Several years ago while entering family names into my family history data base, I came across an interesting name: William Wilberforce Fowles, b. 9 Jan 1840 in Pershore, Worcester, England. I remember wondering about his name as I entered it (this was before the movie Amazing Grace taught me about who William Wilberforce was. William Wilberforce Fowles had a brother named Henry b. 1844 who married my Great Great Aunt, Sarah Erminnine “Sadie” Bushman in 1888. They had 4 children. Sadie is the daughter of Jacob and Charlotte Bushman. Henry was born in England 11 years after William’s Wilberforce’s death.
Aunt Sadie is one of my very favorites. You can read her fascinating story on my blog, Ann’s Stories here:
Today we remember William Wilberforce who died on July 29,1833
William Wilberforce, an evangelical Christian in eighteenth-century England, dedicated his life to abolishing slavery. In 1780, Wilberforce was elected to Parliament. After an experience of spiritual rebirth, Wilberforce began to see his life’s purpose: to use his political life in the service of God. He believed that there was no evil greater than the institution of slavery. “Let the consequences be what they would,” he wrote. “I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.” In 1798, he began his campaign: speaking, circulating flyers and petitions, and introducing bills in Parliament. In 1806, Wilberforce managed to get a bill in Parliament passed that prohibited slavery in all British colonies. By the time Wilberforce died in 1833, Parliament had finally passed a bill that would free all slaves throughout the British Empire.
Learn more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/wilberforce_william.shtml
A few Wilberforce quotes:
“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow creatures is to be a fanatic; I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”
“A private faith that does not act in the face of oppression is no faith at all.”
“Let it not be said that I was silent when they needed me.”
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
“We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible… so we will do them anyway.”
If you are looking for a good way to remember him, watch the film Amazing Grace.
Interesting that John Newton, a contemporary of Wilberforce who wrote the song “Amazing Grace” was the captain of a slave ship (before his conversion).