Black History Month: “Twelve Years A Slave”

northrup.jpgSolomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography, “Twelve Years A Slave.”

In Saratoga Springs, a plaque near the corner of Congress Street and Broadway memorializes the kidnapping of Solomon Northup. In 1841, the Saratoga County man was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. A delegation from New York some of them affiliated with Union College in Schenectady was eventually able to get Northup released. He returned to the Capital Region and wrote of his experiences in the book “Twelve Years a Slave.”

The first chapter of the book speaks of his family’s history, which he traces back to a Northup slave-owner in Rhode Island.

The second chapter begins innocently enough:

ONE morning, towards the latter part of the month of March, 1841, having at that time no particular business to engage my attention, I was walking about the village of Saratoga Springs, thinking to myself where I might obtain some present employment, until the busy season should arrive

Then he relates his abduction and being sold into slavery in New Orleans.

The full text is available online here.

Northup’s story was also made into a movie.
The film starred Avery Brooks and was directed by Gordon Parks.

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