An evangelical Christian and social reformer, Wilberforce dedicated himself to the 'suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of manners'. He entered Parliament in 1780 as a Tory MP and was the Parliamentary leader of the Abolition movement from 1787. After years of campaigning, Wilberforce's bill to end Britain's part in slave trading was passed to a standing ovation in 1807. A further act of 1833 provided for the emancipation of slaves in British colonies. Wilberforce generally took a conservative position on matters of domestic security, free trade and the constitution. However, he was fiercely independent and would side with opposition politicians like Brougham, Petty-Fitzmaurice or Romilly to achieve his idealistic goals. Wilberforce was well-liked: Lawrence's unfinished portrait was said to capture 'the intellectual power and winning sweetness of the veteran statesman'.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London, England, WC2H 0HE
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.
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