View single post by CleburneFan
 Posted: Sat Feb 24th, 2007 02:56 am
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CleburneFan
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The movie "Amazing Grace" now showing in theaters beautifully relates to the Civil War in that it shows the struggle to end the shipping of slaves to the West on English-owned but US- flagged ships.

This movie shows the valiant years-long struggle of Parliamentarian William Wilberforce and his friend Prime Minister William Pitt to convince Parliament to end the pernicious shipping of slaves. Wilberforce, who loses his health in his continuous and frustrating pursuit of his dream to make life better, also worked with animal rights groups, prison reform and the quest for free education. He risked his reputation and was at one point at risk of being called a revolutionary and French sympathizer for his abolitionist activities.

 What I found so interesting is how the efforts to end slave trading by the English in the late 1700s was actually a prelude to what was to follow in the U.S. in the next century. In fact, 18th century English abolitionists were as maligned as U.S. abolitionist were in the mid-19th century.  As in the U.S., English vested interests in the slave trade and West Indies plantation owners stood behind the desire to perpetuate the practice coupled with the fear that the French would quickly step into the trade if the English bowed out.

The name "Amazing Grace" relates to the famous song written by Wilberforce's uncle who, in fact, had been the captain of a slave ship but quit after many years because he was haunted by the souls of all the slaves who died on his ships. At the end of the movie the best version of this song I have ever heard is played as further information about Wilberforce is run on the screen.

Some top-notch English and Welsh actors appear in the movie. I love period movies with the clothing and customs of the times. But even on top of all that, one learns from the movie how the movement to end slavery started decades before momentum toward ending it dominated debate and spirits in the U.S. It was fascinating to me to see the roots of abolitionism or shall I say the beginning of the end? It was also inspiring to see how much one man and those who supported his cause would sacrifce for what they believed. I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in this aspect of the Civil War...abolitionism...to go see this movie or rent it when it comes out on DVD.

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