William Wilberforce Day is celebrated on August 24, the birth anniversary of the revolutionary British philanthropist and politician. The day is recognized as an official holiday to celebrate his life and legacy. The holiday was started by Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. The events and celebrations of the day are attended by thousands each year. William Wilberforce was born in 1759 in the British city of Hull, in the county of East Riding of Yorkshire, He made his way to the House of Commons at the young age of 21, where he served for 45 years. He passed away at the age of 74 on July 29, 1833.
History of William Wilberforce Day
William Wilberforce’s conversion to evangelical Christianity in 1784 inspired his abolitionist views. He was known for using his remarkable debate and oration skills to highlight the cruelty of slavery. He pioneered the movement to end Britain’s slave trade and slave emancipation. Wilberforce also helped form the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, also known as the Anti-Slavery Society, in 1787. He became part of and led a Christian missionary and abolitionist group that worked for his liberal causes.
In 1789, Wilberforce introduced 12 resolutions against the slave trade. However, none of these were successful. He was not disheartened and he put forward another motion in 1791, which did not succeed either. He put together a compromise measure in 1792 that allowed the gradual abolition of the slave trade — this was finally accepted by other legislatures. Finally, his 1807 legislation made slave trading illegal in Britain. However, it did not free those who were already enslaved.
Wilberforce and Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton started their fight for the immediate emancipation of all slaves in 1821. In 1823, Wilberforce helped form the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions and took over as its vice president. He retired from the House of Commons in 1825. On July 26, 1833, three days before his death, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed. This outlawed slavery in the British Empire over a period of time. Wilberforce’s legacy lives on beyond the issue of slavery. He has also founded, funded, or led more than sixty organizations to help better society. Some examples are organizations that addressed the issues of child labor and supported education for the deaf.
William Wilberforce Day timeline
Wilberforce launches his political career.
Wilberforce becomes an evangelist.
He marries Barbara Ann Spooner in Bath, Somerset.
The Wilberforce Monument is erected on the grounds of Hull College, Hull.
William Wilberforce Day FAQs
Who was William Wilberforce and what did he fight for?
Wilberforce fought for the abolition of the slave trade and for 18 years, he regularly introduced anti-slavery motions in parliament.
How did Wilberforce abolish slavery?
In 1789, Wilberforce gave a three-hour speech against slavery in Parliament. In 1791, Wilberforce presented to the House of Commons another Bill to abolish the slave trade. In 1807, Parliament abolished the slave trade.
What can we learn from William Wilberforce?
We can learn a lot from Wilberforce. He taught us to show humility and empathy to those who share different opinions from us, work for just causes, and try to better our society however we can.
How to Observe William Wilberforce Day
Pay a visit to The Wilberforce Monument
If you can, then you should definitely visit The Wilberforce Monument on William Wilberforce Day. It’s a great way to pay your respect and learn more about this impressive figure.
Join an anti-racism movement
Despite the ban on slavery, racism continues to exist even today. You can join anti-racism forums, read about race issues, and amplify minority voices on William Wilberforce Day.
Donate to a good cause
Wilberforce also spoke up against child labor, animal cruelty, and literacy discrimination. The best way to celebrate William Wilberforce Day is by supporting a good cause.
5 Facts About The House Of Commons That Will Blow Your Mind
You can’t wear a suit of armor inside
There’s no dress code as such but a suit of armor is a strict no-no.
The Monarch has restricted entry
The Monarch can only visit the House of Lords — to enter further is seen as an interference in the functioning of the House of Commons.
It was badly damaged during WWII
It was badly damaged by a direct hit in 1943 and significant reconstruction was done later.
It used to be a royal palace
The House of Commons stopped being a royal palace in 1530.
A prime minister was assassinated here
Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was killed in the parliament.
Why William Wilberforce Day is Important
He was a revolutionary
Wilberforce was a revolutionary who pioneered the anti-slavery movement in Britain. The day reminds us of all the great men who went against the tide to make our society better.
It teaches us to care
Wilberforce was a man who cared deeply about many important causes. The day teaches us to do something good for those around us and fight for a just cause.
It is a part of our history
The day also celebrates the hardships that people have had to overcome so that everyone can lead a happy and dignified life. On William Wilberforce Day, we celebrate the history of such movements.
William Wilberforce Day dates