William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce, 1759–1833, British politician and humanitarian. He was elected to Parliament in 1780 and during the campaign formed a lifelong friendship with William Pitt, whose measures he generally supported in the House of Commons. In 1785, during a tour of the Continent, he became converted to evangelicism—a decision that affected his entire outlook and caused him to withdraw from fashionable society. He pressed unsuccessfully for more humane criminal laws and, joining with Thomas Clarkson and others in the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade, was for 20 years parliamentary leader of this movement. He also organized (1802) the Society for the Suppression of Vice and took part in other evangelical activities for social improvement. Abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament was achieved in 1807. When it became apparent that the measure would not cause the natural demise of slavery, Wilberforce directed his efforts to the suppression of the institution throughout the British Empire. A bill to this effect was passed a month after his death. Wilberforce wrote A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians (1797), a work that enjoyed wide popularity both in Britain and on the Continent.

See his correspondence (1840); biographies by R. I. and S. Wilberforce (1835), R. Coupland (1923, repr. 1968), and O. M. Warner (1962); study by G. Lean (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Fathers of the Victorians: The Age of Wilberforce
Ford K. Brown.
University Press, 1961
Church and People, 1789-1889: A History of the Church of England from William Wilberforce to "Lux Mundi"
S. C. Carpenter.
S. P. C. K., 1933
Librarian’s tip: Chap. X "Diocese and Parish"
FREE! A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Higher and Middle Classes, Contrasted with Real Christianity
William Wilberforce.
American Tract Society, 1830
Domestic Biography: The Legacy of Evangelicalism in Four Nineteenth-Century Families
Christopher Tolley.
Oxford University, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Filial Piety: The Wilberforce Lives"
Britain's Forgotten Hero: How Has It Happened That the Man Who Did More Than Any Other to Bring about the Abolition of Slavery Is Today without Honour in His Own Country?
Cook, William.
New Statesman (1996), Vol. 135, No. 4815, October 23, 2006
Resurrecting a Great Reformer: Statesman William Wilberforce, Who Led Efforts to Halt the Slave Trade in the British Empire, Now Stands as the Perfect Example of What Faith-Based Politics Can Achieve. (the World: William Wilberforce)
Goode, Stephen.
Insight on the News, Vol. 19, No. 2, January 7, 2003
Abolitionist Icon; Wilberforce Was Inspiration for Britain's Move to End slavery.(NATION)(CULTURE, ET CETERA)
Waters, Jen.
The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 11, 2002
As Tony Blair Expresses His 'Deep Sorrow'over the Slave Trade, Why Didn't He Mention the Courageous British Man Who Brought It to an End?
Hudson, Christopher.
Daily Mail (London), November 28, 2006
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