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Twelve Years a Slave Summary

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Twelve Years a Slave Summary

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Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1975), 252 pgs.

There have been many accounts published in regards to the Civil War with the view point of Northerners or Southern plantation owners. Twelve Years a Slave, an autobiography, gives readers a different perspective in the fact it is written from a view of a freed man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The author Solomon Northup gives us an interesting perspective into slave life, treatment by different owners and the trial of his kidnappers.

Mr. Northup wrote this book in a first person account. The language used is very different from today and required the reader to notice context clues in reading. Throughout the chapters, Mr. Northup seemed to remain positive in his life style. Mr. Northup talked about his battle with small pox and the physical scaring that remained afterwards along with detailed accounts of some of the beatings that he received.

Throughout the book, the author was able to discuss the differences of each of his owners in both demeanor and physical build. His jobs changed from plantation to plantation often not using his original qualifications of a navigator on the canal system in the north. In the spring of 1832, the author and his wife became farmers and this continued until 1834. At one point in the book, the author discusses meeting up with those bound into slavery and hearing their desires to escape, never anticipating that he would be living their lifestyle in just a few months.

In 1852, the author began his quest for freedom writing letters to people in the north explaining his quandary. The author asked for assistance from Master Bass who helped him deliver his letters to the north. The initial letter arrived in New York in the early part of September in 1852. The recipients of the letter immediately began a journey to establish that Solomon Northup was a free citizen and was captured illegally. January 1853, Solomon...