I Prayed That God Would Emancipate Me, But It Was Not Till I Prayed With My Legs That I Was Emancipated

Frederick Douglass? Richard Theodore Greener? Samuel Byron Brittan? Rufus K. Noyes? James Clear? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: You must be willing to take constructive actions to resolve your own problems. If you rely solely on the help of others you will be disheartened. Also, if you depend solely on supernatural intervention you will be disappointed.

The great orator Frederick Douglass provided a cogent anecdote. When he was held in bondage he frequently prayed for freedom. Yet, he only achieved freedom when he took action and prayed with his legs, i.e., he successfully ran away.

I am having trouble finding solid citations for this tale. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared within a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass in 1859 at the annual meeting of the “Friends of Human Progress” held in Waterloo, New York. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

We want practical religion—religion that will do something. When I commenced praying with my legs, I felt the answer coming down.

See the 1876 citation further below for a pertinent excerpt from a later speech by Frederick Douglass. Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Prayed That God Would Emancipate Me, But It Was Not Till I Prayed With My Legs That I Was Emancipated

Notes:

  1. 1859, Proceedings of the Yearly Meeting of the Friends of Human Progress, Held at Waterloo, Seneca Co., N.Y., the 3d, 4th and 5th of June, 1859, Second Day, (Description of speech by Frederick Douglass), Quote Page 8, Press of C. W. Hebard & Company, Rochester, New York. (Google Books Full View) link