Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

By Philip S. Foner; Robert James Branham | Go to book overview

progress; and I can now forgive my enemies, bless those who have hated me, and cheerfully pray for those who have despitefully used and persecuted me.

Fare you well! farewell!■


23 EULOGY ON WILLIAM WILBERFORCE

William Whipper

Upon the death of William Wilberforce, the great British opponent of the slave trade, in late July 1833, black Americans exhibited profound grief. The members of the Phoenix Society of New York, a black self-improvement organization, wore badges of mourning for a month, and memorial services were held in several cities. In the 1850s one of the two colleges founded for African Americans before the Civil War was named in his honor.

On December 6, 1833, African Americans in Philadelphia met in the Second African Presbyterian Church for the purpose "not only of commemorating the disinterested labors of that great and good man, William Wilberforce, Esq., but the noble and dignified course which he so eminently and availingly advocated, -- viz., the glorious cause of Freedom. At the invitation of a committee representing the "colored citizens of Philadelphia," William Whipper delivered the eulogy.

William Whippe was born about 1801 and was a leading figure in the national and state conventions of African Americans of the 1830s. He was a founder, in 1835, of the short-lived American Moral Reform Society, which emerged from the convention movement, and he edited the National Reformer, the society's organ. In Columbia, Pennsylvania, where he was engaged in the lumber business, Whipper was a conductor on the Underground Railroad and a supporter of Canadian emigration.

In his eulogy, Whipper traces the long and persistent struggle Wilberforce waged in Parliament to achieve abolition of the slave trade. Following are concluding portions of the address, taken from a pamphlet in the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Eulogy on William Wilberforce, Esq., Delivered at the Request of the People of Color of the City of Philadelphia, in the Second African Presbyterian Church on the Sixth Day of December, 1833, by William Whipper. For further information, see Thomas Lessl, "William Whipper," in Richard Leeman, ed.,

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