Great Britain Anti Slavery Advocates


The transatlantic slave trade was one of the largest trade processes to ever affect the British economy. While it was a major industry for the British, producing many goods and increasing revenue across the countries, many began to recognize the negative affects of the slave trade as well. The Somersett Decision was passed in Great Britain in 1772. This decision enforced that once a slave set foot on English land they were free( This decision helped to free many slaves and please those who were against slavery. Over the years however, the slavery question began to arise more and more. In 1807 the Abolition Bill of the slave trade took effect and the transatlantic slave trade was no longer a recognized trade. Many continued to trade illegally, and abolitionists all over kept fighting against this and for the freedom of all slaves. Four important abolitionists of Great Britain are: William Wilberforce, Thomas Fowell Buxton, Hannah More, and Beilby Porteus. The acts of these and many other abolitionists helped to end slave trade in many various ways. Through literature pamphlets, speeches, and poems the acclamation of freedom to slaves rapidly spread and led to the eventual emancipation of slavery.




William Wilberforce, the most well known abolitionist of England, started off very young when he was elected into Parliament at the age of 21. Not long after taking such a leadership role his days of advocacy began. In 1787 he was asked by Prime Minister William Pitt, to take lead of the abolition movement in Parliament. As a result of such a high position, he soon paired with others in the movement and began his fight against the slave trade. After a court proceeding had fallen through due to purgatory witnesses he decided to take the issue to the House of Commons. In the House of Commons he proposed the Abolition Bill. While his speech was said to be one of the most moving that the House had ever heard the Bill failed to pass. Time after time the heated issue of abolition in Parliament was left undecided, and was sent to be looked at more in-depth by a Select Committee. Wilberforce again addressed the House with the idea of the Abolition Bill, but this time it was amended, and stated for gradual abolition to occur.  With this amendment the bill was passed, and became law. This however, gave a great deal of leeway and led to the notion that gradual abolition meant no abolition at all.  After spending a number of years dedicated to the campaign of abolition and subsequent to joining the Abolition Society he again went back to parliament with clearer ideas. Parliament finally voted in favor of abolishing the slave trade all together. The Act took effect in March of 1807.  As Wilberforce aged his duties in Parliament were passed on to Thomas Fowell Buxton, and soon after the Emancipation Bill was supported Wilberforce was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. ( 



Thomas Fowell Buxton, a well educated Englishman, was amongst some of the greatest campaigners. Standing strong beside Wilberforce for many years, he also found comfort when the Slavery Abolition Act was passed. He worked hard through brochures, pamphlets, and speeches to get the point across to Parliament as well as everyday people. He founded the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery and published The African Slave Trade and its Remedy, both advocated diplomacy with African nations. After many let downs and failures of the attempted diplomacy in Africa, Buxton was worn out and died in 1845. (


Hannah More, one of the most influential female members of the abolition, was a member of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the African Slave Trade. Her advocacy days began when she was a teenager and lent her support by writing plays to get across the ideas of the abolition. She had a wide range of friends and her circle included Wilberforce, Buxton as well as many other prestigious abolitionists.  Her work on, Slavery, a Poem contributed greatly to the abolition campaign. She later spread her wings again and went on to spread the word of abolition to the Clapham Sect of evangelical Christians. Through her religious work and writings she also wrote a series of Tracts which led to the structuring of the Religious Tracts Society. After her many works to benefit the abolition cause in her later years she went back to writing and wrote a novel. While she still kept in correspondence with her circle of friends she died in 1833 and left her fortune to abolition charities and religious societies. (


Beilby Porteus, one of the most famous chaplains of the time, returned to London where he was a member of the House of Lords. He was a friend of Wilberforce and shared the same passions for abolition. Through his sermons, Porteus would share his outspoken views, and would also lead missionary expeditions to spread the word. Being a hand of the church he wrote many tracts as well, but always reminded himself of his true duty, the church. He lived his life doing the things he believed were best and died in 1809. (






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