In 1841, 33-year-old Solomon Northup was a free black man living comfortably in Saratoga, NY with his wife, Anne, and three children – Margaret, Elizabeth and Alonzo. After being lured with the promise of a job opportunity in Washington D.C., Northup was drugged and kidnapped, only to awaken chained in a dark dungeon, awaiting a fate of forced servitude in the harsh Confederate South. Once an educated and accomplished violinist living among those that admired him, Northup was stripped of his name and forced to work in the southern cotton fields of Louisiana as “Platt Hamilton.” His captors were paid $250 for his captivity.
Northup was born in either 1807 or 1808 in Minerva, Essex county, New York, to Mintus Northrup, a freed slave and Susannah Northup, a free woman of black and Indian heritage. He and his brother Joseph were raised near Granville, Washington County, until his father passed away in November 1829. That same year, on Christmas Day, Solomon wed Anne Hampton at age 21. The couple immediately bore children, and Solomon lived as a devoted husband and father until that day of April 7, 1841, when his entire life would change.
Throughout his years as a slave, Northup used his skill as a tradesman of many talents to survive. Forced to suppress his education, it was evident to slave masters that he was more exposed than the other slaves. This proved at a disadvantage to Northup. Within the span of three years, he had been bought and sold to three different owners: William Ford, John Tibaut and finally, Edwin Epps.
Finally, in 1852, with the help of a white Canadian carpenter that was hired by his last owner, Northup was able to get word to his friends and family back home in Saratoga of his whereabouts. His wife, Anne, knew he had been taken against his will, and had spent years looking for her husband. On January 3, 1853, Henry Northup, a friend of his father’s former slave owner, arrived on the Epps plantation to identify and vindicate Northup. Northup returned home to his family seventeen days later.
Though he attempted to go after his kidnappers, as a black man, he was unable to bring them to justice in court.
Now an abolitionist and assistant of the Underground Railroad, Northup recorded his experience in the book “12 Years a Slave” in 1853 with the help of attorney David Wilson. The autobiography would sell 17,000 copies in its initial release. The book contained intimate details of his capture and the unspeakable conditions endured by southern slaves.
On October 18, 2013, African American director Steve McQueen releases the film “12 Years A Slave”, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard and Kelsey Scott. The film is based upon the 1853 novel by Northup and is in select theaters nationwide.
View the “12 Years A Slave” trailer above.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
1 of 25
2 of 25
3 of 25
4 of 25
5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
5 of 25
6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
6 of 25
7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
7 of 25
8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
8 of 25
9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
9 of 25
10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
10 of 25
11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
11 of 25
12. Late nights mornings
12 of 25
13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
13 of 25
14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
14 of 25
15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
15 of 25
16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
16 of 25
17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
17 of 25
18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
18 of 25
19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
19 of 25
20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
20 of 25
21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
21 of 25
22. Claudia Jordan: ....
22 of 25
23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
23 of 25
24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
24 of 25
25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
25 of 25