“Never, never will we desist till we … extinguish every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonor to this country.”
- William Wilberforce, The British Parliamentarian on describing his battle for the freedom of blacks from slavery
In July, 2014, I spent a week in a timeshare in the French Quarter of New Orleans at Operation Save America's (OSA) National Event. My roommates for the week were none other than Abolish Human Abortion's founders Toby Harmon and T. Russell Hunter. At least a dozen leaders of Abortion Abolitionist Societies throughout America linked up with OSA for a week long evangelistic outreach to the city of New Orleans. I had heard a lot about Toby and Russell and the growing AHA movement, and it was great to spend a week in a tiny apartment and driving around the city in Toby's van getting to know them.
This video was shot on an outreach to the University of Louisiana camps in Baton Rouge. Russell describes how his study of William Wilberforce as a Ph.D. candidate led him to become a full-time abortion abolitionist.
Wilberforce, a Member of Parliament, was active for many years in the unsuccessful attempt to pass abolition. Debate continued for years. In 1807, the abolition of the slave trade was effected throughout the British Empire. In 1807, only the trading slaves became illegal. Slavery was not abolished in England until 1833.
The question as applied to the abortion issue is often asked: Does this mean Wilberforce was an anti-slavery incrementalist rather than an immediatist abolitionist?
Wilberforce, a Member of Parliament, was active at the time in the unsuccessful attempt to pass abolition. Debate continued for several years and in 1807 the abolition of the slave trade was effected throughout the British Empire.
Wilberforce got his Christian inspiration by luminaries of the Great Awakening, such as the world famous preacher George Whitefied and former slave trader and author of the hymn, "Amazing Grace," John Newton. Here T. Russell Hunter describes how Wilberforce was probably most influenced by John Wesley.
On February 24, 1791 at age 88, six days before Wesley's death, this last letter was addressed to William Wilberforce. Wesley had spoken out forcibly against slavery and in 1774, he wrote the influential, "Thoughts Upon Slavery."
The text of the letter is given below. The “tract” to which Wesley refers was written by a former slave, Gustavus Vassa who was born in 1745 in Africa, kidnapped and sold as a slave in Barbados. In 1757 he was sent to England and was converted to Christianity.
************** Dear Sir: Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as “Athanasius against the world,” I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it. Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by the circumstance, that a man who has black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a LAW in our Colonies that the OATH of a black man against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this! That He who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things is the prayer of, dear sir, Your affectionate servant, John Wesley