History Heroes: Amazing Grace, Liberty and Slavery

Dinner Topics for Thursday

wilberforceAmazing Grace: William Wilberforce

If you have not seen the movie “Amazing Grace” by Walden Media, I highly recommend it. It is a wonderful portrayal of Wilberforce’s heroic achievement. Note that his law made slave trade in Britain illegal, but total emancipation in the United States was not achieved until January 1, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, after the United States fought a bitter civil war over this issue.

~C.A. Davidson

Wilberforce headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation, and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.

 

In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to his friend William Pitt.

 

Conversion

In February 1785, Wilberforce returned to the United Kingdom temporarily, to support Pitt’s proposals for parliamentary reforms. He rejoined the party in Genoa, Italy, from where they continued their tour to Switzerland. Milner accompanied Wilberforce to England, and on the journey they read The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul by Philip Doddridge, a leading early 18th-century English nonconformist.[36]

Wilberforce’s spiritual journey is thought to have begun at this time. He started to rise early to read the Bible and pray and kept a private journal.[37] He underwent an evangelical conversion, regretting his past life and resolving to commit his future life and work to the service of God.[7] His conversion changed some of his habits but not his nature: he remained outwardly cheerful, interested, and respectful, tactfully urging others towards his new faith.[38] Inwardly, he underwent an agonising struggle and became relentlessly self-critical, harshly judging his spirituality, use of time, vanity, self-control, and relationships with others.[39]

At the time religious enthusiasm was generally regarded as a social transgression and was stigmatised in polite society. Evangelicals in the upper classes, such as Sir Richard Hill, the Methodist MP for Shropshire, and Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon were exposed to contempt and ridicule,[40] and Wilberforce’s conversion led him to question whether he should remain in public life. Wilberforce sought guidance from John Newton, a leading Evangelical Anglican clergyman of the day and Rector of St Mary Woolnoth in the City of London.[41][42] Both Newton and Pitt counselled Wilberforce to remain in politics, and he resolved to do so “with increased diligence and conscientiousness”.[7] Thereafter, his political views were informed by his faith and by his desire to promote Christianity and Christian ethics in private and public life.[43][44] His views were often deeply conservative, opposed to radical changes in a God-given political and social order, and focused on issues such as the observance of the Sabbath and the eradication of immorality through education and reform.[45] As a result, he was often distrusted by progressive voices because of his conservatism, and regarded with suspicion by many Tories who saw Evangelicals as radicals, bent on the overthrow of church and state.[24]

Abolition of the slave trade

Initial decision

The British initially became involved in the slave trade during the 16th century. By 1783, the triangular route that took British-made goods to Africa to buy slaves, transported the enslaved to the West Indies, and then brought slave-grown products such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to Britain, represented about 80 percent of Great Britain’s foreign income.[49][50] British ships dominated the trade, supplying French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and British colonies, and in peak years carried forty thousand enslaved men, women and children across the Atlantic in the horrific conditions of the middle passage.[51] Of the estimated 11 million Africans transported into slavery, about 1.4 million died during the voyage.[52]

The British campaign to abolish the slave trade is generally considered to have begun in the 1780s with the establishment of the Quakers‘ antislavery committees, and their presentation to Parliament of the first slave trade petition in 1783.[53][54] The same year, Wilberforce, while dining with his old Cambridge friend Gerard Edwards,[55] met Rev. James Ramsay, a ship’s surgeon who had become a clergyman on the island of St Christopher (later St Kitts) in the Leeward Islands, and a medical supervisor of the plantations there. What Ramsay had witnessed of the conditions endured by the slaves, both at sea and on the plantations, horrified him. Returning to England after fifteen years, he accepted the living of Teston, Kent in 1781, and there met Sir Charles Middleton, Lady Middleton, Thomas Clarkson, Hannah More and others, a group that later became known as the Testonites.[56] Interested in promoting Christianity and moral improvement in Britain and overseas, they were appalled by Ramsay’s reports of the depraved lifestyles of slave owners, the cruel treatment meted out to the enslaved, and the lack of Christian instruction provided to the slaves.[57] With their encouragement and help, Ramsay spent three years writing An essay on the treatment and conversion of African slaves in the British sugar colonies, which was highly critical of slavery in the West Indies. The book, published in 1784, was to have an important impact in raising public awareness and interest, and it excited the ire of West Indian planters who in the coming years attacked both Ramsay and his ideas in a series of pro-slavery tracts.[58]

In early 1787, Thomas Clarkson, a fellow graduate of St John’s, Cambridge, who had become convinced of the need to end the slave trade after writing a prize-winning essay on the subject while at Cambridge,[56] called upon Wilberforce at Old Palace Yard with a published copy of the work.[63][64] This was the first time the two men had met; their collaboration would last nearly fifty years.[65][66] Clarkson began to visit Wilberforce on a weekly basis, bringing first-hand evidence [67] he had obtained about the slave trade.[65] The Quakers, already working for abolition, also recognised the need for influence within Parliament, and urged Clarkson to secure a commitment from Wilberforce to bring forward the case for abolition in the House of Commons.[68][69]

Following Pitt’s death in January 1806 Wilberforce began to collaborate more with the Whigs, especially the abolitionists. He gave general support to the Grenville-Fox administration, which brought more abolitionists into the cabinet; Wilberforce and Charles Fox led the campaign in the House of Commons, while Lord Grenville advocated the cause in the House of Lords.[118][139]

Lord Grenville, the Prime Minister, was determined to introduce an Abolition Bill in the House of Lords rather than in the House of Commons, taking it through its greatest challenge first.[147] When a final vote was taken, the bill was passed in the House of Lords by a large margin.[149] Sensing a breakthrough that had been long anticipated, Charles Grey moved for a second reading in the Commons on 23 February 1807. As tributes were made to Wilberforce, whose face streamed with tears, the bill was carried by 283 votes to 16.[144][150] Excited supporters suggested taking advantage of the large majority to seek the abolition of slavery itself but Wilberforce made it clear that total emancipation was not the immediate goal: “They had for the present no object immediately before them, but that of putting stop directly to the carrying of men in British ships to be sold as slaves.”[151] The Slave Trade Act received the Royal Assent on 25 March 1807.

Continued

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Biography: Booker T. Washington

Book Review

Booker T. Washington was a great educator.  I read his book, Up from Slavery, many years ago,  enjoyed it very much, and I recommend it. It is classic literature for teaching character education. Rising above victim status, he provided a way for many people to get a good education and have better lives.

Booker T. Washington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Booker_T_Washington_portrait_Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an African-American educator, author, orator, and advisor to Republican presidents. He was the dominant leader in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915.

Representative of the last generation of black American leaders born in slavery, he spoke on behalf of the large majority of blacks who lived in the South but had lost their ability to vote through disfranchisement by southern legislatures. Historians note that Washington, “advised, networked, cut deals, made threats, pressured, punished enemies, rewarded friends, greased palms, manipulated the media, signed autographs, read minds with the skill of a master psychologist, strategized, raised money, always knew where the camera was pointing, traveled with an entourage, waved the flag with patriotic speeches, and claimed to have no interest in partisan politics. In other words, he was an artful politician.”[1]

While his opponents called his powerful network of supporters the “Tuskegee Machine,” Washington maintained control because of his ability to gain support of numerous groups including influential whites and the black business, educational and religious communities nationwide. He advised on financial donations from philanthropists, and avoided antagonizing white Southerners with his accommodation to the political realities of the age of Jim Crow segregation.[2]

Overview

Washington was born into slavery to Jane, an enslaved woman, and a white father. His father was a nearby planter, in a rural area of the Piedmont region in southwestern Virginia. After emancipation, his mother moved the family to rejoin her husband in West Virginia; there Washington worked in a variety of manual labor jobs before making his way to Hampton Roads seeking an education. He worked his way through Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) and attended college at Wayland Seminary (now Virginia Union University). In 1876, Washington returned to live in Malden, West Virginia, teaching Sunday School at African Zion Baptist Church; he married his first wife, Fannie Smith, at the church in 1881.[3] After returning to Hampton as a teacher, in 1881 he was named as the first leader of the new Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

Washington attained national prominence for his Atlanta Address of 1895, which attracted the attention of politicians and the public, making him a popular spokesperson for African-American citizens. He built a nationwide network of supporters in many black communities, with black ministers, educators and businessmen composing his core supporters. Washington played a dominant role in black politics, winning wide support in the black community and among more liberal whites (especially rich Northern whites). He gained access to top national leaders in politics, philanthropy and education. Washington’s efforts included cooperating with white people and enlisting the support of wealthy philanthropists, helping to raise funds to establish and operate thousands of small community schools and institutions of higher education for the betterment of blacks throughout the South. This work continued for many years after his death. Washington argued that the surest way for blacks to gain equal social rights was to demonstrate “industry, thrift, intelligence and property.”

Northern critics called Washington’s followers the “Tuskegee Machine”. After 1909, Washington was criticized by the leaders of the new NAACP, especially W. E. B. Du Bois, who demanded a stronger tone of protest for advancement of civil rights needs. Washington replied that confrontation would lead to disaster for the outnumbered blacks, and that cooperation with supportive whites was the only way to overcome pervasive racism in the long run. At the same time, he secretly funded litigation for civil rights cases, such as challenges to southern constitutions and laws that disfranchised blacks.[4][page needed] Washington was on close terms with national republican leaders, and often was asked for political advice by presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.[5]

In addition to his contributions in education, Washington wrote 14 books; his autobiography, Up From Slavery, first published in 1901, is still widely read today. During a difficult period of transition, he did much to improve the working relationship between the races. His work greatly helped blacks to achieve higher education, financial power and understanding of the U.S. legal system. This contributed to blacks’ attaining the skills to create and support the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, leading to the passage of important federal civil rights laws.

Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute

The organizers of the new all-black state school called Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama found the energetic leader they sought in 25-year-old Washington. He believed that with self-help, people could go from poverty to success. The new school opened on July 4, 1881, initially using space in a local church. The next year, Washington purchased a former plantation, which became the permanent site of the campus. Under his direction, his students literally built their own school: making bricks, constructing classrooms, barns and outbuildings; and growing their own crops and raising livestock; both for learning and to provide for most of the basic necessities.[12] Both men and women had to learn trades as well as academics. Washington helped raise funds to establish and operate hundreds of small community schools and institutions of higher educations for blacks.[13][page needed] The Tuskegee faculty used all the activities to teach the students basic skills to take back to their mostly rural black communities throughout the South. The main goal was not to produce farmers and tradesmen, but teachers of farming and trades who taught in the new schools and colleges for blacks across the South. The school expanded over the decades, adding programs and departments, to become the present-day Tuskegee University.[14][page needed]

Washington expressed his aspirations for his race in his direction of the school. He believed that by providing needed skills to society, African Americans would play their part, leading to acceptance by white Americans. He believed that blacks would eventually gain full participation in society by acting as responsible, reliable American citizens. Shortly after the Spanish-American War, President William McKinley and most of his cabinet visited Washington. He led the school until his death in 1915. By then Tuskegee’s endowment had grown to over $1.5 million, compared to its initial $2,000 annual appropriation.[

Marriages and children

Washington was married three times. In his autobiography Up From Slavery, he gave all three of his wives credit for their contributions at Tuskegee. His first wife Fannie N. Smith was from Malden, West Virginia, the same Kanawha River Valley town where Washington had lived from age nine to sixteen. He maintained ties there all his life. Washington and Smith were married in the summer of 1882. They had one child, Portia M. Washington. Fannie died in May 1884.[14][page needed]

Washington next wed Olivia A. Davidson in 1885. Born in Virginia, she had studied at Hampton Institute and the Massachusetts State Normal School at Framingham. She taught in Mississippi and Tennessee before going to Tuskegee to work. Washington met Davidson as a teacher at Tuskegee, where she was promoted to assistant principal there. They had two sons, Booker T. Washington Jr. and Ernest Davidson Washington, before she died in 1889.

In 1893 Washington married Margaret James Murray. She was from Mississippi and had graduated from Fisk University, a historically black college. They had no children together, but she helped rear Washington’s children. Murray outlived Washington and died in 1925.

Wealthy friends and benefactors

Washington associated with the richest and most powerful businessmen and politicians of the era. He was seen as a spokesperson for African Americans and became a conduit for funding educational programs. His contacts included such diverse and well-known personages as Andrew Carnegie, William Howard Taft, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Huttleston Rogers, George Eastman, Julius Rosenwald, Robert Ogden, Collis Potter Huntington and William Henry Baldwin Jr., who donated large sums of money to agencies such as the Jeanes and Slater Funds. As a result, countless small schools were established through his efforts, in programs that continued many years after his death. Along with rich people, black communities also helped their communities by donating time, money and labor to schools. Churches such as the Baptist and Methodist also supported black elementary and secondary schools.

 

Read more

 

Compare: Christian Traditions and Kwanzaa

How does Kwanzaa compare to Christmas?

Gary DeMar

nativityclipartCoulter gets to the heart of the distinction between Kwanzaa and Christmas: “Kwanzaa liberates no one; Christianity liberates everyone, proclaiming that we are all equal before God. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). Not surprisingly, it was practitioners of that faith who were at the forefront of the abolitionist and civil rights movements.”

 

Nancy Pelosi asked, “Is there not an appreciation for the Jewish holidays? The Christmas holiday? Kwanzaa?

 

History and Origins of Kwanzaa

The origins of Kwanzaa are political.

Ron “Maulana” Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first specifically African-American holiday. Kwanzaa celebrates race. Anybody who argues that Kwanzaa is not comparable to Christmas is, of course, a racist. But Kwanzaa is all about race. It is a black-only celebration.

Kwanzaa is more than a celebration of black history and culture, something that Black History Month does. In 1965s, Karenga was a co-founder of “US Organization,” or “Organization Us,” as in “us and them,” a violent Black Nationalist group. The Black Panthers were ideological and political rivals of the US Organization, describing them as “United Slaves.”

In 1971, Karenga was convicted of felony assault and imprisoned for assaulting and torturing two women members of US. He spent five years in prison. As his trial, a “psychiatrist reportedly observed that Karenga talked to his blanket and imaginary persons, and believed he’d been attacked by dive-bombers.”

Ann Coulter writes:

“United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, gunning down Black Panthers and adopting invented ‘African’ names. . . . Kwanzaa itself is a nutty blend of schmaltzy ’60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven ‘principles’ of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life . . . .”

The Kwanzaa principles of “community” and “unity” are about Black unity and community: “Unity of family, community, nation and race” — an “us vs. them” worldview. Whites are the “them.”

Hanukkah,also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the post-exilic temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC.

According to the Talmud, the Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day’s lighting.

The first-century Jewish Historian Flavius Josephusdescribes the celebrationin his book Jewish Antiquities.[1]

Christmas celebrates God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14). Jesus was born into a Jewish home of the tribe of Judah. While Jewish in human heritage, his message was for the world. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In the next chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman, or I should say, a Samaritan woman encounters Jesus. She said to Jesus, “‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” (4:9).

Jesus united people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds (Acts 8:25–39).

After hearing her encounter with Jesus, “many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified ‘He told me all the things that I have done’” (4:39). They later testified, “this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (4:42).

Coulter gets to the heart of the distinction between Kwanzaa and Christmas: “Kwanzaa liberates no one; Christianity liberates everyone, proclaiming that we are all equal before God. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). Not surprisingly, it was practitioners of that faith who were at the forefront of the abolitionist and civil rights movements.”
Jewish Antiquities xii. 7, § 7, #323.