Solomon Northup's Kindred: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens before the Civil War: The Kidnapping of Free Citizens before the Civil War

ABC-CLIO
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The story of Solomon Northup, subject of the Academy Award-winning best picture 12 Years a Slave, is representative of the deplorable treatment many African Americans experienced in the period leading up to the Civil War. This book examines antebellum kidnapping, delving into why and how it occurred, and illustrating the active role the U.S. government played in allowing it to continue. It presents case studies of dozens of victims' experiences that illustrate a grim and little-remembered chapter in American history.

David Fiske's Solomon Northup's Kindred reveals the abhorrent conditions and greed that resulted in the kidnapping of American citizens. Factors like early fugitive slave laws, the invention of the cotton gin, the 1808 ban on importing slaves into the United States, and the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision made these crimes highly profitable. Fiske sheds much-needed light on the practice of kidnapping, explaining how it was carried out, identifying conditions that allowed kidnappers to operate, and describing methods for combating the crime. He offers dozens of case studies along with documentation from across historical newspaper reports, anti-slavery literature, local history books, and academic publications to provide an accurate account of kidnapping crimes of the time.

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About the author

David Fiske, MLS, is a librarian and researcher with extensive experience in African American history. His published works include Solomon Northup: His Life Before and After Slavery and Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave.

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Additional Information

Publisher
ABC-CLIO
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Published on
Jan 18, 2016
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Pages
170
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ISBN
9781440836657
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Kidnapping was perhaps the greatest fear of free blacks in pre-Civil War America. Though they may have descended from generations of free-born people or worked to purchase their freedom, free blacks were not able to enjoy the privileges and opportunities of white Americans. They lived with the constant threat of kidnapping and enslavement, against which they had little recourse.

Most kidnapped free blacks were forcibly abducted, but other methods, such as luring victims with job offers or falsely claiming free people as fugitive slaves, were used as well. Kidnapping of blacks was actually facilitated by numerous state laws, as well as the federal fugitive slave laws of 1793 and 1850. Greed motivated kidnappers, who were assured high profits on the sale of their victims. As the internal slave trade increased in the early nineteenth century, so did kidnapping.

If greed provided the motivation for the crime, racism helped it to continue unabated. Victims usually found it extremely difficult to regain their freedom through a legal system that reflected society's racist views, perpetuated a racial double standard, and considered all blacks slaves until proven otherwise. Fortunate was the victim who received assistance, sometimes from government officials, most often from abolitionists. Frequently, however, the black community was forced to protect its own and organized to do so, sometimes by working within the law, sometimes by meeting violence with violence.

Mining newspaper accounts, memoirs, slave narratives, court records, letters, abolitionist society minutes, and government documents, Carol Wilson has provided a needed addition to our picture of free black life in the United States.

Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest recovers the agrarian village world Indian women created in the lush lands of the Ohio Valley. Algonquian-speaking Indians living in a crescent of towns along the Wabash tributary of the Ohio were able to evade and survive the Iroquois onslaught of the seventeenth century, to absorb French traders and Indigenous refugees, to export peltry, and to harvest riparian, wetland, and terrestrial resources of every description and breathtaking richness. These prosperous Native communities frustrated French and British imperial designs, controlled the Ohio Valley, and confederated when faced with the challenge of American invasion.

By the late eighteenth century, Montreal silversmiths were sending their best work to Wabash Indian villages, Ohio Indian women were setting the fashions for Indigenous clothing, and European visitors were marveling at the sturdy homes and generous hospitality of trading entrepots such as Miamitown. Confederacy, agrarian abundance, and nascent urbanity were, however, both too much and not enough. Kentucky settlers and American leaders—like George Washington and Henry Knox—coveted Indian lands and targeted the Indian women who worked them. Americans took women and children hostage to coerce male warriors to come to the treaty table to cede their homelands. Appalachian squatters, aspiring land barons, and ambitious generals invaded this settled agrarian world, burned crops, looted towns, and erased evidence of Ohio Indian achievement. This book restores the Ohio River valley as Native space.

In June 1870, the residents of the city of New Orleans were already on edge when two African American women kidnapped seventeen-month-old Mollie Digby from in front of her New Orleans home. It was the height of Radical Reconstruction, and the old racial order had been turned upside down: black men now voted, held office, sat on juries, and served as policemen. Nervous white residents, certain that the end of slavery and resulting "Africanization" of the city would bring chaos, pointed to the Digby abduction as proof that no white child was safe. Louisiana's twenty-eight-year old Reconstruction governor, Henry Clay Warmoth, hoping to use the investigation of the kidnapping to validate his newly integrated police force to the highly suspicious white population of New Orleans, saw to it that the city's best Afro-Creole detective, John Baptiste Jourdain, was put on the case, and offered a huge reward for the return of Mollie Digby and the capture of her kidnappers. When the Associated Press sent the story out on the wire, newspaper readers around the country began to follow the New Orleans mystery. Eventually, police and prosecutors put two strikingly beautiful Afro-Creole women on trial for the crime, and interest in the case exploded as a tense courtroom drama unfolded. In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, Michael Ross offers the first full account of this event that electrified the South at one of the most critical moments in the history of American race relations. Tracing the crime from the moment it was committed through the highly publicized investigation and sensationalized trial that followed, all the while chronicling the public outcry and escalating hysteria as news and rumors surrounding the crime spread, Ross paints a vivid picture of the Reconstruction-era South and the complexities and possibilities that faced the newly integrated society. Leading readers into smoke-filled concert saloons, Garden District drawing rooms, sweltering courthouses, and squalid prisons, Ross brings this fascinating era back to life. A stunning work of historical recreation, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case is sure to captivate anyone interested in true crime, the Civil War and its aftermath, and the history of New Orleans and the American South.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The story that inspired the major motion picture produced by Brad Pitt, directed by Steve McQueen, and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Twelve Years a Slave is a harrowing, vividly detailed, and utterly unforgettable account of slavery. This beautifully designed ebook edition of Twelve Years a Slave features an introduction by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, the bestselling author of Wench.

Solomon Northup was an entrepreneur and dedicated family man, father to three young children, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. What little free time he had after long days of manual and farm labor, he spent reading books and playing the violin. Though his father was born into slavery, Solomon was born and lived free.

In March 1841, two strangers approached Northup, offering him employment as a violinist in a town hundreds of miles away from his home in Saratoga Springs, New York. Solomon bid his wife farewell until his return. Only after he was drugged and bound, did he realize the strangers were kidnappers—that nefarious brand of criminals in the business of capturing runaway and free blacks for profit. Thus began Northup's life as a slave. Dehumanized, beaten, and worked mercilessly, Northup suffered all the more wondering what had become of his family. One owner was savagely cruel and Northup recalls he was "indebted to him for nothing, save undeserved abuse." Just as he felt the summer of his life fade and all hope nearly lost, he met a kind-hearted stranger who changed the course of his life. With its first-hand account of this country's Peculiar Institution, this is a book no one interested in American history can afford to miss.
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