Book Review: Bury the Chains
Posted by chads on January 5, 2008
“..it was time some person should see these calamities to their end.“
Thomas Clarkson, a recently ordained deacon in the Church of England, came to that conclusion in June, 1785, after writing a prize-winning essay: Anne liceat invitos in servitutem dare? – “Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will?”
Bury the Chains is an engaging, as well as harrowing, account of the movement to end the slave trade in eighteenth century England. The book reads like a well-written novel. A cast of unlikely characters joins to make history: Clarkston is determined and idealistic, ex-slave trader John Newton wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”, Olaudah Equiano wrote a best-selling autobiography detailing his life as a slave, Granville Sharp was an eccentric musician, William Wilberforce was the movement’s political voice, and the Quakers provided organization. Bury the Chains is a story of how a small group of people can, in fact, make a difference, a story of how people from different backgrounds can unite to to what is right, a story of human triumph.
Clarkson’s words have haunted me. He did not, you see, learn of slavery and then simply feel the need to help. He determined that someone should end it. And they did.
Bury the Chains is moving, inspiring account. I recommend it to anyone interested in social change. In my mind, the parallels with global health are all too obvious.