Twelve Years a Slave: The Autobiography of Solomon Northup

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Kidnapped into slavery in 1841, Northup spent 12 years in captivity. This autobiographical memoir represents an exceptionally detailed and accurate description of slave life and plantation society. 7 illustrations. Index.
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Twelve Years a Slave

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Overview

Kidnapped into slavery in 1841, Northup spent 12 years in captivity. This autobiographical memoir represents an exceptionally detailed and accurate description of slave life and plantation society. 7 illustrations. Index.
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Solomon Northup was born a free man in New York in 1808. In 1841 he was tricked, captured, and sold into slavery in Washington, D.C. Originally published in 1854, his account of 12 years spent as a slave on a series of Southern plantations became one of the most famous of the antebellum slave narratives. Republished in 1970 with an introduction by Philip Foner, the book has again been "replicated" by Dover with all the original documentation and illustrations. Northup's story was taken down by David Wilson in the year following his rescue from a Louisiana plantation. Since Northup was a literate Northerner and understood the values of freedom, his testimony was highly prized by Abolitionists. Not only did his book sell 25,000 copies in the year it was published, it was used to support Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, since it gave a description of plantation life very much like one that Stowe had described. Twelve Years a Slave is highly readable and well paced. It provides a firsthand account of slave auctions, good masters, bad masters, slave beatings, escape attempts, black community life within the plantation system and the legal system that permitted Northup's eventual rescue. Highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1970, Dover, 336p, illus, 22cm, 99-089488, $8.95. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Patricia A. Moore; Academic Resource Ctr., Emmanuel College, Boston, MA (retired), March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
Booknews
Born a free man in New York in 1808, Solomon Northrup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841. He spent the next 12 years as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation. After regaining his freedom in 1853, he published this gripping autobiographical account of his captivity. As an educated man, he was able to present a detailed and accurate picture of slave life and plantation society, from simultaneous outsider and insider perspectives. This is an unabridged Dover republication of the work first reprinted by Dover Publications, New York, in 1970. The original edition was published by Derby and Miller, Auburn, New York, 1853. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Library Journal - Audio
First published in 1853, this account presents rare original source material about slavery in the 19th century. Northup was born a free man in New York in 1808, kidnapped in Washington, DC, in 1841, and sold as a slave. He worked the next 12 years on a Louisiana plantation, trying to get word of his plight to his relatives in the North so his freedom could be restored. This engrossing account describes how thoroughly slaves were under the control of their masters. VERDICT Recommended for students and anyone seeking to understand this sad period of history.—Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781482916188
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2013
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Solomon Northup (1808—ca. 1870) was an African American who was born a free man in Saratoga Springs, New York. In 1841 he was kidnapped after being lured to Washington, DC, and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Following his courageous rescue came his riveting memoir, Twelve Years a Slave, which helped cement public opinion in favor of abolition leading up to the Civil War.
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Table of Contents

Editor's Preface 15
Chapter I.17
Introductory
Ancestry
The Northup Family
Birth and Parentage
Mintus Northup
Marriage with Anne Hampton
Good Resolutions
Champlain Canal
Rafting Excursion to Canada
Farming
The Violin
Cooking
Removal to Saratoga
Parker and Perry
Slaves and Slavery
The Children
The Beginning of Sorrow
Chapter II.28
The two Strangers
The Circus Company
Departure from Saratoga
Ventriloquism and Legerdemain
Journey to New-York
Free Papers
Brown and Hamilton
The haste to reach the Circus
Arrival in Washington
Funeral of Harrison
The Sudden Sickness
The Torment of Thirst
The Receding Light
Insensibility
Chains and Darkness
Chapter III.40
Painful Meditations
James H. Burch
Williams' Slave Pen in Washington
The Lackey, Radburn
Assert my Freedom
The Anger of the Trader
The Paddle and Cat-o'-nine-tails
The Whipping
New Acquaintances
Ray, Williams, and Randall
Arrival of Little Emily and her Mother in the Pen
Maternal Sorrows
The Story of Eliza
Chapter IV.54
Eliza's Sorrows
Preparation to Embark
Driven Through the Streets of Washington
Hail, Columbia
The Tomb of Washington
Clem Ray
The Breakfast on the Steamer
The happy Birds
Aquia Creek
Fredericksburgh
Arrival in Richmond
Goodin and his Slave Pen
Robert, of Cincinnati
David and his Wife
Mary and Lethe
Clem's Return
His subsequent Escape to Canada
The Brig Orleans
James H. Burch
Chapter V.65
Arrival at Norfolk
Frederick and Maria
Arthur, the Freeman
Appointed Steward
Jim, Cuffee, and Jenny
The Storm
Bahama Banks
The Calm
The Conspiracy
The Long Boat
The Small-Pox
Death of Robert
Manning, the Sailor
The Meeting in the Forecastle
The Letter
Arrival at New-Orleans
Arthur's Rescue
Theophilus Freeman, the Consignee
Platt
First Night in the New-Orleans Slave Pen
Chapter VI.78
Freeman's Industry
Cleanliness and Clothes
Exercising in the Show Room
The Dance
Bob, the Fiddler
Arrival of Customers
Slaves Examined
The Old Gentleman of New-Orleans
Sale of David, Caroline, and Lethe
Parting of Randall and Eliza
Small-Pox
The Hospital
Recovery and Return to Freeman's Slave Pen
The Purchaser of Eliza, Harry, and Platt
Eliza's Agony on Parting from Little Emily
Chapter VII.89
The Steamboat Rodolph
Departure from New-Orleans
William Ford
Arrival at Alexandria, on Red River
Resolutions
The Great Pine Woods
Wild Cattle
Martin's Summer Residence
The Texas Road
Arrival at Master Ford's
Rose
Mistress Ford
Sally and her Children
John, the Cook
Walter, Sam, and Antony
The Mills on Indian Creek
Sabbath Days
Sam's Conversion
The Profit of kindness
Rafting
Adam Taydem, the Little White Man
Cascalla and his Tribe
The Indian Ball
John M. Tibeats
The Storm approaching
Chapter VIII.105
Ford's Embarrassments
The Sale to Tibeats
The Chattel Mortgage
Mistress Ford's Plantation on Bayou Boeuf
Description of the Latter
Ford's Brother-in-law, Peter Tanner
Meeting with Eliza
She still Mourns for her Children
Ford's Overseer, Chapin
Tibeats' Abuse
The Keg of Nails
The First Fight with Tibeats
His Discomfiture and Castigation
The attempt to Hang me
Chapin's Interference and Speech
Unhappy Reflections
Abrupt Departure of Tibeats, Cook, and Ramsey
Lawson and the Brown Mule
Message to the Pine Woods
Chapter IX.118
The Hot Sun
Yet bound
The Cords sink into my Flesh
Chapin's Uneasiness
Speculation
Rachel, and her Cup of Water
Suffering increases
The Happiness of Slavery
Arrival of Ford
He cuts the Cords which bind me, and takes the Rope from my Neck
Misery
The gathering of the Slaves in Eliza's Cabin
Their Kindness
Rachel Repeats the Occurrences of the Day
Lawson entertains his Companions with an Account of his Ride
Chapin's apprehensions of Tibeats
Hired to Peter Tanner
Peter expounds the Scriptures
Description of the Stocks
Chapter X.131
Return to Tibeats
Impossibility of pleasing him
He attacks me with a Hatchet
The Struggle over the Broad Axe
The Temptation to Murder him
Escape across the Plantation
Observations from the Fence
Tibeats approaches, followed by the Hounds
They take my Track
Their loud Yells
They almost overtake me
I reach the Water
The Hounds confused
Moccasin Snakes
Alligators
Night in the "Great Pacoudrie Swamp"
The Sounds of Life
North-West Course
Emerge into the Pine Woods
Slave and his Young Master
Arrival at Ford's
Food and Rest
Chapter XI.146
The Mistress' Garden
The Crimson and Golden Fruit
Orange and Pomegranate Trees
Return to Bayou Boeuf
Master Ford's Remarks on the way
The Meeting with Tibeats
His Account of the Chase
Ford censures his Brutality
Arrival at the Plantation
Astonishment of the Slaves on seeing me
The anticipated Flogging
Kentucky John
Mr. Eldret, the Planter
Eldret's Sam
Trip to the "Big Cane Brake"
The Tradition of "Sutton's Field"
Forest Trees
Gnats and Mosquitoes
The Arrival of Black Women in the Big Cane
Lumber Women
Sudden Appearance of Tibeats
His Provoking Treatment
Visit to Bayou Boeuf
The Slave Pass
Southern Hospitality
The Last of Eliza
Sale to Edwin Epps
Chapter XII.162
Personal Appearance of Epps
Epps, Drunk and Sober
A Glimpse of his History
Cotton Growing
The Mode of Ploughing and Preparing Ground
Of Planting, of Hoeing, of Picking, of Treating Raw Hands
The difference in Cotton Pickers
Patsey a remarkable one
Tasked according to Ability
Beauty of a Cotton Field
The Slave's Labors
Fear of Approaching the Gin-House
Weighing
"Chores"
Cabin Life
The Corn Mill
The Uses of the Gourd
Fear of Oversleeping
Fear continually
Mode of Cultivating Corn
Sweet Potatoes
Fertility of the Soil
Fattening Hogs
Preserving Bacon
Raising Cattle
Shooting-Matches
Garden Products
Flowers and Verdure
Chapter XIII.176
The Curious Axe-Helve
Symptoms of approaching Illness
Continue to decline
The Whip ineffectual
Confined to the Cabin
Visit by Dr. Wines
Partial Recovery
Failure at Cotton Picking
What may be heard on Epps' Plantation
Lashes Graduated
Epps in a Whipping Mood
Epps in a Dancing Mood
Description of the Dance
Loss of Rest no Excuse
Epps' Characteristics
Jim Barns
Removal from Huff Power to Bayou Boeuf
Description of Uncle Abram; of Wiley; of Aunt Phebe; of Bob, Henry, and Edward; of Patsey; with a Genealogical Account of each
Something of their Past History, and Peculiar Characteristics
Jealousy and Lust
Patsey, the Victim
Chapter XIV.191
Destruction of the Cotton Crop in 1845
Demand for Laborers in St. Mary's Parish
Sent thither in a Drove
The Order of the March
The Grand Coteau
Hired to Judge Turner on Bayou Salle
Appointed Driver in his Sugar House
Sunday Services
Slave Furniture; how obtained
The Party at Yarney's, in Centreville
Good Fortune
The Captain of the Steamer
His Refusal to Secrete me
Return to Bayou Boeuf
Sight of Tibeats
Patsey's Sorrows
Tumult and Contention
Hunting the Coon and Opossum
The Cunning of the latter
The Lean Condition of the Slave
Description of the Fish Trap
The Murder of the Man from Natchez
Epps Chalenged by Marshall
The Influence of Slavery
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 521 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(311)

4 Star

(109)

3 Star

(44)

2 Star

(21)

1 Star

(36)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 521 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 23, 2010

    Highy Recommended- Buy It!

    This book was about the life and Journey of Solomon Northup, who unfortunately was stolen from freedom and made a slave. Born in New York State in 1808 as a free man, he was well educated, learned how to swim (which is very rare to find in an African American at the time) and an exceptional worker. But in 1841 he was kidnapped in Washington D.C. where he was forced to work as a slave for the next twelve years on a Louisiana cotton plantation.

    This book is definitely going on my list of favorite books. It has such a detailed and vivid description of his experience that I almost felt like I was there with him. He incorporates sadness, depression,and death with happiness, excitement, and love. This is sometimes very hard to achieve when writing about slavery but somehow he brought it all together in the best of ways. One of my major "likes" about this book was that he showed a side of slavery that doesn't get recognized all too often; compassion. Solomon made friends with other slaves that stood by him and showed him sympathy whenever he needed it. But the major shocker is that one of his many masters, a man named Ford, treated Solomon with respect and even said that he was better than a white man (Tibeat), right to his face. Thats when I started to adore this book and wanted to keep on reading. My only real "dislike" was that after a while, not much was happening besides him being a slave and going through what they normal experienced, but that did not stop the fact that is was a great book.

    This book gives detailed descriptions of the fear, brutality, and hardships that slaves went through which makes it a must read book because people should know the history of our country and recognize the ones who were there.

    139 out of 150 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

    Refreshing approach

    This book simply tells the story from the perspective of Solomon Northup. He successfully left out any preconceptions, assumptions and told the story from what he actually witnessed, heard, felt and thought. I could not put the book down reading about his feelings and thoughts on this horrific time in his life. A compelling story.

    59 out of 66 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2000

    The Painful Truth

    I grew up in the 60's and 70's near the area in which Northup was enslaved. I am amazed that such brutality once was accepted, even condoned, so near the peaceful places where I experienced childhood and young adulthood. We have much to learn from his story. I wish that this book had been required reading in our mandatory Junior High Lousiana History class, which typically presented only superficial discussions of slavery in our state.

    51 out of 61 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2003

    EXTREMELY COMPELLING AND HEART GRABING

    THOUGH I DIDN'T READ THE BOOK......I SAW THE MOVIE ON T.V. FOUR TIMES AND EACH TIME I SAW IT, I'M REMINDED OF THE PAIN AND SUFFERING MY PEOPLE ENDURED JUST SO I CAN FREELY DO THIS ........WRITE A COMMENTARY WITHOUT FEAR. I THANK 'G-D' FOR YOU SALOMAN NORTHUP. YOU HELPED TO KICK DOORS OPEN WITH BARE FEET SO THAT I MAY WALK THROUGH WITH SHOES ON.

    45 out of 108 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2011

    A fascinating personal history

    I really knew nothing about live as a slave, or even life during that time period. I found the book fascinating and informative. The author is very detailed in his descriptions, so you can easily picture what he is describing. He was a great observer, and even adds some wry humor here and there. Hearing his thoughts as he goes through the different situations really helps you understand what it must have been like. Knowing that it is a true story makes it all the more compelling. It gave insight into lots of questions I had about life as a slave- how aware of their situation were they, why didn't they just escape, what kinds of freedoms did they really have, were all owners cruel, how could otherwise good people own slaves, what happened when slaves were smarter than their masters, how did they cope with families being separated? I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it. One thing I would like to know - did any of the author's former owners eve read the book, and what did they think?

    39 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2013

    rip of

    The sample is only the table of contents

    28 out of 92 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2013

    Remarkable, moving, painful

    The story was presented in a moving way.
    I had no idea that free men were kidnapped and taken as slaves
    Everyone should read this book

    27 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    The story of Solomon Northup's life, as a free man, a slave and then his struggle for justice against his kidnapper's, is a horrifying and detailed narrative. Unfortunately, his story is similar to other African Americans during this period of history. His strong will to fight, literally against a particular master, at any cost demonstrates his desire to take a stand against wrong doers. An attempt to make more money for his family cost him twelve years of freedom, pain and enslavement. I could not stop reading this book after I started. His words are realistically descriptive and brings the reader into the pages of the book.

    23 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2011

    Fiction disguised

    This is the worst fiction disguised as history I have ever seen. Many of the atrocities as described did happen and leave their scars on the souls of decent men. BUT, in spite of an apparent skill at writing, there is just too much exaggeration to be credible. Some "whippings", described as "500 lashes" or even more, are too much a stretch of imagination. (Even for today's politicians) The poor man's back would, long ago, be stripped to the bone, and the hours of whipping would have to been done by a machine!

    22 out of 146 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2011

    A Must Read! I couldn't put it down!

    This is an amaedzing true story of Solomon Northup who was born in the free state of New York. People befriended him and he is taken to Washington, DC under false prentences. He is kidnapped and sent to Louisiana to the cotton plantations. How Solomon kept the faith and endured one can only believe he was made up of a fabric of his fore fathers. He knew how to make the most of interacting with the other slaves and the plantation owners. Solomon Northup wasn't freed until after 12 years. This book should be manaditory reading for every school.

    20 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2014

    I've known of this story for many years. Not only bc it's depict

    I've known of this story for many years. Not only bc it's depicting our history, but it's depicting my family's history. I'm Solomon Northup's 4x's great granddaughter, and I can't tell how completely proud and honored I am that my grandfather's story is getting so much recognition. The movie brought light to the book, which I'm so thrilled to see. The book is now being distributed to many schools. My family's history is making history. And I am so absolutely honored to be of the blood of this strong and intelligent man. The book is well written and the story is well detailed. If you've seen the movie, please read the book!

    17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2008

    A Must Read Book

    I have read about 6 books dealing with slavery such as Booker T. Washington, H. Tubman, and F. Douglas,and I must say that I have enjoyed this title the best. Solomen gives an inside experience of slavery that I never knew existed.

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    I'm not much of a reader. I haven't read a book since elementary

    I'm not much of a reader. I haven't read a book since elementary school; I'm 25 now. Believe me when I tell you I couldn't put this book down. I created a Barnes and Noble account solely to post this review. I highly recommend this book!!! It is a must read!!!

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    OMG

    THE SAMPLE IS ONLY THE TABLE OF CONTENTS

    11 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Recommend

    Powerful auto-biography! Was very well-written.

    10 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Highly Recommended - Must Read for all Americans

    This artfully written masterpiece is raw in its honesty and disturbingly revealing about America's tragic history.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Terrible

    You get so lost in the begginging . It uses weird words tht you cant find the definintion to.

    8 out of 76 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2001

    A painful, enraging read in American and Louisiana history...

    This is the story of Solomon Northup, in his own words, a citizen of New York kidnapped in 1841 and taken to Louisiana as a slave, where he was found twelve years later on a cotton plantation near the Red River. It is a story that will break your heart as Solomon was torn away from his family for over a decade. According to a quote from 1853, when Solomon first published his memoirs, 'Think of it: For thirty years a man, with all a man's hopes, fears and aspirations--with a wife and children to call him by the endearing names of husband and father--with a home, humble it may be, but still a home...then for twelve years a thing, a chattel personal, classed with mules and horses. ...Oh! it is horrible. It chills the blood to think that such are.' And indeed, this story will both chill--and boil--your blood.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2014

    Always Read the Book First - Highly Recommended

    If you're familiar with slave narratives, read this and understand the brutal language of slavery accompanied with your own personal experience with freedom. I had always wondered how slavery had been deemed as a 'peculiar' institution, and the narrator uses this term as if to say, "I experienced it. It's brutal, I can't honestly understand how I lived through it."

    The language can be a bit a difficult at times, but I read it fairly quickly, and some of the descriptions brought me to tears. It was in utter helplessness the slave Northup experienced whippings and witnessed acts of cruelty. Moving, cruel and brutal most of the time.

    I know there's a movie out now. I don't know if I can see it. Reading it was tough. Using my imagination, I cried. Seeing it on the movie screen, I don't know if I have the stomach for it.

    Consider reading Frederick Douglas or even Harriet Tubman's slave narratives as well.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is an amazing account of Solomon Northup¿s 12 years as

    This book is an amazing account of Solomon Northup’s 12 years as a slave. Solomon was born a free man but was kidnapped and tricked into slavery and spent the next 12 years as a slave on a Louisiana plantation. Solomon was well educated and it shows in his writing. I give this book my highest praise.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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