RBG Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave on MP3 and more

RBG Street Scholar’s Review

Frederick Douglass actually wrote three autobiographies at different stages of his life, classics of the rich, extensive, and still not fully minded body of writings known as “slave narratives.” This is the first of those and was written when his memories of the realities of his life were sharpest and most vivid. I was blessed with the opportunity to read this book about three months back–WOW.The most prolific writer, engaging storyteller/ poetry and heart wrenching book I have ever read. A vivid, concrete and picturesque narrative most applicable to the education of Afrikan people in America today, as there is no separation between the past, the present and the future.


Intro to the Book:
First published in 1845, the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass became Frederick Douglass’s most well known work. It is as the name implies his autobiography.

Frederick Douglass was born a slave and underwent horrendous treatment at the hands of his owners. He later escaped to the north and became an outspoken abolitionist. Not only did he have a great life story to tell, his skill in telling it has long been admired. Douglass traveled throughout Europe lecturing about slavery.

After publication, the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass quickly became a best seller and within three years there were over 11,000 copies published in the United States, had been reprinted nine times and had been translated into two languages (Dutch and French). The book was so well written that some argued that an ex-slave could not be as articulate as Frederick Douglass demonstrated himself to be. Of course, Douglass did write the book and it stands today as a monument to the human spirit and what may be achieved with hard work no matter where in society somebody may begin.

Frederick Douglass had to leave the United States and flee to Ireland for a period after the books publication and its immediate success for some believed that Douglas’ ex-owner Hugh Auld might try to get his “property” returned. After two years he was able to return to the United States after his freedom was purchased for $710 from Auld.

If you are interested in learning about the life of a great man who rose above his birth as a slave and became one of the greatest literary figures in American history, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is the book to read.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

No Struggle No Progress

by Frederick Douglass, 1857


Frederick Douglass, the Accurate “Without Struggle/No Freedom” Quote

The intro audio above is probably the most famous quote by abolitionist orator Frederick Douglass:

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Frederick Douglass, 1857 There are many versions of this Frederick Douglass quote circulating on the web, with conflicts over the accurate text and date.Here is the latest {print} scholarship which has the full quote in context as follows:
“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 lightening. 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, and 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 measure 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. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay 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.”

Frederick Douglass, 1857 Source: Douglass, Frederick. [1857] (1985). “The Significance of Emancipation in the West Indies.” Speech, Canandaigua, New York, August 3, 1857; collected in pamphlet by author. In The Frederick Douglass Papers. Series One: Speeches, Debates, and Interviews. Volume 3: 1855-63. Edited by John W. Blassingame. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 204.

There apparently was an earlier version of this quote in an 1849 letter by Douglass:

“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 demand. It never did and it never will.” Source: Douglass, Frederick. [1849] (1991) Letter to an abolitionist associate. In Organizing For Social Change: A Mandate For Activity In The 1990s. Edited by K. Bobo, J. Kendall, and S. Max. Washington, D.C.: Seven Locks Press.

Many versions use the word “deprecate” but in the pamphlet edited by Douglass, the last version of this text to appear under his stewardship, he uses the word “depreciate.”

Note that Douglass himself later misdated this speech as being on August 4, 1857, using that date for his pamphlet reprint. That incorrect date is cited in Foner, Life and Writings, 2: 426-39.

The full title of the pamphlet produced by Douglass is: “Two Speeches, By Frederick Douglass: One on West India Emancipation, Delivered at Canandaigua, Aug. 4th, and the Other on the Dred Scott Decision, Delivered in New York, on the Occasion of the Anniversary of the American Abolition Society, May, 1857.” It was published in Rochester, New York in 1857.

In another section of the speech, Douglass complained that in America the great question always seems to be “will it pay?” Quoting from Revelation 14:6, Douglass admonishes:

“…if such a people as ours had heard the beloved disciple of the Lord, exclaiming in the rapture of the apocalyptic vision, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;” they, instead of answering, Amen Glory to God in the Highest, would have responded,–but brother John, will it pay? Can money be made out of it? Will it make the rich richer, and the strong stronger? How will it effect property? In the eyes of such people, there is no God but wealth; no right and wrong but profit and loss….[Our] national morality and religion have reached a depth of baseness than which there is no lower deep.”

Frederick Douglass, 1857 Source: The Frederick Douglass Papers, p. 197.


RBG Worldwide 1 Nation Discussion:

“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”

(KAMAU NJIA)rob ray

“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers o…Started by (KAMAU NJIA)rob ray


Check Our RBGz Wikizine for more good stuff like this:

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