Abolition Quotes: Frederick Douglass and John Brown


Frederick Douglas Quotes

“He would at times seem to take great pleasure in whipping a slave. I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped. . .”

Frederick Douglass - Document 1

"I appear this evening as a thief and a robber. I stole this head, these limbs, this body from my master, and ran off with them.”

Frederick Douglass - Document 1

“I see, too, that there are special reasons why I should write my own biography, in preference to employing another to do it. Not only is slavery on trial, but unfortunately, the enslaved people are also on trial. It is alleged, that they are, naturally, inferior; that they are so low in the scale of humanity, and so utterly stupid, that they are unconscious of their wrongs, and do not apprehend (understand) their rights.”

Preface to My Bondage, My Freedom, 1855

“ . . . Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? . . . The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. . . . This sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes (strokes from a whip) and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. . . . Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of . . . the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate (continue) slavery – the great sin and shame of America.”

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?, 1852

“… the man who has SUFFERED THE WRONG is the man to DEMAND REDRESS, (setting right what is wrong)—that the man STRUCK is the man to CRY OUT—and that he who had ENDURED THE CRUEL PANGS (sharp pain or emotional distress) OF SLAVERY is the man to ADVOCATE LIBERTY. It is evident that we must be our own representatives and advocates, not exclusively, but peculiarly,—not distant from, but in connection with, our white friends.”

Our Paper and Its Prospects,”
The North Star, Dec. 3, 1847

John Brown Quotes

"I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged [to do away with] away but with blood."

John Brown's last letter, the day he was hanged.
December 2, 1859

"Whereas, Slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States is none other than a most barbarous, unprovoked, and unjustifiable War of one portion of its citizens upon another portion; the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment, and hopeless servitude or absolute extermination; in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence:"

John Brown, 1858

"I want you to understand that I respect the rights of the poorest and weakest of colored people, oppressed [to deny others their rights or liberty] by the slave system, just as much as I do those of the most wealthy and powerful. That is the idea that has moved me, and that alone."

Virginia Court Hearing, 1858