Frederick DouglassFrederick Douglass, [Frederick Baily] (1818-1895), escaped slave, Abolitionist, author, editor of the North Star and later the New National Era

Frederick Douglass Quote

“To educate a man is to unfit him to be a slave.”

Frederick DouglassFrederick Douglass
~ Frederick Douglass


Ratings and Comments


Mike, Norwalk

"WHAT' the man is taught, is the qualifier to the above statement. To teach the failings of socialism/fascism, and implement those failings in new packages, over and over again, expecting a different result, is a slave's education.

E Archer, NYC

Of course, the statement can be perverted to represent today's situation -- 'to indoctrinate a man is to make him fit to be a slave.'

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

There are millions of educated slaves.

Mike, Norwalk

E Archer was correct in making the fine line (that a truck could drive through) distinction between indoctrination and education. There are millions of indoctrinated slaves with fewer than that educated free men.

Billy Couldron, Loutiwissee

I belive that is a strong uplifting statement. If teenagers would make up their minds and make the right decisions, then we would all experience change.

Alex T., Knoxville, TN.

Education allows you to see. Then its up to you whether you wanna remain a slave or not. Will you apply the Knowledge or will you continue to close your eyes?

Anonymous, magflosa

when you are not educated then you do not know any different. As a slave you have no reason for education and you might be one of the few like frederick that begins to understand that what is being done to him is wrong.. but not every one does that

phillip r., rayville,La

when you are not educated then you do not know any different. As a slave you have no reason for education and you might be one of the few like frederick that begins to understand that what is being done to him is wrong.. but not every one does that I belive that is a strong uplifting statement. If teenagers would make up their minds and make the right decisions, then we would all experience change. Education allows you to see. Then its up to you whether you wanna remain a slave or not. Will you apply the Knowledge or will you continue to close your eyes?

JoW, Utah
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  • Reply
JoW, Utah    4/15/08

Teenager here, "Mises Law 08. No person does anything unless they thought it would increase their satisfaction." Every person acts to gain satisfaction, whether there act be self serving or for the greater good. With teenagers, with the entire U.S. even. Many see that self gain will give them the greatest satisfaction. As for an education preparing someone to be a slave, that CAN be true but the end choice is the students. Outside circumstances can only do so much to influence someones direction in life. No matter how good the education the choice to use it remains with the student, if they choose not to use it. They become a slave to those who use it against them in this dangerous world.

T, MD
  • Reply
T, MD    1/26/11

education education education

calvin robinson, savege

i love frederick douglass he is the greatest man ever

Jon, New York

A smart slave can do more things..

wayne, naples

The ablilty to read and write can open ones mind to great possiblities.

J Carlton, Calgary

Depends on what he is being educated "for".

Johann Hollar, St Paul, Minnesota

All the more reason to promote affordable education.

Waffler, Smith

Thinking and then choosing is what freedom is all about. In some southern cities it was illegal (I mean really it was on the books) for a salve to think.The more education there is the more thinking and choosing people can do.

Koen de Groot, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Douglass' dictum is plausible, but nothing more than that. I submit that it becomes more plausible if it is elaborated as follows. "To educate a child (not "a man"!) is to teach him obedience. This is because freedom is responsibility, because responsibility implies obedience to one's self and because the capacity to obey is not inborn. Since only their parents have rightful authority over their offspring, it is the parents who must shoulder this task. By forcing (yes, forcing) their children to be obedient to *their*, external, authority, the parents prepare them for obedience to their *own*, internal, authority, and thus for individual freedom. If parents shy away from this task, as they have been indoctrinated to do for the past half century, their children will likely remain as dependent as they were at birth. They will remain slaves, first to their needs and their passions, later to their peers and to fashion, and whatever else prevails. And the public (!) schools will take it from there. They will mould them to become citizens of the New World Order, who are actually unquestioning, uncritical and unfree, but have been taught to believe themselves the opposite." In other words, if we want freedom rather than slavery, we should reclaim our educational responsibility as parents AND abolish the public schools. Knowing something about Frederick Douglass, however, I doubt very much if this is what he meant.

Ronw13, Oregon

Now children require Education, Not indoctrination of secular humanist perennialism. Which is contrary to our Founding principles and doctrines of Liberty and Freedom at natural law.
There is a rise of " one nation conservative " favoring " Paternalism " through government intervention for the sake of what is Presumed to be good for the person or group. This of course at the point of a gun. Break the chains that bind, through education freedom is realized. Another fan of Epictetus who was also a born slave in AD 50. "If thou will be free, choose it rather". Apostle Paul, a Freeborn Roman.

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