Wilberforce: why has his role been ‘bigged up’ in the story of abolition?

Year 8 have followed their study of British slavery and the slave trade with a study of why Wilberforce became the figure most associated with abolition. There are many reasons why the far more interesting and complex story got largely forgotten and we have been unpicking those. Here is a summary of our findings. The black is the reason Wilberforce became prominent and the purple is the impact of this on pushing Wilberforce forward or pushing others out:


We have then written a letter to ‘a grandmother’ explaining why the history they may have learnt at school was not a complete picture of abolition:


This has given us a chance to learn that there are many reasons why some stories and people become more prominent than others in the popular narrative of history. The understanding that the stories we have today are a selection from the past (sometimes due to chance, sometimes due to deliberate action) is key to understanding history as a discipline.













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