William Wilberforce

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.

William Wilberforce (August 24 1759July 29 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. His third son was Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.

SourcedEdit

Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions;
  • “God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners”
    • C. MacFarlane & T. Thomson. (1792), The comprehensive history of England, from the earliest period to the suppression of the Sepoy revolt, page 752.
  • When we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God? Sir, the nature and all the circumstances of this trade are now laid open to us; we can no longer plead ignorance, we can not evade it; it is now an object placed before us, we can not pass it; we may spurn it, we may kick it out of our way, but we can not turn aside so as to avoid seeing it; for it is brought now so directly before our eyes that this House must decide, and must justify to all the world, and to their own consciences, the rectitude of the grounds and principles of their decision.
  • Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained, for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts; let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished 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 dishonour to this country.
    • Speech before the House of Commons (18 April 1791)
  • You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.
    • Close of a speech in House of Commons (1791), as quoted in Once Blind : The Life of John Newton (2008) by Kay Marshall Strom, p. 225
  • The gospel freely admitted makes a man happy. It gives him peace with God, and makes him happy in God. It gives to industry a noble, contented look which selfish drudgery never wore; and from the moment that a man begins to do his work for his Saviour's sake, he feels that the most ordinary employments are full of sweetness and dignity, and that the most difficult are not impossible. And if any of you, my friends, is weary with his work, if dissatisfaction with yourself or sorrow of any kind disheartens you, if at any time you feel the dull paralysis of conscious sin, or the depressing influence of vexing thoughts, look to Jesus, and be happy. Be happy, and your joyful work will prosper well.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 368.

William Wilberforce (2007)Edit

Quotes of Wilberforce from the biography by William Hague
  • 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.
    • Accepting the position of leader of the anti-slavery campaign.
  • God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners (morality).

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Last modified on 8 May 2013, at 12:42