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William Wilberforce (1759-1833). British politician and social reformer William Joseph Wilberforce. Wilberforce 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.
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