William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833 A.D.) fought a hard long battle to abolish slave trade.William Wilberforce was the English social reformer, whose life mission was to abolish the slave trade and slavery.He achieved a large measure of success in his crusade by getting the slave trade in the British West Indies abolished in 1807 and pressing for the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which was enacted one month after his death.William Wilberforce was born in Hull, northeast England in 1759. He studied at Cambridge and became a Member of Parliament in 1780. He remained a Member of Parliament till 1825.
Active campaignWilberforce saw large numbers of African people being transported from their homes to colonies in the Americas, where they were sold as slaves. Conditions on the ships were terrible and many died.In 1784, Wilberforce began campaigning to end the slave trade. He worked tirelessly for over 20 years and gained a great deal of support, especially from religious groups like the Quakers. In 1807, a law was passed making it illegal for slaves to be bought or sold anywhere in the British Empire.Wilberforce then began campaigning to free those already enslaved in the British colonies.He died in 1833, a few weeks before the law completely abolishing slavery was passed.Of course, slavery was banned in the U.S. and parts of Latin America much later.Wilberforce's transformation from a wealthy aristocrat to an active social reformer was due to the influence of a former slave trader, John Newton and his success as a social reformer was due to the support of William Pitt, the younger, the British Prime Minister, who was his colleague at Cambridge.This is an extract from the book The Great Ones by V.K.Subramanian, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi