12 Years a Slave

ebook The Original Story Behind the Oscar Winning Best Picture

By Solomon Northup

cover image of 12 Years a Slave

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Twelve Years A Slave is subtitled Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853 from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana. This subtitle accurately describes the book which is entirely based on the true story of Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. The book was published in 1853 and became a bestseller following Uncle Tom's Cabin which was set in the same kind of Louisiana cotton plantation that some of Twelve Years A Slave is set, but the book subsequently faded until the sixties and is now universally acclaimed following the award winning film. Solomon was born in 1808 to a father who had been a slave to the Northup family of Rhode Island but then freed and grew up in Minerva New York State. He married Anne who he had three children with and worked as a raftsmen, farmer and fiddle player. He gained a good reputation as a fiddle player and was tricked accepting an engagement that led to his kidnap and was subsequently taken to a slave market in Washington D.C. and then by ship to New Orleans in horrific conditions that resulted in the death of one of his fellow travellers. The injustice and indignity he suffered under a range of masters, some of whom beat him badly for alleging he was a free man, is accurately recounted in this truly remarkable story which relates the misery and inhumane treatment that so many slaves received in the South by their white masters. Finally through a Canadian abolitionist Solomon's plight was communicated to his family who struggled to locate him as no one knew him by his real name and he was being sold by one master to another but finally after 12 long years he was a free man again and reunited with his family. Whether you see the film or not, do not miss this unique and compelling narrative that captures the intensity of events, the characters and locations of Solomon Northup's enslavement.

12 Years a Slave