Solomon Northup's Twelve Years A Slave

1498 Words6 Pages
Solomon Northup described his life as a free black man from upstate New York who was captured by a Washington D.C. slave trader, sold as a slave into pre-Civil War Louisiana and then freed and reunited with his family in his autobiography Twelve Years a Slave. In recounting his story, he condemned the practice of slavery, which was the foundation of the Southern economy at the time, and showed no man can ever be truly broken if he remains hopeful. Solomon’s autobiography was first published in 1853 eight years before Confederate troops bombarded Union soldiers at Fort Sumter which started the Civil War. In 2013, 160 years after it was first published, a film based on Solomon’s autobiography won three Oscars including Best Picture and Best…show more content…
Burch, a slave trader in Washington D.C. Burch beat Solomon and threatened to kill him if he said he was a free man again. Burch sent Solomon to Theophilus Freeman who changed Solomon’s name to Platt and sold him to William Ford in Louisiana. John M. Tibeats, took Solomon as payment of a debt Ford owed Tibeats tried to kill Solomon twice. Tibeats sold Solomon to Edwin Epps. Solomon was Epps’ slave for 10 years. Solomon detailed how Epps abused and humiliated his slaves including how he repeatedly raped and whipped Patsey and made Solomon whip slaves. Solomon almost lost hope until Mr. Bass, an abolitionist from Canada doing carpentry work for Epps, agreed to help Solomon. Bass found Henry B. Northup, a white relative of the person who had owned Solomon’s father. He worked to free Solomon. They brought charges against Burch but he was acquitted. Twelve years after he left for Washington D.C., Solomon was reunited with his…show more content…
However, every person over the age of 13 should read Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave for three reasons. First, Solomon’s autobiography puts real faces and names to what is taught in history class. For example, textbooks say that masters beat their slaves but until reading Solomon’s description of a whipping, no one can fully comprehend that physical and emotional cruelty. Textbooks also say that slaves were allowed to marry, bear children, remarry and bear more children. Slaves bearing children was also a financial benefit because those children belonged to the plantation owner and could be sold if needed. Slave families weren’t welcomed or encouraged until we read about and feel Eliza Berry’s pain and Solomon describes Phebe’s three sons, Bob, Henry and Edward. Eliza was with Northup in Burch’s slave pen with her son Randall and daughter Emily. She was sold to Ford with Northup but her children were not. Her daughter was about 8 years old at the time. Solomon writes about how Eliza never saw her children again and mourned for them her entire life. Wiley is Edward’s father, but Bob and Henry’s father is Phebe’s former husband. Yet to Epps they are one in the same, his slaves. His only interest in their relationship to one another was that they were his property. Textbooks don’t fully explain that masters did not respect the

More about Solomon Northup's Twelve Years A Slave

Open Document