Biography Of William Wilberforce

Biography Of William Wilberforce


William Wilberforce ( 24 August 1759, 29 July 1833 ) is one of the most influential social reformers, who was involved in battles against slavery, and the promotion of education Christianity in strict morality as well as animal protection. Wilberforce was adamant in his quest to abolish slavery. He is known for his active role in convincing Parliament to ban the trade of slaves. He died in 1833 only three days following the time that the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which effectively bans slavery throughout the British Empire.

“God Almighty has set before me two glorious goals that are the abolition of slavery and the transformation of ways (morality).”

– William Wilberforce


Biography Of William Wilberforce


Early Life of William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce was born in Hull and was the son of an affluent family. When he was a child the young man relocated to London where he resided with his nonconformist cousins. The ideals of puritanical living were appealing to young William and he soon became very close to his London family members. At 12 years old, his mother took the boy back to Hull. His mother wanted to have William to grow up to be a part of the Anglican Church tradition and was not happy with her son’s having an unorthodox education.


When he was 18 years old, William was accepted into St John’s College, Cambridge University. As a student, he lived an unpretentious life. His earlier religious intensity had decreased and he became active in the life of social interaction at University. But, he stayed away from the various drinking and social excesses that the students of his class participated in. William did not appear to be the greatest student (he was born into an inheritance, and therefore didn’t feel the need to put in extremely difficult) But the people he knew were very fond of him, and was a good talker with a pleasant voice and an acclaimed singing voice. It was in Cambridge where he made acquainted with William Pitt the younger. William Pitt who was to become Premier would be an excellent friend and a faithful patron of William in later years. (except during the conflict with France and the fallout they poured out of political issues)

While his period at University was coming to an end, William decided to run for Parliament. With a budget of PS8,000, he was able to win the seat from his hometown of Hull in the year 2000. He was elected when he was 21. He chose to become independent but was inclined to the reform wing of the Tory party.

After four years of Parliament, William traveled to Europe with his sister and Mother. The trip was the only time during their European vacation when the urge to believe in God returned to William. The main reason was that they read the book on evangelicalism called Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul together. It encouraged him to live an observant life, for example, having breakfast in the morning for reading the Bible and he ceased to be interested in drinking or playing cards. He became a dedicated Christian throughout his life. His religious beliefs profoundly influenced his perspective on life. When he returned to England He had a conversation with John Newton, one of the most influential Anglican churchmen of the time. The conversation further encouraged him to live a life of faith as well as inspired him to remain engaged in politics and to work towards social change.

William Wilberforce and the Anti-Slavery Movement

It was just after the ‘conversion’ phase during 1786, that Wilberforce got the chance to assume an active part in the abolitionist cause. The most prominent figures of the anti-slavery struggle (such as Thomas Clarkson) wished Wilberforce to be their representative for passing legislation through the parliament. While Wilberforce was totally by their goals, however, initially, he was skeptical of his capabilities. But after some deliberation after which he decided to go ahead with the battle to the next level.

“If being a living witness to the suffering of my fellow creatures can be described as a fanatic then I am among the most insanity-prone fanatics ever allowed to exist.”

– William Wilberforce

A poster that succeeded by highlighting the conditions faced by the ship’s slaves.

After the success of public campaigns conducted by the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in bringing consciousness about the conditions of slavery, William Wilberforce was encouraged to pass an act in 1789.

In 1789, Wilberforce addressed 1789 the House of Commons arguing that slavery was an issue of immense injustice, and in violation of the basic human rights principles. He spoke out with passion on the issue.

“I do not intend to blame anyone, but rather to feel shame on me, and in common with, with the entire parliament in Great Britain, for having endured this terrible trade to continue with their permission. We are all guilty. We ought all be pled guilty, and not excuse ourselves by placing the blame on others..”

While there was a lot of support in Parliament, the anti-abolitionists were well-organized and managed to defeat the bill by 163 votes to 88.

After a year of raising awareness about the issue, Wilberforce was able to try the next year. However, the anti-abolitionists were very well organized and were capable of slipping into a delaying strategy – delaying the abolition process for as long as they could.

After the war broke out between the United States and France in 1793 the public mood turned against the idea of abolishing the trade in slaves. Anyone who called for its abolishment was often viewed as inciting seditiousness. The country was extremely conservative because of the threat of an invasion under the prevailing terror, there was not much concern about the freeing of slaves.

However, during the first period of the 19th century, the weather was favorable, and following the demise of William Pitt, in 1806, Wilberforce tried once more. But, first, they tried a clever method to make it illegal for owners of slaves to engage in trading slaves of those in the French colonies. This was not a law meant to make slavery illegal. It was intended to undermine their business, thereby making it more difficult for the ship owners. The idea was conceived by an attorney for the maritime industry James Stephen. The law declared it unlawful for vessels to assist those involved in the French slave trade. The bill was passed and effectively stopped 75 percent of the slave trade.

The Slave Trade Act of 1807
It was in 1807 that Lords as well as the Commons ultimately adopted the Slave Trade Act; Wilberforce could get an astonishingly large margin of 283 votes to 16.

Slavery Abolition Act

The act made illegal trading of slaves. Many slaves of that period of the British Empire were not liberated. In the last time of his life, William Wilberforce campaigned for the rights of slaves across Africa and in other parts of the world. In the days leading up to dying, Wilberforce heard the news that on July 26, 1833, in the year 1833, his Slavery Abolition Act had effectively been passed following its third reading. The law banned slavery in the majority of regions within the British Empire. India was to be released from slavery only a decade afterward.

Additional Social Movements by William Wilberforce

While he’s most often associated with slavery, William Wilberforce also campaigned for other social issues, such as education reform, prison reform as well as missionary service in India as well as issues of public health. But he didn’t endorse trade unions nor did he advocate for women’s rights.

The life of William Wilberforce

William’s life was dictated by his religious inclinations. He was married late in his life to the loving Barbara Ann Spooner. In ten years the couple had six kids.