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Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slaveryby Eric Metaxas
Synopses & Reviews
Amazing Grace tells the story of the remarkable life of the British abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759-1833). This accessible biography chronicles Wilberforce's extraordinary role as a human rights activist, cultural reformer, and member of Parliament.
At the center of this heroic life was a passionate twenty-year fight to abolish the British slave trade, a battle Wilberforce won in 1807, as well as efforts to abolish slavery itself in the British colonies, a victory achieved just three days before his death in 1833.
Metaxas discovers in this unsung hero a man of whom it can truly be said: he changed the world. Before Wilberforce, few thought slavery was wrong. After Wilberforce, most societies in the world came to see it as a great moral wrong.
To mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade, HarperSanFrancisco and Bristol Bay Productions have joined together to commemorate the life of William Wilberforce with the feature-length film Amazing Grace and this companion biography, which provides a fuller account of the amazing life of this great man than can be captured on film.
This account of Wilberforce's life will help many become acquainted with an exceptional man who was a hero to Abraham Lincoln and an inspiration to the anti-slavery movement in America.
Book News Annotation:
This volume recounts the life of British abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759-1833), including his work as a human rights activist, cultural reformer, and member of Parliament. Wilberforce inspired Abraham Lincoln and others in America and affected the end of slavery not only in Britain, but around the world, Metaxas argues. The volume is a companion biography to the film Amazing Grace, which marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade. No index is provided. Metaxas is the author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask) and 30 children's books. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Amazing Grace is based on the true story of William Wilberforce, a British statesman and reformer from the early part of the 19th century. It chronicles his extraordinary contributions to the world, primarily his 20-year fight to abolish the British slave trade, which he won in 1807. He was also instrumental in passing legislation to abolish slavery in the British colonies, a victory he won just three days before his death in 1833. He was a hero to Abraham Lincoln and an inspiration to the anti-slavery movement in America. America needs to become reacquainted with this moral hero.
In 1784 Wilberforce had a conversion experience. He joined the Clapham Set, a group of pious and activist members of the Anglican Church, centered around John Venn, rector of Clapham Church in London. As a result of this conversion, Wilberforce became interested in social reform and was eventually approached by Lady Middleton to use his power as an MP to bring an end to the slave trade.
Wilberforce became one of the leader of the anti-slave trade movement. Most of Wilberforce's Tory colleagues in the House of Commons were opposed to any restrictions on the slave trade and at first he had to rely on the support of Whigs. When William Wilberforce presented his first bill to abolish the slave trade in 1791 it was easily defeated by 163 votes to 88. Wilberforce refused to be beaten and in 1805 the House of Commons passed a bill that made it unlawful for any British subject to transport slaves, but the measure was blocked by the House of Lords. In February 1806, Lord Grenville formed a Whig administration. Grenville and his Foreign Secretary, Charles Fox, were strong opponents of the slave trade. Fox andWilberforce led the campaign in the House of Commons, whereas Grenville had the task of persuading the House of Lords to accept the measure. When the vote was taken the Abolition of the Slave Trade bill was passed in the House of Lords by 41 votes to 20. In the House of Commons it was carried by 114 to 15 and it became law on 25th March, 1807.
Unfortunately, the passing of this legislation did not put an end to the practice of slave trading. Even though British captains who were caught continuing the trade were fined L100 for every slave found on board, captains often reduced the fines they had to pay by ordering the slaves to be thrown into the sea. William Wilberforce died on 29th July, 1833 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. One month later, Parliament passed what Wilberforce had dedicated his life toward; they passed the Slavery Abolition Act that gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom.
This biography of one of the foremost abolitionists of Britain's anti-slavery movement will be the official tie-in book to the film Amazing Grace by Walden Media.
About the Author
Eric Metaxas is the author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask) and thirty children's books. He is founder and host of Socrates in the City in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Washington Post, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Mars Hill Review, and First Things. He has written for VeggieTales and Rabbit Ears Productions, earning three Grammy nominations for Best Children's Recording.
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