Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave • My Bondage and My Freedom • Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
“Frederick Douglass was a man above all of language; he heard the music of words in his head, and fashioned them into prose that was both poetic and political. He captured the dilemma and experience of slavery and racism, the nation’s besetting sin, and the resulting crises of the Union, like few other commentators. Douglass possessed that prophet’s rare ability to say in words what people feel, aspire to, or fear.”—David W. Blight
My Bondage and My FreedomFrederick Douglass
What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.