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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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.
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.
The year was 1841. That "Peculiar Institution" of slavery was running full bore in the south. Solomon Northup, age 33, a well-educated black man who was born into freedom, resided with his wife and three children in his native state of New York. Solomon was kidnapped and sold into slavery in our nation's capital...Washington, D.C. The perpetrators of this crime, in order to sell Solomon, insisted he was an escaped slave from Georgia. Whenever Solomon protested and declared himself a free man, he was terribly beaten...once near to death. Solomon was sold and transported to Louisiana where he spent twelve long years of suffering, degradation, whippings and hard labor as a slave. For fear of his life, he had to give up the idea of convincing his masters and others that he was actually a free man and a citizen of New York and he resigned himself to the accept the life of a slave. But, through his years of captivity, he never once stopped believing that one day... he would be freed and again become united with his family in New York. The enslavement of the black race was an everyday fact of life from the earliest settlement of this country up to the end of the Civil War, which brought a close to this shameful period of our history. In the 1840's there were many... very many white people who opposed this concept of forced labor and the maltreatment of fellow human beings. The voices of these abolitionists were becoming louder and louder not only in the north where slavery was practically non-existent, but even in the heart of the south also. One of these, Samuel Bass, a Canadian by birth, put his own life in jeopardy to free Solomon. This book gives, in chilling detail, an account of a way of life that hopefully will never, ever, occur again in this great country... the "Land of the Free!"

This
book is part of the Historical Collection of Badgley Publishing Company and has
been re-created from the original.  The
original contents have been edited and corrections have been made to original
printing, spelling and grammatical errors when not in conflict with the
author’s intent to portray a particular event or interaction.  Annotations have been made and additional
content has been added by Badgley Publishing Company in order to clarify
certain historical events or interactions and to enhance the author’s content.
Photos and illustrations from the original have been touched up, enhanced and sometimes
enlarged for better viewing.  Additional
illustrations and photos have been added by Badgley Publishing Company. 

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