“A fine and important book.” (Chicago Sun-Times)
“The little-known story of the lifelong struggle of a member of Parliament to abolish slavery in the British Empire.” (USA Today)
From the Back Cover
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 and Wilberforce 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.