[by Earl Blacklock] The slave trade was a lucrative part of the British economy. British ships moved slaves from Africa to the West Indies to be bought and sold, then brought sugar and other goods produced with that labor back to Britain. William Wilberforce was a young man, born to privilege, who was a close personal friend of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. In 1780, while still a 21 year old student at Cambridge, he was elected the Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull, sitting as an independent. At 25, he was elected the Member of Parliament for Yorkshire. Shortly after, partly due to the influence of his aunt, he went through a conversion experience, becoming an ardent Christian. He fought for social reforms such as the improvement of British factory conditions, and against child labor and animal cruelty.