Metal Collar to Prevent Running Away, South Carolina, 1830s

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Image Reference

Moses Roper, A narrative of the adventures and escape of Moses Roper from American slavery (London, 1837), p. 19 (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library). 2nd ed. (London, 1838; reprinted Negro Universities Press, 1970), p. 18.

The image on the left, captioned "Iron Horns with Bells Attached" only appears in the 1st edition (London 1837) and not in the 2nd edition (London, 1838), while the image on the right, "A woman with Iron Horns and Bells on, to keep her from running away" is only in the 2nd edition and not in the 1st. We show both images here because the one of the right clarifies how the one on the left was used, according to Roper. He describes a "mode of punishment" used by white slave holder, "that of using iron horns, with bells, attached to the back of the slave's neck. . . . This instrument he used to prevent the negroes running away, being a very ponderous machine, several feet in height, and the cross pieces being two feet four, and six feet in length. This custom is generally adopted among the slave-holders in South Carolina, and some of the other states" (pp. 18-19). Born enslaved in North Carolina around 1815, Roper made a number of escape attempts before, around 1834, he was able to escape completely, and in 1835 made his way to England where he developed contacts with members of the British Anti-Slavery Society (see, Moses Roper, in C. Peter Ripley, et al.,eds., The Black Abolitionist Papers: Vol. 1 (University of North Carolina Press, 1992).