Clapham sect

William Wilberforce introduces a Bill to outlaw the slave trade

12 May 1789

WILLIAM WILBERFORCE’s involvement in the abolition movement was undoubtedly motivated by his desire to put his evangelical Christian principles into action. Along with fellow members of the Clapham Sect – a group of social reformers who attended Holy Trinity Church on Clapham Common – he was repulsed by the trade in human beings, the greed and avarice of the traders and the moral bankruptcy of the planter-owners. It may come as a surprise, then, to find that his speech introducing his Bill to outlaw the slave trade is virtually free of moralising, Christian or otherwise. Instead, he takes a forensic, fact-based approach to dismantle the arguments of his opponents.

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