Hey guys!! A few weeks ago, I released a post all about Amy Johnson (which you can click here to read) and mentioned that I was going to start a series on my blog about famous people who came from Hull!! So as for post 2 of the series, I’m going to be talking all about Politician William Wilberforce who was a big part of the movement of the abolition of slavery back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Wilberforce tirelessly campaigned for years to abolish slavery and whilst other key slavery abolitionists such as Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson helped in spreading the word about how horrific slavery really was, Wilberforce was the abolitionist who took it to Parliament and tried to pass an act for it to be stopped. In 1807, the slave trade was officially abolished but the slaves who’d been sold on to slave masters were not free to escape the devastating lives they’d been living. So for another 25 years, Wilberforce worked alongside a number of fellow slavery abolitionists to free people from slavery once and for all and finally on 26th July 1833, an act was passed which gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom. I find William Wilberforce so inspirational because of the fact he never gave up through all his years of campaigning because he believed in the cause and he believed in equality. I’m so proud that that this influential and amazing man originally came from Hull!! So in today’s post, I’m going to be going into greater detail about William Wilberforces life and how he succeeded in abolishing the slave trade.
William Wilberforce was born on 24th August 1759 to wealthy merchant Richard Wilberforce. At a young age, he moved over to London to live with some non-conformist relatives until he was aged 12 when his Mum brought him back to Hull so she could bring him up in the Anglican Christian faith. He later studied at Cambridge University where he found a friend in future prime minister William Pitt. This was also where he found a new, carefree way of life and he abandoned his Christian religion. Near the end of his time at university, Wilberforce decided to run for Parliament and he ultimately entered a seat representing his home town Hull at just 21 years old. Four years later, William was drawn back to Christianity whilst on a trip in Europe so he converted and remained a devoted Christian for the rest of his life.
Image source here
Shortly after, William was offered a place in the Abolition of Slave Trade Committee by leaders such as Thomas Clarkson. They believed he could help in taking the Abolition Movement to Parliament so it could be fully stopped. He agreed and following a successful campaign which raised awareness of the awful conditions of slaves on the committee’s behalf, William tried to pass a bill for it in 1789. He spoke passionately of the subject and put up a good argument by saying that slavery went against human rights and was a great injustice. Despite receiving a substantial amount of support, the anti abolitionists still won with 163 votes to 88. Wilberforce’s next attempt the following year didn’t bring up desirable results either.
After the war in France in 1793 began to develop, the movement of abolition of slavery became frowned upon. People were too scared of an invasion to worry about the freedom of slaves. However going forward into the 1800s, slavery abolition became more favourable again and after William Pitt’s death in 1806, Wilberforce tried to get an act passed again. By strategizing in causing it to be illegal for slave owners to participate in slave trading with the French, the abolitionists succeeded in undermining the business of Slave Trade and reducing the position of Slave traders. 75% of Slave Trade ended after this and in 1807 the house of Lords and the house of Commons both passed an act making it illegal for Slave Trade to occur in the British Empire. But that didn’t free the slaves who’d already been captured and taken away from everything they’d ever known so Wilberforce kept on campaigning determinedly until on 26th July 1833, an act was finally passed, banning all slavery in the British Empire. Unfortunately, Wilberforce never lived to see the outcome of the good work he’d done and he died just 3 days later. Today, many places in Hull point back to William Wilberforce and the admirable work he did including Wilberforce House which is a museum of his life and the Slave Trade, Wilberforce College and Wilberforce monument which stands proud in Queens Gardens.
Thank you for reading this post!! Which famous person from Hull would you like me to do a post on next? Let me know in the comments!! There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull