Solomon Northup

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Solomon Northup
Solomon Northup 001 (cropped).jpg
Engraving from his autobiography
Solomon Northup[a]

July 10, c. 1808
Diedc. 1863 (aged 55–56)
Known forWriting Twelve Years a Slave
Solomon Northup signature.svg

Solomon Northup (July 10, c. 1808c. 1863)[b] was an American abolitionist. He wrote the memoir Twelve Years a Slave. He was born as a free African American. He was a farmer and a professional violinist. He owned land in Washington County, New York.

Kidnapping[change | change source]

In 1841, he was offered a traveling musician's job. He went to Washington, D.C., where slavery was legal. He was drugged, kidnapped, and sold as a slave.[1][2] He was taken to New Orleans and was a slave for 12 years in Louisiana.[3]

He remained a slave until he met Samuel Bass, a Canadian working on his plantation who helped send letters to New York. New York state law helped New York citizens who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. His family and friends got help from the Governor of New York, Washington Hunt, and Northup got his freedom again on January 3, 1853.

Speaker[change | change source]

Northup traveled through the United States making speeches about what happened to him. He did this because he wanted voters to end slavery. Northup wrote his speeches down as a book, 12 Years a Slave, and Derby published it in 1853. Northup's book was published one year after Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. By then, people were saying that surely Beecher Stowe had only made up how bad slavery was. Northup dedicated the book to Beecher Stowe. He and Derby both said 12 Years a Slave helped prove that Beecher Stowe had not lied about slavery being bad. They called it "Another Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin."[4][5]

Death[change | change source]

Northup is believed to have died in 1863 as that was when he was last seen or heard of.[6][7]

References[change | change source]

  1. Quan, Douglas (May 24, 2019). "Unravelling the lives of the man who spent 12 years a slave – and the Canadian who saved him". National Post. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  2. Fiske, David. "How Solomon Northup was kidnapped and sold into slavery". National Museums Liverpool. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  3. Gates, Henry Louis, Jr (2013-11-01). "'12 Years a Slave': Trek From Slave to Screen". PBS. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  4. Heidi Kim (February 17, 2014). "How Twelve Years a Slave was made, 150 years before "12 Years a Slave"". Law Review of Books. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  5. Sarah Churchwell (January 10, 2014). "12 Years a Slave: the book behind the film". Guardian. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  6. "Solomon Northup". Biography. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  7. "Solomon Northup, b. 1808". Docsouth. Retrieved June 27, 2022.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. In early newspaper articles, the name is spelled both "Northrop" and "Northrup", sometimes both spellings occurring in the same article.
  2. It is believed he was born between 1808 or 1807, though many sources say he was born in 1808

More reading[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]