After graduating from Cambridge University, William Wilberforce chose to follow a career in politics and stood as Independent candidate, in an election for Hull's Member of Parliament. He won by an overwhelming majority and was elected to represent the citizens of Hull, at the age of just 21.
The young Wilberforce was a natural politician. Following the deaths of his father and his uncle he had inherited enough money to financially support his political career. He was also well liked among Hull's merchant families, who hoped that he would represent their business interests in parliament.
On taking up his seat in the House of Commons, Wilberforce met up with his university friend, William Pitt the Younger, who had also chosen a political career. Pitt and Wilberforce spent much time studying the more experienced Members of Parliament from the Commons gallery, and listening to heated political debates of the day.
Following his conversion to Methodism in 1785, Wilberforce considered leaving politics. Yet, Pitt and John Newton convinced him to persevere and use his political work as a way of serving God. Wilberforce saw the campaign to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade as a way of following his religious and humanitarian beliefs, as well as his moral conscience.