communicateur éloquent, il devient agent de la Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society , et écrit son autobiographie : La Vie de Frederick Douglass, un esclave américain, écrite par lui-même. La célébrité met sa liberté illégale dans les États non-esclavagistes du Nord en danger, et il se réfugie en Europe, où ses nouveaux amis obtiennent sa manumission, et éventuellement du financement pour qu'il fonde le journal The North Star à son retour.

Il se distancie de ses premiers collaborateurs de la Société Anti-Esclavage Américaine, et de son mentor William Lloyd Garrison, après l'évolution positive de son opinion sur la valeur de la Constitution des États-Unis, pour se rallier aux abolitionnistes plus conservateurs, dont l'action était axée sur la politique plutôt qu'essentiellement sur une réforme morale de l'opinion publique. Son association avec Gerrit Smith, un important contributeur du « Parti de la Liberté » fondé par James Birney, est concrétisée par la fusion de leur journal respectif.

Douglass a été le septième homme dans ce que les historiens ont appelé le groupe secret des six, en transmettant de l'argent et en recrutant des acolytes au Capitaine John Brown, pour un complot avec l'objectif vraiment illusoire d'un mouvement insurrectionnel généralisé contre l'esclavage. Après le déclenchement de la Guerre civile américaine, Douglass a été parmi les premiers à suggérer au gouvernement fédéral d'employer des troupes formées d'hommes de race noire. Conférencier populaire à partir de 1866, Douglass a occupé entre 1871 et 1895 diverses fonctions de nature administrative dans le gouvernement.

Frederick Douglass croyait fermement à l'égalité de tous, incluant les descendants d'africains, les femmes, les autochtones, les immigrants, et évidemment tous les autres américains d'ascendance européenne. Certains commentateurs et historiens ont dit de Douglass qu'il est tombé dans l'autopromotion, mais s'il a pu faire la promotion d'un agenda séparé pour les Afro-Américains, par exemple dans les écoles ou à cause d'un journal éphémère à Washington en 1869, ses qualités personnelles sont indéniables pour tous : courage, persévérance, intelligence, et résilience.

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Citations Frederick Douglass

„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.“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd's plantation as one of the most interesting events of my life. It is possible, and even quite probable, that but for the mere circumstance of being removed from that plantation to Baltimore, I should have to-day, instead of being here seated by my own table, in the enjoyment of freedom and the happiness of home, writing this Narrative, been confined in the galling chains of slavery. Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity. I have ever regarded it as the first plain manifestation of that kind providence which has ever since attended me, and marked my life with so many favors. I regarded the selection of myself as being somewhat remarkable. There were a number of slave children that might have been sent from the plantation to Baltimore. There were those younger, those older, and those of the same age. I was chosen from among them all, and was the first, last, and only choice. I may be deemed superstitions, 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. Ch. 5

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„Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were Sabbaths, and to be kept holy.“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: I had been living four or five months in New Bedford when there came a young man to me with a copy of the Liberator, the paper edited by William Lloyd Garrison and published by Isaac Knapp, and asked me to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped from slavery, and was of course very poor, and had no money then to pay for it. He was very willing to take me as a subscriber, notwithstanding, and from this time I was brought into contact with the mind of Mr. Garrison, and his paper took a place in my heart second only to the Bible. It detested slavery, and made no truce with the traffickers in the bodies and souls of men. It preached human brotherhood; it exposed hypocrisy and wickedness in high places; it denounced oppression; and with all the solemnity of "Thus saith the Lord," demanded the complete emancipation of my race. I loved this paper and its editor. He seemed to me an all-sufficient match to every opponent, whether they spoke in the name of the law or the gospel. His words were full of holy fire, and straight to the point. Something of a hero-worshiper by nature, here was one to excite my admiration and reverence. It was my privilege to listen to a lecture in Liberty Hall by Mr. Garrison, its editor. He was then a young man, of a singularly pleasing countenance, and earnest and impressive manner. On this occasion he announced nearly all his heresies. His Bible was his textbook — held sacred as the very word of the Eternal Father. He believed in sinless perfection, complete submission to insults and injuries, and literal obedience to the injunction if smitten "on one cheek to turn the other also." Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were Sabbaths, and to be kept holy. All sectarianism was false and mischievous — the regenerated throughout the world being members of one body, and the head Christ Jesus. Prejudice against color was rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the sky, the slaves, because most neglected and despised, were nearest and dearest to his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the Bible were of their "father the devil"; and those churches which fellowshiped slaveholders as Christians, were synagogues of Satan, and our nation was a nation of liars. He was never loud and noisy, but calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure. "You are the man — the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his modern Israel from bondage," was the spontaneous feeling of my heart, as I sat away back in the hall and listened to his mighty words, — mighty in truth, — mighty in their simple earnestness. pp. 263–264.

„I was brought into contact with the mind of Mr. Garrison, and his paper took a place in my heart second only to the Bible.“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: I had been living four or five months in New Bedford when there came a young man to me with a copy of the Liberator, the paper edited by William Lloyd Garrison and published by Isaac Knapp, and asked me to subscribe for it. I told him I had but just escaped from slavery, and was of course very poor, and had no money then to pay for it. He was very willing to take me as a subscriber, notwithstanding, and from this time I was brought into contact with the mind of Mr. Garrison, and his paper took a place in my heart second only to the Bible. It detested slavery, and made no truce with the traffickers in the bodies and souls of men. It preached human brotherhood; it exposed hypocrisy and wickedness in high places; it denounced oppression; and with all the solemnity of "Thus saith the Lord," demanded the complete emancipation of my race. I loved this paper and its editor. He seemed to me an all-sufficient match to every opponent, whether they spoke in the name of the law or the gospel. His words were full of holy fire, and straight to the point. Something of a hero-worshiper by nature, here was one to excite my admiration and reverence. It was my privilege to listen to a lecture in Liberty Hall by Mr. Garrison, its editor. He was then a young man, of a singularly pleasing countenance, and earnest and impressive manner. On this occasion he announced nearly all his heresies. His Bible was his textbook — held sacred as the very word of the Eternal Father. He believed in sinless perfection, complete submission to insults and injuries, and literal obedience to the injunction if smitten "on one cheek to turn the other also." Not only was Sunday a Sabbath, but all days were Sabbaths, and to be kept holy. All sectarianism was false and mischievous — the regenerated throughout the world being members of one body, and the head Christ Jesus. Prejudice against color was rebellion against God. Of all men beneath the sky, the slaves, because most neglected and despised, were nearest and dearest to his great heart. Those ministers who defended slavery from the Bible were of their "father the devil"; and those churches which fellowshiped slaveholders as Christians, were synagogues of Satan, and our nation was a nation of liars. He was never loud and noisy, but calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure. "You are the man — the Moses, raised up by God, to deliver his modern Israel from bondage," was the spontaneous feeling of my heart, as I sat away back in the hall and listened to his mighty words, — mighty in truth, — mighty in their simple earnestness. pp. 263–264.

„Jefferson was not ashamed to call the black man his brother and to address him as a gentleman“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: Jefferson was not ashamed to call the black man his brother and to address him as a gentleman.

„An old speech of mine delivered fourteen years ago was read to show — I know not what. Perhaps it was to show that I am not infallible. If so, I have to say in defense, that I never pretended to be“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: The American people in the Northern States have helped to enslave the black people. Their duty will not have been done till they give them back their plundered rights. Reference was made at the City Hall to my having once held other opinions, and very different opinions to those I have now expressed. An old speech of mine delivered fourteen years ago was read to show — I know not what. Perhaps it was to show that I am not infallible. If so, I have to say in defense, that I never pretended to be.

„Let us render the tyrant no aid“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: Let us render the tyrant no aid; let us not hold the light by which he can trace the footprints of our flying brother. Ch. 11

„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.“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: 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 spirit 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.

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„The negro worked and took his pay in religion and the lash“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: Companies and associations may yet be formed to promote this Mongolian invasion. The loss of the negro is to gain them the Chinese, and if the thing works well, abolition, in their opinion, will have proved itself to be another blessing in disguise. To the statesman it will mean Southern independence. To the pulpit, it will be the hand of Providence, and bring about the time of the universal dominion of the Christian religion. To all but the Chinaman and the negro it will mean wealth, ease and luxury. But alas, for all the selfish invention and dreams of men! The Chinaman will not long be willing to wear the cast off shoes of the negro, and, if he refuses, there will be trouble again. The negro worked and took his pay in religion and the lash. The Chinaman is a different article and will want the cash. He may, like the negro, accept Christianity, but, unlike the negro, he will not care to pay for it in labor. He had the Golden Rule in substance five hundred years before the coming of Christ, and has notions of justice that are not to be confused by any.

„My confidence in Gen. Grant was not entirely due to the brilliant military successes achieved by him, but there was a moral as well as military basis for my faith in him. He had shown his single-mindedness and superiority to popular prejudice by his prompt cooperation with President Lincoln in his policy of employing colored troops, and his order commanding his soldiers to treat such troops with due respect. In this way he proved himself to be not only a wise general, but a great man, one who could adjust himself to new conditions, and adopt the lessons taught by the events of the hour“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: My interviews with President Lincoln and his able Secretary, before narrated, greatly increased my confidence in the anti-slavery integrity of the government, although I confess I was greatly disappointed at my failure to receive the commission promised me by Secretary Stanton. I, however, faithfully believed, and loudly proclaimed my belief, that the rebellion would be suppressed, the Union preserved, the slaves emancipated, and the colored soldiers would in the end have justice done them. This confidence was immeasurably strengthened when I saw Gen. George B. McClellan relieved from the command of the army of the Potomac and Gen. U. S. Grant placed at its head, and in command of all the armies of the United States. My confidence in Gen. Grant was not entirely due to the brilliant military successes achieved by him, but there was a moral as well as military basis for my faith in him. He had shown his single-mindedness and superiority to popular prejudice by his prompt cooperation with President Lincoln in his policy of employing colored troops, and his order commanding his soldiers to treat such troops with due respect. In this way he proved himself to be not only a wise general, but a great man, one who could adjust himself to new conditions, and adopt the lessons taught by the events of the hour. This quality in General Grant was and is made all the more conspicuous and striking in contrast with his West Point education and his former political associations; for neither West Point nor the Democratic party have been good schools in which to learn justice and fair play to the negro. pp. 433–434.

„When that day shall come, they will not pervert and sin against the verity of language as they now do by calling a man of mixed blood, a negro; they will tell the truth“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: Races and varieties of the human family appear and disappear, but humanity remains and will remain forever. The American people will one day be truer to this idea than now, and will say with Scotia’s inspired son, "A man's a man for a’ that." When that day shall come, they will not pervert and sin against the verity of language as they now do by calling a man of mixed blood, a negro; they will tell the truth.

„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.“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. 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. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact amount 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. [... ] Men might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

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„In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: Mr. Lincoln was not only a great President, but a great man — too great to be small in anything. In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color. The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892), Part 2, Chapter 12: Hope for the Nation

„Shoot down the Confederacy and uphold the flag; the American flag“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: Shoot down the Confederacy and uphold the flag; the American flag.

„The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing.“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men. As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish. As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. Any thing, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm. Ch. 7

„I utterly deny, that we are originally, or naturally, or practically, or in any way, or in any important sense, inferior to anybody on this globe“

—  Frederick Douglass
Context: I utterly deny, that we are originally, or naturally, or practically, or in any way, or in any important sense, inferior to anybody on this globe. This charge of inferiority is an old dodge. It has been made available for oppression on many occasions. It is only about six centuries since the blue-eyed and fair-haired Anglo Saxons were considered inferior by the haughty Normans, who once trampled upon them. If you read the history of the Norman Conquest, you will find that this proud Anglo-Saxon was once looked upon as of coarser clay than his Norman master, and might be found in the highways and byways of Old England laboring with a brass collar on his neck, and the name of his master marked upon it were down then! You are up now. I am glad you are up, and I want you to be glad to help us up also.

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