Support the state historical marker for abolitionist Moses Roper in Apalachicola, Florida


Support the state historical marker for abolitionist Moses Roper in Apalachicola, Florida

This petition made change with 498 supporters!
Augusta West started this petition to Apalachicola City Commission

On October 5th, the Apalachicola City Commission tabled the vote on the submission of an application to the Florida Department of Historical Resources for a state historical marker recognizing abolitionist Moses Roper. It will be voted on at the Tuesday, November 2nd commission meeting.

The proposed text reads:

"Moses Roper (1815-1891) was a freedom fighter, lecturer, author, and survivor of U.S. slavery who dedicated his life to abolition. The son of white planter Henry Roper and an enslaved woman named Nancy, Roper was born in Caswell County, North Carolina but was sold to several different enslavers during his youth. He tried to escape between 16-20 times but was captured and subjected to horrendous abuse at the hands of his enslavers.

In 1832 Roper was purchased by Robert Beveridge, a Scotsman living in Apalachicola who owned three steamboats. Steamboats transported cotton grown in southern Georgia and Alabama to the port of Apalachicola and carried passengers, mail, and cargo up and down the river system. The vessels docked along this stretch of Apalachicola’s riverfront.

Roper was made a steward on board the Versailles and the knowledge he gained from this aided his later successful escape.

After Beveridge went bankrupt in 1834, Roper was sold to a violent North Florida planter. He managed to escape and walked 500 miles from Marianna, Florida to Savannah, Georgia, where he leveraged his experience from the Apalachicola River and secured a job on the Fox, a schooner that sailed for New York in August 1834. The following year, he sailed to England where he obtained an education.

In 1837 Roper published one of the best-selling slave narratives in history, Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery. By 1848 he had sold 38,000 copies.

Roper was one of the first survivors of U.S. slavery to organize extensive lecture tours in the British Isles before activists like Frederick Douglass, who became famous for his transatlantic sojourn between 1845-1847. Roper travelled to every corner of Britain and used his Narrative to inform the transatlantic public about slavery. He lectured over 2,000 times across Britain and Ireland and was uncompromising in his graphic descriptions of the torture and violence he witnessed and was subjected to. In response to critics who disbelieved his testimony, he replied “you have heard the slaveholder’s side of the story, it is time for the slaves to speak.”

Marrying Ann Price, an Englishwoman, they settled in Canada with their four daughters. He later moved back to the United States. Moses Roper died in Boston in 1891."

We propose Riverfront Park as the ideal location for the following reasons:

1. The riverfront is where the steamboat Roper was enslaved on would have docked;
2. The park is a prominent downtown attraction for residents and visitors;
3. The marker would have high visibility for maximum educational value;
4. The marker would provide balance to the history of the prosperous cotton era represented by the cotton warehouses across the street and existing marker at the park; and
5. The park is approximately centrally located along the downtown commercial area’s riverfront. 

The project was initiated by Apalachicola Main Street Inc., an organization committed to preserving and promoting downtown Apalachicola's diverse contributions to our historical and cultural heritage.

The text was written by Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray, published author and Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, whose work specializes in recovering and amplifying formerly enslaved African American testimony (including forgotten slave narratives, oratory and visual performance), specifically focusing on their transatlantic journeys to Britain between the 1830s and the 1890.

The text was edited by Elinor-Mount Simmons, educator and President of Hillside Coalition Of Laborers for Apalachicola, a valued partner on this project.

We are also thankful for the collaboration of Meredith Devereaux, great-great-great-granddaughter of Moses Roper. Mrs. Deveraux says this about her ancestor: “Although his story is heartbreaking, I believe some people are put on this earth to shine a light on injustice and inequality. Moses exhibited an immense will and courage to change not only the course of his own life but that of his countrymen…He stands tall amongst those whose efforts highlighted the evils of slavery.”

Roper's message almost 200 years ago was undeniably that Black Lives Matter. Please sign in support of this project, which will install the first historical marker in Franklin County, FL dedicated to an African-American.

Project Cost: Duke Energy Foundation awarded a grant to cover all costs for the double-sided marker.

A project summary for the state historical marker can be read at this link beginning on page 14:

General information on Florida's historical marker program can be found here:

The full text of Roper's narrative can be found here:

For more information, please visit



This petition made change with 498 supporters!

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