The abolitionist

William Wilberforce

When SeeAbility was first formed as the School for the Indigent Blind in 1799, it appointed six Vice-Presidents beneath the Lord Bishop of Durham as President. One of these Vice-Presidents was William Wilberforce. 

Wilberforce is a huge name in British history, and one of the most famous activisits and campaigners of all time. He was the face of the slave abolitionist movement in Britain, and after campaigning for twenty years, he managed to pass the Slave Trade Act in 1807 which prohibited the trading of slaves across the British Empire. Then in 1833, just weeks before his death, Wilberforce convinced parliament to pass another Slave Trade Act that made slavery completely illegal. It is no exaggeration to say that Wilberforce was a man who changed the world. 

As well as the abolitionist movement, Wilberforce was a fierce campaigner for social justice at home. In 1800, he was appointed as Vice-President for the School for the Indigent Blind, and served on the board for a number of years.  

His practical role seems to have been relatively small, but through his connections, the school was able to generate wider interest in the work of the charity in parliamentary circles. The charity continued to hold strong connections to parliament, and the role of Vice-President was later held by the Earl of Liverpool, the Prime Minister.