In An Appeal to the Religion, Justice, and Humanity of the Inhabitants of the British Empire, first published in 1823, Wilberforce tries to persuade his fellow countrymen of the fundamental morality of abolishing slavery. Proceeding from the assumption that the British people allowed slavery only because of their great ignorance of the horrors that were involved, he endeavors to bring the reality of the slave trade to light. Driven by his religious conviction, Wilberforce condemns slaveholders for their irreligious ways and thereby encourages his countrymen to show their faith and fealty to God by joining his cause.
Students of history and the African slave trade will find Wilberforce's blend of empathy for the slaves and disregard for their native faiths paradoxical, if not emblematic of his time.
British abolitionist and politician WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (1759-1833) founded the Society for the Suppression of Vice and was active in the Association for the Better Observance of Sunday.