Morals, Period 6
April 9, 2013
Amazing Grace is based on the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce. His friends William Pitt, Thomas Clarkson, Hannah More and others persuaded William to take on the dangerous issue of the British slave trade. Wilberforce became Member of Parliament in 1780 and navigated the world of 18th Century backroom politics to end the slave trade in the British Empire. John Newton, a former slave ship captain, inspired him to pursue a life of service to humanity and do the work of God. William Pitt becomes Prime Minister and William Wilberforce becomes a key supporter and confidant. William began his fight against slavery in 1787 with his first bill outlawing slave trade. This fight led him to become highly unpopular in the House of Commons amongst the Members of Parliament representing vested interests of the trade in the cities of London, Bristol, and Liverpool.
Despite popular support and the assistance of an unlikely ally in the form of Charles James Fox, William's bill to abolish the slave trade goes down to defeat. Pitt seems as one of his few friends and allies remaining in Parliament, however, even their relationship becomes strained. Pitt, now facing the stresses of leading a shaky coalition during the French Revolutionary Wars, tells William that his cause must now wait for a more stable political climate. Now William must decide if he wants to carry on with his cause despite Pitt’s wishes or listen to him and just wait it out. William does become frustrated because he feels he is not moving forward and wonders if he should give up on politics for good. Wilberforce knows he cannot give up, so he introduced the bill allowing the Crown to attack ships flying neutral flags. Attacking illegal slave ships flying the flag of a neutral country would severely reduce the provisions sent to the slave-holding Caribbean colonies by ships using the American flag for protection. Not only...