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Common Sense & Civility

4 Freder⁠i⁠ck Douglass quo⁠t⁠es ⁠t⁠ha⁠t⁠ show he was a grea⁠t⁠ Amer⁠i⁠can

By: Gabriel Nadales / February 14, 2023

Gabriel Nadales

National Director – Western Region

Common Sense & Civility

February 14, 2023

Born into slavery in Maryland in 1818, the exact date and location of Frederick Douglass’ birth remain unknown, a testament to the harshness of his early life. Despite these challenges, Douglass left a lasting impact on American history.

At the age of 12, Douglass recognized the connection between literacy and freedom and took matters into his own hands. He taught himself to read and write, and went on to educate others in the pursuit of freedom.

At 20 years old, Douglass escaped slavery with the help of Anna Murray, a free Black woman whom he later married. From then on, he dedicated his life to advocating for the freedom of all slaves. He met with President Abraham Lincoln and worked to secure support for the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing Black men the right to vote after the Civil War.

Frederick Douglass passed away at the age of 77 in Washington D.C. as he was preparing a speech to support Black Americans. Over the course of 65 years, Douglass dedicated himself to fighting for equality, and his legacy continues to inspire us today. To honor his memory, here are four quotes that show the great American that Frederick Douglass was.

  1. “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”

Frederick Douglass understood the importance of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. The First Amendment provides Americans with the ability to challenge authority without fear of persecution by an oppressive government, making it the cornerstone of all other rights.

  1. “Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitude.”

Americans are pioneers of freedom. We are trailblazers. No country on Earth advocated for freedom like the Founding Fathers did when they created the United States. In fact, the modern concept of “citizens” did not even exist before Americans took their independence. Before that, people were often thought of as “subjects” to a royal crown. Indeed, to fight for freedom is an American tradition.

  1. “The destiny of the colored American … is the destiny of America.”

Before the Civil War, many Americans believed that the solution to slavery was to send Black Americans “Back to Africa.” Many Black Americans did go across the Atlantic Ocean – some of them founded the country of Liberia. Frederick Douglass understood that regardless of their original bondage in the Americas, Black Americans had the same right as any person to be free in America.

  1. “There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are eternal, universal and indestructible.”

America is an idea. It is the idea that we are all created equal. During Douglass’s time, the government and society failed to live up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence, but those ideas are the foundation of what it means to be American. Douglass, without missing a beat, believed in the true America – not for what it was at the time, but for what it could become.

Frederick Douglass was a visionary and tireless advocate for freedom. He believed in the importance of literacy, the foundation of American democracy that is freedom of speech,  and the universal nature of human rights. His unwavering dedication to these principles has left a lasting impact and will continue to inspire and uplift generations of Americans to come.