6 Valuable Lessons From Frederick Douglass’s Life

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Frederick Douglass was an African American abolitionist, a writer, and an orator. His autobiography ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave’ is world famous. That book predominantly focuses on Douglass’s American slavery life and the tragedies he faced. But, overall, his narrative in that book captures the predicament of a man who never lost sight of his goals in life. Simply read his autobiography and learn powerful lessons from Frederick Douglass’s life.

Frederick Douglass lived between 1818 and 1895. Even though he lived in an era of American history that is difficult to comprehend, his story contains valuable life lessons suitable for students in this modern world. Here, in this blog, we have shared some essential life lessons from his narrative. Learn all those important lessons from Frederick Douglass’s life and transform yourself into a better person.

Valuable Lessons from Frederick Douglass’s Life

Lessons from Frederick Douglass’s Life

The following are some major life lessons you can learn from Frederick Douglass’s narrative in his autobiography.

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 1. If you find anything ethically wrong, commit to changing it and never give up

“I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed” (24).

This is one of the most profound lessons in Douglass’s story. Throughout the book, Frederick openly expresses his hatred for slavery, and despite several attempts to give up, he never does.

But later, Frederick Douglass progresses from a slave to a renowned abolitionist. If he can battle and triumph against a force that has long overwhelmed him, then you can also endeavor to support such worthy causes.

Frederick Douglas’s curiosity and love of learning also come into this category. This is because despite being imprisoned by his masters and barred from accessing the books and other study resources in their home, he continued to seek out new learning opportunities.

2. It is not hard to move from your past, no matter how horrible it seems

Nothing is tough to overcome. The past has already passed. Frederick Douglass developed the strength to struggle against and come out of the institution that had enslaved and harmed him for much of his life.

Moreover, Douglass’s book makes it clear that the horrors of his past still haunt him. However, he seems to use it as motivation to share his tale and educate others about what happened. In the same way, you can also overcome and strive against any past experiences that prevent you from moving forward.

3. Go and try something else, if you are unsatisfied and unhappy

This is another lesson to learn from Frederick Douglass’s life. In the following quotation, Frederick Douglass expresses his lack of reservation when asked if he wanted to leave his first home.

“The ties that ordinarily bind children to their homes were all suspended in my case. I found no severe trial in my departure. My home was charmless; it was not home to me; on parting from it, I could not feel that I was leaving anything which I could have enjoyed by staying” (17).

Even though Douglass was forced to stay rather than go, the way he expressed his emotions suggests that he was eager to try anything new in the hopes that it could help him move a little closer to happiness. So, better take action to improve the awful condition, instead of moping around in dissatisfaction.

4. Learn From Experiences

In his narrative, Douglass regrets the difficulty of studying without a teacher. However, he realizes that experience and observation are also teachers. Furthermore, he discovers that information can be gained from unexpected situations and sources, even from a master who is keen enough to keep him uneducated and enslaved.

Experiences can be an insightful teacher, but only if we pay attention and engage with them as active observers rather than as passive learners of life. Douglass learns from experience to impart information to others because he maintains his self-awareness and instinct for self-knowledge despite losing his freedom, time, body, and life.

Likewise, you too observe everything around you. The experiences you gain and the behavior of the people you see may teach you new life lessons.

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5. Knowledge is Liberation

Knowledge gives freedom to a man. This is the major reason why slaves were not allowed to receive an education. The masters and oppressors had a strong belief that if the slaves obtained more knowledge, and then it would become easier for them to retaliate, which proved to be correct. Throughout his autobiography, Frederick Douglass expresses his desire to learn, and it is clear that once he begins to learn how to read and write, he never wishes to stop.

Moreover, in his narrative, Douglass describes the exact moment he heard the term “abolition.” Without the ability to read and write, he would never have understood the meaning of the word or known how crucial it would be to his destiny. But knowledge made him more painfully conscious of his lack of freedom at first. Also, his education helped him acquire his freedom and achieve a lot more in his life.

Education will keep you at a higher place. So, never stop learning. Study well to shine in your life.

6. Be Self-determined and Courageous

This is yet another important lesson from Frederick Douglass’s life. Through his narrative, Douglass teaches about courage and self-determination.

You cannot simply obtain freedom; you must strive for it. Generally, to put an end to slavery, people should have the guts to lose their lives. Moreover, to gain the respect of slave owners, people should be prepared for the worst.

When oppressed, it needs courage and confidence to oppose the slave masters. According to Douglass, his willingness to fight his owner rescued him from many whippings. Also, he felt that he would die rather than live as a slave in the hands of his masters.

Despite the pain he endured under various slave masters, he never gave up hope. He was determined to flee, even if it meant losing his life. This determination helped him to overcome the never-ending slavery.

His life shows that any difficult situation can be handled with strong determination and courage. So, try to face your life with more courage.


So far, in this blog, we have seen some valuable lessons from Frederick Douglass’s life. Here, we shared only a few life lessons. Still, there are many lessons you can learn from his speech and other works. In case, you wish to learn more about the slavery life of Frederick Douglass and gain powerful insights, read his autobiography ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave’.

Jacob Smith Education Reading Time: 6 minutes

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