Make a Difference by Living Out Your Beliefs: The William Wilberforce Story – Crucible Leadership by Warwick Fairfax

When you look at the other individuals in this series—people who had a passion to make the world a better place—all believed so strongly in their cause that they let nothing stand in their way. They stayed focused. That’s what it takes to make a difference. It takes persistence, despite repeated obstacles. William Wilberforce had such determination.

Wilberforce was born in the city of Hull, England, into a rich family of merchants. His father died when he was nine and he went to stay near London to be raised by an evangelical aunt and uncle. In their home he came into contact with such men as George Whitefield, the great evangelist, and John Newton, who had converted from a life of a slave trader, and was to write the hymn, Amazing Grace.

In 1776 he enrolled at Cambridge University and became friends with William Pitt. Both were motivated to enter politics and Wilberforce was elected to parliament in September 1780 at the young age of 21. Pitt became Britain’s Prime Minister at the age of 24. The two men were inseparable.

In 1784, Wilberforce met Rev. James Ramsay, a ship’s surgeon, Anglican priest, and leading abolitionist. It was his first time discussing slavery with another person.

Around 1784-86 he underwent a gradual but intense religious conversion while traveling with a friend. He gave up his racehorse, gambling, and attendance at clubs, but he was still fun to be with. Some of his friends thought his new found belief was madness. And yet, one remarked, “If this be madness, I hope that it will bite us all.”

Wilberforce championed many causes, but he worked most tirelessly against the Slave Trade and slavery and started representing the cause in Parliament.

Quoting him: “So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the [slave] trade’s  wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I, from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.”


This has been Part 7 of the series A LIFE WORTH LIVING. Read Part 8 – Slave Trade