What Is Defeat? Nothing But Education—Nothing But the First Step To Something Better

Wendell Phillips? George W. Phillips? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Wendell Phillips was a prominent orator and abolitionist who lived in the 1800s. He believed that suffering a defeat should not be dreaded because it provided a form of education. Also, it would often lead to something better. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1859 Wendell Phillips delivered a speech advocating the abolition of slavery. He mentioned the recent raid led by John Brown on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. Brown hoped to trigger an insurrection against slavery, but he was captured and executed. Phillips viewed Brown’s defeat as a temporary setback for a noble cause. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is the lesson of the age. The first cropping out of it is in such a man as John Brown. He did not measure his means. He was not thrifty as to his method; he did not calculate closely enough, and he was defeated. What is defeat? Nothing but education—nothing but the first step to something better.

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Notes:

  1. The Lesson of the Hour: Lecture of Wendell Phillips, Delivered at Brooklyn, N.Y., Tuesday Evening, November 1, 1859, Quote Page 18, Pamphlet with 24 pages; publisher not listed. (Digitized by Internet Archive at archive.org; original from Library of Congress) link