17 June 2008
WILBERFORCE, William (1759-1833). A Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade; Addressed to the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of Yorkshire. London: Printed by Luke Hansard & Sons for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1807.
8o (212 x 132 mm). Half-title. Contemporary tree calf (rebacked); green cloth folding case. Provenance: William Wilberforce (bookplate); Reverend Hans Hamilton (presentation inscription from the author on the front free endpaper).
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed by Wilberforce to Reverend Hans Hamilton on the front free endpaper: "To the Rev.d Hans Hamilton. This book is presented as a mark of esteem I regard by his faithful servant W. Wilberforce." A politician, philanthropist and devote Christian, Wilberforce spent many years fighting in Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade. A Letter..., originally intended to only be a pamphlet, was an description of the evidence and arguments against the slave trade accumulated by Wilberforce over the course of two decades. Its publication on 31 January 1807 served as the culmination of the final struggle for stopping the trafficking of slaves along with the introduction of the Abolition Bill in the Lords. The bill passed the upper house by a large majority and was read in the Commons on 23 February. The bill passed by 283 votes to 16 and received the royal assent on 25 March. Wilberforce continued to devote the rest of his life to the anti-slavery movement and died in 1833, just three days after Parliament voted to abolish slavery. PMM 232.
[Laid-in:] WILBERFORCE, William. Autograph letter, 14 February 1807, to an unidentified recipient (possibly Hamilton?), apologizing for him not receiving a copy of Wilberforce's book and ascribing it to a mistake made by the bookseller. 4 pages, 8vo. [And:] An autograph postcard from E. Hamilton, 16 June 1913, to an unidentified recipient, mentioning this copy of the book.
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