Anniversary of a Landmark Speech

Today (May 12) marks the anniversary of the anti-slave-trade speech given in 1789 by [tag]William Wilberforce[/tag] before the British Parliament.  It would take until 1807 to actually outlaw the slave trade and another 26 years after that before the law would take effect, but Wilberforce started it all and never gave up.

His speech lasted four hours, but back then making a speech was an art form, not a sound bite as it is today.  Here is one passage:

“When I consider the magnitude of the subject which I am to bring before the house–a subject in which Ithe interests not just of this country, nor of Europe alone, but of the whole world and of posterity are involved…it is impossible for me not to feel both terrified and concerned at my own inadequacy to such a task…the end of which is the total abolition of the slave trade.”

That’s not something that would be quoted today for “News at 10”–it’s not overwrought enough.  But it led to something historic and significant that affected millions of people for the better.

Wilberforce lived long enough to realize his dream with the end of the slave trade in 1833.  He died three days after hearing the great news.

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