William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce

In 1807, the slave trade was abolished throughout the British Empire. This was largely due to the tireless efforts—which spanned decades—of the Evangelical Christian William Wilberforce. Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, as Wilberforce lay on his deathbed.

William Wilberforce inspired Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln with his moral clarity, spiritual strength, and sense of divine purpose. Wilberforce vanquished the mind-set that made slavery acceptable among some Christian peoples. He destroyed an entire way of seeing the world, one that had held sway from the beginning of history. William Wilberforce shifted human consciousness in a fundamental way.

At the height of his political career, at the age of twenty-six, God opened the eyes of William Wilberforce. He would become the greatest social reformer in the history of the world. No politician ever used his faith to achieve greater gains for all of humanity. William Wilberforce gave away his entire, considerable, fortune to the poor, ending his days virtually penniless.


WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE

Young Wilberforce

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was born into a wealthy family in Hull, England. While still a boy, his letter to the editor about the evils of slavery was published in the local newspaper.

At 20, William Wilberforce was elected to Parliament, where he became best friends with the man who would soon become the youngest Prime Minister in British history, William Pitt the Younger. Pitt died at age forty-six in 1806 from complications of gout—an old man's disease.

William Wilberforce was an intellectual powerhouse, noted for his charm, wit, and cheerfulness. Wilberforce was a tiny man, standing just over five foot with a 33-inch chest. He soon earned a reputation as a brilliant singer—the "Nightingale of the Commons."



THE YOUNG WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
THE YOUNG WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
ISAAC MILNER
ISAAC MILNER

The Conversion of William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce invited an acquaintance, Isaac Milner, to go on a Grand Tour of Europe with him—unaware than Milner was a Christian. Wilberforce invited Milner because of his reputation as a great conversationalist. Milner was an enormous man and an utter genius, distinguished in physics, chemistry, and algebra.

Before this trip, Wilberforce wanted nothing to do Evangelicals, whom he viewed as embarrassingly out of step with the times. Why, Evangelicals even honored the Sabbath and disdained the high entertainment of the day, the theatre!

During the tour of Europe, Wilberforce was gradually converted through long conversations with Milner about the Philip Doddridge book The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. Wilberforce so enjoyed this journey that a year later he asked Milner to join him for another trip around Europe.

The second tour included weeks of debate about the New Testament, as Milner drew Wilberforce into discussions about the meaning of the universe and eternal things. At this moment Wilberforce had it all—money, prestige, and the highest possible circle of friends and acquaintances. God convicted the heart of Wilberforce about his ingratitude. Wilberforce saw that the "corruption and profligacy . . . amongst the rich and luxurious has now extended its baneful influence and spread its destructive poison through the whole body of the people. . . . I now fully believed the Gospel and was persuaded that if I died at any time I should perish everlastingly."

During the second European tour with Milner, Wilberforce also had dinner with the seventy-seven-year-old Benjamin Franklin at the home of Lafayette. Their tour of France took place just four years before the French Revolution.

William Wilberforce felt he must declare himself to the world as a professing Christian. Not to do so would be to deny God. No longer would he live to please himself, ignoring the poor and suffering all around him, and ignoring God and God's love. Wilberforce was born again and emerged with a whole new attitude toward money and time. His wealth, his talent, and his time were on loan from God, given to him to use according to God's will. God had blessed him that he might bless others.

William Wilberforce at first thought he must choose between serving Christ and remaining in public life. He went to see his boyhood hero, John Newton, for advice. Newton convinced him to do both by serving God through his political career. Wilberforce became as zealous as anyone who had ever lived to improve the social conditions of the world around him.


HANNAH MORE
HANNAH MORE
HENRY THORNTON
HENRY THORNTON
"THE SHARP FAMILY" BY JOHANN ZOFFANY (NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, LONDON)
"THE SHARP FAMILY" BY JOHANN ZOFFANY (NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, LONDON)
THOMAS CLARKSON
THOMAS CLARKSON
"AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER" BY JOSIAH WEDGEWOOD
"AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER" BY JOSIAH WEDGEWOOD

The Clapham Circle

The diminutive Wilberforce was a brilliant orator. He became the leader of a group of affluent evangelicals who lived near London, which included the famous playwright, author, and philanthropist Hannah More. They became known as the Clapham Circle, a pressure group inside the Anglican and Methodist churches as well as in affluent society, devoted to the abolition of slavery, a refined gentility, and the improvement of mores. They set out to change the world for Jesus—and they did.

The Clapham Circle was the concept of Henry Thornton. He wanted his circle of friends to live near each other in the quaint village of Clapham, just outside London. In this way, they could plan and dream together; they could encourage and console each other—all with a cheerful and passionate evangelical impulse to serve God.

William Wilberforce called slavery "a national crime," "the foulest blot that ever stained our national character," and "a load of guilt, which has long hung like a millstone about our necks, ready to sink us to perdition."

The founder of the Evangelical movement was the wealthiest merchant in England, John Thornton of Clapham (1720-1790), the father of Henry Thornton. He gave away an immense fortune to Christian charities, missionaries, and social reformers. After his death, William Wilberforce assumed leadership of the non-denominational Evangelicals.

The Evangelicals were despised by the social elites of England, who regarding them as unsophisticated, overly earnest about life, and yet overly emotional about God.

In the fall of 1787, Wilberforce met Hannah More. More was clever and talented. She was the most popular writer of her day—far outselling Jane Austen—and a huge celebrity in Britain. Her nickname was the "Queen of the Methodists."

Hannah More founded and ran schools for poor children. She also wrote scores of religious and moral tracts. She joined forces with Wilberforce in his quest to reform the morals of Britain. At the time the word "manners" was used interchangeably with the word "morals,” hence the title of her influential book Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society.

Another of the Clapham Circle was Granville Sharp. He was a renowned musician from a family of renowned musicians that lived on a great barge that took them on tour over the great waterways of England.

Granville Sharp was a devout Christian who possessed a brilliant mind. He taught himself Greek and Hebrew. Sharp devoted hours of each day to study of the Bible, which he viewed as the infallible Word of God and the source of all English law. In 1787, he formed the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Thomas Clarkson was another devout Christian who would devote his life to ending slavery. His life would be threatened many times, but he never wavered from his belief that the slave trade corrupted and ruined the lives of all who touched it. Many sailors on slave ships were pressed onto them against their will, brutalized mentally and physically, and lived a miserable existence. These sailors died of the same diseases as the slaves and just as often. English sailors on slave ships had a 25 percent chance of dying on board.

William Wilberforce gradually came to the conclusion that God was calling him to a great purpose in life: to end slavery in the British Empire and the world. He first worked to end the slave trade, hoping the existing slaves would then be treated better since they could not be replaced. The lives of slaves in the West Indies were far worse than the slaves in America. Raising and harvesting sugar cane was one of the most brutal activities imaginable. African chiefs were crazed with greed to capture people and sell them to Europeans.

William Wilberforce had no idea he would have to work twenty years to abolish the slave trade, and nearly forty-five years to abolish slavery in the British Empire.

Josiah Wedgewood created an image that was the first iconic image used in a human rights campaign. The image is of a kneeling African, chained hand and foot, looking up imploringly and asking: "Am I not a man and a brother?" It soon appeared on thousands of snuffboxes, cameos, and letter-sealing fobs.

William Wilberforce and Hannah More also went to work to help the people of the most poverty-stricken part of the United Kingdom, Cheddar Gorge. Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the UK. The inhabitants there had no churches and no schools. They lived in utter poverty, while they dwelled in hovels or in caves. Hannah More set up the first school in the area.




FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, TODAY
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, TODAY

Colonization of Former Slaves

The Clapham Circle worked hard to establish a free, self-governing colony of former slaves in Sierra Leone, Africa. One reason for this was to allow blacks to prove that they were not savages incapable of governing themselves. This colony would be a beacon of freedom and self-government for all Africans and help create a thriving market economy with international trade on the Dark Continent. These abolitionists had no racist thoughts in this, as modern revisionists of history would have you believe. Their intentions were noble and pure.

In 1787, a few hundred blacks, along with sixty white helpers, landed in Sierra Leone to begin the experiment. Sadly, in 1789 the first fledgling town was burned to the ground by a neighboring African chieftain. In 1792, 1,000 more blacks arrived with $600,000 in capital donated by white Englanders. They founded the city of Freetown, which still stands today.


WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
STATUE OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
STATUE OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE

Wilberforce Works to Abolish Slavery

In 1791, William Wilberforce took on the daunting task of distilling ten thousand pages of testimony about the evils of the slave trade, that had been collected by abolitionists, to make it digestible for presentation to Parliament. Wilberforce went to work by himself on acres of pages filled with scrawled penmanship.

Unfortunately for Wilberforce—and far more so for the slaves—the bill to end the slave trade stalled in Parliament in 1792 because of a great backlash in Britain as it recoiled in horror at the monstrously murderous anarchy of the French Revolution. Liberty no longer sounded innocent and beautiful. Demonic bloodlust posed a threat to law and order.

Distaste developed for any reform movements in Parliament that could be seen as harmful in any way to British Civilization. The abolition movement was a Christian movement, but it somehow got linked in public consciousness with the godless, vehemently anti-Christ French Revolution, thus setting back the end of the slave trade another 15 years. The most damaging event was the bloody massacre of all the white people in Haiti after the slaves had won their freedom there.

Also in 1792, Wilberforce presented evidence that a slave ship captain named Kimber had flogged a fifteen-year-old girl to death. Kimber was put on trial but acquitted—in a travesty of justice. Kimber, described as a "savage-looking man," began threatening and stalking Wilberforce.

Slavers began to spread all sorts of false stories about Wilberforce, including that he had a black mistress.

In 1793, the mobs in France dragged their former King, Louis XVI, to the guillotine. Soon thereafter, France declared war on England. The more the Jacobins in Paris rioted, looted, and murdered; the more the chances diminished of passing radical legislation through the British Parliament with the words liberty or equality involved. There was justifiable fear that the French Revolution could jump the 21-mile-wide English Channel and ruin everything the British people knew and loved.

Wilberforce never gave up. In 1796, he wrote: "If it please God . . . may I be the instrument of stopping such a course of wickedness and cruelty as never before disgraced a Christian country." Because he was a Christian, Wilberforce naturally believed that all human beings were immortal creatures—created by God in His very own image.

By 1807, Wilberforce, now forty-seven years old, had been wracked with pain in his always-frail body for as long as he could remember. He suffered from curvature of the spine and ulcerative colitis. Each year, for twenty years in a row, Wilberforce had put forth his bill to end the slave trade and each year he was defeated.

After the death of his good friend, William Pitt the Younger, William Grenville became Prime Minister. The House of Lords finally passed the abolition bill put forth by William Wilberforce by a vote of 100 to 36. And then it passed the House of Commons by a vote of 283 to 16. The slave trade had ended in the British Empire.

Before the vote in the House of Commons, Wilberforce said, "The decision of the great question approaches. May it please God, who has the hearts of all in His hands, to turn them as in the House of Lords; and enable me to have a single eye, and simple heart, desiring to please God, to do good to my fellow-creatures, and to testify my gratitude to my adorable Redeemer."

William Wilberforce was soon venerated by his fellow man, but he was fully determined to give God all the glory for the victory after twenty years of hard fought battles in such a noble cause. He longed not to yield to pride and considered himself unworthy of praise, and so deflected all acclaim away from himself and upward to the One who had held up his tired arms all these years. William Wilberforce was now hailed as the conscience of the British Empire.


A SCENE FROM THE 2006 FILM ABOUT WILLIAM WILBERFORCE AND THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY "AMAZING GRACE" WHERE WILBERFORCE UNFURLS HIS PETITION IN PARLIAMENT
A SCENE FROM THE 2006 FILM ABOUT WILLIAM WILBERFORCE AND THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY "AMAZING GRACE" WHERE WILBERFORCE UNFURLS HIS PETITION IN PARLIAMENT

Abolition of Slavery

William Wilberforce did not rest after the slave trade was abolished. Now he looked forward to the emancipation of slaves and the end of slavery. Wilberforce started the African Institution for "promoting the Civilization and Improvement of Africa."

In 1823, William Wilberforce wrote his manifesto, Appeal in Behalf of the Negro Slaves in the West Indies. Wilberforce pushed the idea of buying all slaves in the British Empire to set them free. He proposed giving slave owners one-half the market value of the slaves as compensation. This would cost the Crown one hundred million dollars—over eight billion dollars today!

Many of his abolitionist friends opposed compensating men who had enslaved their human brothers and sisters. Wilberforce carried the day and said, "Thank God that I should have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give twenty millions sterling for the Abolition of Slavery!"


HINDU SUTTEE IN INDIA
HINDU SUTTEE IN INDIA

Wilberforce and India

In 1793, William Wilberforce proposed that schoolmasters and chaplains be sent to India for the first time to "enlighten and reform" the people of that vast country. They suffered "under the grossest, the darkest, and most depraved system of idolatrous superstition that almost ever existed upon the earth."

It was not the Hindu religion as much as the barbaric cruelties of Indian culture. This was a time in which female infanticide was common, as well as the suttee—the binding and burning of widows on their husband’s funeral pyres. In the Bengal Province alone, ten thousand women were burned alive each year. Many of them were mere teenage girls and some were even younger. While they burned the crowds would celebrate with demonic, brutal laughter and a general air of levity. Usually, there were children left behind, having lost both parents in a single day.

In India, geronticide was also common—the murder of the "useless old." The sick were sometimes killed as well. And there were some human sacrifices for religious reasons.

The caste system was institutionalized slavery. Christian ideas would bring hope to the suffering people of India, particularly the poorest among them. By 1813, after years of work, Wilberforce had gathered 837 petitions with the signatures of 500,000 British citizens demanding teachers and preachers be sent to India.

To William Wilberforce, all human beings were equal in the eyes of God and made in God's image. Therefore all human beings must be treated with equal dignity. If not, the British government stood opposed to the teachings of the Christian Faith and the Bible. Wilberforce was concerned for the eternal souls of the persons of India. The India Bill finally passed Parliament.


KING HENRI I OF HAITI, (HENRI CHRISTOPHE)
KING HENRI I OF HAITI, (HENRI CHRISTOPHE)

Wilberforce and Haiti

Most people did not believe blacks were capable of governing themselves. That is why Sierra Leone was so important to the abolitionists. They believed that given their own country, and assistance, blacks could prove to the world that it was wrong about them.

In 1811, blacks got a great opportunity to show the world that they could be their own masters in Haiti. A former slave, Henri Christophe, became the first black to lead Haiti when it became an independent nation. He had himself crowned King Henri I, and set about to create a model state run entirely by former slaves. The whites of Haiti were all either killed or escaped.

In 1815, King Henri I asked William Wilberforce for assistance in setting up a system of education for Haiti. Wilberforce amazingly was able to persuade professors in the classics, mathematics, and surgery to leave Scotland, move to Haiti, and teach former slaves on an island whose white inhabitants had nearly all been recently murdered.

William Wilberforce persuaded King Henri I to provide an education to women as well. Wilberforce sent everything he could to Haiti, including encyclopedias, New Testaments, and virus vaccines. Alas, in 1820 King Henri I committed suicide.


VICTORIAN LADY
VICTORIAN LADY
VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS
VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS
"PRINCESS VICTORIA AGE FOUR" BY STEPHEN POYNTZ DENNING IN 1823 (DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY)
"PRINCESS VICTORIA AGE FOUR" BY STEPHEN POYNTZ DENNING IN 1823 (DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY)

Victorian England

Wilberforce and other Evangelicals in Parliament not only ended slavery, they also passed heavy taxes on racing, dice, cards, masquerades, operas, theatres, music, and guns. They passed restrictive regulations about public activities on the Sabbath, especially work; and aggressively prosecuted prostitutes, brothel-keepers, purveyors of obscene materials, illegal dance halls, and commercial Sabbath-breakers. Thus Britain entered what we now call the Victorian Age—the era in which misery and brutality were replaced with hope and civility.

Britain in the 18th Century was brutal, violent, vulgar, and decadent. In all the cities one would see a plethora of alcoholics, child prostitutes, public executions for petty crimes, public dissections of criminals, and unspeakable cruelty to animals. This social decay was the result of Britain retreating from the Christian Faith it had once so fervently embraced. The nation no longer was of a robust Christian character, despite retaining the outward trappings of religion.

Unchecked by the social conscience only provided by genuine Christianity, society had gradually decayed from the top down. The Prince of Wales was believed to have personally had sex with 7,000 women. Members of Parliament went about their work inebriated. Bulldogs were bred for bull-bating, hence their name. 25 percent of all unmarried women in London were prostitutes. Some brothels specialized in girls under fourteen and the average age of a prostitute was sixteen.

William Wilberforce and his friends sought to improve society. He belonged to seventy societies—that embraced a huge spectrum of human grievance and misery. Just to name a few of the organizations Wilberforce supported: The Bible Society, Church Missionary Society, School Society, Sunday School Society, Foreigners in Distress, Sick Strangers, Orphans and Vagrants, Juvenile Mendicants, Youthful Sinners, Distressed Widows, Poor Clergymen, Infirm Gentlewomen, Degraded Females, Society for the Relief of the Manufacturing Poor—as well societies to provide medical care for the poor and infirm, to build hospitals, to help those imprisoned by debt, to comfort the poor, to care for orphans of military men, and to maintain asylums for the deaf and dumb.

Wilberforce was able to accomplish so much that we do not have the space to recount it all here.

Wilberforce also reduced the number of crimes punishable by hanging; brought about major penal reform for women prisoners; reduced cruelty to prisoners in the Australian penal colony at Botany Bay; helped to eliminate floggings of sailors; stopped the use of little boys as chimney sweeps; ended bear-baiting and bull-baiting.

Wilberforce loved nature and animals. He believed that the spectacular cruelty to animals common in Britain contributed to the general coarseness of life, which led to other social pathologies. Wilberforce kept a menagerie of animals inside his home that included rabbits, turtles, and a fox. It is no wonder he co-founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

His house also thronged with servants he could hardly afford and all of them were either lame, blind, or helpless in one way or another. By his seventies, Wilberforce had given away all of his once vast wealth to those less fortunate than himself. Innumerable people benefited from his unprecedented generosity. He would come to the end of his life without a home of his own.

Wilberforce devoted his life to a reformation of morals in Britain. He kicked off this campaign with a document entitled "The Proclamation for the Encouragement of Piety and Virtue and for the Preventing of Vice, Profaneness and Immorality." Wilberforce intended to "make goodness fashionable." He knew that the hoi polloi generally follow the moral example set by the leaders of a society.

Wilberforce sought the prosecution of all persons guilty of drunkenness, blasphemy, lewdness, and using profanity in public. By showing the populace that the nation officially disapproved of these violations of propriety, Wilberforce caused a positive change in attitudes and habits of the average man.

In 1820, William Wilberforce was invited to visit the Duchess of Kent. When he was received by her, the now sixty-year-old Wilberforce immediately stooped to the floor to play with the infant child of the Duchess. The baby was the future Queen Victoria, who would lend her name to the era to come—while Wilberforce lent it his character.


WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (AS PLAYED BY IOAN GUFFUDD) PLEADS WITH PARLIAMENT TO ABOLISH SLAVERY IN A SCENE FROM THE MOVIE "AMAZING GRACE"
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (AS PLAYED BY IOAN GUFFUDD) PLEADS WITH PARLIAMENT TO ABOLISH SLAVERY IN A SCENE FROM THE MOVIE "AMAZING GRACE"
MOVIE POSTER FOR "AMAZING GRACE"
MOVIE POSTER FOR "AMAZING GRACE"
THE BOOK "AMAZING GRACE" BY ERIC METAXAS FROM WHICH I CREATED THIS ARTICLE
THE BOOK "AMAZING GRACE" BY ERIC METAXAS FROM WHICH I CREATED THIS ARTICLE

Wilberforce the Evangelical Christian

William Wilberforce called his conversion to the Christian Faith in 1785 the "Great Change." There is no doubt that this was the central and most important event of his life. From then on, faith in Jesus Christ was the most important thing in life itself, and second was sharing this faith with others. Wilberforce tried to bring every conversation around to questions of eternity, everywhere he went and with everyone he met.

Wilberforce kept lists of friends and acquaintances with notes on how he might encourage them in their faith if they had any; and how he might lead them to faith if they had none. He also listed subjects he might bring up with each person that he could steer towards spiritual issues, what he called conversations about "first things." Many of these conversations bore great fruit. Wilberforce became a captivating figure as an icon for serious Christian faith. Wilberforce did not scold or badger people. As one woman wrote of him: "He makes no pretension to superior sanctity or strictness."

Most Anglican clerics of the day didn't believe the basic fundamentals of orthodox Christian faith. They largely kept this to themselves for fear of losing their high social standing as ministers, as well as their salaries. Wilberforce wanted to expose these pastors for what they were: dishonest men who pretended to believe in Christ because they had a good thing going. He commented that Anglican pulpits were full of "lukewarm professors lukewarmly professing a lukewarm faith that thrilled no one and challenged no one," which was in fact a tepid version of the real Christianity.

Wilberforce knew that if the British people could witness real Christianity in action, they too would take an interest in the sufferings of the poor and the imprisoned. He wanted nothing less than for Britain to repent and turn back to the true faith, which was wonderful, bracing, and beautiful. Wilberforce had much success in this endeavor.

William Wilberforce wrote his Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity not to skeptics but "to those who acknowledge the authority of the Holy Scriptures." Wilberforce said that Christians must "believe the doctrines, and imbibe the principles, and practice the precepts of Christ, or else suffer moral shipwreck."

Critics harped on historical changes in doctrine as proof that Christian truths are not eternal. Some charged that these changes had "thoroughly changed and disfigured our faith." The common defense against these charges was that doctrine had "developed" through further revelations of the Holy Spirit. William Wilberforce said, "It was only by gradual steps that the Christian mind gained such practical mastery over its spiritual inheritance." In other words, the Body of Christ had increased in wisdom over the centuries.

William Wilberforce was a man filled with constant thanksgiving toward God. He was keenly aware that he was the beneficiary of unmerited grace. He wrote: "Men must be regenerated by the grace of God before they are fit to be inhabitants of heaven."

It became well known in England that William Wilberforce led family prayers twice a day, with everyone kneeling against the backs of chairs for around ten minutes. He also honored the Sabbath, spending that day away from the world and its problems, devoting the day to God and to his family. As a result of this one man's example, these practices were soon established throughout England.


BARBARA SPOONER WILBERFORCE AS PLAYED IN THE FINE FILM "AMAZING GRACE" BY ROMOLA GARAI
BARBARA SPOONER WILBERFORCE AS PLAYED IN THE FINE FILM "AMAZING GRACE" BY ROMOLA GARAI

Barbara Spooner Wilberforce

When William Wilberforce was thirty-seven, he fell in love at first sight with the twenty-year-old Barbara Spooner while on vacation at Bath. He had been in love before but had ended the relationship because the woman did not share his evangelical faith.

Wilberforce had long worried that if he had a family they would be in constant danger since threats to his person for being an abolitionist were a daily feature in his life. He believed he was destined to die a violent death at the hands of an enemy of abolition.

The beautiful Barbara Spooner was not only lovely to behold, she was a deeply serious woman about her faith in Christ. She was from a wealthy family of Birmingham, the daughter of a prosperous banker. Wilberforce had waited and prayed for this woman all his born days. Within eight days they were engaged; within a month they were married; within ten years they had six children and by all accounts a wonderful marriage.

Wilberforce wrote that he adored Barbara's "dignity" and "cheerful innocence from a good conscience" as well as "her modesty and propriety." Their marriage was filled with mutual love and affection from the start. They spent their honeymoon visiting the poor.

Barbara Wilberforce proved to be a supremely devoted wife and mother—once considered the most noble of all human callings. William Wilberforce played with the children and his menagerie of animals as if he were one of them.


ERIC METAXAS, AUTHOR OF THE EXTRAORDINARY BOOK "AMAZING GRACE"
ERIC METAXAS, AUTHOR OF THE EXTRAORDINARY BOOK "AMAZING GRACE"

William Wilberforce

When William Wilberforce entered Parliament, there were only three serious Christians who were members. Christians generally disdained politics as not their concern. Wilberforce single-handedly changed that view. By the time he retired, there were 200 serious Christians in Parliament.

Wilberforce also had a hand in the total abolition of the slave trade throughout the dominions of France in 1815. Abolition now gained momentum around the world. Slavery still exists in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—in non-Christian parts of the world.

This article was extracted and sometimes paraphrased primarily from the fantastic book by Eric Metaxas Amazing Grace. The book was released at the same time as the fine film Amazing Grace. Both the book and the film are highly recommended—but the book is better. Also wonderful is the unrelated documentary The Better Hour.










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Comments 107 comments

platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 5 years ago

James A Watkins, your hubs never cease to amaze me. I am extremely please to read an article of this caliber, indicating that all white people are not evil as some would suggest. A book titled The Crowd 1730-1848 would be of great interest to you. It contains an enormous amount of useful information. It is written by George Rude. Great job. I will comment on this hub twice there is something you may want to take a look at.


stessily 5 years ago

James A Watkins: I hastily signed into Hubpages to retrieve a reference from one of my unfinished hubs. That was all that I expected to do: sign in, then sign out. But then I saw that you had just published this hub. . . .

Wow! I haven't seen "Amazing Grace" or read the book, but they have now been added to my do-soon list!

It is amazing how much one person can accomplish in one lifetime! It is also amazing to see how much change the spirit of grace effects in the human heart!

Voted up + interesting + beautiful + awesome

Kind regards, Stessily


platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 5 years ago

James A Watkins,

This is my second comment on an extraordinary hub. See Coolies, How Britain Re-invented slavery part-1. Watch more if you can stomach it.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Wow James! another blockbuster. You really should write historical text books for young students. History may become a favourite subject. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Congratulations.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Hi James, I have never heard about Wilberforce before. Thanks for the history lesson. Great hub as usual.


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Phenomenal hub! What history, inspiration, motivation! I did not know William Wiberforce until now, but he deserves to be a house-hold name. Thanks to you and your dedication! I agree with Gypsy Willow - young students should know.


carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

hi james.. great post here!! you have quite a lot of historical facts and info here and written in great detail..


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Hi James. Congratulations on putting together such a substantial piece of work. I'd never really made the distinction in my mind between the abolition of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery itself. Of course they are related, but as you point out, they are different campaigns.

For his tireless work and eventual success on slavery, Wilberforce will always be one of the great heroes of his time, or any time. Some of his other campaigns are harder to justify however and can be seen as attacks on, or at least reductions in, personal freedoms, albeit driven by the best of motives.

Many of the Middle East societies where I have lived and worked have strict and specific laws against lewdness, blasphemy, drinking, extra-marital relations, homosexuality, etc. and the general consensus in the West is that these societies should be more open. We can't say, morality for Christ = good; morality for Mohammad = bad. In other words, government is better staying out of people's private lives, except in cases, like slavery, where one man's freedom is another's ruin.

Anyway, great hub, again!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

This is an outstanding hub. I have heard of Wilberforce before but had no idea of all the things he accomplished. You obviously did a lot of research to write such a thorough account of this historical man. Rated awesome.

If you haven't voted in the Tug of War contest, my hub on guidelines on caring for an elderly parent in your home is one of the choices. If you think it is worthy I would greatly appreciate your vote. The link is:

http://apps.facebook.com/offerpop/Participate.psp?...

Thank you for your consideration.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

James, a thoroughly well written piece. I learned a few things I didn't know about this man. Thanks.


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

What a Wonderful History Lesson on a Man that did so much in his Life Time. Even though he suffer in pain from his body he achieved so much...People around the world should be great full to Wilberforce. And you dear friend do this Hub and this man a great justice. Thank you.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 5 years ago

As always, you kept my interest to the end. One question I have is about the 'Victorian Age'. Though it's written even table legs were covered, I've also read it was the custom for society's husband and wives to have their 'friends' to go out with - husbands and wives rarely attending dinners and balls as a couple. Do you know which portrait of Victorian times is true, or was it both?


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A.

Beautifully written James! Another outstanding historical piece. Often, Victorian England is portrayed as a time of oppression, and "prudish" behavior. I agree that it was an attempt to bring civility and sanity to a culture that had completely deteriorated. God Bless!


Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Excellent research and hub! Bookmarking.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This is an amazingly interesting Hub. It is well researched and laid out, just a jewel. I learned so much and enjoyed every minute of it. Hyphenbird


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz

Thanks James, I've come to expect this level of quality in your hubs. The power of one man and Christ. If only all those with faith in Christ surrendered themselves like Wilberforce. Fantastic Job. Voted up and awesome, and shared on facebook. Appreciate you bro.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

Very interesting.

Wilberforce's story is a fascinating one.

Another group of Christians, who strongly advocated the end of slavery and the slave trade, were the Quakers.


Sueswan 5 years ago

Hi James,

“Let everyone regulate his conduct . . . by the golden rule of doing to others as in similar circumstances we would have them do to us, and the path of duty will be clear before him.” William Wilberforce

I was not familiar with William Wilberforce. After reading your story, I would say he was an angel walking amongst men.

Voted up, awesome and interesting.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I've said it a dozen times - you're the single best publisher on this entire website -HANDS DOWN, I've got lots of "second best" ties. . .but you always come up with the best topics, persons, and then you knock the bottom out of the subject with a walk off grand slam web page.

I've been seeing references to Mr. Wilburforce forever, and I finally know just exactly who he was.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is absolutely wonderful! I enjoyed every word written. What a truly great man William Wilberforce was, and your ability to bring his accomplishments to life is remarkable. Thank you James. You are a great writer, i'm happy that i follow you. You are a gifted writer. Thank you.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Truly the work of a genius. At first I thought Wilber what? who? Then I got to reading your hub and forgot what it was that I was doing before. Wish I had even half your talent for coming up with such informative and interesting hubs. Keep on writing.


RevLady profile image

RevLady 5 years ago from Lantana, Florida

This is an absolutely superb presentation James. Detailed, informative, honest appraisal, of a great man, not to mention the value of the images. I was drawn back in history and loved every minute of it.

May God continue to inspire your soul!

Forever His


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

You've pulled another gem out of the historical ground James. And what a magnificent subject. I didn't know this man's story; I know it now however through this beautifully formated, absolutely readable and informative article. The Sieera Leone part was particularly interesting as I knew some of Liberia, but none of the former. The movie looks a good one too. Thoroughly enjoyed being enlightened James my friend, thank you.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Top drawer work, as always.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Definitely keeping us on the history trail, James - I think today we all forget where we started. Great writing as always.


stessily 5 years ago

James A Watkins: I had meant to mention earlier that as an interesting side note, J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, went to the school, St Michael's Primary School near Bristol, which was founded by William Wilberforce and Hannah More.

Kind regards, Stessily


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

platinumOwl4— Thank you for being my first visitor!!

I also appreciate you for suggesting that book. It looks quite intersting. More of a social history?

I sincerely appreciate the accolades! :D


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

stessily— The film is fabulous! And the book is even better. Both are as highly recommended as can be.

You wrote: "It is amazing how much one person can accomplish in one lifetime! It is also amazing to see how much change the spirit of grace effects in the human heart!"

I could not have said it better myself. I appreciate these thoughtful insights from you.

Thank you ever much for the Voted up + interesting + beautiful + awesome!

James


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

platinumOwl4— Thank you for the video link. I knew nothing of this. I did spot a few errors in the first four minutes. All are typical of socialist Western Civilzation bashers. First of all, those who fought to end the slave trade are described as "Liberals." But they were all from the Conservative Party. Second, the narrator makes the outrageous statement that the slave trade was ended for economic reasons—absolutely false since the Crown paid $50,000,000 to free the slaves which must be hundreds of billions in today's dollars. Then he makes the contradictory statements that the slave trade was ended—not because of Wilberforce and his friends (the truth) but because "Britain simply didn't need slaves anymore." Then he says they concocted an elaborate scheme to put more people into sort of slavery (even though "they didn't need them anymore"). :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Gypsy Willow— I would love to write history for students! Thank you very much for the laudations. I appreciate the visitation.

Sadly, history textbooks don't say much about Wilberforce because his story doesn't fit into their anti-Western Civilization program. Good things can be written about anybody but . . . well, I won't mention who "they" are. :-)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Cardisa— Hello! You are quite welcome. Thank you for the kind compliments. I am glad you enjoyed my work here.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Truckstop Sally— You are most welcome. I certainly agree with you that William Wilberforce should be a household name. The documentary "The Better Hour" tells his story wonderfully, by the way.

You made my day your gracious compliments. Thank you so much!!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Wilberforce was an amazing man, James, and you have written an amazing tribute to him and his world-shaking accomplishments. I saw the film, 'Amazing Grace,' and it, too, was remarkable.

Your talent as both a writer and researcher is unmistakeable. Don't stop keeping us informed. Voted up.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

carriethompson— Hello! Thank you for the kind compliments. I appreciate this visitation. I will come by soon to see what you've been writing. :-)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Paraglider— Hello, my old friend. I am glad to hear that you admire William Wilberforce and that you enjoyed reading this piece of work of mine.

Yes, I agree with you that some of his other campaigns reduced personal freedoms—as you say, with the best of motives. I do think Wilberforce left England a better place than the England he was born into.

I agree that personal freedom is good. I might only point out that Liberty and License are different things.

Thank you very much for your excellent comments.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Pamela99— You are welcome. I did go over and vote for you. I hope you won. I haven't heard a final verdict but I checked just now and you are ahead by two votes.

Thank you very much for the accolades and the voted up! It is always a pleasure to hear from you. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

JY3502— You are quite welcome. I am well pleased that you appreciate this article. Thank you for visiting and commenting.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

b. Malin— You are most welcome, my friend. I agree with you that the world should be grateful to William Wilberforce. What an example to others of what a single person can accomplish for the good of others.

Thank you for the compliments. Good to hear from you!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

sheila b.— I have not heard of the second part of your question, so I guess I don't know the answer. As to the first part, yes it is true that table legs were covered. In fact, they didn't call them legs but "limbs" since the word "legs" might have sent the mind to lustful thoughts. :D


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

biblicaliving— Thank you ever much for the gracious laudations! I agree with you that the Victorians made "an attempt to bring civility and sanity to a culture that had completely deteriorated."

I appreciate the visitation. God Bless You!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Ms Dee— Thank you!! Thank you very much!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

hyphenbird— A jewel!? You have made my day, my dear. I could not ask for higher praise than that. Thank you much for coming by to read my work and to let me know you enjoyed reading it.

James


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

parrster— You are welcome, kind sir. Thank you very much for sharing this on your Facebook page. I sincerely appreciate the voted up and awesome, as well as your encouragement and affirmation. I agree with you that it is really about "The power of one man and Christ."


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Trish_M— Hello! Great to "see" you here. Yes, the Quakers were among the first anti-slavery Christians.

Thank you for reading my work. I appreciate your comments.


gem33 profile image

gem33 5 years ago

this is wonderful. you put so much work into your hubs and it shows because they turn out so well. you really shoud consider writing history books cos you sure can write history


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Hi James! Bravo! What an excellent hub. I saw the movie "Amazing Grace." However, your hub filled in all of the things many of us did not know. You are a great inspiration to writers! Voted up, up and away!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Sueswan— Hello! I surely agree with your assessment of William Wilberforce that he was like "an angel walking amongst men."

Thank you very much for the voted up, awesome, and interesting! It is gratifying for my work to be so well received.

Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Wesman Todd Shaw— Well sir, I humbly accept your accolades. It pleases me to read how much you enjoy reading my articles. Responses such as this make all the work worthwhile. Thank you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

always exploring— You are quite welcome, my dear. Yes, William Wilberforce is truly among the great men who have walked this earth.

I sure appreciate the laudations. I am glad you enjoy my Hubs. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Gypsy Rose Lee— Why, you made my day with your gracious compliments. I am so glad you found this article engrossing. Thank you for letting me know.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

RevLady— It means a lot to me to be encouraged and affirmed by you. It has been a while. Your praise is like the morning dew. Refreshing! Thank you ever much. :D


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Alastar Packer— You are welcome, my friend. The movie is great! And the book is even better. The documentary I mentioned is also excellent.

Yes, Wilberforce is an excellent subject. Thank you for the kind compliments.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Will Starr— Thank you! Thank you very much. :D


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

akirchner— I surely appreciate your compliments. Thank you for visiting and for your thoughtful comments.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Stessily— I had no idea. That is fascinating! Thank you for sharing that tidbit with us, my dear. :-)

Faithfully Yours,

James


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

drbj— Awesome! You are the first to say that you have seen the film "Amazing Grace." I knew somebody had to have seen it besides me! :D

Thank you for your kind words and the voted up. I always look forward to hearing from you.


Allan McGregor profile image

Allan McGregor 5 years ago from South Lanarkshire

Surely your best yet, James.

I thoroughly enjoyed this exellent hub and have to say that your writing - which was always good - has grown in style and stature.

Also, I thought I knew about Wilberforce, but nevertheless learned a few new things here.

And as for your observation that the Crown paid £20,000,000 for the abolition of slavery, you are absolutely right that this would represent an immense fortune today.

I would also add that the exchange rate in 1823 was around $4.86 to the £1, so £20,000,000 was probably worth more like $97,200,000.

Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield around 1849 (some years after William Wilberforce's death) in which the character Wilkins Micawber famously says:

‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’

This was no literary affectation, but truly reflected the annual income of an ordinary labouring Englishman of that era - £20-a-year. So, £20 million Sterling was no mean sum for the British people to pay.

Indeed, if I remember rightly, William Pitt the Younger originally introduced Income Tax in the late 18th Century, in order to pay off the National Debt, which at that time stood at £20 million.

What's America's National Debt these days? - $14,000,000,000,000 and rising?

In fact, adjusting for inflation, £20,000,000 in 1823 would equate to £1,800,000,000 today, or $8,280,000,000.

Indeed, it would be impressive if American Evangelical Christians could raise $8.23 billion in support of a similar moral cause today. So, the idea that Britain abolished the Slave Trade in order to save money is ludicrous.

And yes, the Victorians did 'interfere' in people's personal moral behaviours, because they recognised the evils of moral laissez faire, in a society where murder was commonplace, drunkenness rife and child prostitution a fact of life. Indeed, it was the Victorians who, as late as 1860, raised the legal Age of Consent in Britain to 16 - up from 12.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if Amazing Grace was required viewing for students in public schools!

Voted up.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Another great research of a remarkable man. This brilliant tribute, only you could have written. Thank you for so much pleasure of reading it.


wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 5 years ago from upstate, NY

We need a wilberforce in America today. Who says one person of character, persistence and courage can't make a huge difference in the world.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Well I thought you had left so was shocked to come across this. It is true you would make a wonderful history teacher. As I am sure was true for many of us, history was memorizing dates and even though I memorized and kept a top score I despised it and was not at all interested. It was a chore to be endured, but you bring it alive and let us know the real thing and the real people so we know it is real not just like a verse in the bible to memorize without understanding the meaning. How much better to remember the reality and the truth, the personalities. I remember no dates other than 1776 but this I will never forget. Great job.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

gem33— Thank you for such kind compliments! I love history. I am working to complete my first book and lo and behold, it is a book on history! I appreciate your encouragement. :-)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Dexter Yarbrough— Hello! Thank you so much for the accolades and the up, up, and away! :D

I love the movie. It did downplay the Christian Faith of William Wilberforce, I suppose to make it more commercially acceptable, what with the anti-Christ tone of our times.


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

James a superb article and most enjoyable. I think your choice to not emphasize the extreme nature of his faith made it easier to relate to the man. His accomplishments are so amazing that it almost seems that he was an army of men to change the course of the British Empire in its hey day. Your presentation was very good and kept my interest throughout, congradulations on a masterful piece of work,

Peter


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Allan McGregor— My best article ever!? Why, thank you ever much, my Brother. Coming from you, who I consider the most learned of all Hubbers, I am humbly grateful for this high praise indeed.

You know what? I flubbed the exchange rate. It was laziness on my part not to research it. For some reason the ratio 5:2 stuck in my head from somewhere. I will correct this, especially since it makes it even more amazing that the British Crown would pay $100,000,000 in 1823 dollars, which is the equivalent of over eight billion dollars today! Wow!

Thank you for that needed correction, my friend.

I totally agree with your brief assessment of the Victorians. I love much about the Victorian Era and would have got along fine with those folks.

I surely appreciate your gracious note.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

RTalloni— That is a marvelous idea you have! If only it were so. I appreciate the voted up! Thank you for visiting and commenting.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Hello, hello,— Well, you are most welcome. Do you mean I am developing a recognizable style? :-)

Thank you for reading my work. I do appreciate your lovely remarks.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

wba108@yahoo.com— Hey! It's been a while. Good to hear from you. I completely agree with your comments. Well said!!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Polly— Always a pleasure to see your name in my comments, my dear.

Thank you for coming by to check out my latest article. I appreciate your gracious laudations. I have been away from HubPages while working on my first book. In the mean time, I read this book about William Wilberforce and was moved in my heart to share a bit of his story and legacy. Amazing man, eh?


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 5 years ago from USA

After reading a few political hubs this morning, I would have to say that we need someone like this in our neck of the woods. I have never heard of William before. I am glad you took the time to share a bit of his life with us. Thanks! I'm looking forward to reading your book.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Another well written and researched hub James, and an interesting life of William Wilberforce. While Wilberforce did many great things, the only quibble that I have of the evangelical Christians of that period is their habit of going to countries like India, and trying to impose their faith on them. Yes there were serious human right issues like suttee going on, but the sometimes forceful efforts at converting the populace to Christianity, who already had their own well-developed religious practices, caused resentments which would eventually contribute to the Indian Mutiny in 1857, where both sides perpetrated horrific acts and many innocent people got killed.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

You did it again, James. I am glad to know this from you and you always be my teacher. Thank you very much for you well research about William Wilberforce. I am glad to read all this information. Well done, brother. Vote it up!

Prasetio


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

An interesting read and well researched. Mind you giving up the slave trade wasn't all Christian goodness and light. It was a way of thumbing up one's nose at the Americans. Britain giving up the slave trade led to changes in many part of the empire including Australia.

It also led to New York giving up on slaves because neither London nor other major European cities wanted to deal with a city that still had slaves. The New York slaves, however, were not set free but were sent south.

I don't know if Boston has always been a city clean of slavery. Certainly some really tough abolitionists hailed from there. Some settled in Kansas in the 1850s to stop the territory reaching statehood as a slave state. Naturally the slave states sent settlers to make sure Kansas would go slave. And so Kansas was bleeding or bloody Kansas a long time before the American Civil War broke out.


Jason R. Manning profile image

Jason R. Manning 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

Hello my fine literary friend, knocking our collective socks off as usual I see. Among the many amazing things William accomplished, one line has to be reproduced to the American public; “The nation no longer was of a robust Christian character, despite retaining the outward trappings of religion.” Need we say more about our own society?

You are a sage James, keeping our minds alive with noble cause is a job in itself. God Bless you.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

Hello James. This is a very remarkable and outstanding article I have read. William Wilberforce is a great man. I enjoyed reading this hub and I will look at the movie or read the book that you suggest reading about him. Thank you very much for sharing.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

PETER LUMETTA— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I am well pleased that you enjoyed reading my work here. I sincerely appreciate the accolades.

Your comments are thoughtful. I especially like this that you wrote: "His accomplishments are so amazing that it almost seems that he was an army of men to change the course of the British Empire."

Well said!

James


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

tlpoague— You are quite welcome. Thank you for visitng and commenting. I appreciate your interest in my book.

You wrote: "I would have to say that we need someone like this in our neck of the woods."

I could not agree more with this sentence. Well put! :D


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 5 years ago from Bismarck, ND

I love the movie Amazing Grace - I just watched it again not to long ago. William Wilbaforce was an amazing man who accomplished so much for the good of people. I can't think of anyone today that even comes close to all that he did. Thanks so much for this fantastic hub!


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

This is an excellent article about a very influential and charismatic individual in British history. It reminds me of the conversion of St Paul. I can't imagine the time and energy involved in completing such a comprehensive treatment of this complex character but I am so glad you did. I have learned a lot from it and I suppose the main thing I learned from his life is how much we can accomplish when we put our minds you it in complete faith. Thank you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

CMHypno— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article on William Wilberforce. I appreciate your gracious compliments on my work.

I was not aware that the Indian Mutiny of 1857 was caused by religion or missionaries.

I do know that Wilberforce wanted missionaries to share the Gospel with the people of India but my understanding was that he was looking for volunteers for conversion, not imposition of the Christian Faith.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Prasetio30— Hello, my brother! It is always good to see that you have visited. Thank you for the accolades and you are quite welcome.

James


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Rod Marsden— Thank you for the kind compliments. It has been a while since I have heard from you. I hope all is well.

Your excellent comments show a deep level of insight and knowledge. I very much appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us about these subjects.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Jason R. Manning— I certainly appreciate the laudations, my friend. I agree with you that the line you quoted is highly relevant to the spiritual state of our nation.

Thank you for coming by to visit and for the affirmation and your encouragement. God Bless You!

The Sage :D


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Thelma Alberts— Hello! You are most welcome, my dear. I hope you do check out the book or the movie—both are truly outstanding.

Thank you for visiting and commenting. I appreciate your kind compliments. :-)


Allan McGregor profile image

Allan McGregor 5 years ago from South Lanarkshire

James,

A lot of interesting facts have been obscured about America’s attitudes towards black people.

For example, it is seldom acknowledged nowadays, but not only did blacks and whites fight side by side in 1776, but every early black member of Congress was a Republican, because the Democratic Party thoroughly opposed abolitionism, fighting the Republicans tooth and nail on the issue until 1948.

After the Civil War blacks were able to vote in the South, but this right was slowly eroded and reversed by…the Democratic Party.

Indeed, as we shall see, the Republican Party was founded to end slavery in the face of Democrat opposition, while the Democrats advocated the ‘right to hold slaves’.

Republican Abraham Lincoln even went so far as to repeatedly disregard the anti-black rulings of the Democratic-controlled US Supreme Court which he regarded as constitutionally inferior to the Presidency and Congress because it is unelected by the people.

For example, in 1854 the US Supreme Court ruled that, ‘Negroes have no rights which a white man is bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit!’

I like the the words of one commentator who paraphrased it thus: ‘This may be expressed: it is in the best interest of the Negro to be a slave, we are doing them a favour.’

Indeed, the Ku Klux Klan was a Democrat baby.

Only in 1948 did the Democrat Party begin to revise history by departing from the truth, to depict itself as the black man’s friend, in a cynical and calculated campaign to garner votes.

Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of them.

As for Boston, slave ownership there was already established by 1629 and apparently ended up with the largest slave population in Massachusetts by the mid-18th century. However, the mood had changed radically by 1854, when the Boston Slave Riot occurred, after the Federal Government tried to return a fugitive slave to Virginia.

It was out of the chaos that followed that the Republican Party was formed and in 1860 Massachusetts returned a vote of 63% in favour of the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln who stood on an Abolitionist ticket.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Thanks Allan for your information on Boston. I thought Boston having a clean bill of health was too good to be true. Even so Boston did have Protestants definitely against slavery and the slave trade by certainly the mid-1850s.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

I was on holidays for a few weeks. I get away for a bit of a fish every year.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Cari Jean— You are so welcome my dear. I totally agree with your comments. The movie is fabulous. William Wilberforce stands as truly one of the amazing men of all history. Thank you ever much for this visit and your lovely comments. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Spirit Whisperer— You are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I enjoyed reading your excellent comments.

You wrote: "the main thing I learned from his life is how much we can accomplish when we put our minds you it in complete faith."

That is exactly the main thing I learned from the life of William Wilberforce, too. Well said!!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Allan McGregor— Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us. You are absolutely correct that the Republican party was always the best friend of black folks. The Democratic party has done a masterful job—of which, as you say, Goebbels would be proud—of obscuring their own history.

As the black author Erik Rush notes in his tremendous book Negrophilia, the Democrats play the "lenient, indulgent parent. Plying the 'child' with goodies to win their affection, they also realized that this would give them power over their opposition . . . Whatever the kid wanted to do, they let him do it. All the while the tolerant parent demonized the other [Conservatives or Republicans], warping the child's perceptions of them and their motives. As a result, the offspring gravitated toward the indulgent parent . . . and resented the strict parent." Thus the black man became "spoiled, arrogant, lazy, and incompetent, with a feeling of entitlement. They behaved anti-socially, and found it nearly impossible to succeed within the merit-based paradigm of society. . . . Eventually, their behavior landed them in the penitentiary."


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Rod Marsden— I hope you had a fun and relaxing holiday. Thank you for visiting my Hub and leaving your comments.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 5 years ago from Great Britain

Fascinating article. Thank you for all your hard work. ´´They spent their honeymoon visiting the poor´´

will stick in my mind forever.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Dim Flaxenwick— You are quite welcome. I agree with you that that line is memorable alright. Thank you for reading my work. I appreciate the compliment. :-)


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 5 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

So many cool people pass through life unrecognized. You did I great job of recognizing Wilberforce. Thanks


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Neil Sperling— You are most welcome, my friend. I agree with your comments. I appreciate the compliments. :D


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

Very good, but - this story, the story of Wilberforce and the end of the slave trade in England, cannot rightly be told (unless I missed it) without recounting the influence of the remarkable John Newton on Wilberforce's decision to remain in Parliament and devote his attention to ending slavery.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

MickeySr— Welcome to the HubPages Community! I read your profile page just now and your story there is fascinating.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article on William Wilberforce. I did mention John Newton near the end of the thrid section of this report. And I surely agree with your comments and his importance to the life of Wilberforce and the ending of the slave trade.

I look forward to reading some of your writings soon. God Bless You!


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 4 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

James,

Thanks for the welcome. I do now see your reference to Newton . . . I am familiar with Wilberforce, his life and work, and I fear I may have begun to scan a bit looking for information I was not aware of, and, enjoying your writing as well.

I'm hoping you do check-out my Hubs and offer any counsel - I've not presented my writing (or thoughts) in so public a forum and am not at all confident how readable and useful my efforts might be or how they might be received.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

MickeySr— You are quite welcome. One thing about writing is that, like most anything else, the more you do it the more proficient you get at it. My writing has improved by a long ways since I started on HubPages. I will check out your first few Hubs and if I have any counsel I will surely offer it.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Oh James: It is your hub that is magnificent. This is a wonderful piece on William Wilberforce. And I am so glad to know of the book. It was the movie, "Amazing Grace" where I first learned of Wilberforce, Newton and the hymn. You have so much interesting and pertinent information about Wilberforce and I really enjoyed reading this! Your research is phenomenal. Thank you for mentioning this hub to me; I am so glad I read this!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

suzettenaples— I love that movie, "Amazing Grace." And the book is even better. I'm not just saying that because I know the author. :D

The book rightfully plays up the Christian Faith aspects of the William Wilberforce story much more than the film, which apparently was designed "not to offend" the lost.

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy day to come over and read my Hub. I sincerely appreciate your gracious accolades. And you are most welcome.

Always good to hear from you.

James


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Unrenteep— I am moved by your response to my article on William Wilberforce. Thank you ever much for sharing your thoughts with me about him and his mission. God Bless You!


oceansider 3 years ago

Hi James,

I thoroughly enjoyed your hub regarding William Wilberforce.....this was well done my friend!.....it was especially wonderful for me to read it because I have seen the beautiful movie "Amazing Grace", with Ioan Gruffud as William Wilberforce......I own the movie, because I found myself renting it over and over and telling friends to watch it....so now I have seen it so many times and love it more each time....I lend it out to friends and family because I want them to see something really special, as I have been able to.........The acting in the movie was superbly done by Ioan Gruffud and Romola Garai...(two of my all-time favorite actors).....I have seen them both in multiple British productions....."Horatio Hornblower" is a wonderful movie about the real captain Hornblower, and portrayed by Ion Gruffud......

Thank you for writing this and I am voting up, interesting, useful, beautiful and will share it!

Bless you James, take care.....Helen


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago Author

oceansider— Hello Helen! I am so glad you enjoyed my William Wilberforce Hub. His life story is one of my favorites. I sure appreciate your kind compliments, and your blessings, as well as the voted up, interesting, useful, and beautiful. Even more than that, thank you ever much for sharing this article with your friends. I am honored and grateful that you would do so. And you are most welcome, too. :-)

"Amazing Grace" is one of maybe four films that I actually own. I love it. My friend Eric Metaxas wrote the book that is a companion to the movie. I have not seen the newer "Horatio Hornblower" starring Ioan Gruffud--I have of course seen the version with Gregory Peck a couple times--but based on your recommendation I rented it today!

God Bless You Helen!

James


oceansider 3 years ago

James, I hope that you have enjoyed Horatio Hornblower with Ioan Gruffud...., and I too have seen the version with Gregory Peck, but am especially fond of the one with Mr. Gruffud.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago Author

oceansider--- Helen,

I watched part one and so far it is good. I look forward to the rest. Thanks again for the recommendation!

James


Verily Prime profile image

Verily Prime 2 years ago from New York

A Tour-De-Force of Writing - who knew a Hub could be long and enlighteningly entertaining....

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