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William Wilberforce and slave trade

Updated on January 30, 2011

William Wilberforce and the abolision of slave trade.


William Wilberforce was part of a group of twelve people who started the fight against slavery. He was born on the 24 of august 1759. He was an Mp this gave him a power and influence. He was a committed Christian and that is thought to be the reason why he started to campaign against the buying and selling of slaves.

He first entered parliament in 1781 but shortly after he became ill and it was not until may 1789 that he gave his against the slave trade. William found it hard to change the other politicians against slave trade because many of them had slaves or gained a profit from slave plantations.

Wilberforce, along with Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp, was now seen as one of the leaders of the anti-slave trade movement. Wilberforce presented his first bill to abolish the slave trade in 1791 it was easily defeated by 163 votes to 88.

Wilberforce did not give up and in 1805 he presented another bill to stop the slave trade to the House of Commons which he won. Unfortunately just before it was going to become illegal to transport slaves to and from Brittan, it was stopped becoming a law by the House of Lords.

Wilberforce with the support of other MP’s gave a speech persuading the House of Lords to support the law. Then a vote was taken. The Abolition of the Slave Trade bill was passed by 41 votes to 20. It became the law on 25th March, 1807.

However people still owned slaves. Wilberforce thought that they should be educated then freed but his friend Buxton made him change his mind and focus on ending all forms of slavery.

In 1825 William Wilberforce retired from parliament which reduced his influence. Other people still fought on for the abolition of the slave trade including Tomas Clarkson and Granville sharp until in 1833 when parliament signed the slavery abolition act wich freed al slaves.



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