Anthony Ashley Cooper
Evangelical Champion of the Downtrodden; Zionist
“Well I can recollect in the earlier periods…waiting at the factory gates to see the children come out, and a set of dejected cadaverous creatures they were…The proofs of long and cruel toil were most remarkable. The cripples and the distorted forms might be numbered by the hundreds, perhaps by the thousands…the sight was most piteous, the deformities incredible.”
Said about Shaftesbury;
“Of himself he would submit to injustice and be still: for his fellow countrymen and for his religion he would renew the battle to the last day of his life.”
This, his child labor fight, was not a case of overregulation by a power hungry government or politician pandering for votes to assure his own and his party’s re-election. Indeed, after a few years even Lord Shaftesbury’s worst enemies in the House of Commons realized he did nothing out of self-promotion or political gain and in time he gained the grudging respect of all.
These were children under ten years old that were working over 18 hours a day in the factories, the mines and the mills. The dangers in these early places of industry were many and a vast number of children were killed, and many more maimed. The rest were malnourished, stunted and weak, never able to grow to their potential size or aptitudes.
Shaftesbury fought for over fifty years for the improvement of the conditions of the young, the poor, the blind, the tenement people, the conditions of the insane asylum and he was an early champion of the Jewish Zionist, giving money and leverage to help the Jewish people fulfill their longing to return to their ancient homeland; Eretz Israel.
He, along with the famous abolitionist, Wilberforce , who he house churched with, started the first society for the protection of animals, and the first YMCA’s to provide a place for all the young men and women from the countryside who had come to work in the urban factories a place to meet and engage in decent social discourse.
He took up the cause of the chimney sweep boys and started the “ragged schools”, schools for the very poorest of the children in the slums of London and Edinburgh. He started the society for visiting and caring for the blind.
All of these fights were basically firsts; all of them fueled by his desire to serve his Savior by service to the most downtrodden in society. And all of these could be attributed along with many others as fruits of the much maligned and out of vogue, Christian faith.