Solomon Northup Biography & Facts
Solomon Northup (born July 10, c. 1807 or 1808) was an American abolitionist and the primary author of the memoir Twelve Years a Slave. A free-born African American from New York, he was the son of a freed slave and a free woman of color. A farmer and a professional violinist, Northup had been a landowner in Washington County, New York. In 1841, he was offered a traveling musician's job and went to Washington, D.C. (where slavery was legal); there he was drugged, kidnapped, and sold as a slave. He was shipped to New Orleans, purchased by a planter, and held as a slave for 12 years in the Red River region of Louisiana, mostly in Avoyelles Parish. He remained a slave until he met Samuel Bass, a Canadian working on his plantation who helped get word to New York, where state law provided aid to free New York citizens who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. His family and friends enlisted the aid of the Governor of New York, Washington Hunt, and Northup regained his freedom on January 3, 1853.The slave trader in Washington, D.C., James H. Birch, was arrested and tried, but acquitted because District of Columbia law at the time prohibited Northup as a black man from testifying against white people. Later, in New York State, his northern kidnappers were located and charged, but the case was tied up in court for two years because of jurisdictional challenges and finally dropped when Washington, D.C. was found to have jurisdiction. The D.C. government did not pursue the case. Those who had kidnapped and enslaved Northup received no punishment.
In his first year of freedom, Northup wrote and published a memoir, Twelve Years a Slave (1853). He lectured on behalf of the abolitionist movement, giving more than two dozen speeches throughout the Northeast about his experiences, to build momentum against slavery. He largely disappeared from the historical record after 1857, although a letter later reported him alive in early 1863; some commentators thought he had been kidnapped again, but historians believe it unlikely, as he would have been considered too old to bring a good price. The details of his death have never been documented.Northup's memoir was adapted and produced as the 1984 television film Solomon Northup's Odyssey and the 2013 feature film 12 Years a Slave. The latter won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, at the 86th Academy Awards.
Solomon Northup was born in the town of Minerva in Essex County, New York on July 10, 1807 or July 10, 1808. His mother was a free woman of color, which meant that their sons, Solomon and his older brother Joseph, were born free according to the principle of partus sequitur ventrem. Solomon described his mother as a quadroon, meaning that she was one-quarter African, and three-quarters European.His father Mintus was a freedman who had been a slave in his early life in service to the Northup family. Born in Rhode Island, he was taken with the Northups when they moved to Hoosick, New York, in Rensselaer County. His master, Henry Northrop, manumitted Mintus in his will, after which Mintus adopted the surname Northup. His surname was sometimes spelled Northrup in records. Upon attaining his freedom, Mintus married and he moved to Minerva with his wife.According to Northup, his father was "a man respected for his industry and integrity". A farmer, Mintus was successful enough to own land and thus meet the state's property requirements for the right to vote. His sons received what was considered to be a good education for free black people at that time. As boys, Northup and his brother worked on the family farm. He spent his leisure time playing the violin and reading books.
Mintus moved his family to Washington County, New York and worked on several farms owned by the Northups. From Minerva, they moved to the farm of Clark Northup near Slyborough (Slyboro) in Granville, Washington County for several years. The family of four then lived at Alden Farm, a short distance north of Sandy Hill (now called Hudson Falls). They later moved to an area east of Fort Edward on the road from Fort Edward to Argyle, where Mintus lived until his death. Mintus died at Fort Edward on November 22, 1829, and was interred at the Hudson Falls Baker Cemetery. His mother died during Northup's enslavement (1841 to 1852). According to her daughter-in-law Anne and Nicholas C. Northup, she died around 1846 or 1847 in Oswego County, New York.
Marriage and family
Solomon Northup married Anne Hampton on December 25, 1829, one month after the death of his father, or on December 25, 1828, according to sworn depositions by Anne Northup, Josiah Hand, and Timothy Eddy, the latter of whom was the Justice of the Peace who performed the wedding. They were married in Fort Edward. Anne, the daughter of William Hampton, was born March 14, 1808. She grew up in Sandy Hill. A "woman of color", she was of African, European, and Native American descent. They had three children: Elizabeth (born ca. 1831), Margaret (born ca. 1833), and Alonzo (born ca. 1835).At the start of their marriage, the couple lived at Fort House, "the old yellow house", in the southern end of Fort Edward. In 1830, they moved to Kingsbury, both of which were small communities in Washington County, New York. After selling their farm in 1834, the Northups moved 20 miles to Saratoga Springs, New York, for its employment opportunities.Anne was known for her culinary expertise. She worked for local taverns that served food and drink, and at the United States Hotel. When court was in session at the county seat of Fort Edward, she worked at Sherrill's Coffee House in Sandy Hill.After Northrup was kidnapped, Anne and her oldest daughter Elizabeth went to work as domestic servants in New York City at Madame Jumel's Mansion on the East River in the summer of 1841. Alonzo was with them. Margaret, their youngest daughter went to Hoboken, New Jersey to live with a friend of Madame Jumel, who also had a young daughter.After about two years, Anne brought the family back together in Saratoga, where she worked as a cook in hotels, including in Glens Falls at Carpenter's Hotel. In 1852, she learned of her husband's fate and asked for Henry B. Northup's help to have him freed. A letter was prepared to the Governor of New York Washington Hunt based upon a deposition given by Anne Northup to Justice of the Peace Charles Hughes on November 19, 1852. He gathered the information to prove that Northup was free and went to Louisiana to bring him back to New York.
Northup returned to Sandy Hill on January 21, 1853, and reunited with his wife and children. By 1855, he was living with his daughter Margaret Stanton and her family in Queensbury, Warren County, New York. He purchased land in Glens Falls near his daughter. In his memoir, Northup described his love for his wife as "sincere and unabated", since the time of their marriage, and his children as "beloved".While Northup gave talks about his book around the co.... Discover the Solomon Northup popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Solomon Northup books.