Wilberforce, William (17591833)

Wilberforce, William, eminent philanthropist, born at Hull, son of a wealthy merchant; attended St. John's College, Cambridge, at 17; represented his native town in Parliament as soon as he was of age; he was early and deeply impressed with the inhumanity of the slave-trade, and to achieve its abolition became the ruling passion of his life; with that object he introduced a bill for its suppression in 1789, but it was not till 1801 he carried the Commons with him, and he had to wait six years longer before the House of Lords supported his measure and the Emancipation Act was passed; he retired into private life in 1825, and died three days after the vote of 20 millions to purchase the freedom of the West Indian slaves; he was an eminently religious man of the Evangelical school; wrote “Practical View of Christianity” (17591833).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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