British Statesman. Born in Hull, Yorkshire, the only son of a wealthy merchant, with his father's death in 1768, he was sent to live with relatives in London, England where he was first exposed to nonconformist Christianity. In 1776, he enrolled in St John's College, Cambridge where he made friends such as William Pitt before taking a degree in 1781. At 21, he ran for and was elected to Parliament where he earned a reputation as an eloquent speaker. Beginning about 1784 he gradually converted his way of thinking, taking up an evangelical Christianity, and reportedly decided he would use his public life to serve God. In 1787, he helped to found a The Proclamation Society in opposition to the publication of obscenity and the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In 1789, he introduced 12 resolutions against the slave trade to fierce opposition. In 1791, he again brought a motion to the House of Commons to abolish the slave trade, but was defeated. Another bill to cease the trade was passed by the House of Commons in 1792; but with the compromise amendment that the ban should be 'gradual.' He continued to chip away at the trade, and in 1807, a bill to abolish the slave trade in the British West Indies was carried into law on March 25. He spent the next several years developing the Sierra Leone Company as a foundation for launching missionaries in Africa. In 1823, he became a vice president of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions, more commonly called the Anti-Slavery Society. He resigned his parliamentary seat in 1824, after an illness. In July 1833, after a parliamentary debate of some three months, the Abolition of Slavery bill passed on its third reading in the House of Commons. Wilberforce died three days later at age 74.
Bio by: Iola
Barbara Spooner Wilberforce