Moses Roper

Moses Roper

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A few months before I was born, my father married my mother's young mistress. As soon as my father's wife heard of my birth, she sent one of my mother's sisters to see whether I was white or black, and when my aunt had seen me, she returned back as soon as she could, and told her mistress that I was white, and resembled Mr. Roper very much. Mr. Roper's wife being not pleased with this report, she got a large club stick and knife, and hastened to the place in which my mother was confined. She went into my mother's room with full intention to murder me with her knife and club, but as she was going to stick the knife into me, my grandmother happening to come in, caught the knife and saved my life. But as well as I can recollect from what my mother told me, my father sold her and myself soon after her confinement.

I cannot recollect any thing that is worth notice till I was six or seven years old. My mother being half white, and my father a white man, I was at that time very white. Soon after I was six or seven years of age, my mother's old master died, that is, my father's wife's father. All his slaves had to be divided among the children. I have mentioned before of my father disposing of me; I am not sure whether he exchanged me and my mother for another slave or not, but think it very likely he did exchange me with one of his wife's brothers or sisters, because I remember when my mother's old master died, I was living with my father's wife's brother-in-law, whose name was Mr. Durham. My mother was drawn with the other slaves.

The way they divide their slaves is this: they write the names of different slaves on a small piece of paper, and put it into a box, and let them all draw. I think that Mr. Durham drew my mother, and Mr. Fowler drew me, so we were separated a considerable distance, I cannot say how far. My resembling my father so very much, and being whiter than the other slaves, caused me to be soon sold to what they call a negro trader who took me to the southern states of America, several hundred miles from my mother. As well as I can recollect, I was then about six years old.

The trader, Mr. Michael, after travelling several hundred miles and selling a good many of his slaves, found he could not sell me very well (as I was so much whiter than the other slaves were) for he had been trying several months - left me with a Mr. Sneed, who kept a large boarding-house, who took me to wait at table and sell me if he could.

Mr. Gooch, the cotton planter, he purchased me at a town called Liberty Hill, about three miles from his home. As soon as he got home, he immediately put me on his cotton plantation to work, and put me under overseers, gave me allowance of meat and bread with the other slaves, which was not half enough for me to live upon, and very laborious work. Here my heart was almost broke with grief at leaving my fellow slaves. Gooch did not mind my grief, for he flogged me nearly every day, and very severely. Gooch bought me for his son-in-law, Mr. Hammans, about five miles from his residence. This man had but two slaves besides myself; he treated me very kindly for a week or two, but in summer, when cotton was ready to hoe, he gave me task work connected with this department, which I could not get done, not having worked on cotton farms before. When I failed in my task, he commenced flogging me, and set me to work without any shirt in the cotton field, in a very hot sun, in the month of July. In August, Mr. Condell, his overseer, gave me a task at pulling fodder.

Having finished my task before night, I left the field; the rain came on, which soaked the fodder. On discovering this, he threatened to flog me for not getting in the fodder before the rain came. This was the first time I attempted to run away, knowing that I should get a flogging. I was then between thirteen and fourteen years of age. I ran away to the woods half naked; I was caught by a slave-holder, who put me in Lancaster jail. When they put slaves in jail, they advertise for their masters to own them; but if the master does not claim his slave in six months from the time of imprisonment, the slave is sold for jail fees.

When the slave runs away, the master always adopts a more rigorous system of flogging; this was the case in the present instance. After this, having determined from my youth to gain my freedom, I made several attempts, was caught and got a severe flogging of one hundred lashes each time. Hammans was a very severe and cruel master, and his wife still worse; she used to tie me up and flog me while naked.

Mr. Gooch then obtained the assistance of another slave-holder, and tied me up in his blacksmith's shop, and gave me fifty lashes with a cow-hide. He then put a long chain, weighing twenty-five pounds, round my neck, and sent me into a field, into which he followed me with the cow-hide, intending to set his slaves to flog me again. Knowing this, and dreading to suffer again in this way, I gave him the slip, and got out of his sight, he having stopped to speak with the other slave-holder.

I got to a canal on the Catarba River, on the banks of which, and near to a lock, I procured a stone and a piece of iron, with which I forced the ring off my chain, and got it off, and then crossed the river, and walked about twenty miles, when I fell in with a slave-holder named Ballad, who had married the sister of Mr. Hammans. I knew that he was not so cruel as Mr. Gooch, and, therefore, begged of him to buy me. Ballad, who was one of the best planters in the neighbourhood, said, that he was not able to buy me, and stated, that he was obliged to take me back to my master, on account of the heavy fine attaching to a man harbouring a slave.

Mr. Ballad proceeded to take me back. As we came in sight of Mr. Gooch's, all the treatment that I had met with there came forcibly upon my mind, the powerful influence of which is beyond description. On my knees, with tears in my eyes, with terror in my countenance, and fervency in all my features, I implored Mr. Ballad to buy me, but he again refused, and I was taken back to my dreaded and cruel master.

Having reached Mr. Gooch's, he proceeded to punish me. This he did by first tying my wrists together, and placing them over the knees ; he then put a stick through, under my knees and over my arms, and having thus secured my arms, he proceeded to flog me, and gave me five hundred lashes on my bare back. This may appear incredible, but the marks which they left at present remain on my body, a standing testimony to the truth of this statement of his severity. He then chained me down in a log-pen with a 40 lb. chain, and made me lie on the damp earth all night. In the morning after his breakfast he came to me, and without giving me any breakfast, tied me to a large heavy barrow, which is usually drawn by a horse, and made me drag it to the cotton field for the horse to use in the field. Thus, the reader will see, that it was of no possible use to my master to make me drag it to the field, and not through it; his cruelty went so far as actually to make me the slave of his horse, and thus to degrade me.

He then flogged me again, and set me to work in the corn field the whole of that day, and at night chained me down in the log-pen as before. The next morning he took me to the cotton field, and gave me a third flogging, and set me to hoe cotton. At this time I was dreadfully sore and weak with the repeated floggings and harsh treatment I had endured. He put me under a black man with orders, that if I did not keep my row up in hoeing with this man, he was to flog me. The reader must recollect here, that not being used to this kind of work, having been a domestic slave, it was quite impossible for me to keep up with him, and, therefore, I was repeatedly flogged during the day.

Mr. Gooch had a female slave about eighteen years old, who also had been a domestic slave, and through not being able to fulfill her task, had run away; which slave he was at this time punishing for that offence. On the third day, he chained me to this female slave, with a large chain of 40 lbs. weight round the neck. It was most harrowing to my feelings thus to be chained to a young female slave, for whom I would rather have suffered a hundred lashes than she should have been thus treated. He kept me chained to her during the week, and repeatedly flogged us both while thus chained together, and forced us to keep up with the other slaves, although retarded by the heavy weight of the log-chain.

Here again words are insufficient to describe the misery which possessed both body and mind whilst under this treatment, and which was most dreadfully increased by the sympathy which I felt for my poor degraded fellow sufferer. On the Friday morning, I entreated my master to set me free from my chains, and promised him to do the task which was given me, and more if possible, if he would desist from flogging me. This he refused to do until Saturday night, when he did set me free. This must rather be ascribed to his own interest in preserving me from death, as it was very evident I could no longer have survived under such treatment.

A large farmer, Colonel M'Quiller, in Cashaw County, South Carolina, was in the habit of driving nails into a hogshead so as to leave the point of the nail just protruding in the inside of the cask. Into this he used to put his slaves for punishment, and roll them down a very long and steep hill. I have heard from several slaves, though I had no means of ascertaining the truth of the statement, that in this way he killed six or seven of his slaves. This plan was first adopted by a Mr. Perry, who lived on the Catarba River, and has since been adopted by several planters.

Another was that of a young lad, who had been hired by Mr. Bell, a member of a Methodist church, to hoe three quarters of an acre of cotton per day. Having been brought up as a domestic slave, he was not able to accomplish the task assigned to him. On the Saturday night, he left three or four rows to do on the Sunday; on the same night it rained very hard, by which the master could tell that he had done some of the rows on Sunday. On Monday his master took and tied him up to a tree in the field, and kept him there the whole of that day, and flogged him at intervals. At night, when he was taken down, he was so weak that he could not get home, having a mile to go. Two white men, who were employed by Mr. Bell, put him on a horse, took him home, and threw him down on the kitchen floor, while they proceeded to their supper. In a little time they heard some deep groans proceeding from the kitchen; they went to see him die; he had groaned his last.

Thus, Mr. Bell flogged this poor boy even to death; for what ? for breaking the Sabbath, when he (his master) had set him a task on Saturday which it was not possible for him to do, and which, if he did not do, no mercy would be extended towards him. So much for the regard of this Methodist for the observance of the Sabbath. The general custom in this respect is, that if a man kills his own slave, no notice is taken of it by the civil functionaries; but if a man kills a slave belonging to another master, he is compelled to pay the worth of the slave. In this case, a jury met, returned a verdict of "Wilful murder" against this man, and ordered him to pay the value. Bell was unable to do this, but a Mr. Cunningham paid the debt, and took this Mr. Bell, with this recommendation for cruelty, to be his overseer.

After travelling forty miles I arrived at the estate of Mr. Crawford, in North Carolina, Mecklinburgh county. Having formerly heard people talk about the free states, I determined upon going thither, and if possible, in my way, to find out my poor mother, who was in slavery several hundred miles from Chester; but the hope of doing the latter was very faint, and, even if I did, it was not likely that she would know me, having been separated from her when between five and six years old.

The first night I slept in a barn upon Mr. Crawford's estate, and, having overslept myself, was awoke by Mr. Crawford's overseer, upon which I was dreadfully frightened. He asked me what I was doing there? I made no reply to him then, and he making sure that he had secured a runaway slave, did not press me for an answer. On my way to his house, however, I made up the following story, which I told him in the presence of his wife: I said, that I had been bound to a very cruel master when I was a little boy, and that having been treated very badly, I wanted to get home to see my mother. He would not believe my story, on account of my hair being curly and woolly, which led him to conclude I was possessed of enslaved blood. The overseer's wife, however, who seemed much interested in me, said she did not think I was of African origin, and that she had seen white men still darker than me. Her persuasion prevailed ; and, after the overseer had given me as much buttermilk as I could drink, and something to eat, which was very acceptable, having had nothing for two days, I set off for Charlotte in North Carolina, the largest town in the county.

There are several circumstances which occurred on this estate while I was there, relative to other slaves, which it may be interesting to mention. Hardly a day ever passed without some one being flogged. To one of his female slaves he had given a dose of castor oil and salts together, as much as she could take; he then got a box, about six feet by two and a half, and one and a half feet deep; he put this slave under the box, and made the men fetch as many stones as they could get, and put them on the top of it; under this she was made to stay all night. I believe, that if he had given this slave one, he had given her three thousand lashes. Gooch was a member of a Baptist church. His slaves, thinking him a very bad sample of what a professing Christian ought to be, would not join the connection he belonged to, thinking they must be a very bad set of people; there were many of them members of the Methodist church. On Sunday, the slaves can only go to church at the will of their master, when he gives them a pass for the time they are to be out. If they are found by the patrol after the time to which their pass extends, they are severely flogged.

This year, our students are working on a number of important local history projects covering the hidden lives of prominent women, exploring the experiences of lockdown, and uncovering links with slavery. All the projects will be exhibited in September as part of the ‘City Voices’ programme of the Gloucester History Festival. This post is one of five projects, and explores the visits of former American slaves to Britain in the 19th century. Group members include Bethan Burley, Abbie Coleman, Alivia Middleton, Rebecca Taylor.

Our project focuses on African American abolitionists that visited Gloucestershire in the 19 th century. We are examining their impact on the abolitionist movement as a whole, along with the methods they used in order to bring about the abolition of slavery. Going into this project, we knew a little bit about abolitionists in America. However, we knew nothing about the work of African American abolitionists in England, the impact that they had whilst here, or even the reasons why they came to England in the first place.

The connections between slavery and Gloucestershire are evident over hundreds of years. One of the earliest relevant documents dates from 1603. In England, slavery wasn’t abolished until 1834, and because of the amount of money generated in Gloucestershire through the operations of the slave trade, there was a good deal of local resistance to the abolitionist movement. British and American abolitionists joined forces in the call to end slavery, delivering lectures hosted across the county.

Our project focuses on four African American abolitionists that were identified in the work of Hannah Rose Murray, and the Frederick Douglass in Britain and Ireland project: Moses Roper, William Wells Brown and William and Ellen Craft, all of whom delivered talks in Gloucestershire in favour of the abolition of slavery.

Moses Roper was one of the first escaped slaves to travel to Britain, and his very first lecture was delivered in Gloucestershire. With the aid of British abolitionists, Roper gained a university education and told gruesome stories of his experiences on the slave farms in North Carolina and Florida.

William Wells Brown was a prominent African American abolitionist lecturer, novelist and historian in the United States. His time in Britain had a lasting impact. His personal objectives indicated his desire to educate others on the wrongs that were still being committed towards slaves and the free coloured people in both America and Britain. He often addressed the issues of slavery as a lecturer and a fugitive tourist. His success is reflected in a growing audience that sparked conversations and debates, benefiting his work as an anti-slave activist.

William and Ellen Craft made their escape from slavery to north America in December 1848 travelling by train. Their escape was made easier by Ellen’s ability to cross dress and pass William off as her servant. When they were threatened by the fugitive slave act, they emigrated to England. They continued their work as abolitionists by giving lectures across the country. They later returned to the United States where they set up education facilities for freed slaves’ children.

One of the main resources we’ve used in this project is the British Newspaper Archives. British newspapers included articles on all of the abolitionists we’re looking at and although there was not much on them in Gloucestershire the information provided for their travels throughout the country has allowed us to form an impression of what they may have done during their time in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Overall, we aim to highlight how much of an impact these African American abolitionists had in Gloucestershire by reviewing what they did, what they said, how they interacted with other abolitionists and their contribution to the fight for racial equality.

Moses Roper - History

As part of its mission to elevate the often-untold stories of free and enslaved Black people who crafted a path to freedom through their own agency, the Crafting Freedom Institute has launched the Moses Roper Project. It’s mission is to recognize Moses Roper and to educate the American, British as well as global public about Moses Roper( 1815-1819) a native of Caswell County, North Carolina and the anti-slavery activism he was a key part of on both sides of the Atlantic.

After 15-19 attempts to escape from Slavery, Roper was finally successful in reaching the North. When he learned slave catchers were on his trail, he sailed to England where he went on to become a best-selling author, orator, and international anti-slavery crusader. Today, few are aware of his remarkable life and accomplishments on both sides of the Atlantic. He was the best-selling Black author from North Carolina in the 19th century, yet there is no historical marker for him or any exhibit on him anywhere in his home state. The Moses Roper Project aims to “get the ball rolling” so Moses Roper will gain the recognition he deserves as a freedom fighter and activist who helped to bring down the institution of slavery.

Where Does the Name Moses Come From?

1500 – 1480 BC is the time of the pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut, and she had a close confidant, described by the well-known Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley in her book on Hatshepsut, as the ‘Greatest of the Great’.

The father of Hatshepsut was Thutmose l , and his name means ‘son of Thoth’, the god of wisdom, ‘mose’ meaning ‘son’. This is a common use of the word ‘mose’ as in ‘Ra meeses’, son of the sun god Ra, etc.

The biblical text tells us that it was the pharaoh’s daughter who named Moses. Exodus 2 v 10 states that, “she called him Moses because she said, ‘I drew him out of the water’”.

But we will not find a Prince Moses in the court in Egypt because another bible reference, Hebrews 11 v 24, states that “ Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”.

Instead, we find that the close confidant of the queen is a man called ‘ Senenmut’. This appears to be a unique name, and one of its meanings is ‘mother’s brother’. Hatshepsut was born in the early 1530s, so they were close in age, so such a name makes sense.

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“The Fiery Eyes of Mrs. Prince”

One of Boston’s most dramatic Underground Railroad confrontations took place on Smith Court in 1847. Local resident Thomas B. Hilton recalled the events of that day in an 1894 newspaper article. He said that a slaveholder named Woodfork came to Boston. According to Hilton:

no name was more familiar and no name more dreaded by those residents who had escaped from southern bondage than this inhuman cowardly kidnapper. Many a poor fugitive had been tracked by him and sent back to his so-called master.

Word spread quickly through the community of Woodfork’s presence. Hilton said, “This information which our people in those times were so accustomed to hear, was enough to keep their eyes and ears on the alert.” Just before noon that day, he continued:

there was a ripple of excitement in the rear of Smith’s Court off Belknap Street. It seemed that some children had come out of the court and reported that a slave holder was in Mrs. Dorsey’s, a woman who, by some means, had succeeded in shaking off oppressions yoke and reaching Boston. This news, which was always enough to make our people drop everything and go to the rescue, was verified in this instance.

It being working hours scarcely a colored man was seen in the vicinity but, as it proved, there were those around that showed themselves equal to the occasion. Among these was Mrs. Nancy Prince…, a colored woman of prominence in Boston who, with several others…hurried to the scene…and they all started with the determination to thwart him at all hazards…

Only for an instant did the fiery eyes of Mrs. Prince rest upon the form of the villian…for the next moment she had grappled with him, and before he could fully realize his position she, with the assistance of the colored women that had accompanied her, had dragged him to the door, and thrust him out of the house. By this time quite a number, mostly women and children had gathered near by…whom Mrs. Prince commanded to come to the rescue, telling them to “pelt him with stones and any thing you can get a hold of,” which order they proceeded to obey with alacrity. And the slave holder…convinced that he had lost the opportunity of securing his victim, started to retreat, and with his assailants close upon him ran out of the court into Belknap Street.

Only once did the man turn in his head-long flight when, seeing them streaming after him terribly in earnest, their numbers constantly increasing and hearing in his ears their exultant cries and shouts of derision he redoubled his speed and, turning the corner into Cambridge street was soon lost to view.

Though not as well-known or publicized as later cases, such as the rescue of Shadrach Minkins, the actions of Nancy Prince and the women and children that fought alongside her that day are testament to the collective power, resilience, and militant spirit of Boston’s Underground Railroad network, so much of which ties directly to the tucked-away little neighborhood of Smith Court.

Moses Roperc. 1815–?

Biographers and historians agree that there is little information on the life of the fugitive slave and abolitionist Moses Roper. Most of the available information comes from his slave narrative. Moses Roper is recognized for recording details of the horror of American slavery in his biographical account A Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery (1838). The narrative challenges the romantic mythology of slavery. Roper painstakingly details his escape attempts and his punishments. Unlike many of his contemporaries who avoided disclosing the real names of their slave masters, Roper names his masters, overseers, and all persons responsible for his exploitation and abuse. Although his narrative in many ways is like a quest or adventure tale, his story has the unapologetic political mission of most slave narratives written after 1830.

Although Moses Roper indicates in his narrative that he is unsure of the exact date of his birth, most historians guess he was born in 1815 or 1816. He was born in Caswell County, North Carolina. He describes his father, John Roper, as a white man. John Roper was married to the daughter of Moses Roper's slave master. According to Roper his mother, Nancy, was part African, part Indian, and part white. Moses Roper's white skin and his resemblance to his father were not in his favor. In his narrative, he explains that when his father's wife, Mrs. Roper, discovered his birth and similar appearance to John Roper, she was determined to kill him. Fortunately, Roper's mother prevented her from harming him. Moses Roper was resented because of his white appearance. When his master died, he was separated from his mother. He was six years old and sent to live with Mr. Fowler. Fowler, not pleased with Roper, decided to sell him. However, because of Roper's color, he had difficulty selling him. He finally sold Roper to a trader whose name was Michael.

This trade was the beginning of an exhausting journey in which Roper was sold at least a dozen times and endured countless beatings and torture. During this time, he was sold and relocated to various parts of the South, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. He did not remain long with any master, except for a Mr. Gooch. Roper was sold to Gooch around the year 1829 and lived with him at Liberty Hill in Kershaw County, South Carolina. A good portion of his narrative is devoted to recounting his experiences as Gooch's slave. He also tells of the horrifying experiences of other slaves owned by Gooch. Under Gooch, Roper attempted to escape a number of times. His perceived obstinacy resulted from Gooch's cruelty. According to Roper, Gooch demanded Roper do work that at times was impossible. Gooch did not provide adequate food. He often forced Roper to take off his clothes and then he would beat Roper naked. When Roper worked for a Mr. Hammans, Gooch's son-in-law, he was frightened when the overseer, a man named Condell, threatened him. Roper made the mistake of leaving the fodder out at night, and it rained. Condell promised to flog him severely for this "crime." Roper explains that he was about thirteen years old and decided to escape rather than be beaten. This attempted escape was the beginning of half a dozen efforts Roper made to escape slavery.

On one of his attempts, he managed to reunite with his mother, Nancy, and one of his sisters Maria. However, he was soon apprehended. Roper was severely beaten as punishment for his attempted escapes and was forced to wear various restrictive and torture devices. He was often made to wear heavy leg irons and chained to a woman slave who had also attempted to escape. These irons, coupled with the pairing with another slave, made doing daily work difficult. Consequently, he and the woman to whom he was attached were beaten more often. As a punishment after one of his escapes, he was made to wear a device he called "iron horns with bells." This heavy and cumbersome device was attached to the back of his neck. It was used both to deter escape and as a punishment. According to Roper, this instrument was used frequently by slave holders in South Carolina. After another escape attempt, Roper was suspended on a contraption called a cotton screw. He was strung up by the hands for long periods while being whipped. Pictures of both of these devices appear in his narrative. Gooch decided to sell Roper in 1832. Roper was bought and sold a few times before being purchased by a Mr. Louis, who is describe as more tolerable, but when he went aboard, Roper was left in the care of a lawyer, Mr. Kemp. Louis suddenly died, and Mr. Kemp "illegally" sold Roper to Mr. Beveridge, another tolerable master. Beveridge took Roper to Florida. But Beveridge died shortly after purchasing Roper, and Roper was purchased by the unmerciful, perverse, and depraved Mr. Register in 1834.

While the drunken Mr. Register slept, Roper made his escape. This time he was successful. He crossed the Chapoli River and the Chattahoochee River into Georgia. The whiteness of his skin assisted him in obtaining papers that stated he was free. He used the name John Roper. He tried to divert anyone pursuing him but asked directions to Augusta, Georgia. Instead of going to Augusta, he went to Savannah, Georgia. He sailed to New York on the schooner Fox, where he worked for his passage and was harassed by the sailors. When he arrived in New York, he feared he was being sought after so he traveled throughout the northeast. He stayed briefly in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Since his hair seemed to identify him as black, Roper decided to shave his hair and wear wigs. Eventually, he decided that he could only be free if he left the United Sates.

On November 11,1835, he sailed for England. He was assisted in his travels by abolitionists who gave him letters of reference. In England, Dr. Raffles, an abolitionist, helped him. Roper went to school at Hackney, and he became an active member of Dr. F. A. Cox's church. In 1837, the story of Roper's enslavement and escape, A Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper from American Slavery, was published in England. The narrative was published in 1838 in the United States. In addition to writing his slave narrative, during this period in England, Roper gave a number of antislavery speeches. Although he did attend the University College in London, he did not complete his degree. He married an English woman, Anne Stephen Price of Bristol, in 1839. Roper and his wife had one child. Although Roper talked and wrote about the possibility of moving to Africa or the West Indies, in 1844 he and his wife and child moved to Ontario, Canada. He returned to England on two occasions, once in 1846 and again in 1854 to give a speech. There is little information on Moses Roper's death. Sources suggest he may have died in Ontario.

Moses Roper's determination, perseverance, and courage allowed him to make important contributions to the abolitionist cause and to African American literature. His narrative provides valuable information about his life and about the nature of American slavery.

STOP 9 - Quarantine Station - Moses Roper

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Quarantine Station was a central part of shipping into New York Harbor. All national and international ships were required to stop at the station for three days to make sure they were disease free. Since the water ways were a major route in the Underground Railroad, many freedom seekers will have passed through the Quarantine Station and its terrifying three days wait. One such individual was Moses Roper.

Moses Roper was an enslaved man who wrote one of the major early books about enslaved life in the United States, Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper from American Slavery (see front cover below). In Chapter VII, Roper describes his last attempt and successful escape from Marianna to Savannah, then on to New York where he was quarantined on Staten Island.

“The captain was very kind to me all this time but even after I recovered, I was not sufficiently well to do my duty properly, and could not give satisfaction to the sailors, who swore at me, and asked me why I shipped as I was not used to the sea? We had a very quick passage and in six days, after leaving Savannah, we were in the harbour at Staten Island, where the vessel was quarantined for two days, six miles from New York.”

In addition to writing about his experience, Moses spoke about it. See a flyer advertising one of his speeches below.

Read Moses' narrative at:

Explore a chronology of Moses Roper's Life at:

Audio clip: The Words of Moses Roper read by Ernest Paige.

Image courtesy of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Image courtesy of

8 Disturbing Images of Instruments of Torture Used on Black People

Moses Roper, a Black man who was born into bondage in North Carolina and eventually escaped slavery in 1835, recounted the torture endured in punishment for running away in “Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery.”

A machine used for packing cotton became an instrument of punishment. When Roper, who had many attempts to escape the South Carolina plantation on which he’d been enslaved, ran away yet another time, among the “instruments of torture” applied to him was the “cotton screw,” a machine used for packing and pressing cotton.

Roper recalled: “He hung me up by the hands at letter a, a horse moving round the screw e* (*This screw is sometimes moved round by hand, when there is a handle on it. The screw is made with wood, a large tree cut down, and carved in the shape of a screw), and carrying it up and down, and pressing the block e into the box d, into which the cotton is put. … I was carried up ten feet from the ground, when Mr. Gooch … let me rest for five minutes, then carried me round again, after which, he let me down and put me into the box d and shut me down in it for about ten minutes.”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Slavery of Sojourner Truth

Isabella Baumfree also known as Sojourner truth was born into slavery year 1797 in Ulster County, New York State. At age 9 when she was just a child she was sold in an auction to an englishman named John Nealey. While Years passed she was traded off to others, a Fisherman in Kingston and then to a plantation owner named John Dumont. She met someone in her years of slavery, a fellow slave, fell in love, and had 5 children between the years of 1810-1827. She was heartbroken when she saw that her son was being sold in an auction like she was a child. he was sold to a plantation owner in Alabama, and she planned on getting him back too. Being that she was a slave for others she had no rights, she had no control over her own life people controlled it for her. That is a terrible life to lead and she felt horrible about this of course but, couldn't really do much about it. Life everyday for her was just as if she wasn't a human being she was treated poorly, with no sympathy or mercy, she was basically abused. Knowing that her son was sold off to someone else made her feel weak and helpless, of course until they banished slavery in 1827. This was when she fought for her sons freedom in court. Sojourner Truth then published a book with the help of a friend of hers, his name was Olive Gilbert. From there on she gave speeches all over the world on slavery. Sojourner Truth died November 26, 1883 but her inspiring story lives on till this day. Her story and many others like hers play a big role of the change in our nation now because of her and many others slavery is abolished now in our country and everyone is treated equally. They fought for what they believed in and later received just that. People today don't face these sort of challenges in life being that slavery was abolished in 1827. She inspired me to believe that no matter who you are and where you come from you can still make something out of yourself and you could still accomplish anything in life if you try.

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