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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)

TITLE: February 23, 1807
By Rachel Phelps
04/14/10


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Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…

I can barely keep my seat. After all these hours of debate, they are about to call the vote. Every creak of a bench, every rustle of paper is magnified. Near twenty years, I have waited for this. The moment has come, time and time and time again, only to pass, defeated. Still, I cannot control the sudden sharpening of my senses. This time it will not be in vain.

That saved a wretch like me…

Will it be today? Equiano should be here. It was our great loss he died when he did. Ten years ago, just when we were in doubts this moment would ever come. It is my deepest sorrow he died without seeing the fruits of our work.

I thought I would never rally again after that blow. I believe the only thing that sustained me was the words from John Wesley’s letter, words I memorized when first the letter came to me. “But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.” How young I was when I read those words the first time, so assured of the easy victory of my endeavor.

I once was lost, but now I’m found…

Barbara is in the gallery, watching me with the same hopeful flame in her eyes, despite the dark circles beneath them. She has been here faithfully for weeks, ever since the bill was put forth in January. For all the speeches in favor of its passage, it has taken nigh a month to bring it to a vote. After so long, all the MPs are suddenly anxious to have their say. Clarkson would tell the lot of them to shut their mouths and vote if he could. He always was one to take the direct route to things. He’s about to leap out of that gallery now, I have no doubt.

Was blind, but now I see…

At last, they’re calling the vote. My heart feels as if it might break my ribs with its hammering. The last flowery speech is done. I admit to being as moved as anyone, and properly humbled by all the tributes – but for pity’s sake let the thing be done with!

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear…

The silence is deafening. My eyes focus on the sheaf of paper at the reader’s table – the Slave Trade Act. Could it be that it will finally receive Royal Assent?

And grace my fears relieve….

My head sinks into my hands as the votes are cast. I dare not look, try to estimate. We’re rushing at an unlocked door, but what if…

How precious did that grace appear…

“The final tally...”

Merciful Heavens, I barely have the courage to listen. My eyes are leaking tears, I dare not raise my head. My heart is overflowing with an odd mixture of peace and exhilaration – as if I know the outcome if I would only let myself believe it.

The hour I first believed…

“Nays, 16. Ayes, 283.”

The deafening roar in the House is nothing compared to the sounds within me. I’m crying, laughing, sobbing. People about me are cheering, calling for a speech. I have no words. I can only pray silently, my thanksgiving surpassing all speech. If only dear Reverend Newton could witness this. And yet, perhaps he can – he and Equiano and all of them. It is to them that we owe this great victory.

February 23, 1807. On this day, the slave trade in Great Britain is no more.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.



***************
Historical Note: William Wilberforce was the leading voice for abolition in Britain at the turn of the 19th century. His connections to John Newton, Olaudah Equiano, Thomas Clarkson and John Wesley helped further the cause of abolition.

Song lyrics from “Amazing Grace” by John Newton, published 1779


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This article has been read 1091 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 04/15/10
Oh, I love it when a piece of history comes to life as your entry has. I felt like I was there awaiting the verdict along with your MC. Inserting the lines of "Amazing Grace" added depth and feeling to this entry.
Noel Mitaxa 04/15/10
I like how you have structured this piece while allowing it to breathe with a super sweep of emotions and insights. Moving portrayal.
Jackie Wilson04/17/10
This was so moving and well written. You managed to meld the history with the dramatization in a beautiful way.
Patricia Herchenroether04/18/10
Inspiring and well-done. Very creative, using the lines from Amazing Grace to accentuate the tension building up.
Beth LaBuff 04/19/10
You've cleverly woven the song lyrics with this great historical piece. This is so very good!
Loren T. Lowery04/20/10
This is the second piece of historical fiction I've read today and they just to get better and better. I so admire those who can write in this genre. I can hardly think of a better penned work than Amazing grace to demonstrate just how powerful words can be - it has indeed changed many of a life for the better. The story itself, inspirational as well.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/20/10
I loved how the story fitted so well among the words of "Amazing Grace." Excellent writing.
Kimberly Russell04/21/10
You did a really good job building the suspense. Really enjoyed this one.
Marita Thelander 04/21/10
Nice. You are a skilled wordsmith, my dear.
Sarah Elisabeth 04/21/10
Excellent crafting of this piece! Present tense was very effective in this moving story
Mona Purvis04/22/10
Congrats on a well-deserved win! Your talent truly amazes me.

Mona
Shelley Ledfors 04/22/10
What a fabulous piece! Congratulations on a well-deserved win. I don't post to the boards very often, any more, but feel like I "know" you through your posts, and was thrilled to see your name at the top of the list!
Beth LaBuff 04/22/10
Rachel, It's wonderful to see this with the 1st place Editor's Choice affixed! Super congrats!
Jackie Wilson04/22/10
Congratulations on First Place Editor's Choice!! Well-deserved!
Joan Campbell04/22/10
Very, very moving. Congratulations on your 1st place, Rachel.
Carol Slider 04/22/10
This masterfully crafted story brings a pivotal moment of history to life. I felt that I was there, living the experience! Congratulations on a very well-deserved first place!
Joshua Janoski04/22/10
I felt msyelf holding my breath as I read this. You completely drew me in and didn't let me go until the very last verse of Amazing Grace had been sung. Wow!

Very deserving of the top honors it received! You are a valuable asset to the FaithWriter community of writers, Rachel.
Ruth Stromquist04/22/10
Congratulations! You breathed life into history!
Catrina Bradley 04/22/10
Amazing. Congrats on your win - great piece, Rachel. :)
Patricia Turner04/22/10
Woo-hoo!! I'm cheering for you and for William Wilberforce - two outstanding achievers! Big Congratulations on your well deserved win!
Sarah Elisabeth 04/23/10
For the record: Congratulations. You are one of the finest writers I've read.

Off the record: Go write a novel!!!!!! lol, seriously, let God lead you always in your writing.

Congrats again :-)
Jane Winstead04/23/10
Congratulations. You certainly deserve First Place. The words to the hymn made this very special. Your words painted a picture. It brought back many scenes from the movie, "Amazing Grace."
Helen Dowd 04/24/10
What a great piece of history, woven in with a great hymn. You certainly deserve the WN! And all the accolades that have been placed by the many readers. Now I am adding mine. Thanks for this history lesson. And for a sample of your great writing...God's blessings...Helen
Eliza Evans 04/29/10
Love that opening! Whew. I could feel it.

Powerful writing all the way through. Just marvelous stuff. WTG, Rachel! :)
Amanda Brogan05/05/10
Bravo! This article took my breath away! It took me back to the climax of the movie "Amazing Grace" and indeed, back to history itself. Very deserving of the highest Editor's Choice award. :)