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'Amazing Grace' and the End of British Slavery?

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posted on Mar, 5 2007 @ 06:31 PM
The film, 'Amazing Grace', truly an exercise in historical disinformation.

The alleged story of parliamentarian Willliam Wilberforces attempt to abolish slavery in the British Empire. And his success in doing so in Britain.
What a load of crap...

Below we see this critique from IMDB:

This is a lovely, moving and intelligent film. I did not detect any notably weak performances among a remarkable cast. The older actors though, Michael Gambon and Albert Finney, were shameless scene stealers, but one can hardly fault them for their excellence. There were many things to like about this film. It was gorgeous to look at, brilliantly capturing the look and sound of a sumptuous age. The pacing and editing were fine, though the device using flashbacks for most of the film occasionally led to a moments confusion about when a scene was supposed to be taking place. And the story itself is quite inspirational. A note for my Canadian readers and the Canadians who attended the TIFF screenings. The film mostly covered the struggle to outlaw slavery in Britain itself, though they did touch on Wilberforce's efforts to have it outlawed throughout the British Empire. This continued in the years after the conclusion of the film, and a Bill to do just that was passed in 1833, a month after Wilberforce died. So the film we watched was very much about our own history, and the story of the abolition of slavery in Britain directly affected the eventual abolition of slavery in Canada.

Yes, a beautiful film with no basis in historical fact. Wilberforce played his part in the white slave trade.

Slavery abolished in England?

Replaced by a subtler form of slavery.

Beginning with the Enclosure Acts of Elizabethan England:

Reasons for Poverty - The Poor in Elizabethan England - Land Enclosure
Changes in agriculture during the Elizabethan period led to people leaving the countryside and their village life to search for employment in the towns. The wool trade became increasingly popular during the Elizabethan age, which meant that land which had been farmed by peasants was now dedicated to rearing sheep and a process known as land enclosure meant that the traditional open field system ended in favour of creating larger and more profitable farming units which required fewer people to work on them. The number of jobs decreased and people were forced to leave there homes in search of employment in the towns.

These Acts created what became Britains 'criminal underclass' (nevermind the criminal overclass that enforced them).

British history is rich in tales of 'kid-nabbing'. Laws and customs of the time permitted this crime and white slave ports, such as in Glasgow, flourished.

The word kidnapping is a variation on the term "kid nabbing," a practice that originated in England when children were "nabbed" by entrepreneur pirates who sold them to rich tobacco plantation owners in colonial America.

The Enclosure Acts also gave rise to Britain's 'Surplus Poor'. People who were shipped in irons to the New World to toil on sugar and tobacco plantations until they died (Virginia, initially had more white slaves than black).

Charles Dickens refered to Wilberforce and his ilk as "telescopic philanthropists" in reference to their one-eyed focus on the oppressed in faraway lands, while ignoring the enslavement of their own kind.

Oppression in England that came with the Industrial Revolution. Where children were forced to toil in mills for up to seventeen hours a day.

Wilberforce must have been very sypathetic to the injustices in his own country, for he supported the 'Combination Act'.

They prohibited all organized activity intended to improve working conditions or wages. They also prohibited organized activities by the masters, but those laws were never enforced. There were other legal weapons available to employers, and most prosecutions of organized labor in the ensuing years took place under other laws. These acts never came close to destroying organized labor in Britain, but they did contribute to government and employers' repression of trade unions. They were repealed in 1824.

Wilberforce also played a part in the passing of laws that made it a crime of sedition to criticize King George III and government officials.

So yes, thanks to William Wilberforce, black slaves were freed. Of course those same slaves played no part in their own freedom?

The real abolitionists were not just the William Wilberforce’s and the Thomas Clarkson’s of the world but lesser championed heroes who are missing from traditional text books – the African slaves themselves.

Esther Standford, co-vice chair of Rendezvous of Victory (ROV) said: "This week is about developing a national consciousness and understanding that enslavement was ended by a combination of grass-roots resistance, uprising, rebellions and enslaved Africans who refused to accept their status as slaves.

"It is they who then put pressure on the white abolitionists we remember today such as [William] Wilberforce and members of the clergy. We seek to show the truth of the abolition of slavery – that it was a joint effort spurned on by the resistance of the enslaved."
Forget Wilberforce - give us the truth

But it's just a historical docu-drama, I hear you say. Is that what will be said in two hundred years time about NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO?

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." - Charles Dickens


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