jamiebowen0306 (jamiebowen0306) wrote,

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I went to see "Amazing Grace" today.

Here's a little potted history for you. William Wilberforce was one of the first British MPs to speak out about slavery in the UK. Those who've heard of him and know about his experiences view him as somewhere between "the epitome of what it takes to be a good Brit" and "a nomination for Episcopalian sainthood."

This film is about Wilberforce's life. It's strange. It was made (and is full of) Britons and it made me miss England quite a bit. It's the sort of film that is going to pull at your heart strings (and be proud of being British) as he battles over a 15yr period to end slavery.

I know it's a film and that by it's very definition it's going to play tricks with the truth, but I enjoyed it all the same.

The funniest thing is that at the same time as I saw this film, I'm reading a book about Alexander Hamilton (the guy on the $10 bill and the first Secretary of the Treasury). Hamilton was working at the same time as a politician in the US as Wilberforce was working in the UK. So I enjoyed comparing the two in my head.

Wilberforce ended up passing a tricky piece of anti-slavery legislation in a way that directly impacted the nascent American economy, but also pretty much killed the transportation of slaves at the same time (Britain was at war with France, who was shipping slaves to America to fund the war under American "Flags of Convenience." Wilberforce's law said that these ships were fair game and could be attacked by privateers, which they promptly did, making it uneconomic to ship slaves).

The law worked but it made life difficult for the pro-Brit elements of American life (like Hamilton), because the American government (of which Hamilton was a part) was forced to be critical of the Brits, which he found hard and people found difficult to believe.

In England Wilberforce's actions are described as "Brilliant," but after reading the book, I can see that Americans might see it differently. In fact, it became obvious that Wilberforce's cunning was completely misunderstood in America.

Tags: book, film, review

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