19 02

The Right Kind of Journalist: Hannah More and Her Legacy of Fighting for The Abolition of Slavery by Jeremy Abegg-Guzman

Hannah More did not live a comfortable life. How could she? She lived during a time

when Africans were beaten, raped, and even burned alive as slaves in England. Instead of

turning a blind eye, Hannah More eventually became the most significant female

abolitionist of the 17th century. Born into a humble family, her social status did not stop her

from writing poems, plays, letters, and essays that revealed the horrors of the slave trade.

Her labor led to the emancipation of British slaves in 1833 (Prior, 2014). Today, journalists

face a similar horror with a culture that murders its own children through abortion. More’s

stance against slavery serves as an excellent example to journalists today and their war on

abortion. Two principles More lived by stand out in particular. She became more

disenchanted with the world the closer she got to God, and she fought for those who could

not fight for themselves.

Before she wrote as an abolitionist, Hannah More was a successful poet and

playwright. For her time, she was uncommonly learned and very skilled with both prose

and verse. Because of her talent, she often found herself surrounded by powdered wigs

throwing frivolous dinner parties with people who no longer remembered the importance

of simplicity or modesty (Prior, 2014, p. 100). She realized her Chrsitian sensibilities did

not align with upper-class life. Yearning to serve God, More retired from her success to live

a life focused on scripture and social reform. Similarly, journalists can be tempted to seek

personal glory instead of personal excellence. They might be tempted to cave to social

pressure and entertain people instead of informing them. It starts with little compromises, but little

compromises can corrupt a writer's character. A journalist must remember to

guard his heart against his own desire for wealth or success, and replace it with the fear of

the Lord. Like More, journalists must become disenchanted with the temptations of the

world so he can steadfastly report the truth when the world would rather hear lies.

But fleeing from the vices of the world is not enough. A good journalist must face the

world to protect those who can not protect themselves. In More’s day, many English citizens

were ignorant of the slave trade. They did not know that slaves were crammed into the

hulls of ships standing upright with barely enough room to breathe, nor that half of them

would die onboard. They did not know that slave women were raped above deck for

everyone to see nor that crews would throw their human cargo overboard to collect on

insurance policies (Prior, 2014, p. 110). When Hannah More saw the suffering these people

endured, she dedicated her life to setting them free. She believed slaves were made in the

image of God and chose to protect them when no one else would. In the same way, a

journalist is called to proclaim God’s truth and initiate change when no one else will. Every

day, abortions end the lives of little children whose ears never hear the sound of laughter

and whose mother’s decision deals the death blow. Children who have never even opened

their eyes have their skulls crushed and limbs ripped from their bodies in late-term

abortions. A journalist must preserve these precious children who can not defend

themselves. If children bear the image of God, then a journalist should be willing to go to

any length to protect their lives, no matter how impossible the task may seem. In Hannah

More’s own words, “one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give

light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and

act.” (More, 2012).

[This essay won thrid place in the Essay Competition hosted by WJI Network]