Solomon Northup was a free black man who live in the 1800’s; the time of slavery. He lived in New York State. He had a wife and three children. He also played the fiddle, which would sustain him through the years that were to come.
On account of his fiddle, he was hired one day by two men who took him to Washington to play the fiddle. There he was taken sick (I think he was mildly poisoned) and kidnapped by a slave dealer named Burch. Northup always thought that the two men who had hired him were in cahoots with Burch, but he had no proof.
He was whipped badly the next day when he insisted that he was a free man. He was held in a slave pen across from the Capitol Dome for a few days. He was then shipped down the river on a brig called Orleans along with a woman and her two children and a few other men.
Halfway down the river, Northup planned a mutiny along with two other men, one of whom was a kidnapped freeman like himself. But one man contracted smallpox and died. The plan fell through.
When they landed he was given to Theophilus Freeman, a partner of Burch’s, who treated them no better (in fact, worse) than cattle.
There they all contracted smallpox. Northup almost died. Eliza, the woman with the two children, was also sick, as were most of the other slaves in the pen. When they recovered they were taken back to Freeman.
There he was sold, along with Eliza and another slave named Harry to “Massa Ford,” a kind slave owner if there ever was one. There a touching scene took place when Eliza was seperated from her children, mainly by brute force. She died from the grief within three years.
Northup was given the name of Platt, probably to erase any possibilty of his being found.
After a year of working for Ford, Northup was sold to a carpenter named Tibeats. Tibeats was an extrordinarily cruel man, punishing Northup for his own faults. He almost killed Northup.
Master Ford, who still owned some of Northup due to the mortgage, forced Tibeats to sell Northup. Tibeats sold him to a man named Edwin Epps.
Epps was big, brawny and heartless. He whipped, drove and drank. His wife bore especial dislike and jealousy towards a pretty slave named Patsey, who was subjugated to unjust and extremely unfair (not to mention painful) punishment.
What followed were ten long, dull years of cotton picking, cane farming, whippings and the yearly Christmas dances.
At the end of that time, a carpenter named Bass came to the plantation. He was a kind-hearted man who disliked slavery. He was the key to Northup’s freedom.
Through letters and a personal visit, Bass succeeded in bringing an old family friend, a lawyer and free papers down South, to Bayou Bouef. There they proved Northup’s freedom and took him back North. There, at last, he was reunited with his family and ended his days in the sunny land of freedom.