British abolition's faith-based rootsBreaking News
When Wilberforce first raised his voice in the House of Commons for the cause of abolition in May 1789, he spoke for 3 1/2 hours. Yet the absence of partisanship must have taken his colleagues by surprise. "I mean not to accuse anyone," he insisted, "but take the shame upon myself, in common indeed with the whole Parliament of Britain, for having suffered this horrid trade to be carried on under their authority."
Wilberforce built a human rights coalition that cut across political and ideological lines, uniting Whigs with establishment Tories and Anglicans with evangelicals and Quakers. His success, it seems, owed much to his genuine devotion to the plight of African slaves, regardless of the political costs.
A convert to evangelical Christianity, Wilberforce is greatly admired in religious circles today, if not always imitated. Early in his parliamentary career, he made a vow to avoid the corruptions of political influence — and kept it. He was known for his intellectual seriousness and personal charm. French author Madame de Stael confessed her surprise after dining with him: "I have always heard that he was the most religious, but I now find that he is the wittiest man in England."
comments powered by Disqus
- The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age
- ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias
- New Yorker profiles activist who's drawing attention to lynchings
- Wisconsin GOP senator wants to replace history professors with Ken Burns videos
- UT removes Confederate inscription that it previously said would stay
- OAH President Nancy Cott says the Library of Congress is being politicized
- NYT publishes historians' plea for the revival of political history
- Some Ohio University professors ditch the textbooks, and the prices
- Renowned Israeli Holocaust Historian: ‘If I Were a British Jew, I’d Be Worried’
- Heather Ann Thompson pries loose the long-kept secrets of Attica in her new book