William Wilberforce: Take up the Fight (Heroes of History) was written by Janet & Geoff Benge and published by Emerald Books (2015).

William Wilberforce lived a remarkable life. Born into a wealthy merchant’s family, he had many advantages as a child, but tragedy sent him off to an aunt and uncle’s house for a number of years. There he was given a Bible and nurtured in the Christian faith.

After returning home, William steadily lost touch with his faith and lived a life of materialism: partying, singing, drinking, betting on cards, and avoiding his studies.

A visit to Parliament introduced William to his calling–politics– and to William Pitt, who became a dear friend and partner in the British government. The two young men pursued their careers together. At twenty-one, William Wilberforce became the youngest man ever elected to Parliament. William Pitt did not join him until later, but rose to become Prime Minister by the age of twenty-four.

Through reading and debate, William Wilberforce’s mind and heart turned back to Christianity. Could he be a Christian and a politician at the same time? He wrote to William Pitt, explaining that he thought he should resign from the government. He secretly met with his mentor, John Newton, to seek his advice. Both Pitt and Newton encouraged Wilberforce to remain in politics. Thrilled and terrified, William Wilberforce decided to display publicly what God might do through a man determined to follow Him.

Wilberforce sought to translate his faith into bills that would benefit society and eradicate its many evils. He debated long and hard, but often his bills were rejected. He also used his fortune to support education for poor children, more humane prisons, kinder treatment for animals, better public manners and polite speech, and many other causes.

Slowly, Wilberforce met people who educated him on the evils of the slave trade, including Thomas Clarkson, James Ramsay, Sir Charles Middleton, and others. He realized this was a great cause that he must champion. For years it seemed that William introduced a new anti-slave bill each spring, only to have it voted down. He tried many different strategies to end this human trafficking, but it was hard to sway the wealthy men who derived so much income from the labor of their own slaves. Public opinion sometimes went his way, sometimes against him. His health suffered, but he pushed on.

Read how William’s efforts finally brought about the demise of this great evil, how God blessed his life through an unexpected marriage, and how God upheld William even through loss and trouble.

The life of William Wilberforce is an important story for children to read. This biography is suited for upper elementary, middle school, and high school audiences. Although the subject matter—slavery—is harsh, the writers deal with it skillfully. They make the evils abundantly clear without graphic description. There is a lot of talk about war and politics that can be a little confusing. This was a very dynamic era in British history. The language level is appropriate and the story length is about 200 pages. You can buy it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

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