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William Wilberforce Papers, 1782-1837 and undated


British politician and social reformer William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a leader in the movement to abolish slavery.

This collection contains political and personal correspondence of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), member of the House of Commons. Many letters relate to his leadership in the movement for Britain's abolition of the slave trade. Correspondence discusses the evils of the slave trade; the slave trade in Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies; slavery, especially in the West Indies; the composition and distribution of pamphlets on the slave trade; the attendance of Thomas Clarkson at the Congress of Vienna against Wilberforce's advice; William Pitt's (1759-1806) support of the abolition movement; efforts to interest the Roman Catholic Church in the abolition cause; the determination as to whether abolition could be enforced; and noted English and French leaders and their position on the abolition question. Other topics discussed include British foreign relations; the Church of England; Roman Catholicism in Ireland; politics and government in England, France, Ireland, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Trinidad, and Venezuela; elections; French colonies; free trade versus protection; the French Revolution; Greek Independence; Haiti; South Africa; the Society of Friends; the Royal Navy; parliamentary reform; need to reform the penal code; and personal matters including Wilberforce's failing health. Correspondents include British politician William Pitt (the younger); Thomas Harrison, a close friend and a member of the Duke of Gloucester's West India Committee; Hannah More, an English writer and philanthropist; his close friend John Scandrett Harford, Jr. of Blaise Castle (near Bristol, England); George Montagu, Fourth Duke of Manchester; Lord Brougham; Spencer Perceval; Thomas Chalmers; George Canning; and John Bowdler (d. 1815).

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