Steyn on the legacy of Wilberforce:
'William Wilberforce,'' writes Eric Metaxas in Amazing Grace, "was the happy victim of his own success. He was like someone who against all odds finds the cure for a horrible disease that's ravaging the world, and the cure is so overwhelmingly successful that it vanquishes the disease completely. No one suffers from it again -- and within a generation or two no one remembers it ever existed.''
What did Wilberforce ''cure''? Two centuries ago, on March 25, 1807, one very persistent British backbencher secured the passage by parliament of an Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade throughout His Majesty's realms and territories. It's not that no one remembers the disease ever existed, but that we recall it as a kind of freak pandemic -- a SARS or bird flu that flares up and whirs round the world and is then eradicated. The American education system teaches it as such -- as a kind of wicked perversion the Atlantic settlers had conjured out of their own ambition. In reality, it was more like the common cold: a fact of life. The institution predates the word's etymology, from the Slavs brought from eastern Europe to the glittering metropolis of Rome. It predates by some millennia the earliest laws, such as the Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia. The first slave owners on the North American continent were hunter-gatherers. Read the whole thing.