The Autobiographical Douglass
It is too late now to do much to improve my relation to the public. I shall never get beyond Frederick Douglass the self-educated fugitive slave.
-- Douglass to James Redpath, 29 July 1871
When a man raises himself from the lowest condition in society to the highest, mankind pays him the tribute of their admiration; when he accomplishes this elevation by native energy, guided by prudence and wisdom, their admiration is increased; but when his course, onward and upward, excellent in itself, furthermore proves a possible, what had hitherto been regarded as an impossible, reform, then he becomes a burning and a shining light, on which the aged may look with gladness, the young with hope, and the down-trodden, as a representative of what they may themselves become.
-- James McCune Smith, Introduction to Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom