Solomon Northup is a free black man living in upstate New York with his family in the 1840s. He is a carpenter and a talented violin player. One day, two men approach him and ask if he will accompany them and play his fiddle as they travel to Washington DC to the circus they work for. Solomon agrees. Unfortunately, he is drugged and wakes up in what he discovers is a slave pen within view of the Capitol. Burch, a cruel slave trader, beats Solomon and tells him never to mention that he is from the North and that he was kidnapped. Solomon is cowed into submission but is inconsolable about his new situation. He and several other slaves are taken down South to Louisiana to be sold. Solomon witnessed firsthand the horror of a slave mother being separated from her children. He is sold to William Ford, a kindly minister with a small plantation in the Great Pine Woods. Ford treats Solomon and his other slaves well. Solomon is not beaten, has a decent degree of freedom, and distinguishes himself as a hard worker. However, a local carpenter who works for Ford, Tibeats, takes an immediate dislike to Solomon. He is an irascible, coarse, and cruel man, and it is to Solomon’s great despair that Ford’s pecuniary troubles lead him to sell Solomon (but with a mortgage) to Tibeats. Read the book to discover the fate of the character,
12 Years a Slave -A True Story
Born a free man in New York State in 1808, Solomon Northup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841. He spent the next 12 years as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation, during this time he was frequently abused and often afraid for his life.