Monday, 20 May 2013

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce was a man who helped to abolish the slave trade.

The slave trade was an awful trade which got some African people and sent them on a long journey usually to the West Indies or America. The journey was awful and one African man was only allowed to take up the space of the length of a table! It was also very smelly because nobody ever let them go to the toilet! Most of them died in the middle of the journey. Even when they got to the West Indies it was still horrible. The sugar cane was very sharp and they were also were burnt by fire.

He wanted to change the slave trade because he had heard about how awful it was from John Newton, Thomas Clarkson, Olaudah Equiano and many others. He put the bill forward in Parliament asking to abolish the slave trade for 18 years before it was passed in 1807.

William Wilberforce married Barbara Spooner and had six children with her. He was friends with William Pitt, the Prime Minister. He studied at St John's College in Cambridge and was very popular when he was there. He had most of his Christian influence from his teacher, Isaac Milner. Later, he asked John Newton for guidance about whether he should be a politician or a minister. He decided that he could serve God as a politician.

He died in 1833 just days after the Slavery Abolition Act was passed (this Act actually set the existing slaves free). He was buried in Westminster Abbey, next to his friend William Pitt.

William Wilberforce statue in St John's College

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