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Book Title: Twelve Years a Slave|
The author of the book: Solomon Northup
Edition: Penguin Classics
Date of issue: November 1st 2012
ISBN 13: 9780143106708
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 397 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.3
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Born a free man in New York State in 1808, Solomon Northup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841. He spent the next twelve years as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation. During this time he was frequently abused and often afraid for his life. After regaining his freedom in 1853, Northup published this gripping account of his captivity. As an educated man, Northup was able to present an exceptionally detailed description of slave life and plantation society. Indeed, this book is probably the fullest, most realistic picture of the 'peculiar institution' during the three decades before the Civil War. Northup tells his story both from the viewpoint of an outsider, who had experienced thirty years of freedom and dignity in the United States before his capture, and as a slave, reduced to total bondage and submission. Very few personal accounts of American slavery were written by slaves with a similar history. This extraordinary slave narrative, new to Penguin Classics, has a new introduction by prize-winning historian and author Ira Berlin, an an essay by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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Read information about the authorSolomon Northup was a free-born African American from Saratoga Springs, New York. He is noted for having been kidnapped in 1841 when enticed with a job offer. When he accompanied his supposed employers to Washington, DC, they drugged him and sold him into slavery. From Washington, DC, he was transported to New Orleans where he was sold to a plantation owner from Rapides Parish, Louisiana. After 12 years in bondage, he regained his freedom in January 1853; he was one of very few to do so in such cases. Held in the Red River region of Louisiana by several different owners, he got news to his family, who contacted friends and enlisted the New York governor in his cause. New York state had passed a law in 1840 to recover African-American residents who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Northup sued the slave traders in Washington, DC, but lost in the local court. District of Columbia law prohibited him as a black man from testifying against whites and, without his testimony, the men went free. Returning to his family in New York, Northup became active in abolitionism. He published an account of his experiences in Twelve Years a Slave (1853) in his first year of freedom. Northup gave dozens of lectures throughout the Northeast on his experiences as a slave, in order to support the abolitionist cause.
In the early 1860s, Northup, along with another black man, aided a Methodist minister in Vermont in helping fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. The circumstances of Northup's death are uncertain.
Solomon Northup's memoir was reprinted several times later in the 19th century. An annotated version was published in 1968, edited by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon. The memoir was adapted and produced as a film in 2013 by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup. Previously, a TV movie had been made of Northup's story, Solomon Northup's Odyssey (1984), directed by Gordon Parks. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove wrote her poem "The Abduction" about Solomon Northup (published in her first collection, "The Yellow House on the Corner", 1980.)
Since 1999, Saratoga Springs, New York, has celebrated an annual Solomon Northup Day.
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