Amazing Grace Hymn Story
Amazing Grace is a gospel hymn that was written by John Newton who was a former slave trader.
This gospel hymn is commonly associated with the African American community.
The gospel hymn talks about Newton’s life story from his early days when he was forced into joining the Royal navy until the time when he decided to settle in religion.
John Newton had joined the navy in 1743 after he was captured and forced to join while visiting his friends.
In 1745, while in the navy en route to India he rebelled against the discipline of the Royal navy and deserted.
He was captured and was flogged and put in leg irons.
Following this incident and humiliation John Newton considered murdering the sea captain and committing suicide by throwing himself overboard at sea.
He later convinced the sea captain to discharge him to a slave ship.
He was transferred to Pegasus, a slave-trading ship bound for West Africa.
As in the navy, the freethinking and rebellious John Newton did not have a good relationship with the crew of Pegasus and was left in West Africa with Amos Clowe, a slave dealer.
Amos Clowe handed John Newton to his African mistress Princess Peye who mistreated him as she did the other slaves.
John Newton wrote of this time as, “once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in West Africa”.
He was later rescued in 1748 by a sea captain sent by his father to search for him. He returned to England on a ship called Greyhound.
During the voyage to England, a violent storm struck his vessel off the coast that he decided to call upon God for help. This was the moment when he converted to Christianity.
From that point on, he avoided profanity, gambling, and drinking but he continued his involvement in the slave trade.
He, however, had become sympathetic to the slaves because of the time he spent in slavery in West Africa.
He is reported to have made at least three slave trading trips to West Africa after his return to England.
He only stopped after suffering from a stroke in 1754. He, however, now promoted the humane treatment of the slaves and the crew.
Decades later, around 1780, he joined the Committee for the Abolition of Slave Trade. During the 1780s he wrote “Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade”.
In it he states, “So much light has been thrown upon the subject, by many able pens; and so many respectable persons have already engaged to use their utmost influence, for the suppression of a traffic, which contradicts the feelings of humanity; that it is hoped, this stain of our National
character will soon be wiped out.”
He further wrote in the book, “a business at which my heart now shudders,”
This paper was written to help William Wilberforce who was leading the battle against the slave trade. It was shared with the members of parliament in Westminster.
This sad chapter of slave trading in his life recollection never left him that when in his old age it was suggested that he retire, he responded, “I cannot stop. What? Shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?”