12 Years a Slave

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Solomon Northup was a black man who was born a free man at a time when slavery was still legal in America. He was born in Minerva, New York, in the year 1808 (Northup 19). Northup’s father, Mintus, was originally a slave of the Northup family in Rhode Island. He was freed when the family relocated to New York. When he was growing up as a young adult, Northup helped his father with farming chores and became a raftsman for a short while on the waterways of New York. As an adult, Northup married Anne Hampton, who was of mixed heritage on Christmas day of 1829. Together, they had three children. Over the years Northup became a famous fiddle player, and this gave him recognition in his town.

As a free man in a world where blacks were either in jail or in slavery, Northup was indeed lucky. However, his fortunes turned when two men approached him and offered him substantial payment to join their travelling music show (Northup 29). Unknown to Northup, the two white men intended to drug him and sell him as a slave. They were successful and soon Northup found himself a slave despite having papers at home to prove that he was a free man. For 12 years, Northup served under a number of masters in the south, some of whom were utterly cruel and some whose humanism he admired. Eventually, he came into contact with an abolitionist who contacted his family who were then able to send a state agent to reclaim him.

Once Northup was freed and returned to his family as a free man, he filed kidnapping charges against the men who had sold him as a slave and defrauded him. What followed was a long trial that was eventually dismissed based on technical details. Additionally, Northup did not receive any compensation for the 12 years of his life that they h...

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...en that were enslaved with Northup were forced to live up to the expectations of their slave masters. Out on the field, the women did not receive any special treatment, as was the case for Patsey. Under the cover of darkness, the slave masters would have their way with the women slaves, claiming that they were “their property to do as they please with”. Finally, the worst was the separation of women from their children as they were sold into slavery. Without a doubt, the experiences of slaves were gendered in many ways.

Works Cited

Northup, Solomon, Sue L. Eakin, and Joseph Logsdon. Twelve years a slave. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968. Print.

Stevenson, Brenda. "The Surprisingly Central Role of Slave Women in "c" ." History News Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. .
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