William Hague has written the life of William Wilberforce who was both a staunch conservative and a tireless campaigner against the slave trade to coincide with the bicentenary of its abolition in 1807. A formidable orator, campaigner and tactician, Yorkshire-born William Wilberforce spearheaded in Parliament the 20-year-long campaign to abolish one of the great abominations of the eighteenth century: the Atlantic slave trade. Starting with research which led him famously to decide in 1787 that 'so enormous, so dreadful and so irremediable did it appear that I resolved I would not rest until I had effected its abolition', Wilberforce and his small band of allies took on the most powerful vested interests in the land, as well as some formidable political opponents, to secure eventual triumph in the dramatic events of 1807. This is the extraordinary story of a politician (and good friend of William Pitt the Younger) who shunned all honours, titles and ministerial positions, yet became one of the most influential Britons in history.
Born into wealth and idleness, he transformed himself into a man who to a unique degree combined friendship, philanthropy and evangelism with immense social and political achievements. In this book, published in the bicentenary of the slave trade's abolition, award-winning author William Hague brilliantly illuminates Wilberforce's turbulent life and career, offering a politician's insights into the parliamentary manoeuvres and electoral dramas with which he had to contend. He shows how Wilberforce's conviction and faith allowed him to hold fast to his independence and (generally conservative) beliefs even at a time of war, revolution and social upheaval. And he demonstrates how the eradication of the slave trade was genuinely the work of a lifetime, paving the way for the abolition of slavery itself throughout the British Empire, enacted while Wilberforce lay dying in 1833. The result is a compelling account of a man who achieved the rare feat of placing principle above politics, mankind above party and results above ambition. A vital part of human history, this is also a timeless story of determination and inspiration.
William Hague is the best-selling author of William Pitt the Younger, published in 2004 to rapturous reviews. The book has sold just over 70,000 copies and was chosen as History Book of the Year in the British Book Awards. William Hague was born in Rotherham in 1961. At Oxford, he was President of both the Union and the University Conservative Association. He has been MP for Richmond, Yorkshire since 1989. He joined the Cabinet in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales, and was leader of the Conservative Party from June 1997 to June 2001. He is now Shadow Foreign Secretary. William Wilberforce is his second book and will be published in June 2007.