His name was William Wilberforce. He was born on August 24, 1759 and died on July 29, 1833 – just three days after hearing that the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act, an act of Parliament which he had fought for more than two decades to bring to passage, was finally passed.
Wilberforce became a leading English abolitionist shortly after meeting Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave trade activists in 1787. A man who believed in morality and education, he headed the parliamentary campaign against the powerful British slave trade for twenty-six years. Although there were many involved, it is Wilberforce to whom we mostly owe thanks for the end of slavery in the west. I think it’s only fitting that we acknowledge Wilberforce as one of the most important human rights activists of all time and count him among our heroes during Black History Month. Click here for more about him.
“Slavery is wicked thing, Mr. Courtney.” – Sarah Granville, main female character in the story I’m writing, part of which is about slavery in the West Indies at the turn of the 19th century.
“Although they are being hailed as heroes by sentimental fools, Wilberforce and Clarkson will have done Great Britain a great disservice if they succeed in having slavery abolished. If that should happen, fortunes will be lost, sir, fortunes.” – Lord Berrington, a friend of Sarah’s parents.
Had he actually lived, Lord Berrington would have seen his fear materialize with the abolition of slavery.
British Empire: Slavery Abolition Act passed in 1833United States: Passed by Congress thirty-two years later in 1865