50 Slavery Quotes To Break Chains

Slavery is an ugly part of humanity, and we have slavery quotes to prove it.

As a practice, slavery is old.

It is challenging to pinpoint the origins of slavery because its origins predate written word recordings.

Tell us which slavery quote most resonated with you in the comment section below.

What are the benefits of reading these slavery quotes?

Sociological markers make us confident that hunter-gatherer societies did not practice slavery.

Therefore, many look to Mesopotamia and the Code of Hammurabi, often considered the first text to refer to slavery as a common practice.

The practice of slavery spread across Sumer, into Greece, and even to China.

In ancient times, someone would be born into slavery or a person experienced:

  • debt
  • child abandonment
  • war
  • punishment

Slavery became a widespread trade in both medieval Europe and medieval Asia.

Historical books put 1619 as the year the slave trade officially began in the Americas at Jamestown, Virginia.

However, this date is debatable.

Slavery quotes

1. “This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.” — Euripides

2. “Nevermore shall men make slaves of others!” — Stan Lee

3. “Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

4. “At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their chains.” — Ayn RandAnthem

5. “Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

6. “Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom.” — Carl Sagan

7. “Slavery does not merely mean a legalised form of subjection.” — Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

8. “There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.” — Carl Sagan

9. “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” — Henry David Thoreau

10. “Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.” — Plato

Meaningful slavery quotes about being free

11. “Something must happen, even loveless slavery, even war or death. Hurray then for funerals!” — Albert Camus

12. “A slave is a fallen king whose only hope to live is to one day recover his throne.” — Bangambiki Habyarimana

13. “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

14. “But there’s no such thing as free. There are only different and more horrible ways to be enslaved.” — Lauren DeStefano

15. “In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, Make us your slaves, but feed us.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky

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16. “The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

17. “The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates

18. “Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” — George Gordon Byron

19. “Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.” — C. S. Lewis

20. “Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race. But he broke their chains.” — Ayn Rand, Anthem

You may also be interested in these Uncle Tom’s Cabin quotes.

Slavery quotes to make you think

21. “A plongeur is a slave, and a wasted slave, doing stupid and largely unnecessary work. He is kept at work, ultimately, because of a vague feeling that he would be dangerous if he had leisure.” — George Orwell

22. “It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights — the ‘right’ to education, the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery — hay and a barn for human cattle.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

23. “Soldiers, don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness!” — Charles Chaplin

24. “I attack the monsters, the phantoms of imagination that have ruled the world. I attack slavery. I ask for room—room for the human mind.” — Robert G. Ingersoll

25. “Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

26. “Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits.” — Wendell Berry

27. “Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families.” — Angie Thomas

28. “Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils.” — Benjamin Franklin

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29. “But one of the worst results of being a slave and being forced to do things is that when there is no one to force you anymore you find you have almost lost the power of forcing yourself.” — C. S. Lewis

30. “Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates

You may also enjoy reading these Thaddeus Stevens quotes.

Slavery quotes from Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and Muhammed Ali

31. “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” ― Abraham Lincoln

32. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.” Abraham Lincoln

33. “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God cannot retain it.” — Abraham Lincoln

34. “I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom, and equality.” — Muhammad Ali

35. “I think slavery is the next thing to hell. If a person would send another into bondage, he would, it appears to me, be bad enough to send him into hell if he could.” — Harriet Tubman

36. “No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.” — Muhammad Ali

Frederick Douglass slavery quotes

37. “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” — Frederick Douglass

38. “Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy.” — Frederick Douglass

39. “Slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work.” — Frederick Douglass

40. “Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together.” — Frederick Douglass

41. “I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land.” — Frederick Douglass

42. “The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears.” — Frederick Douglass

43. “He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.” — Frederick Douglass

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44. “The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master.” — Frederick Douglass

45. “The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time.” — Frederick Douglass

46. “I have observed this in my experience of slavery,–that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom.” — Frederick Douglass

Slavery in America quotes

47. “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” — Patrick Henry

48. “So long as this country is cursed with slavery, so too will it be cursed with vampires.” — Seth Grahame-Smith

Slavery quotes in the Bible

49. “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.” — Exodus 21:16

50. “Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so.” 1 Corinthians 7:21

Slavery is an ancient practice

In 1619, slave traders brought twenty people from Africa to Jamestown.

From there, the vile practice and peculiar institution of slavery became a foundational piece of the American economy.

What made American slavery different from other nations was the practice of chattel slavery.

In places like Brazil or Haiti, where slavery existed, Africans could keep aspects of their culture.

American enslavers heavily policed African cultural practices.

The African word to describe this world tragedy comes from Swahili.

The term is Maafa which means the great disaster or holocaust.

The American slave trade robbed Africa of millions of its healthiest, best, and brightest people while supplying America with a labor force to build its empire.

Today millions of African diasporans who are the descendants of those once enslaved live in the Americas.

Their journey is not over as they continue to overcome significant odds.

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