In the Steps of William Wilberforce

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In the Steps of William Wilberforce

In the Steps of William Wilberforce is a Special Section on a person that was so well known in America in 1858 that Abraham Lincoln, before he became president, could say that of course every school boy knew William Wilberforce. Yet, today, few people know of Wilberforce and the role he played in abolishing the slave trade in 1807 in Britain and then slavery in the British Empire in 1833. But Wilberforce also turned around a very self-indulgent and decadent Britain into a much more civilized nation that eventually became Victorian England. He did that all by the power of persuasion. He was also the first world-class philanthropist independent of the European monarchies. He established a philosophy of philanthropy 100 years before Andrew Carnegie wrote his “Gospel of Wealth.”  Wilberforce gave to 69 societies, which we would call non-profits, and was actively engaged as vice president in 29, on the committee in five, governor of five, treasurer of one and patron of one.

The Special Section looked at William Wilberforce and his impact on many people, such as former Congressman Frank Wolf. Congressman Wolf was the author of the International Religious Freedom Act that incorporated the first freedom of the United States—religious freedom—into American foreign policy. He is now engaged with the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. Others, such as Seamus Hasson, set up a non-profit law firm to defend the religious liberties of people of all faiths. But there are lesser-known Wilberforces, such as Charmain Heeding, a South African, who recently founded a non-profit relief organization to bring help and hope to Iraq’s displaced Christians.

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