Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup

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Minerva, New York
Birth Sign
Minerva, New York

Solomon Northup, a well-known American abolitionist, gained previously unheard-of heights of renown after the release of his autobiography, “12 Years a Slave.” The central concept of the Academy Award-winning film “12 Years a Slave” was inspired by his tragic experience. He was a free African-American who was born and raised in New York and worked as a farmer and a violinist. He received a job opportunity in Washington, D.C., where slavery was still legal in the middle of the 1800s, as a budding pianist. There, he was drugged, sold as a slave, and transported to New Orleans, where he served a 12-year sentence. He was fortunate to meet a Canadian on one of his plantations, who assisted him by learning about his past and freeing him in 1853 after years of being wrongfully imprisoned as a slave. After gaining freedom, Solomon dedicated the rest of his life to eradicating slavery and traveled the nation to raise awareness of the issue. He passed away in the middle of the 1860s, but the specifics of his death are still a mystery.

Table of Contents

Early Childhood & Life

The year Solomon Northup was born has been disputed, although most historians think he was born on July 10, 1807, while others say he was born in 1808. He was born to Mintus, a black man who had been a slave to the Northup family in the past but had since been emancipated. After regaining his freedom, he wed a second black woman, had a child and began a family.

The sons of Mintus Northup, Solomon, and Joseph, were both born free because their mother was a freedwoman as well. Solomon developed an early interest in music, particularly the violin, while the family was engaged in farming. Despite being a former slave and facing the racial discrimination that persisted in the culture, Mintus legally owned a piece of property and enjoyed a respectable life.

In addition to being able to acquire his own piece of land thanks to the relatively lenient regulations in New York, Mintus registered to vote. Even in the days of the country’s liberation, such as in New York, he gave both of his kids an education that was adequate. Up until the catastrophe hit, Mintus and both of his sons worked on the farm together, and the family was content and joyful.

On December 25, 1929, Solomon wed Anne Hampton, a mixed-race woman who was also partially black. The couple had three children: Alonzo, Margaret, and Elizabeth.

In the years following the death of his father in 1829, Solomon worked multiple occupations. He held jobs as a violinist and a raftsman. He was frequently asked to play the violin at upscale gatherings because of his excellent playing. After selling the family farm, the family relocated to Saratoga Springs in search of better employment prospects. Solomon’s spouse worked as a chef.

Making ends meet was initially tough for Solomon and Anne. But because Anne was a reliable cook and Solomon was a well-respected musician and carpenter, the family managed just well.

The Slave Trade & Kidnapping

Even though Solomon’s reputation as a talented fiddler was growing every day, New York didn’t seem like the best environment for him to fully utilize his musical abilities. At the age of 32, in March 1841, Solomon saw two guys who claimed to be engaged in a circus and informed him that they were greatly moved by his talent and wanted his collaboration in Washington, D.C.

Solomon left New York without telling his wife Anne, and slavery was practiced there in all its brutality. The men claimed that even though the job was short-lived, they were paid well enough to cover their travel expenses to and from Washington, DC. Solomon was understandably wary about relocating to a location with the biggest slave market in the nation, so he brought with him the documents proving his status as a freedman.

Solomon made the mistake of putting his trust in these two guys, as he was later drugged, beaten, and sold into slavery in Louisiana. He was severely assaulted and told not to mention that he was a free man. His kidnappers revealed to the purchasers that he was from Georgia during the sales discussions. He was able to convince an English sailor to write Henry Northup, the son of his father’s former owner, while he was on his way to the slave market. Henry was helpless because he didn’t know where Solomon was exactly.

Then, William Prince Ford, who owned a small farm in Louisiana, purchased Solomon from the slave market in New Orleans. Solomon claimed that Ford was one of the most honorable white people he had ever met while referring to William. Ford’s associations with particular people and his circumstances led to his restricted perspective on slavery.
Northup felt appreciated for his capabilities and saw excellent use for his woodworking abilities at Ford’s property.

Ford, however, couldn’t afford to keep many slaves on his plantation, so he sold them; John M. Tibaut ended up buying Solomon. Tibuat was a wicked man who often attempted to humiliate Solomon, and when Solomon retaliated, Tibuat even tried to kill him. He was saved by Ford, his prior owner. After then, Tibaut sold Solomon to Edwin Epps, who kept it for the following ten years.

Samuel Brass, a Canadian who had come to work at Epps’ plantation, made friends with Solomon in 1852. He was the first person Solomon revealed his real identity to and sought assistance from. Samuel made a special effort to assist Solomon and got in touch with his friends and family in Saratoga Springs. Invoking the rules of New York state, Henry Northup finally released Solomon by traveling south.

Liberty & Legacy

In the same year that he was freed, Solomon Northup published a memoir titled “12 Years a Slave” in which he detailed his experiences. The essay, which became one of the most significant pieces of writing supporting the abolitionist campaign, was renowned for its thoroughness and thought-provoking writing style. Additionally, it pushed a number of black leaders to intensify their resistance to slavery.

After that, Northup returned to New York to be with his wife and kids while carrying on his carpentry business. He had gained notoriety and emerged as the symbol of a new period in American history when the abhorrent institution of slavery was nearing its end. He assisted other slaves in fleeing their owners and finding freedom in Canada while delivering more than two dozen lectures in the northeastern United States.

He continued to fight for the abolitionist movement before abruptly disappearing from the public eye in 1857. It is generally accepted that he passed away sometime about 1863. Sadly, he was unable to envision a society in which African Americans were treated on par with white people in terms of social position.

Many authors and filmmakers have attempted to incorporate his story into their works since his passing. The British director Steve McQueen’s movie “12 Years a Slave” is one of the most outstanding of them. A few years after Solomon’s passing, his memoir was reprinted and published in 1869. Every year in Saratoga Springs, “Solomon Northup Day: A Celebration of Freedom” is held in his honor.

Estimated Net Worth

The estimated Net worth of Solomon Northup is $1 million.