William Wilberforce was one of Britain’s great social reformers. In particular, William Wilberforce is remembered for his active participation in getting Parliament to outlaw the slave trade. He died in 1833, just three days before Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which effectively banned slavery in the British Empire.
Early Life William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce was born in Hull, to a wealthy family. At a young age he moved to London where he lived with some nonconformist relatives. These puritan ideals appealed to the young William and he became closely attached to his London relatives. However, at the age of 12, his Mother brought him back to Hull. His mother was ...view middle of the document...
After four years in Parliament, William travelled to Europe with his sister and Mother. It was during their European vacation that the religious urge came back to William. A key factor was reading the evangelical book, Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul together. This encouraged him to lead a religious life, such as, getting up early to read the Bible; he lost interest in card games and drinking. He became a committed Christian for the remainder of his life and his religion deeply influenced his outlook on life. On returning to England he spoke with John Newton, one of the leading Anglican churchman of his day. This further encouraged him to lead a religious life, but also he was encouraged to stay in Politics and work for social reform.
William Wilberforce and Anti Slavery Movement
It was shortly after this ‘conversion’ period in 1786 that Wilberforce was invited to take an active role in the abolitionist movement. The Leading figures in the anti slavery campaign (such as Thomas Clarkson) wished Wilberforce to be their figurehead for passing legislation through parliament. Although Wilberforce was in complete sympathy with their aims, initially he was skeptical of his own abilities. However, after deliberation he decided to take the campaign on.
“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”
William Wilberforce was born in 1759 to privilege and wealth in 18th century England and though physically challenged, worked for nearly 20 years to push through Parliament a bill for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire 200 years ago.
Wilberforce was a deeply religious English member of parliament and social reformer who was very influential in the abolition of the slave trade and eventually slavery itself in the British empire.
William Wilberforce was born on 24 August 1759 in Hull, the son of a wealthy merchant. He studied...