I back to Hull, England. Then Wilberforce moved

   I feel William Wilberforce is an example of an Upstander because of his involvement in the abolition of the slave trade in Britain.    William Wilberforce was born in Hull, England on August 24, 1759 and he died in London, United Kingdom on July 29, 1833.  Wilberforce was raised into a rich or upper middle class family in Britain.  When he was a young kid his parents sent him off to London to live with his aunts and uncles.  His aunt an Anglican minister raised them under the Anglican religion and she was one out of the three founders of Methodism.  Methodism was a very powerful source and also led to the first and second awakening.  This influenced Anglicanism which was known as evangelical.         In 1774, John Wesley published a tract that reflected on how the slaves were being brutally treated.  When Wilberforce was with his family in London he was being preached by Methodist and would always have a visitor come named John Newton a seaman on a slave ship.  Newton hated slave trade so he quit his job and became an Anglican priest.  Newton became famous and then made the amazing grace lyrics.  A lot of the upper class Anglicans had looked down on the evangelicals and a few months later there aunt and uncle took him back to Hull, England.  Then    Wilberforce moved back in with his parents.  His parents wanted him to have a part of politics just like they did after he attended St. John’s college of Cambridge.   He wasn’t the best student but was good at conversations and had a good speaking voice.  This is where he meets William Pitt, the future prime minister. In the late 1700s, William was a teenager and this is around the time when he realized that the English raided the African coast to capture and use the people as slaves to be sold.  The Englishmen capture about 35,000 to 50,000 Africans a year, took them on a brutal boat ride across the Atlantic to sell them into slavery.  Just a few days later after Wilberforce’s 21st birthday he had got a seat for the member of parliaments in The House of Commons.    In 1780 Wilberforce became even bigger in politics and got elected into the parliament two years in a row and everybody liked him and thought he was great at what he does. He went on vacation with his family after four years in parliament.  While on vacation he read a book that reignited his spiritual calling.  When he returned he was asked by Clarkson to help the movement to abolish slavery.  He was disappointed after his first year since he really didn’t accomplish anything.  He took time to reflect on his life and had a rebirth that was spiritual.  He began to see his life’s purpose, “My walk is a public one.” At this point in his life he decided to work to abolish slavery and reform morals.    He submitted his first bill to abolish slavery in 1789.  The Anti-Abolitionist fought against his bills until the war with France.  Thomas Clarkson helped William with the 12 resolutions to fight slavery and they were all stopped by minor legal issues.  His friend William Pitt, who was now Prime Minister, supported the resolutions but they did not pass.      He also became known as the Prime Minister of Philanthropy for his efforts to reform manners.  In 1787 Wilberforce helped found two societies.  The “reformation for manners” was to eliminate the publication of obscene information.  The second was called the “Anti-Slavery Society” whose goal was to abolish the slave trade and slavery.  Wilberforce was known for his speaking ability and gave some of the best speeches delivered in the House of Commons.  He again in 1791 submitted a motion to abolish the slave trade but it did not pass.  Not giving up he again made a motion in 1792 and along with petitions signed by hundreds of thousands supporting the abolition of the slave trade.  The motion was not passed but an agreement was made to gradually abolish slavery.   This went on for 15 years until in 1807 when a bill was passed to abolish the slave trade in the West Indies.  This led to the passing of the 1807 Slave Trade Act which eliminated about 75% of the slave trade.  This did not give the slaves freedom.  William continued his efforts towards the rights of slaves in both Britain and India.  He retired from the House of Commons in 1825 and Buxton took over the Anti-Slavery Society.  July 26, 1833 the Slave Abolition Act was passed just three days before William died.    William Wilberforce’s hard work and determination to stand against the slave trade to ensure the success of the movement to abolish slavery.   I would hope that I would follow his example of never giving up and fighting for what you believe.


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