|Date(s):||January 1833 to December 1833|
|Course:||“American Civilizations to 1877,” University of North Carolina at Pembroke|
|Rating:||4 (2 votes)|
William Wilberforce was only one among many men who south to abolish the transatlantic slave trade throughout his lifetime. He was a British politician who began his political career by becoming an independent member of Parliament for Yorkshire, where he learned how to debate and express ideas. During his time there, he also became an evangelistic Christian. He grew eager to spread his new religion and assert its incompatibility with slavery. Wilberforce agreed with the Philadelphia National Enquirer that, "slavery takes away the key of knowledge, withholds the Holy Scriptures, crushes the intellect of God's intelligent creatures, and exposes to insult without protection." His dear friends, James Ramsay, shared unbelievable stories of his work on slave ships, stories that horrified Wilberforce. He became restless for the chance to save innocent human beings who were treated like animals.
Inspired by his faith and the knowledge he had gained through his political career, Wilberforce decided it was time to promote change. He and a group of abolitionists promoted the idea to stop the transportation of slaves, which would hopefully lead to the complete abolition of slavery. Without slave ships and trade ports, slaves could not be transported anywhere, and many people would lose their jobs.Wilberforce, supported by his group of abolitionists, introduced the idea to stop the transatlantic slave trade to Parliament in 1787.During the twenty years that it took to get Parliament's approval to stop the transatlantic slave trade, Wilberforce grew tired, and the effects began to show in his physical health. On March 25, 1807, the Slave Trade Act was finally passed. Wilberforce lived the rest of his life fighting for the complete abolition of slavery. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 abolished all slavery in the British Empire. William Wilberforce died just three days later.
The success of abolition in the British Empire shocked American slaveholders. Plantation economies in America were built on strong slave labor and slaves were used to produce cotton, sugar, and tobacco. They were an important resource to keep agricultural production going. Even though the United States Congress abolished the slave trade in 1808, slaves were reproducing in American and by the 1850s were at an all time high. It was the American Civil War, rather than an act of Congress, that brought the end of slavery in the United States.