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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

  • Amid ancient lore the Word of God stands unique and pre-eminent. Wonderful in its construction, admirable in its adaptation, it contains truths that a child may comprehend, and mysteries into which angels desire to look.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Christianity," in Christian Recorder ()
  • Oh! when thy heart and home were glad, / I freely shared thy joyous lot; / And now that heart is lone and sad, / Cease to entreat — I'll leave thee not.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Ruth and Naomi," Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects ()
  • He is not dead! he only left / A precious robe of clay behind, / To draw a robe of love and light / Around his disembodied mind.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Obituary for J. Edwards Barnes," in National Anti-Slavery Standard ()
  • Oh, was it not strangely inconsistent that men fresh, so fresh, from the baptism of the Revolution should make such concessions to the foul spirit of Despotism! that, when fresh from gaining their own liberty, they could permit the African slave trade — could let their national flag hang a sign of death on Guinea's coast and Congo's shore!

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Miss Watkins and the Constitution," in National Anti-Slavery Standard ()
  • Intense love is often akin to intense suffering ...

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "The Two Offers," in Anglo-African Magazine ()
  • I like the character of Moses. He is the first disunionist we read of in the Jewish Scriptures.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Our Greatest Want," in Anglo-African Magazine ()
  • The respect that is only bought by gold is not worth much.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Our Greatest Want," in Anglo-African Magazine ()
  • We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "We Are All Bound Up Together," in Proceedings of the Eleventh Woman's Rights Convention ()
  • If we have had no past, it is well for us to look hopefully to the future — for the shadows bear the promise of a brighter coming day ...

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Affairs in South Carolina," in National Anti-Slavery Standard ()
  • A woman who could bend to grief, / But would not bow to shame.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "Vashti," in The New National Era ()
  • Oh, could slavery exist long if it did not sit on a commercial throne?

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • 1854, in William Still, The Underground Railroad ()
  • Now is the time for our women to begin to try to lift up their heads and plant the roots of progress under the hearthstone.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • 1870, in William Still, The Underground Railroad ()
  • ... I belong to this race, and when it is down I belong to a down race; when it is up I belong to a risen race.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • 1870, in William Still, The Underground Railroad ()
  • A room to myself is a luxury that I do not always enjoy.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • 1871, in William Still, The Underground Railroad ()
  • ... His side had won the day, / Had not we women radicals / Just got right in the way.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "The Deliverance," Sketches of Southern Life ()
  • But two things are wanting in American civilization — a keener and deeper, broader and tenderer sense of justice — a sense of humanity, which shall crystallize into the life of a nation the sentiment that justice, simple justice, is the right, not simply of the strong and powerful, but of the weakest and feeblest of all God's children ...

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • speech (1875), in Frances Smith Foster, ed., A Brighter Coming Day ()
  • Apparent failure may hold in its rough shell the germs of a success that will blossom in time, and bear fruit throughout eternity.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • speech (1875), in Frances Smith Foster, ed., A Brighter Coming Day ()
  • ... a towering intellect, grand in its achievements, and glorious in its possibilities, may, with the moral and spiritual faculties held in abeyance, be one of the most dangerous and mischievous forces in the world.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "A Factor in Human Progress," African Methodist Episcopal Church Review ()
  • A government which can protect and defend its citizens from wrong and outrage and does not is vicious. A government which would do it and cannot is weak; and where human life is insecure through either weakness or viciousness in the administration of law, there must be a lack of justice and where this is wanting, nothing can make up the deficiency.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • in Rachel F. Avery, ed., Transactions of the National Council of Women of the United States ()
  • One needs both leisure and money to make a successful book.

  • No man can feel the iron which enters another man's soul.

  • Though the morning seems to linger / O'er the hill-tops far away, / Yet the shadows bear the promise / Of a brighter coming day.

  • And what is wrong in woman's life / In man's cannot be right.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "A Double Standard," The Sparrow's Fall and Other Poems ()
  • True politeness is to social life what oil is to machinery, a thing to oil the ruts and grooves of existence. False politeness can shine without warming and glitter without vivifying.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "True and False Politeness," in African Methodist Episcopal Church Review ()
  • You white women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs. I as a colored woman have had in this country an education which has made me feel as if I were in the situation of Ishmael, my hands against every man, and every man's hand against me.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "We Are All Bound Up Together," in Proceedings of the Eleventh Woman's Rights Convention ()
  • Slavery is dead, but the spirit which animated it still lives.

  • Society cannot afford to neglect the enlightenment of any class of its members.

    • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,
    • "We Are All Bound Up Together," in Proceedings of the Eleventh Woman's Rights Convention ()

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, U.S. writer, poet, abolitionist

(1825 - 1911)