[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 147 (2001), Part 11]
[Pages 14956-14957]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Pence) is recognized 
during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.
  Mr. PENCE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember a man who changed 
his world, and ours, forever, a man whom historians have called ``the 
George Washington of humanity.''
  Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the 168th anniversary of the death of 
William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament in Great Britain who spent 
his life working to abolish the slave trade in the British empire.
  William Wilberforce was the son of a wealthy merchant in Hull, 
England, born in 1759. At the age of 20 after graduating from St. 
John's College, Cambridge, Wilberforce won a seat in the House of 
  Mr. Speaker, the young member of Parliament quickly became a rising 
star in British government. He was a close friend of the Prime 
Minister, William Pitt, and many thought that young Wilberforce might 
succeed Pitt as Prime Minister one day. But in 1784, Wilberforce's 
priorities were dramatically realigned. After meeting the great 
Christian hymn writer and theologian John Newton, Wilberforce underwent 
what he described later as the ``great change.''
  William Wilberforce's conversion to Christianity was much like that 
of the Apostle Paul. According to biographers, previously the young 
parliamentarian had ``ridiculed evangelicals mercilessly.'' Wilberforce 
himself wrote of his first years in the Parliament saying, ``I did 
nothing, nothing that is to any purpose. My own distinction was my 
darling object.''
  With his conversion, however, Wilberforce found a greater purpose in 
life than personal advancement. He joined a group of like-minded 
Anglican members of the Parliament known as the Clapham Sect. 
Wilberforce would write that ``God Almighty has set before me two great 
objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of 
  Mr. Speaker, Wilberforce spent the rest of his life fighting against 
all odds to abolish the slave trade in the British empire. Slavery was 
so ingrained in Great Britain's imperial culture and so integral to the 
empire's economy that the first time Wilberforce presented a bill to 
abolish it in 1791, it was crushed 163-88.
  The truth is, Mr. Speaker, that 1 month after Wilberforce's death on 
July 29, 1833, after fighting unrelentingly for abolition over the 
previous 42 years, Parliament passed the slavery abolition act, freeing 
all slaves in the British empire and setting a tone for freedom of 
humankind across the world.
  William Wilberforce has served as an example for me, Mr. Speaker, and 
I commend him to all Members of Congress concerned with changing our 
times for the better. As biographer Douglas Holladay said, 
Wilberforce's life was animated by his deeply held personal faith, by a 
sense of calling, by banding together with like-minded friends, by a 
fundamental belief in the power of ideas and moral beliefs to change 
the culture through public persuasion.
  This week, Mr. Speaker, as we debate in this Chamber the very value 
and the dignity of human life in the cloning debate, as our President 
mulls over the very value and dignity of nascent human life in the 
difficult decision this President faces in funding research of human 
embryos, let us reflect on this anniversary of the passing of the great

[[Page 14957]]

abolitionist William Wilberforce, and may we each of us in this Chamber 
always be inspired by his example and may we always aspire to those 
words he most assuredly heard 168 years ago: ``Well done, good and 
faithful servant.''