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.

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The titles assigned to the images indicate the folder in which the document was found and the place of the document in the folder. For example, the first page in folder “Correspondence, 1782-1786” is titled “Correspondence, 1782-1786, 01.”

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Source Collection

This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

William Wilberforce papers 1782-1837 and undated

Collection #RL.01381 | 1.0 Linear Feet

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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