After Amazing Grace ...,
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This review is from: William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner (Hardcover)
Having been fascinated by the film and curious to learn more, I was led to this beautifully written and thoroughly engaging life of William Wilberforce. Amazing Grace focussed on the years 1782-1807 which were a time of immense activity for Wilberforce and the Abolition campaign. However, both the life of William Wilberforce and the fight against slavery neither began nor ended there.
Here, William Hague describes the early years and development of Wilberforce, noting the influences that affected him and charting his path towards a position of political influence. He examines the history of British involvement in the slave trade and in considering the arguments used in its defence; it is tempting to hear echoes of those used in more recent times to defend other questionable industries fighting regulation. In tracing the roots of the Abolition movement as it grew in strength throughout the 18th Century, it was a revelation to discover the many other individuals from among that early cloud of witness who spoke out against slavery and how the growth of Methodism and Evangelical Christianity not only strengthened the cause, but in the conversion of Wilberforce shaped his entire attitude to policy-making and under-pinned his determination to rid the world of slavery. In describing Wilberforce's conversion; Christian beliefs and motivations, I think Hague writes particularly well: being neither patronising nor making the mistake of viewing his faith through a filter of 21st century values.
Through this account Wilberforce emerges as a thoroughly likeable person, with interests in a wide range of causes quite apart from his commitment to Abolition. Depth and detail are added to the inspiring journey of those early few against the many; their unflagging enthusiasm; their indefatigable stoicism in the face of failure and their ultimate success in a race against time. The complicated legal manoeuvre went over my head a bit in the film, but it is all clearly explained here. The Act of 1807 (where Amazing Grace ends) could perhaps be better described as the beginning of the end of slavery, so if you want to know what happened next and how William Wilberforce spent the remaining 25 years of his life then this book is the perfect place to continue the story. This has borne reading again, so sit back; be absorbed and enjoy ...