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Despite attempts to water down the bill to end teh slave trade, Wilberforce and the ‘Saints’ were determined not to compromise and pressed on. Eventually they succeeded.This is a short selection of speeches, in particular from pro Slavery Colonel Tarleton, who’d been a much feared army officer in the American Revolution. The scene represents the whole complex series of votes on the abolition of the trade.
William Wilberforce's Slave Trade Act 1807 abolished the slave trade in the British Empire won by 283 votes to 16, after which Britain led efforts to block slave ships


Scene: House of commons 1807, a rowdy group of MPs are Debating the Slave Trade Act
The Speaker ‘William Wilberforce!’
Wilberforce: ‘Mr Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of this house an evil trade founded in iniquity. I am speaking of the Slave Trade. [noise] I know that many honourable members in this house have interests in this trade. But I believe them to be men of humanity. I believe that if the wretchedness of this trade could be brought before their view, they would not persist with the trade (drowned out by noise from MPs)
‘The Speaker: Order! Order!
Colonel Tarleton!’
Tarleton: ‘Mr Speaker, it would appear that my honourable young friend, who appeased the Americans, while I fought them, now wants to hand over the wealth of the Indies to the French! Does he not understand that if we were disposed to sacrifice our African trade, other nations would not enter into so ruinous a plan – and they would reap the rewards!’
(Noise from MPs)
The Speaker: Order! Order! (chamber goes silent) Tarleton (Contd) ‘Mr Speaker, abolition would instantly annihilate a trade which annually employs upwards of 5,500 men and upwards of 160 ships and a huge amount of exports. Without it we couldn’t fill the coffers of the King! It would bring financial disaster to many great cities in the country.’
(Noise from MPs)
The Speaker ‘William Wilberforce!’
Wilberforce: ‘Mr Speaker, I am confident that the people of Great Britain would want to abolish the slave trade if its injustice and cruelty was made clear to them. (noise from MPs) Indeed we have a petition in support of abolition, signed by hundreds of thousands of people!
The Speaker: Order! Order!
Wilberforce: There is no doubt in my mind that the slave trade is so dreadful, so irredeemable in its wickedness, that abolition is the only option! I therefore urge my honourable friends to vote once and for all for the abolition of the slave trade throughout His Majesty’s empire’
Noise from MPs
The Speaker: ‘Order! Order! Division! Clear the lobbies!’
(Sounds of voting – tension grows - 'The Progressive Campaign' music plays)
The Speaker: ‘Order! On the Slave Trade Act, the Bill calling for the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire, the votes are as follows: Ayes to the right 283 , Noes to the left 16. The Ayes have it! The Ayes have it!
The Speaker: I declare the bill for the abolition of the slave trade to be passed.
Thomas Clarkson: ‘Wilb, why did 16 vote against?’
Wilberforce: ‘Never mind the miserable 16, Thomas, think of the glorious 283!’
Clarkson: What shall we abolish next ?
Wilberforce: The lottery I think
(Noise dies away)


from The Progressive Campaign, released March 21, 2023
Spoken Parts:
Tim Hunter—William Wilberforce
Simon Gibson—Thomas Clarkson
Bill Blackwood—The Speaker
Mick Liversidge - Colonel Tarleton

Music - Tim Hunter(Synthesiser)

Sound effects mainly Freesound, detailed on


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Tim Hunter Knaresborough, UK

'Through his musical albums, Knaresborough composer Tim Hunter helps bring to life the stories and legends of Yorkshire's rich heritage.' Yorkshire Post 1st May 2020.
Tim Hunter is a singer/songwriter/producer. His musical compositions range from pop ballads through to classic rock and have been enjoyed by audiences both in Europe and the United States.
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