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: https://tinyurl.com/y5dgk4vv.
Read more about Moses Roper at: https://tinyurl.com/y2yuqnhl.
Explore a chronology of Moses Roper's Life at: https://tinyurl.com/yxlofhud.
Audio clip: The Words of Moses Roper read by Ernest Paige.