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Why Did It Take So Long to Make Slave-trading Illegal?

Before William Wilberforce told Members of Parliament about the wrongs of slave-trading, his colleagues had gathered evidence of abuses.

In 1789, Wilberforce presented a long list of those abuses in Parliament, thereafter telling the MPs: 

Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know.

Every year, from and after 1789, Wilberforce asked Parliament to change the laws which allowed slave-trading. Every year, for 18 years, Parliament did not change the law.

Why do you think that Members of Parliament, to use Wilberforce’s words, chose to “look the other way?”

If lawmakers have evidence that a law is wrong - and that actions which are legal are harming many people - what possible reasons could they have to keep the law in force?


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