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‘I am not a beggar’: Moses Roper, Black Witness and the Lost Opportunity of British Abolitionism

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fionnghuala Sweeney, Professor Bruce Baker



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Scholars have long known the Narrative of North Carolina writer and activist Moses Roper, first published in London in 1837. This article uses newly discovered sources and the multiple editions of the Narrative to reconstitute the biography of this first fugitive slave abolitionist to lecture in Ireland and Britain. It explores Roper’s interactions with British abolitionists, especially prominent Baptist ministers Francis A. Cox and Thomas Price. Roper’s indisputable witness to the horrors of American slavery played a crucial role in refocusing British and Irish attention from the completed task of West Indian emancipation to the looming work yet to be done in the United States. Supporting Roper’s independence, in both his campaigning and his creation of his own British family, proved too much for the British abolitionist establishment, resulting in Roper being cast out and a major opportunity to lead on matters of transatlantic moral consequence lost. More significantly, African American voice was denied its authority and a platform from which to speak.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sweeney F, Baker BE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Slavery and Abolition

Year: 2022

Volume: 43

Issue: 3

Pages: 632-667

Online publication date: 07/02/2022

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 14/03/2022

ISSN (print): 0144-039X

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9523

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/0144039X.2022.2027656


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