The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
Frederick Douglass’ oratory skills were a powerful force, and his words carried weight whenever spoken. He escaped slavery and rose to prominence as an abolitionist and social reformer in the 19th century. Recognizing the crucial link between literacy and freedom, he taught himself to read and write, and used his words to advance the cause of liberty. This quote — from a speech Douglass gave to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the D.C. Emancipation Act, which freed enslaved people in America’s capital — references how the country was nearly torn apart during the Civil War amid the scourge of slavery, before that destructive force was abolished with the 13th Amendment in 1865. Douglass preached the wisdom in rejecting division, in order to ensure a healthier nation built upon “one country, one citizenship, and one liberty for all the people.”