Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup was an American and the primary author of the memoir Twelve Years a Slave. A free-born African American from New York, he was the son of a freed slave and a free woman of color. A farmer and violinist, Northup owned land in Hebron, New York. In 1841 he was kidnapped by slave traders, having been enticed to Washington, D.C. with a job offer as a violinist with traveling entertainers. Shortly after he and his employers arrived in DC, they sold him as a slave, apparently having drugged him into unconsciousness to effect the kidnapping. He was shipped to New Orleans where he was sold to a planter in Louisiana. He was held in the Red River region of Louisiana by several different owners for 12 years, mostly in Avoyelles Parish. Aside from a brief communication when he was first kidnapped, his family and friends had no knowledge of him. He attempted to get word to them and to regain his freedom, but the systems guarding slaves were too pervasive to allow it. Eventually, he confided in a Canadian working on his plantation, who opposed slavery and was willing to risk contacting Northup's family and friends.
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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.
Four of the most important and enduring American slave narratives together in one volume.

Until slavery was abolished in 1865, millions of men, women, and children toiled under a system that stripped them of their freedom and their humanity. Much has been written about this shameful era of American history, but few books speak with as much power as the narratives written by those who experienced slavery firsthand.
 
The basis for the film of the same name, Twelve Years a Slave is Solomon Northup’s heartrending chronicle of injustice and brutality. Northup was born and raised a freeman in New York State—until he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South. Before returning to his family and freedom, he suffered smallpox, the overseer’s lash, and an attempted lynching.
 
Perhaps the most famous of all slave chronicles, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass immediately struck a chord with readers when it was first released in 1855. After escaping to freedom, Douglass became a well-known orator and abolitionist, drawing on his own experiences to condemn the evils of slavery.
 
One of the few female slave narratives, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was originally published under a pseudonym by Harriet Jacobs. After she escaped to freedom in North Carolina, where she became an abolitionist, Jacobs described the particular suffering of female slaves, including sexual harassment and abuse.
 
Published in 1850, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth is Truth’s landmark memoir of her life as a slave in upstate New York and her transformation into a pioneer for racial equality and women’s rights.
 
These narratives serve as a timeless testament to the strength and bravery, and as a voice to the millions of people enslaved in this dark period of American history.
 
This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.
The classic 1968 edition with historical notes WITH A NEW foreword by Karolyn Smardz Frost.
Solomon Northup was a free man, the son of an emancipated Negro Slave. Until the spring of 1841 he lived a simple, uneventful life with his wife and three children in Upstate New York. Then, suddenly, he fell victim to a series of bizarre events that make this one of the most amazing autobiographies ever written.
Northup accepted an offer from two strangers in Saratoga, New York, to catch up with their traveling circus and play in its band. But when the chase ended, Northup had been drugged, beaten, and sold to a slave trader in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, he was shipped to New Orleans, where he was purchased by a planter in the Red River region of Louisiana. For the next twelve years Northup lived as a chattel slave under several masters. He might well have died a slave, except for another set of bizarre circumstances which enabled him to get word to his family and finally regain his freedom.
These elements alone -- the kidnapping, enslavement, and rescue -- are sufficient for a sensational story. But Northup provides more. He was a shrewd observer of people and events. His memory was remarkable. He described cultivation of cotton and sugar in the Deep South. He detailed the daily routine and general life of the Negro slave. Indeed, he vividly portrayed the world of slavery -- from the underside.
Originally published in 1853, Northup's autobiography is regarded as one of the best accounts of American Negro slavery ever written by a slave. It is reprinted in full here for the first time, as the initial volume in The Library of Southern Civilization.
Northup's account has been carefully checked by the editors and has been found to be remarkably accurate. To his own narrative of a long and tragic adventure, Professors Eakin and Logsdon have added significant new details about Northup and the plantation country where he spent most of his time as a slave. Heretofore unknown information about the capture and trial of Northup's kidnappers has been included, adding still another fascinating episode to an already astounding story.
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