Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Amazing Grace: How Sweet the Sound!

The sound of Freedom is always sweet, but generally not gained easily.
This weekend I viewed a film that a friend of mine loaned me, saying that I probably would enjoy it, and enjoy it I did!

AMAZING GRACE, the story of Englishman William Wilberforce and his struggle to bring an end to the slave trade. In the late 1700's, he was an activist for the cause of the abolition of slavery. He was a member of Parliament inthe House of Commons for the Yorkshire district.

Through the East India Company, England was enjoying a profitable income from the slaves brought over from Africa, sold to work on the plantations in the West Indies. One of the most appalling aspects of this endeavor was the way in which the slaves were taken against their will from their homes in African villages (not only rounded up by the English, but also sold off by their own people), then enduring a 2-3 week hourney on shipboard, chained in the hull for the duration in an area approximately 14" wide by 8' long per person, fed little or no food or water. Forced to stay chained in a tiny space, remaining in their own waste, they eventually succumbed to dysentery or other horrendous infections or maladies, a great percentage of them dying along the way, and being dumped overboard. Those that died under such conditions were probably the lucky ones. Of the estimated 11 million Africans transported into slavery, about 1.4 million died during the voyage.

Wilberforce soon saw the greed of the government isolate him from most of his contemporaries who looked the other way on this issue. he did have the help and support of his Prime Minister William Pitt (at left), who helped rally helpful people around Willian. By persistence he eventually exposed man's inhumanity to man, and the slave trade was abolished, but long after he championed the cuase for change. His health declined later in life, but he had made great strides toward change, and though he died before he saw that change, Parliament did pass the Slavery Abolition Act in 1834, a month after his death. By the way, William also championed other humanitarian causes including the formation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Wilberforce is buried in the north transept of Westminster Abbey in London, close to his friend Pitt.

The film, with its most excellent British cast, portrays the players and the times to perfection. Well worth the watch!

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