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Having been born a freeman, and for more than thirty years enjoyed the blessings of liberty in a free State-and having at the end of that time been kidnapped and sold into Slavery, where I remained, until happily rescued in the month of January, 1853, after a bondage of twelve years—it has been suggested that an account of my life and fortunes would not be uninteresting to the public.
Since my return to liberty, I have not failed to perceive the increasing interest throughout the Northern States, in regard to the subject of Slavery. Works of fiction, professing to portray its features in their more pleasing as well as more repugnant aspects, have been circulated to an extent unprecedented, and, as I understand, have created a fruitful topic of comment and discussion.
I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came under my own observation—only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving it for others to determine, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage.
As far back as I have been able to ascertain, my ancestors on the paternal side were slaves in Rhode Island. They belonged to a family by the name of Northup, one of whom, removing to the State of New York, settled at Hoosic, in Rensselaer county. He brought with him Mintus Northup, my father. On the death of this gentleman, which must have occurred some fifty years ago, my father became free, having been emancipated by a direction in his will.
Henry B. Northup, Esq., of Sandy Hill, a distinguished counselor at law, and the man to whom, under Providence, I am indebted for my present liberty, and my return to the society of my wife and children, is a relative of the family in which my forefathers were thus held to service, and from which they took the name I bear. To this fact may be attributed the persevering interest he has taken in my behalf.
Sometime after my father’s liberation, he removed to the town of Minerva, Essex county, N. Y., where I was born, in the month of July, 1808. How long he remained in the latter place I have not the means of definitely ascertaining. From thence he removed to Granville, Washington county, near a place known as Slyborough, where, for some years, he labored on the farm of Clark Northup, also a relative of his old master; from thence he removed to the Alden farm, at Moss Street, a short distance north of the village of Sandy Hill; and from thence to the farm now owned by Russel Pratt, situated on the road leading from Fort Edward to Argyle, where he continued to reside until his death, which took place on the 22d day of November, 1829. He left a widow and two children —myself, and Joseph, an elder brother. The latter is still living in the county of Oswego, near the city of that name; my mother died during the period of my captivity.
Though born a slave, and laboring under the disadvantages to which my unfortunate race is subjected, my father was a man respected for his industry and integrity, as many now living, who well remember him, are ready to testify. His whole life was passed in the peaceful pursuits of agriculture, never seeking employment in those more menial positions, which seem to be especially allotted to the children of Africa. Besides giving us an education surpassing that ordinarily bestowed upon children in our condition, he acquired, by his diligence and economy, a sufficient property qualification to entitle him to the right of suffrage. He was accustomed to speak to us of his early life; and although at all times cherishing the warmest emotions of kindness, and even of affection towards the family, in whose house he had been a bondsman, he nevertheless comprehended the system of Slavery, and dwelt with sorrow on the degradation of his race. He endeavored to imbue our minds with sentiments of morality, and to teach us to place our, trust and confidence in Him who regards the humblest as well as the highest of his creatures. How often since that time has the recollection of his paternal counsels occurred to me, while lying in a slave hut in the distant and sickly regions of Louisiana, smarting with the undeserved wounds which an inhuman master had inflicted, and longing only for the grave which had covered him, to shield me also from the lash of the oppressor. In the church yard at Sandy Hill, an humble stone marks the spot where he reposes, after having worthily performed the duties appertaining to the lowly sphere wherein God had appointed him to walk.
Up to this period I had been principally engaged with my father in the labors of the farm. The leisure hours allowed me were generally either employed over my books, or playing on the violin—an amusement which was the ruling passion of my youth. It has also been the source of consolation since, affording, pleasure to the simple beings with whom my lot was cast, and beguiling my own thoughts, for many hours, from the painful contemplation of my fate.
On Christmas day, 1829, I was married to Anne Hampton, a colored girl then living in the vicinity of our residence. The ceremony was performed at Fort Edward, by Timothy Eddy, Esq., a magistrate of that town, and still a prominent citizen of the place. She had resided a long time at Sandy Hill, with Mr. Baird, proprietor of the Eagle Tavern, and also in the family of Rev. Alexander Proudfit, of Salem. This gentleman for many years had presided over the Presbyterian society at the latter place, and was widely distinguished for his learning and piety. Anne still holds in grateful remembrance the exceeding kindness and the excellent counsels of that good man. She is not able to determine the exact line of her descent, but the blood of three races mingles in her veins. It is difficult to tell whether the red, white, or black predominates. The union of them all, however, in her origin, has given her a singular but pleasing expression, such as is rarely to be seen. Though somewhat resembling, yet she cannot properly be styled a quadroon, a class to which, I have omitted to mention, my mother belonged.
I had just now passed the period of my minority, having reached the age of twenty-one years in the month of July previous. Deprived of the advice and assistance of my father, with a wife dependent upon me for support, I resolved to enter upon a life of industry; and notwithstanding the obstacle of color, and the consciousness of my lowly state, indulged in pleasant dreams of a good time coming, when the possession of some humble habitation, with a few surrounding acres, should reward my labors, and bring me the means of happiness and comfort.
From the time of my marriage to this day the love I have borne my wife has been sincere and unabated; and only those who have felt the glowing tenderness a father cherishes for his offspring, can appreciate my affection for the beloved children which have since been born to us. This much I deem appropriate and necessary to day, in order that those who read these pages, may comprehend the poignancy of those sufferings I have been doomed to bear.
Immediately upon our marriage we commenced house-keeping, in the old yellow building then standing at the southern extremity of Fort Edward village, and which has since been transformed into a modern mansion, and lately occupied by Captain Lathrop. It is known as the Fort House. In this building the courts were sometime held after the organization of the county. It was also occupied by Burgoyne in 1777, being situated near the old Fort on the left bank of the Hudson.
During the winter I was employed with others repairing the Champlain Canal, on that section over which William Van Nortwick was superintendent. David McEachron had the immediate charge of the men in whose company I labored. By the time the canal opened in the spring, I was enabled, from the savings of my wages, to purchase a pair of horses, and other things necessarily required in the business of navigation.
Having hired several efficient hands to assist me, I entered into contracts for the transportation of large rafts of timber from Lake Champlain to Troy. Dyer Beckwith and a Mr. Bartemy, of Whitehall, accompanied me on several trips. During the season I became perfectly familiar with the art and mysteries of rafting—a knowledge which afterwards enabled me to render profitable service to a worthy master, and to astonish the simple-witted lumbermen on the banks of the Bayou Boeuf.
In one of my voyages down Lake Champlain, I was induced to make a visit to Canada. Repairing to Montreal, I visited the cathedral and other places of interest in that city, from whence I continued my excursion to Kingston and other towns, obtaining a knowledge of localities, which was also of service to me afterwards, as will appear towards the close of this narrative.
Having completed my contracts on the canal satisfactorily to myself and to my employer, and not wishing to remain idle, now that the navigation of the canal was again suspended, I entered into another contract with Medad Gunn, to cut a large quantity of wood. In this business I was engaged during the winter of 1831-32.
With the return of spring, Anne and myself conceived the project of taking a farm in the neighborhood. I had been accustomed from earliest youth to agricultural labors, and it was an occupation congenial to my tastes. I accordingly entered into arrangements for a part of the old Alden farm, on which my father formerly resided. With one cow, one swine, a yoke of fine oxen I had lately purchased of Lewis Brown, in Hartford, and other personal property and effects, we proceeded to our new home in Kingsbury. That year I planted twenty-five acres of corn, sowed large fields of oats, and commenced farming...
Revue de presse
“For sheer drama, few accounts of slavery match Solomon Northup’s tale of abduction from freedom and forcible enslavement.” —Ira Berlin, from the Introduction
“When I read [Twelve Years a Slave] for the first time, it was like the first time I read Anne Frank’s diary. And I wondered to myself, ‘Why isn’t this book on everyone’s bookshelf.’ . . . For me, it’s a classic. It should be in every school.” —Steve McQueen, director of the film adaptation of Twelve Years a Slave, in Entertainment Weekly
“Frightening, gripping and inspiring . . . Northup’s story seems almost biblical, structured as it is as a descent and resurrection narrative of a protagonist who, like Christ, was 33 at the time of his abduction. . . . Northup reminds us of the fragile nature of freedom in any human society and the harsh reality that whatever legal boundaries existed between so-called free states and slave states in 1841, no black man, woman or child was permanently safe.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Root
“A moving, vital testament to one of slavery’s ‘many thousands gone’ who retained his humanity in the bowels of degradation. It is also a chilling insight into the ‘peculiar institution.’” —Saturday Review
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com:4.5 étoiles sur 5 299 commentaires
147 internautes sur 149 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
5.0 étoiles sur 5The definitive edition of a powerful story15 octobre 2013
Par J. Johnston - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
If you were, like me, looking to read Twelve Years a Slave and were looking through the various Kindle versions of the book, stop right here -- you've found the version you want. For just a dollar the Eakin "enhanced version" is absolutely loaded with historical features, annotations, and pictures that add tremendous depth and context to an amazing story, and is easily the best version on Amazon.
The Northup book itself is, of course, marvelous. As slave stories go, this one is, in my view, without peer. Northup's s captivating tale -- which has gained attention because of the movie that shares the book's title -- is told in exacting detail with an easy prose. He sets the stage masterfully, describing people and places before proceeding into the narrative. Unlike works of fiction, this book is so compelling because, by all accounts, it is true. There is no polemical axe to grind, as with Uncle Tom (a novel at one point wryly referenced by Northup). Here you see both the brutality of slavery and the moments of kindness by slaves and even some slave owners. Solomon tells the story with clarity and intelligence.
Because Twelve Years a Slave is in the public domain, I initially searched for free copies elsewhere. Unfortunately, the free versions I found on other sites were pretty badly formatted, so spending a dollar for a polished version on Amazon proved worthwhile. That said, while most of the Amazon versions are while noticeably cleaner than the free site versions, nearly all of the Amazon entries are barebones versions with no extra material, and most of their introductions, such as they are, are done by novelists or movie producers. That's fine, but at the end of the day they're not historians.
Sue Eakin is. As a scholar who devoted her life to Northup's story, she fills in the gaps in a way that is honest and easy to follow. She traces Northup's life before the book, brings outside contemporary sources into the picture, and, most interestingly, discusses the mystery behind Northup's life after the book. All of this is done via footnotes and appendices, meaning that they are there if you want them but don't interfere with the book proper. As if that's not enough, the e-book has a website full of great pictures of everything from Epps's house to the ship's manifest that has Northup's slave name on it.
It's hard to go wrong with this edition, especially given that it is currently priced the same as the other, far more basic, editions on Amazon. Highly recommended.
49 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
5.0 étoiles sur 5A Visit to Hell and A Providental Deliverance15 septembre 2013
Par W. L. Offutt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Complaint about this review is noted: Don't read this if you don't want to know the plot before reading the book or seeing the movie. Some people think I told you too much in this review. Bill
As for the original book itself, it is fascinating. It is an easy read that has a "hook" in every chapter. The "what happened after" is equally interesting and gives a more objective view of the man and his times. When I finished the well written book I took a tour of all the many detailed footnotes. What a collection of information! There is a whole history of lots of topics that are an education unto themselves in footnotes containing primary source material I would not find anywhere else! If there was an index to footnotes I would read them by topic. These detailed footnotes might be published as daily readings in a desk calendar to cover them and do them justice. I think this book holds the possibility of helping people like myself who have lived in white northern America to be both educated and sensitized to reactions of the black community to things we do not "get" because we have no shared experiences with those who have face discrimination in ways we have never experienced and therefore do not understand. The "What Happened After" section tells us that the kidnappers where found, arrested, charged and after extended delays in the court system were never sentenced for the cruel injustice of kidnapping a freeman. This tells me a good deal about things I was not much aware of from the point of view of Solomon Northup and those who have suffered similar injustices through a court system not up to doing justice as common sense would judge it should be done. It is the story after the story that was most helpful to me in framing what the issue are in my time and place. But I would need "the story" first to get the emotion and feeling that vividly communicated the events of injustice given in the well written narrative.
35 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
5.0 étoiles sur 5Great Read!3 septembre 2013
Par Jill - Publié sur Amazon.com
I love the fact that Dr. Eakin was a socially conscious lady ahead of her time. She did some courageous things in the Deep South based on a video of her on the website of the book, which is noted in the Kindle sample pages. In fact, she was a planter's daughter who rediscovered the book as a 12-year old, who lived in the area where Solomon Northup was held in bondage, and became a civil rights leader and writer-historian-professor and Hall of Fame journalist. The background story on her discovery of the narrative is on the site and could be a movie in itself. She spent a lifetime authenticating and writing about this story. The audiobook with Lou Gossett is very personal and moving... on Audible. I believe he had an Emmy for "Roots" and picked up an Oscar along the way; plus, he has a non-profit organization that promotes racial tolerance -- perfect casting. The publisher placed Gossett's audio clips of scenes on their website and they are engrossing. They have really maxed out the value you receive in this edition.
23 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
5.0 étoiles sur 5Excellent read17 septembre 2013
Par Bart D - Publié sur Amazon.com
I rarely read for pleasure. My free time is very valuable to me. However, Dr. Sue Eakin's edition of Twelve Years a Slave is definitely worth reading. I literally could not put the book down once I started. The story of Solomon Northup is a gripping and very real tale enhanced with new information, and maps of sites that I insist on going. Truly amazing story, and I'm glad it was recommended to me.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
5.0 étoiles sur 5Phenomenal... looking forward to seeing the move...2 septembre 2013
Par mayeux - Publié sur Amazon.com
This was a very good read. Once I started reading it I didn't want to put it down. I am looking forward to seeing the move in October.