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Where is the statue of William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner In view of this week's calls for the UK to apologise for slavery, does his work get enough international recognition

01:00 Wed 05th Sep 2001 |

asks seeker:

A. The monument of the man whose slogan was, 'Am I not a man, am I not a brother ' is in front of Hull College.


Q. Why Hull
A.
That's where he was born in 1759. He lived in London with his deeply religious aunt and uncle for a time after his father died. Later he went to St John's College, Cambridge, where he became friends with William Pitt.


Q. How did he become involved with stopping slavery
A.
After leaving Cambridge at the age of 20, he went into politics, supporting the Tory government led by Pitt. Five years later, he became converted to Evangelical Christianity and became interested in social reform. He was approached by Lady Middleton, who had been campaigning against the slave trade for some time, to use his influence to end the slave trade. He soon became one of the leaders of the anti-slave trade movement.


Q. How long did it take for him to end the slave trade
A.
He presented his first bill in 1791, but was voted down. Then, in 1805, the House of Commons passed a bill making it illegal for British subjects to transport slaves, but this was blocked by the House of Lords. The following year, the new Whig administration talked the House of Lords around. Finally, the Abolition of the Slave Trade bill became law on March 25 1807.


And in August 1833, Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom - just one month after the death of William Wilberforce.


Q. Where can I find out more about the man
A.
You could visit the Wilberforce House Museum in Hull, or visit its website.

Or visit the British Library web page on Wilberforce.


Q. Does he get enough recognition
A. Wilberforce's memory is very much kept alive in his home town of Hull, which commemorates his death each year. Says Jayne Tyler, keeper of social history at the Wilberforce House Museum, it's important to remember how radical he was in Georgian times. She adds that slavery still exists today, and there is work to be done with Anti Slavery International.


For more information of the current state of slavery in the world, visit the Anti-Slavery International website.


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By Sheena Miller



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