I invite discussants to consider this Wikipedia piece on the famous anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce:
On the criterion employed by some (in denouncing Vyse), this makes Wilberforce a “crook” and utterly negates the achievements of his life.Quote
Wilberforce began to consider a political career while still at university, and during the winter of 1779–80 he and Pitt frequently watched House of Commons debates from the gallery. Pitt, already set on a political career, encouraged Wilberforce to join him in obtaining a parliamentary seat. In September 1780, at the age of twenty-one and while still a student, Wilberforce was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston upon Hull, spending over £8,000 to ensure he received the necessary votes, as was the custom of the time. . . .
If you doubt that Wilberforce bribed voters, I suggest you look at this:
Note that Kingston upon Hull and Beverley were adjacent constituencies. It would seem that similar customs prevailed.
Consider this also:
How likely is it (do you think) that £250,000 (at 1807 prices) was spent entirely on legitimate expenses?
I invite discussants to reconsider the relevance (or lack of it) of ahistorical moral absolutes to historical topics. Is moral judgement a useful first step in history or biography? Does it enhance or obscure understanding?
The example of Wilberforce should show how silly it is to damn someone for bribing voters when (and where) bribing voters was the norm — and how unreliable a predictor it is of how someone might behave later.
Post Edited (11-May-13 13:25)