Wilberforce, William (1759–1833)

William Wilberforce was a philanthropist, politician, social activist, and the leading figure in the British abolitionist movement. He convinced Parliament to put a stop to the slave trade in 1807 and to end slavery within the British Empire in 1833. He was elected to Parliament in 1780 at the age of 21 and served there for 45 years, until his retirement in 1825. Although his elected position gave him the platform and visibility to promote the antislavery cause for which he is best known, he also devoted considerable time and energy to a second cause he termed “the reformation of manners.” The latter cause led him to champion an eclectic range of efforts, including “free” education, sobriety, charity schools, penal reform, child labor, moral instruction, ...

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