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William Wilberforce


William Wilberforce is the person most famously associated with Abolition, the campaign to abolish the Slave Trade. He was a well-educated man, who entered parliament at the age of 21, whilst still a student at Cambridge University. Five years later, he converted to evangelical Christianity, and used his political influence to advance Christian causes.

Wilberforce wasn't actually one of the very first abolitionists, and it took him two years from his first meeting with Thomas Clarkson to put forward a motion in parliament proposing the abolition of the Slave Trade. But from 1789, they worked closely together, with Wilberforce tackling the task from a political position, while Clarkson worked to mobilise public opinion against the Slave Trade.

It took the abolitionists twenty years of constant campaigning to reach their first goal, abolishing the Trade, and another twenty-five years to secure the abolition of slavery itself, not just the trade. William Wilberforce's part in this campaign was made into a film called Amazing Grace. He died on 29 July 1833, just three days after the government had guaranteed to pass the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery. Perhaps he felt his life's work was done and he could now die in peace!

William Wilberforce painted by Karl Anton Hickel

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