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William Wilberforce, British abolitionist

William Wilberforce, British abolitionist


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William Wilberforce (1759-1833), British social reformer. Wilberforce was born in Kingston upon Hull, and was educated first in London then at Cambridge University, England. He was elected to Parliament in 1784, and shortly afterwards had a conversion to evangelical christianity that shaped the rest of his life. He first encountered the abolitionist movement in 1787, thereafter he became the principal spokesman for the abolition of slavery and helped secure the passage of the 1807 Slave Trade Act. He believed strongly in religion, morality and education, and promoted many missionary societies as well as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Despite his abolitionist views, he was politically conservative and supported oppressive social legislation. He died three days after learning that the passage of his final work, the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, was assured.

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