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Wilberforce and Pitt Slave Trade Speaches

Wilberforce and Pitt Slave Trade Speaches

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Published by charlottemasonmom
From the book "A Treasury of the World's Great Speeches" which is in the public domain. You can find the source in the Public Domain on Google Books.
From the book "A Treasury of the World's Great Speeches" which is in the public domain. You can find the source in the Public Domain on Google Books.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: charlottemasonmom on Jun 26, 2011
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03/29/2012

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PARTSEVEN
THEAFRICANSLAVETRADE
WILLIAMWILBERFORCE,INTHEHOUSEOFCOMMONS,PICTURESTHESLAVETRADEINALLITSHORROR[May
12,1789]
T.ECRUSADE
gainstNegro
slavery
callsup
in
American
minds
suchnamesasWilliamLloydGarrison,Wendell
Phillips,
Harriet
BeecherStowe,John
Brown,andAbraham
Lincoln,
butdecadesbefore
tbe
foundingofGarrison'sLiberator,in
1831,
2
group
at
dedicatedandtireless
Englishmenhad
started
the
great
agitation.
Asearlyas
1772,
GranvilleSharpwon
a
casebefore
thefamousjudge,LordMansfield,
establishingtheprinciplethat
any
slavewholanded
on
British
soil
was
free.
ThomasClarkson's
special
contributionwastheamassing
of
evidence
of
theiniquities
of
theslave
trade,
forwhichpurposeheexamined
hundredsofshipsandtraced
the
fateofthousandsof
Negroes.
He
joinedvigorously
inthe
work
of
theBritish
and
ForeignAnti-Slavery
Society,
took
a
lively
interest
infugitive
slavesinCanada,and
didwhathecould
to
preventtheannexation
ofTexasbythe
United
States.
Associatedwith
Sharpand
Clarksonin
the
Britishabolitionmovementwas
thestatesmanand
humanitarianleader,WilliamWilberforce
(1759-1833).
Theson
ofaprosperous
commercialfamily,hewent
to
Cambridge,where
he
became
oneof
thefew
intimatefriendsof
thecold
and
aloof
Mr.
Pitt.EnteringParliamentin
1780,
hiswit
and
eloquencesoonmadehim
popularandprom-
inent.Five
yearslater
heexperiencedwhathasbeencalledanevangelical"con-version,"whichleft
astrongimprint
ofpietyandmoral
courageonhischaracter.In
the
year
1788
hesufferedagrave
illnessandwas
notexpectedto
live
more
than
afortnight.Ashe
lay
on
whathethoughtwashis
deathbed,heexactedfrom
his
friendPitt,
nowPrime
Minister,
the
promisetodo
whathe
couldfor
theabolition
of
theslave
trade.A
fewmonthslater,Pitt,withthe
enthusi-asticsupportof
Fox
andBurke,persuadedCommonsto
take
up
the
questionofthe
slave
tradeat
the
nextsession,anda
bill
wasaccordinglydrawn
up.
 
WILLIAMWILBERFORCEPICTURESTHESLAVETRADE
Havingrecoveredhishealth
by
May,
1789,
Wilberforceaddressed
the
Com-monsonthedistant,
almost
unimaginablehorrorsof
the
slavetrade.
«The
number
ofdeathsspeaksforitself."
I
OPENING,concerningthenatureoftheslavetrade,Ineedonly
observethat
it
isfound
by
experiencetobejustsuchaseveryman
whouseshisreasonwouldmfalliblyconclude
it
to
be.For
my
ownpa:-t,sodearlyam
J
convincedofthemischiefsinseparablefrom
it
thatIshouldhardlywantanyfurtherevidence
Ulan
my
ownmindwouldfur-nishbythemostsimpledeductions.Facts,however,arenowlaidbeforetheHouse.AreporthasbeenmadebyhisMajesty'sprivycouncil,which,Itrust,everygentlemanhasread,andwhichascertainstheslavetradetobejustsuchinpracticeasweknow,fromtheory,
it
mustbe.WhatshouldwesupposemustnaturallybetheconsequenceofourcarryingonaslavetradewithMrica?Withacountryvastinitsextent,notutterlybarbarous,butcivilizedinaverysmalldegree?Doesanyonesupposeaslavetradewouldhelptheircivilization?Isitnotplainthatshemustsufferfromit?Thatcivilizationmustbechecked;thatherbarbarousmannersmustbemademorebarbarous;andthatthehappinessofhermillionsofinhabit-antsmustbeprejudicedwithherintercoursewithBritain?Doesnoteveryoneseethataslavetradecarried
on-
aroundhercoastsmustcarryviolenceanddesolationtoherverycenter?Thatinacontinentjustemerg-ingfrombarbarism,
if
atradeinmenisestablished,ifhermenareallconvertedintogoods,andbecomecommoditiesthatcanbebartered,itfollowstheymustbesubjecttoravagejustasgoodsare;andthis,too,ataperiodofcivilizationwhenthereisnoprotectinglegislaturetodefendthistheironlysortofpropertyinthesamemannerastherightsofprop-ertyaremaintainedbythelegislatureofeverycivilizedcountry.Weseethen,inthenatureofthings,howeasilythepracticesofAfricaaretobeaccountedfor.Herkingsarenevercompelledtowar,thatwecanhearof,bypublicprinciples,bynationalglory,stilllessbytheloveoftheirpeo-ple.InEuropeitistheextensionofcommerce,themaintenanceofna-tionalhonor,orsomegreatpublicobjectthatiseverthemotivetowarwitheverymonarch;but,inAfrica,itisthepersonalavariceandsensu-alityoftheirkings;thesetwovicesofavariceandsensuality,themostpowerfulandpredominantinnaturesthuscorrupt,wetempt,westimu-lateinalltheseAfricanprinces,andwedependuponthesevicesfortheverymaintenanceoftheslavetrade.DoesthekingofBarbessinwant
 
214
brandy?hehasonlytosendhistroops,inthenighttime,toburnanddesolateavillage;thecaptives
will
serveascommoditiesthatmaybebarteredwiththeBritishtrader.WhatastrikingviewofthewretchedstateofAfricadoesthetragedyofCalabarfurnish!Twotowns,formerlyhostile,hadsettledtheirdifferences,andbyanintermarriageamongtheirchiefsbadeachpledgedthemselvestopeace;butthetradeinslaveswasprejudicedbysuchpacifications,and
it
became,therefore,thepolicyofourtraderstorenewthehostilities.This,theirpolicy,wassoonputinpractice,andthesceneofcarnagewhichfollowedwassuchthatitisbetter,perhaps,torefergentlementotheprivycouncil'sreportthantoagitatetheirmindsbydwellingonit.Theslavetrade,initsverynature,isthesourceofsuchkindoftrage-dies;norhastherebeenasingleperson,almost,beforetheprivycouncilwhodoesnotaddsomethingbyhistestimonytothemassofevidenceuponthispoint.Some,indeed,ofthesegentlemen,andparticularlythedelegatesfromLiverpool,haveendeavoredtoreasondownthisplainprinciple:somehavepalliated
it;
butthereisnotone,Ibelieve,whodoesnotmoreorlessadmit
it.
Some,naymost,Ibelieve,haveadmittedtheslavetradetobethechiefcauseofwarsinAfrica....Havingnowdisposedofthefirstpartofthissubject,ImustspeakofthetransitoftheslavesintheWestIndies.This,Iconfess,inmyownopinion,isthemostwretchedpartofthewholesubject.Somuchmiserycondensedinsolittleroomismorethanthehumanimaginationhadeverbeforeconceived.IwillnotaccusetheLiverpoolmerchants;Iwillallowthem,nay,Iwillbelievethem,tobemenofhumanity;andIwillthere-forebelieve,ifitwerenotforthemultitudeofthesewretchedobjects,
if
itwerenotfortheenormousmagnitudeandextentoftheevilwhichdistractstheirattentionfromindividualcasesandmakesthemthinkgenerally,andthereforelessfeelingly,onthesubject,theyneverwouldhavepersistedinthetrade.Iverilybelieve,therefore,ifthewretchednessofanyoneofthemanyhundredNegroesstowedineachshipcouldhebroughtbeforetheirview,andremainwithinthesightoftheAfricanmerchant,thatthereisnooneamongthemwhoseheartwouldbear
it.
Letanyoneimaginetohimselfsixorsevenhundredofthesewretcheschainedtwoandtwo,surroundedwitheveryobjectthatisnauseousanddisgusting,diseased,andstrugglingundereverykindofwretchedness!Howcanwebeartothinkofsuchasceneasthis?Onewouldthink
it
hadbeendeterminedtoheaponthemallthevarietiesofbodilypain,forthepurposeofbluntingthefeelingsofthemind;andyet,inthisverypoint(toshowthepowerofhumanprejudice),thesituationoftheslaveshasbeendescribedbyMr.Norris,oneoftheLiverpooldelegates,inaman-
THEAFRICANSLAVETRADE

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