Solomon Northup : Free Man Essay
In Chapters I and II, Northup tells of his life as a free black man living in upstate New York. Born in July 1808, he was the son of an emancipated slave. He grew up working on a farm at his father’s side, and also was educated to a degree of competence in reading and writing. Additionally, he learned to play the violin, a skill that would be both a blessing and curse to him in coming years. At age 21, he married Anne Hampton, and they settled down to raise a family. Solomon worked in many trades, including farming, lumberjacking, and performing on the violin, while Anne earned money as a cook. They had three children.
In 1841, Solomon met two white men who offered him lucrative work with a circus—if he would travel with them to Washington, D.C. Unsuspecting, he joined them in their travels and in Washington, D.C., after a day of unusual revelry and drinking, became terribly ill. On his way to see a doctor, he passed out. When he woke up, Solomon Northup was alone, chained in darkness.
2. Solomon Northup: Captive
This second period of 12 Years a Slave, told in Chapters III–VI, relates how Solomon finds himself a prisoner in the slave pen of James H. Burch, a brutal slave trader in Washington, D.C. When Solomon protests his captivity and asserts his right to freedom, Burch responds by beating him into submission and threatening to kill him if he ever mentions his freedom again. At length, Solomon is allowed to join the other slaves being held by…