William Wilberforce 'allowed slavery to continue'
4th August 2010
A new book will allege that anti-slavery campaigner William
Wilberforce compromised on his principles.
Stephen Tomkins, author of The
Clapham Sect, which is published on August 20th, told the
Guardian that it was 'deeply disappointing' to find
evidence suggesting Wilberforce had connections to the slave trade
after the practice was abolished.
He uncovered Colonial Office papers that appear to show slavery
continued in Sierra Leone, the free colony created by Wilberforce's
social reformers, after the 1807 Slave Trade Act came into
Tomkins revealed that the Royal Navy handed confiscated slaves
over to the colony, where its directors sold them to landowners as
'apprentices' who were not paid and were expected to perform 14
years of servitude.
'The facts are all there. There is no getting round them.
[Wilberforce's] hands were not as clean as we assume,' he told the
However, the author admitted that the social reformer had a
genuine hatred of slavery and only agreed to the practice as he
believed it was the 'lesser of two evils' and helped the Slave
Trade Act to pass through the House of Lords.
Tomkins, who holds a PhD in church history, has written a number
of other books, including A Short
History of Christianity and Paul and