The birth dates of our famous February presidents (the 12th and 22nd) have been easy for me to remember since I was a child. My grandfather shared the calendar date of his birth (Feb. 22) with George Washington, the emancipator of political freedom, but the year of his birth (1858) was closer to that of Abraham Lincoln, the emancipator of slaves. Adding to my intrigue with that era were my grandfather’s related childhood memories of marching around the house beating on a dishpan, pretending he was a soldier in the Civil War.
William Wilberforce was another February-born emancipator. Born with poor health on Feb. 23, 1759 in England, Wilberforce finally became a member of Parliament and dedicated himself to ending the slave trade in Great Britain. His passion for emancipation grew out of his faith in Christ, whom he saw as the ultimate emancipator, and though his struggle to free slaves, ending this terrible trade, was long, Parliament officially ended slavery on the day of his funeral.
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