Frederick Douglass cytaty

Frederick Douglass Fotografia
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Frederick Douglass

Data urodzenia: 1818
Data zgonu: 20. Luty 1895
Natępne imiona:பிரெடரிக் டக்ளஸ்,فردریک داقلاس,ფრედერიკ დუგლასი,Φρέντερικ Ντάγκλας

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Frederick Douglass, urodzony jako Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey – amerykański niewolnik, działacz społeczny, edytor, mówca, pisarz, mąż stanu. Po ucieczce z niewoli został przywódcą ruchu abolicjonistów.

Urodził się jako niewolnik. Nazywał się wówczas Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. W wieku lat ośmiu został odsprzedany do Baltimore, gdzie żona jego nowego pana pomogła mu w nauce czytania i pisania. Potem pracował w miejscowej stoczni przy smołowaniu kadłubów drewnianych statków.

W 1838 zbiegł do New Bedford w stanie Massachusetts. By uniknąć schwytania zmienił nazwisko na Douglass i odrzucił drugie i trzecie imię. Chciał ponownie podjąć pracę jako smolarz, ale inni, biali robotnicy, nie chcieli z nim pracować. Podejmował się więc najprostszych prac . W 1841 roku, podczas zebrania abolicjonistów z Massachusetts Antislavery Society, wygłosił mowę na temat znaczenia wolności osobistej. Zebrani byli tak poruszeni jego przemową, że najęli go jako mówcę na wiecach przeciwników niewolnictwa. Od tego czasu Douglass stał się aktywnym przeciwnikiem segregacji rasowej. Występował przeciwko oddzielnym wagonom kolejowym dla białych i czarnych ostentacyjnie zajmując miejsce w tych pierwszych. Wielokrotnie usuwano go stamtąd siłą.

Występował też przeciwko dyskryminacji religijnej i odrębnym mszom w kościołach. Jego akcja przeciwko segregacji rasowej przyniosła sukces.

W 1845 opublikował swe wspomnienia zatytułowane "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass". Obawiając się, że książka może doprowadzić do schwytania go jako zbiegłego niewolnika, wyjechał do Anglii. Tam nadal głosił potrzebę zniesienia niewolnictwa i pozyskał przyjaciół, którzy zebrali pieniądze na wykupienie go z niewoli.

Wrócił do USA w 1847 i założył antyniewolnicze pismo "North Star" w Rochester, NY. W latach pięćdziesiątych XIX wieku oskarżał białych pracodawców o przyjmowanie do pracy białych imigrantów w miejsce Murzynów.

Jego dom był miejscem postoju na trasie tzw. "kolei podziemnej", czyli szlaków, jakimi poruszali się zbiegli niewolnicy. Podczas wojny secesyjnej pomagał w rekrutacji Afroamerykanów do armii Unii. Kilkakrotnie dyskutował problem niewolnictwa z prezydentem Abrahamem Lincolnem. W latach 1861–1866 był wysokim urzędnikiem administracji państwowej w Waszyngtonie, a w latach 1889–1891 wysłannikiem na Haiti. Oprócz ww. wspomnień wydał książkę My Bondage and My Freedom .

Cytaty Frederick Douglass

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„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

„That we are here in peace today is a compliment and a credit to American civilization, and a prophecy of still greater national enlightenment and progress in the future. I refer to the past not in malice, for this is no day for malice, but simply to place more distinctly in front the gratifying and glorious change which has come both to our white fellow citizens and ourselves, and to congratulate all upon the contrast between now and then, the new dispensation of freedom with its thousand blessings to both races, and the old dispensation of slavery with its ten thousand evils to both races, white and black. In view, then, of the past, the present, and the future, with the long and dark history of our bondage behind us, and with liberty, progress, and enlightenment before us, I again congratulate you upon this auspicious day and hour“

— Frederick Douglass
Context: Few facts could better illustrate the vast and wonderful change which has taken place in our condition as a people than the fact of our assembling here for the purpose we have today. Harmless, beautiful, proper, and praiseworthy as this demonstration is, I cannot forget that no such demonstration would have been tolerated here twenty years ago. The spirit of slavery and barbarism, which still lingers to blight and destroy in some dark and distant parts of our country, would have made our assembling here the signal and excuse for opening upon us all the flood-gates of wrath and violence. That we are here in peace today is a compliment and a credit to American civilization, and a prophecy of still greater national enlightenment and progress in the future. I refer to the past not in malice, for this is no day for malice, but simply to place more distinctly in front the gratifying and glorious change which has come both to our white fellow citizens and ourselves, and to congratulate all upon the contrast between now and then, the new dispensation of freedom with its thousand blessings to both races, and the old dispensation of slavery with its ten thousand evils to both races, white and black. In view, then, of the past, the present, and the future, with the long and dark history of our bondage behind us, and with liberty, progress, and enlightenment before us, I again congratulate you upon this auspicious day and hour.

„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.“

— 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.

„He was never loud and noisy, but calm and serene as a summer sky, and as pure.“

— 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.

„The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism. Excepting John Brown — of sacred memory — I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have.“

— Frederick Douglass
Context: Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day — you in the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt " God bless you " has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism. Excepting John Brown — of sacred memory — I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have. Much that you have done would seem improbable to those who do not know you as I know you. It is to me a great pleasure and a great privilege to bear testimony to your character and your works, and to say to those to whom you may come, that I regard you in every way truthful and trustworthy. Letter to Harriet Tubman (29 August 1868), as quoted in Harriet, the Moses of Her People (1886) by Sarah Hopkins Bradford, p. 135

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„We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country. … We are here, and here we are likely to be.“

— Frederick Douglass
Context: We deem it a settled point that the destiny of the colored man is bound up with that of the white people of this country. … We are here, and here we are likely to be. To imagine that we shall ever be eradicated is absurd and ridiculous. We can be remodified, changed, assimilated, but never extinguished. We repeat, therefore, that we are here; and that this is our country; and the question for the philosophers and statesmen of the land ought to be, What principles should dictate the policy of the action toward us? We shall neither die out, nor be driven out; but shall go with this people, either as a testimony against them, or as an evidence in their favor throughout their generations. Essay in North Star (November 1858); as quoted in Faces at the Bottom of the Well : The Permanence of Racism (1992) by Derrick Bell, p. 40

„I hardly need say that, in speaking of Ireland, I shall be influenced by prejudices in favor of America. I think my circumstances all forbid that. I have no end to serve, no creed to uphold, no government to defend“

— Frederick Douglass
Context: I am now about to take leave of the Emerald Isle, for Glasgow, Scotland. I have been here a little more than four months. Up to this time, I have given no direct expression of the views, feelings and opinions which I have formed, respecting the character and condition of the people in this land. I have refrained thus purposely. I wish to speak advisedly, and in order to do this, I have waited till I trust experience has brought my opinions to an intelligent maturity. I have been thus careful, not because I think what I may say will have much effect in shaping the opinions of the world, but because whatever of influence I may possess, whether little or much, I wish it to go in the right direction, and according to truth. I hardly need say that, in speaking of Ireland, I shall be influenced by prejudices in favor of America. I think my circumstances all forbid that. I have no end to serve, no creed to uphold, no government to defend; and as to nation, I belong to none. I have no protection at home, or resting-place abroad. The land of my birth welcomes me to her shores only as a slave, and spurns with contempt the idea of treating me differently. So that I am an outcast from the society of my childhood, and an outlaw in the land of my birth.

„I am not a propagandist, but a prophet. I do not say that what I say should come to pass, but what I think is likely to come to pass, and what is inevitable. While I would not be understood as advocating the desirability of such a result, I would not be understood as deprecating it“

— Frederick Douglass
Context: Of course this result will not be reached by any hurried or forced processes. It will not arise out of any theory of the wisdom of such blending of the two races. If it comes at all, it will come without shock or noise or violence of any kind, and only in the fullness of time, and it will be so adjusted to surrounding conditions as hardly to be observed. I would not be understood as advocating intermarriage between the two races. I am not a propagandist, but a prophet. I do not say that what I say should come to pass, but what I think is likely to come to pass, and what is inevitable. While I would not be understood as advocating the desirability of such a result, I would not be understood as deprecating it.

„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

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„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.

„Though they come as the waves come, we shall be all the stronger if we receive them as friends and give them a reason for loving our country and our institutions“

— Frederick Douglass
Context: The apprehension that we shall be swamped or swallowed up by Mongolian civilization; that the Caucasian race may not be able to hold their own against that vast incoming population, does not seem entitled to much respect. Though they come as the waves come, we shall be all the stronger if we receive them as friends and give them a reason for loving our country and our institutions. They will find here a deeply rooted, indigenous, growing civilization, augmented by an ever-increasing stream of immigration from Europe, and possession is nine points of the law in this case, as well as in others. They will come as strangers. We are at home. They will come to us, not we to them. They will come in their weakness, we shall meet them in our strength. They will come as individuals, we will meet them in multitudes, and with all the advantages of organization. Chinese children are in American schools in San Francisco. None of our children are in Chinese schools, and probably never will be, though in some things they might well teach us valuable lessons. Contact with these yellow children of the Celestial Empire would convince us that the points of human difference, great as they, upon first sight, seem, are as nothing compared with the points of human agreement. Such contact would remove mountains of prejudice.

„For this feeling there are many apologies, for there was never yet an error, however flagrant and hurtful, for which some plausible defense could not be framed. Chattel slavery, king craft, priest craft, pious frauds, intolerance, persecution, suicide, assassination, repudiation, and a thousand other errors and crimes have all had their defenses and apologies. Prejudice of race and color has been equally upheld. The two best arguments in the defense are, first, the worthlessness of the class against which it is directed; and, second, that the feeling itself is entirely natural. The way to overcome the first argument is to work for the elevation of those deemed worthless, and thus make them worthy of regard, and they will soon become worthy and not worthless. As to the natural argument, it may be said that nature has many sides. Many things are in a certain sense natural, which are neither wise nor best. It is natural to walk, but shall men therefore refuse to ride? It is natural to ride on horseback, shall men therefore refuse steam and rail?“

— Frederick Douglass
Context: I need not repeat here the multitude of reproachful epithets expressive of the same sentiment among ourselves. All who are not to the manor born have been made to feel the lash and sting of these reproachful names. For this feeling there are many apologies, for there was never yet an error, however flagrant and hurtful, for which some plausible defense could not be framed. Chattel slavery, king craft, priest craft, pious frauds, intolerance, persecution, suicide, assassination, repudiation, and a thousand other errors and crimes have all had their defenses and apologies. Prejudice of race and color has been equally upheld. The two best arguments in the defense are, first, the worthlessness of the class against which it is directed; and, second, that the feeling itself is entirely natural. The way to overcome the first argument is to work for the elevation of those deemed worthless, and thus make them worthy of regard, and they will soon become worthy and not worthless. As to the natural argument, it may be said that nature has many sides. Many things are in a certain sense natural, which are neither wise nor best. It is natural to walk, but shall men therefore refuse to ride? It is natural to ride on horseback, shall men therefore refuse steam and rail? Civilization is itself a constant war upon some forces in nature, shall we therefore abandon civilization and go back to savage life? Nature has two voices, the one high, the other low; one is in sweet accord with reason and justice, and the other apparently at war with both. The more men know of the essential nature of things, and of the true relation of mankind, the freer they are from prejudice of every kind. The child is afraid of the giant form of his own shadow. This is natural, but he will part with his fears when he is older and wiser. So ignorance is full of prejudice, but it will disappear with enlightenment. But I pass on.

„I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd's plantation as one of the most interesting events of my life.“

— 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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