17 William Wilberforce Facts: British Politician & Philanthropist! | Kidadl

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17 William Wilberforce Facts: British Politician & Philanthropist!

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On August 24, 1759, William Wilberforce was born in England and passed away on July 29 in 1833, in London.

From 1787 to 1833, Wilberforce was a philanthropist and politician who spearheaded the battle to eradicate the slave trade and slavery in British overseas possessions after that. Wilberforce received his education at Cambridge University's St. John's College. He became a confidant of later PM William Pitt and became known more for being a pleasant friend than a brilliant student.

William Pitt and Wilberforce were elected to the House of Commons in 1780. He quickly became a supporter of legislative reform and political emancipation for Roman Catholics, especially after the French Revolution. Did you know that the most authoritative volumes on Wilberforce are Reginald Coupland, written 'Wilberforce' and Oliver Warner authored 'William Wilberforce and His Times?'

After reading about the life of William Wilberforce, his son Samuel Wilberforce and the impact of abolitionist Thomas Clarkson on his life, also check William Still facts and William Turner artist facts.

William Wilberforce Movies

Amazing Grace is a British-American biographical movie of 2006 directed by Michael Apted about William Wilberforce's campaign to highlight the slave trade in the British Empire, which resulted in anti-slavery legislation being passed by the British parliament.

The title is inspired by the hymn 'Amazing Grace,' written in 1772. The film also depicts John Newton's experiences as a slave ship crewman, which prompted him to write the poem that became the hymn. Wilberforce and the abolitionist movement are said to have been influenced by Newton.

Fun fact! In the film, Wilberforce climbed onto a table and sang the magnificent song to freedom, Amazing Grace, in an attempt to inspire others to join him. It was a time of great significance.

William Wilberforce Books

William Wilberforce wrote various books in his lifetime. A list of books written by Wilberforce is mentioned below.

In 1797, William Wilberforce wrote A Practical View and A Real Christianity.

In 1807, William Wilberforce wrote 'A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Addressed to the Freeholders of Yorkshire.'

Some other biographical books written about William Wilberforce are 'Hero for humanity: A biography of William Wilberforce' by Kevin Belmonte and 'William Wilberforce: A biography' by Stephen Tomkins.

William Wilberforce Abolition Speech

Here are some inspiring William Wilberforce facts about the abolition speech!

Wilberforce's abolitionism was influenced by his conversion to evangelical Christianity in the late 1700s. John Newton, who was a previous slave trader and he also had converted and was a pastor for Wilberforce's church and he became his spiritual counselor.

Wilberforce was a vocal and unwavering proponent of anti-slavery laws in the House of Commons. He sponsored 12 anti-slavery motions and delivered one of the compelling speeches in the House of Commons, according to numerous publications at the time during the 1780s.

The motions had the support of William Pitt, Charles Fox (who was usually the rival of William Pitt), etc. However, they were not enacted into law; therefore, the problem was postponed until the following parliamentary session.

William Wilberforce emphasizes the importance of what he is discussing in the opening portion of his speech. Not only for the people he is addressing but also for their children and their children's children. He admits that he is 'both afraid and anxious about my own ineptitude' but that he would strive to overcome this because of the gravity of the situation. Wilberforce continued to make his case. He advocates for the 'complete elimination of slavery.'

Wilberforce discusses the slave trade in the second half of his address. He begins by describing the actual hardships that enslaved people faced while traveling the middle passage on British ships. The very few lines in which Wilberforce recounts the conditions aboard these ships in some detail, particularly the situation known as tight packing, directly appeal to listeners' emotions. Emotional appeals contrast his past pronouncements, in which he claimed that his arguments would be based on logic rather than emotion. However, he uses emotional appeals in the second half of the speech, and he does it well.

Despite all the reasons made by this Liverpool merchants' delegation, Wilberforce asserts in the final lines of his impassioned speech that the slave trade must be abolished, regardless of the economic ramifications. This is because what is going on is 'so massive, so terrible' that it can't go on. It goes against humanity's nature or, at the very least, humanity's inherent desire to feel compassion for the pain of humanity.

On July 26, 1833, the House of Commons passed the Slavery Abolition Act. Wilberforce died three days later. His final resting place is at the Westminster Abbey.

Wilberforce founded two formal organizations in 1787 to further the cause of the abolition of slavery.

Outspoken Facts About William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce enrolled at Cambridge University when he was only 17 years old. At Cambridge University, he was well-liked. Wilberforce had a close acquaintance with William Pitt the Younger, who, at the age of 24 when he took oath as youngest Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1783.

William Pitt supported William to start a political career, and later, he was elected to Parliament from Hull in 1780, while still a student, at the age of 21.

On August 24, 1759, he was born in Hull, England, to a wealthy merchant Robert Wilberforce and his wife, Elizabeth Bird. William Wilberforce was named after his grandfather William, who gained his wealth in the maritime trade and twice served as mayor of Hull. Wilberforce was nine years old when his father, Robert Wilberforce, died, and he was transferred to live with his aunt and uncle. William first became interested in Evangelical Christianity through his relatives.

In 1785, when England was witnessing a great religious revival, William Wilberforce began his spiritual journey. After reading Philip Doddridge's The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, an 18th century English Nonconformist leader, he was profoundly affected. Wilberforce repented his prior hedonistic lifestyle and resolved to devote the rest of his life to God's service. In the same year, he became an Evangelical Christian.

Wilberforce was a significant member of the Clapham Sect, a group of influential Evangelical Christians who pushed for the end of the slave trade, slave liberation, and prison reform. The organization's name comes from those who attend Holy Trinity Church on Clapham Common in London's southwest. Through its publications, organizations, charities, and campaigns, the Clapham Sect is recognized for significantly influencing people's moral ideas at the period, particularly opposing slavery.

On March 25, 1807, the Slave Trade Act was passed, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire, but this slave trade act did not free slaves who were already enslaved. Despite his bad health, Wilberforce persisted in campaigning for the complete abolition of slavery. He delivered his final anti-slavery speech in April 1833. Wilberforce passed away on July 29, 1833. The Slavery Abolition Act was passed a month later, ending slavery throughout the British Empire with a few exceptions.

The abolition of the slave trade became a prominent topic in the 1806 general election in the United Kingdom. Wilberforce penned and published A Document on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, a 400-page letter. This was an important aspect of the campaign's final phase. Numerous abolitionist MPs were elected to the House of Commons. The Abolition Bill was first presented to the House of Lords because Prime Minister William Grenville wanted it to pass a more strict test. The bill was passed by a substantial margin in the House of Lords. Two hundred eighty-three votes carried the bill to 16 in the House of Commons, during which tributes were paid to Wilberforce, whose face was flowing with tears.

In 1787, Wilberforce created the Proclamation Society (to prohibit the spread of obscenity) and the Society for the End of the Slave Trade (commonly known as the Anti-Slavery Society), both for the 'reformation of manners.' William Wilberforce and other associates like Henry Thornton, Thomas Clarkson, Charles grant, Zachary Macaulay, James Stephen, and others—were first known as the Saints, then the Clapham Sect (from 1797) with Wilberforce as its accepted leader.

Wilberforce decided to introduce a proposal to outlaw the slave trade in the House of Commons but lost during 1791.

In 1792, Wilberforce introduced a new motion bolstered by the backing of hundreds of British people who'd already signed petitions supporting the slave trade abolition. However, much to the dismay of Wilberforce and his supporters, a compromise bill calling for gradual abolition was supported and passed by Henry Dundas, who was the home secretary.

However, in 1807, William Wilberforce was eventually successful. On February 23, a bill to ban the slave trade in the British West Indies was passed by the House of Commons 283 to 16, which led to a chorus of hurrahs for Wilberforce. It was signed into law on March 25.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for William Wilberforce facts, then why not take a look at William Tyndale facts or William Wallace facts?

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

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