N.R.O. editor, Kathryn Lopez interviews Eric Metaxas, author of Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his battle to abolish both the slave trade and then slavery in early 19th Century Britain.
The historical context: (A quote from the book taken from Rich Lowery's article, 'The Wilberforce, How faith moved a nation', also in N.R.O.)
“Slavery was as accepted as birth and marriage and death, was so woven into the tapestry of human history that you could barely see its threads, much less pull them out. Everywhere on the globe, for 5,000 years, the idea of human civilization without slavery was unimaginable.”
Lopez: "What’s the Wilberforce message for today’s politicians — besides the obvious: slavery, human trafficking, is evil?"
Metaxas: "One needs a core. If one is merely a “party man” one cannot succeed any more than one who governs by poll or focus groups. Wilberforce was an exceedingly canny politician, and he understood the political process brilliantly — but at the end of the day, he played to a constituency of One. And it needs to be said that he did it with the very greatest humility, not with any sort of moralistic or triumphalist arrogance. He didn’t think that he was God’s vector, to get back to Euclid and others. He knew that he was a sinner, saved by God’s grace. He really knew that and one can see it in how he lived, and how he treated his political opponents, with a disarming and quite extraordinary graciousness."