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Wilberforce's Speech of 1789
Transcript of Wilberforce's Speech of 1789
Became a politician in 1780
After becoming a devout evangelical Christian in 1785, he drastically changed his lifestyle
Shortly after that, he came in contact with anti-slave trade activists. He then devoted himself to the cause of abolition Historical Context From the 1500s on, Europeans imported enslaved Africans to work for them.
Over the next 300 years, more than 11 million slaves were transported from Africa to British colonies (and former colonies). The Speech Where was the speech given? In British Parliament (London), in 1789: The results of the speech: News Coverage
Further shifting of public opinion toward abolition
Eventual success: In 1807, slave trade became illegal Why was the speech so good? The Abolitionist Speech of 1789 William Wilberforce: Many slaves were used on plantations to provide goods for the British The Abolitionists The Anti-slavery campaign in Great Britain began in the 1760s
It was supported by both blacks and whites The abolitionists faced opposition from the wealthy and politicians.
The slave trade was critically important to the British economy
Many religious leaders
opposed the slave trade. Introduction "The magnitude of my subject...interests the whole world...and posterity...
"The weakness of the advocate...I feel terrified and concerned at my own inadequacy..."
"My cause will bear me out: ...the total abolition of the slave trade."
We are all guilty...I mean not to accuse any one but to take the shame upon myself The Body The transit of the slaves in reality
What slave traders claim
What their food is like
What their housing is like
The nature of the "dancing"
The nature of their "singing"
The mortality rate of slaves Conclusion: As soon as ever I had arrived thus far in my investigation of the slave trade, I confess to you sir, so enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition. A trade founded in iniquity, and carried on as this was, must be abolished, let the policy be what it might,
let the consequences be what they would,
I from this time determined that I would
never rest till I had effected its
abolition. He clearly stated his purpose
He was confident "I take courage-I determine to forget all my other fears, and I march forward with a firmer step in the full assurance that my cause will bear me out, and that I shall be able to justify upon the clearest principles, every resolution in my hand, the avowed end of which is, the total abolition of the slave trade." He included himself with his audience
He accepted personal responsibility
He did not vilify his opponents He was passionate, but reasonable
He referred to experts
He addressed his opponents
He used vivid language He carefully limited his goals I mean not to accuse any one, but to take the shame upon myself, in common, indeed, with the whole parliament of Great Britain, for having suffered this horrid trade to be carried on under their authority. We are all guilty-we ought all to plead guilty, and not to exculpate ourselves by throwing the blame on others; and I therefore deprecate every kind of reflection against the various descriptions of people who are more immediately involved in this wretched business. Let any one imagine to himself 6 or 700 of these wretches chained two and two, surrounded with every object that is nauseous and disgusting, diseased, and struggling under every kind of wretchedness! How can we bear to think of such a scene as this? A trade founded in iniquity, and carried on as this was, must be abolished He used contrast well His speech was a success because of his conviction, and because of his powerful use of language.