William Wilberforce Day- August 24th 

(Official site of William Wilberforce Day) 

William Wilberforce (1759-1833), was a British Member of Parliament, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. Wilberforce presented his Abolition Bill before the House of Commons in England several times. Finally, on February 23, 1807, almost fifteen years after his first attempt, Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of abolition of the slave trade, one of the most important events in African-American history. Wilberforce was also instrumental in setting up organizations such as The Bible Society and The Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor. The Wilberforce life is represented in the book and movie Amazing Grace by John Piper. Wilberforce University in Ohio is named in his honor.

In 1785, William Wilberforce underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a long-term concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807. In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his poor health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after finding out that his Act would pass through Parliament. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to his friend William Pitt, along with many kings, queens and other well-known people. August 24 was his birthday. 

This holiday has been approved by Chase’s Calendar of Events through the efforts of Professor Rick Sheridan. Wilberforce University, where Sheridan teaches, is celebrating the holiday and we invite others to join us. Chases Calendar of Events is distributed to thousands of libraries around the United States.


William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner, by William Hague. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0151012671.

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce, by John Piper. Crossway Books, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-1581348750 

Chase's Calendar of Events 2010: The Ultimate Go-to Guide for Special Days, Weeks and Months. McGraw-Hill, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0071627412 

Wilberforce University in Ohio (click here)

Professor Rick Sheridan, founder of the holiday (click here)

Chases Calendar of Events (click here)