Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: 'The grand object of my parliamentary existence' : William Wilberforce and the British abolition campaigns, 1783-1833
Author: Harrington, Anna
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 6767
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2020
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis is a re-evaluation of William Wilberforce's abolitionist activity in the House of Commons, 1788-1825. Under-used manuscript sources, as well as the parliamentary record and abolitionist literature, form the basis of the research. The historiography has relied on biographies of Wilberforce, which have in turn relied on a biography written by Wilberforce's sons after his death. Revisiting Wilberforce's correspondence and diaries offers new perspectives on his actions both in and out of the House of Commons. The thesis draws on the historiography on abolition to reassess Wilberforce's contribution in conversation with the range of topics that have attracted interest, including the extra-parliamentary campaign and enslaved-led rebellions. In doing so, this thesis bridges the gap between biographies of Wilberforce and the historiography of the abolition campaigns. The first half of the thesis focuses on the parliamentary campaign against the British Atlantic slave trade, 1787-1807, analysing Wilberforce's actions and rhetoric. It demonstrates that Wilberforce took an increasingly decisive role in the anti-slave trade campaign over time, and that his rhetoric, both in is speeches and in his 1807 Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, was targeted at his audience in the House of Commons. The second half investigates abolitionist activity after 1807 – enforcing British abolition, encouraging other countries to abolish the slave trade, and efforts to reform and gradually abolish slavery – and Wilberforce's contributions after his retirement in 1825. It argues that the second half of Wilberforce's career was in many ways a mirror of the first, because the abolitionists mimicked successful methods from pre-1807 when addressing a variety of concerns post-abolition. Similarly, his rhetoric as exemplified in his three publications between 1814 and 1823 followed the same lines as his 1807 Letter.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: William Wilberforce ; British Abolition Campaigns ; History ; Thesis