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Regis Nicoll Christian Blog and Commentary

The Legacy of Wilberforce, Part 3

Under the leadership of William Wilberforce, the British slave economy ended, emancipation was won, and compassion became fashionable, all within the span of 50 years. Individually, these accomplishments were remarkable; collectively, they were breathtaking, especially when compared with the experience in the United States.

Behind the British success was a band of individuals who were burdened by their Christian faith to be difference-makers. The Clapham Sect consisted of a dozen or so philanthropists, led by Wilberforce, who were well-placed in British society. Their ranks included scholars, writers, statesmen, clergymen, and economists, all committed to use their positions and talents for the betterment of society.

Throughout history, groups dedicated to social change have come and gone with differing measures of success. However, few of them, since the time of the apostles, achieved what the Clapham group did in so little time. Underpinning their commitment was an understanding of humanity that made their cause a “non-negotiable.”

Their belief was that, in the divine calculus, every person is a creation of inestimable worth. That meant that all men, regardless of color, race, education, or social class, were entitled to equal treatment and liberty. Thus, human rights were not inventions of man or privileges granted by the state; they were endowments from God to be acknowledged, respected, and defended.

From that fixed platform, the Clapham group launched a movement that changed a nation and fueled the hopes of abolitionists on the distant colonial shores... Continue reading here.