- Every tone [of the songs of the slaves] was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) ch. 2
- You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) ch. 10
- Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.
letter to Gerrit Smith, 30 March 1849
- No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
speech at Civil Rights Mass Meeting, Washington, DC, 22 October 1883
- The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
speech on the 23rd anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington DC, April 1885