I wrote the following post last year, and since I’m still inspired by the life, courage, dedication, and perseverance of William Wilberforce, I wanted to share it again today. I hope you too will be inspired by this great man . . .
The early morning of February 24, 1807, was a great moment in history. After a long and difficult struggle to abolish the British slave trade, William Wilberforce’s goal was finally realized! Here is a glimpse back into that day . . .
At 4am, on February 24, 1807, the House of Commons voted by 283 to 16 for the second reading of a bill to abolish the British slave trade. In an almost unprecedented gesture, nearly the entire house rose to cheer one of its members who, for two decades, had been ignored, abused or violently opposed for making the promotion of this measure his life’s work.
William Wilberforce, the Yorkshire MP, was “completely overpowered by my feelings” and sat with tears streaming down his face. His campaign had been extraordinary. He made himself perhaps the most influential back-bencher in British parliamentary history. A remarkable man espoused a great cause to the point of obsession, and thereby achieved greatness for himself.
That quote is from an article that was written in 2007, reviewing William Hague’s biography of William Wilberforce entitled, William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner. What a moving scene that must have been. It makes me feel like cheering and crying all at the same time just thinking about it!
It took twenty years of hard work before Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists saw the abolition of the British slave trade, but they had to wait another twenty-six years before they would see the abolition of slavery itself in the British empire, three days before William Wilberforce died in 1833. What a commitment he had to spend his life working so hard to abolish slavery!
Sadly, slavery still goes on today. In fact, there are more slaves today than at any other time in history. And yet, there are also many people and organizations working to end modern-day slavery with the same tireless commitment that Wilberforce had!
For more great books and resources about William Wilberforce, see my other posts about him, and check out this article from a few years ago to learn a little more about modern-day slavery, as well as William Wilberforce and the movie about his life, Amazing Grace.
“So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.” ~ William Wilberforce
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.” ~ William Wilberforce, 1789
“Our God is just and will use the efforts of just men to prevail.” ~ Olaudah Equiano in the Radio Theatre production of Amazing Grace
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)