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Twelve Years a Slave (Collins Classics)

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en Limba Engleză Paperback – 27 Feb 2014
The shocking first-hand account of one man's remarkable fight for freedom; now an award-winning motion picture.
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Specificații

ISBN-13: 9780007580422
ISBN-10: 0007580428
Pagini: 304
Dimensiuni: 108 x 175 x 2 mm
Greutate: 0.17 kg
Editura: HarperCollins Publishers
Seria Collins Classics


Notă biografică

Solomon Northup was born a free man in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1808. He lived as such until 1841 when, attracted by a job offer, he travelled to Washington, DC, where he was drugged and sold into slavery by his supposed employers. Northup was enslaved for twelve years before he regained his freedom and returned to New York. There, he became an advocate for abolitionism and in the 1860s began helping fugitive slaves via the Underground Railroad. Northup is believed to have died between 1863 and 1875, but both the date and circumstances of his death are unknown.

Textul de pe ultima copertă

This story of the abduction of a free Negro adult from the North and his enslavement in the South--provides a sensational element which cannot be matched in any of the dozens of narratives written by former slaves. 'Think of it: For thirty years a man, wit all 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.'

Cuprins

An Introduction by David Fiske About David Fiske About Tom Butler-Bowdon Twelve Years A Slave Editor's Preface CHAPTER I 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 - Ramsey - Lawson and the Brown Mule - Message to the Pine Woods CHAPTER IX 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 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 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 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 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 Burns - 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 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 Challenged by Marshall - The Influence of Slavery - The Love of Freedom CHAPTER XV Labors on Sugar Plantations - The Mode of Planting Cane - Of Hoeing Cane - Cane Ricks - Cutting Cane - Description of the Cane Knife - Winrowing - Preparing for Succeeding Crops - Description of Hawkins' Sugar Mill on Bayou Boeuf - The Christmas Holidays - The Carnival Season of the Children of Bondage - The Christmas Supper - Red, the Favorite Color - The Violin, and the Consolation it Afforded - The Christmas Dance - Lively, the Coquette - Sam Roberts, and his Rivals - Slave Songs - Southern Life as it is - Three Days in the Year - The System of Marriage - Uncle Abram's Contempt of Matrimony CHAPTER XVI Overseers - How they are Armed and Accompanied - The Homicide - His Execution at Marksville - Slave Drivers - Appointed Driver on Removing to Bayou Boeuf - Practice Makes Perfect - Epps's Attempt to Cut Platt's Throat - The Escape from Him - Protected by the Mistress - Forbids Reading and Writing - Obtain a Sheet of Paper after Nine Years' Effort - The Letter - Armsby, the Mean White - Partially confide in him - His Treachery - Epps' Suspicions - How they were quieted - Burning the Letter - Armsby leaves the Bayou - Disappointment and Despair CHAPTER XVII Wiley Disregards the Counsels of Aunt Phebe and Uncle Abram, and is Caught by the Patrollers - The Organization and Duties of the Latter - Wiley Runs Away - Speculations in Regard to Him - His Unexpected Return - His Capture on the Red River, and Confinement in Alexandria Jail - Discovered by Joseph B. Roberts - Subduing Dogs in Anticipation of Escape - The Fugitives in the Great Pine Woods - Captured by Adam Taydem and the Indians - Augustus Killed by Dogs - Nelly, Eldret's Slave Woman - The Story of Celeste - The Concerted Movement - Lew Cheney, the Traitor - The Idea of Insurrection CHAPTER XVIII O'Niel, the Tanner - Conversation with Aunt Phebe Overheard - Epps in the Tanning Business - Stabbing of Uncle Abram - The Ugly Wound - Epps is Jealous - Patsey is Missing - Her Return from Shaw's - Harriet, Shaw's Black Wife - Epps Enraged - Patsey Denies his Charges - She is Tied Down Naked to Four Stakes - The Inhuman Flogging - Flaying of Patsey - The Beauty of the Day - The Bucket of Salt Water - The Dress Stiff with Blood - Patsey Grows Melancholy - Her Idea of God and Eternity - Of Heaven and Freedom - The Effect of Slave-Whipping - Epps' Oldest Son - "The Child is Father to the Man" CHAPTER XIX Avery, on Bayou Rouge - Peculiarity of Dwellings - Epps Builds a New House - Bass, the Carpenter - His Noble Qualities - His Personal Appearance and Eccentricities - Bass and Epps Discuss the Question of Slavery - Epps' Opinion of Bass - I Make Myself Known to Him - Our Conversation - His Surprise - The Midnight Meeting on the Bayou Bank - Bass' Assurances - Declares War against Slavery - Why I did not Disclose my History - Bass Writes Letters - Copy of his Letter to Messrs. Parker and Perry - The Fever of Suspense - Disappointments - Bass Endeavors to Cheer Me - My Faith in Him CHAPTER XX Bass Faithful to his Word - His Arrival on Christmas Eve - The Difficulty of Obtaining an Interview - The Meeting in the Cabin - Non-arrival of the Letter - Bass Announces his Intention to Proceed North - Christmas - Conversation Between Epps and Bass - Young Mistress McCoy, the Beauty of Bayou Boeuf - The "Ne plus ultra" of Dinners - Music and Dancing - Presence of the Mistress - Her Exceeding Beauty - The Last Slave Dance - William Pierce - Oversleep Myself - The Last Whipping - Despondency - Cold Morning - Epps' Threats - The Passing Carriage - Strangers Approaching Through the Cotton-Field - Last Hour on Bayou Boeuf CHAPTER XXI The Letter Reaches Saratoga - Is Forwarded to Anne - Is Laid Before Henry B. Northup - The Statute of May 14, 1840 - Its Provisions - Anne's Memorial to the Governor - The Affidavits Accompanying it - Senator Soule's Letter - Departure of the Agent Appointed by the Governor - Arrival at Marksville - The Hon. John P. Waddill - The Conversation on New-York Politics - It Suggests a Fortunate Idea - The Meeting with Bass - The Secret out - Legal Proceedings Instituted - Departure of Northup and the Sheriff from Marksville for Bayou Boeuf - Arrangements on the Way - Reach Epps' Plantation - Discover his Slaves in the Cotton-Field - The Meeting - The Farewell CHAPTER XXII Arrival in New-Orleans - Glimpse of Freeman - Genois, the Recorder - His Description of Solomon - Reach Charleston Interrupted by Custom House Officers - Pass through Richmond - Arrival in Washington - Burch Arrested - Shekels and Thorn - Their Testimony - Burch Acquitted - Arrest of Solomon - Burch Withdraws the Complaint - The Higher Tribunal - Departure from Washington - Arrival at Sandy Hill - Old Friends and Familiar Scenes - Proceed to Glens Falls - Meeting with Anne, Margaret, and Elizabeth - Solomon Northup Staunton - Incidents - Conclusion Appendix

Extras

Chapter 1
CHAPTER 1
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 say, 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 upon as large a scale as my utmost means would permit. Anne was diligent about the house affairs, while I toiled laboriously in the field.

On this place we continued to reside until 1834. In the winter season I had numerous calls to play on the violin. Wherever the young people assembled to dance, I was almost invariably there. Throughout the surrounding villages my fiddle was notorious. Anne, also, during her long residence at the Eagle Tavern, had become somewhat famous as a cook. During court weeks, and on public occasions, she was employed at high wages in the kitchen at Sherrill’s Coffee House.

We always returned home from the performance of these services with money in our pockets; so that, with fiddling, cooking, and farming, we soon found ourselves in the possession of abundance, and, in fact, leading a happy and prosperous life. Well, indeed, would it have been for us had we remained on the farm at Kingsbury; but the time came when the next step was to be taken towards the cruel destiny that awaited me.

In March, 1834, we removed to Saratoga Springs.

We occupied a house belonging to Daniel O’Brien, on the north side of Washington street. At that time Isaac Taylor kept a large boarding house, known as Washington Hall, at the north end of Broadway. He employed me to drive a hack, in which capacity I worked for him two years. After this time I was generally employed through the visiting season, as also was Anne, in the United States Hotel, and other public houses of the place. In winter seasons I relied upon my violin, though during the construction of the Troy and Saratoga railroad, I performed many hard days’ labor upon it.

I was in the habit, at Saratoga, of purchasing articles necessary for my family at the stores of Mr. Cephas Parker and Mr. William Perry, gentlemen towards whom, for many acts of kindness, I entertained feelings of strong regard. It was for this reason that twelve years afterwards, I caused to be directed to them the letter, which is hereinafter inserted, and which was the means, in the hands of Mr. Northup, of my fortunate deliverance.

While living at the United States Hotel, I frequently met with slaves, who had accompanied their masters from the South. They were always well dressed and well provided for, leading apparently an easy life, with but few of its ordinary troubles to perplex them. Many times they entered into conversation with me on the subject of Slavery. Almost uniformly I found they cherished a secret desire for liberty. Some of them expressed the most ardent anxiety to escape, and consulted me on the best method of effecting it. The fear of punishment, however, which they knew was certain to attend their re-capture and return, in all cases proved sufficient to deter them from the experiment. Having all my life breathed the free air of the North, and conscious that I possessed the same feelings and affections that find a place in the white man’s breast; conscious, moreover, of an intelligence equal to that of some men, at least, with a fairer skin. I was too ignorant, perhaps too independent, to conceive how any one could be content to live in the abject condition of a slave. I could not comprehend the justice of that law, or that religion, which upholds or recognizes the principle of Slavery; and never once, I am proud to say, did I fail to counsel any one who came to me, to watch his opportunity, and strike for freedom.

I continued to reside at Saratoga until the spring of 1841. The flattering anticipations which, seven years before, had seduced us from the quiet farm house, on the east side of the Hudson, had not been realized. Though always in comfortable circumstances, we had not prospered. The society and associations at that world-renowned watering place, were not calculated to preserve the simple habits of industry and economy to which I had been accustomed, but, on the contrary, to substitute others in their stead, tending to shiftlessness and extravagance.

At this time we were the parents of three children—Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. Elizabeth, the eldest, was in her tenth year; Margaret was two years younger, and little Alonzo had just passed his fifth birth-day. They filled our house with gladness. Their young voices were music in our ears. Many an airy castle did their mother and myself build for the little innocents. When not at labor I was always walking with them, clad in their best attire, through the streets and groves of Saratoga. Their presence was my delight; and I clasped them to my bosom with as warm and tender love as if their clouded skins had been as white as snow.

Thus far the history of my life presents nothing whatever unusual—nothing but the common hopes, and loves, and labors of an obscure colored man, making his humble progress in the world. But now I had reached a turning point in my existence—reached the threshold of unutterable wrong, and sorrow, and despair. Now had I approached within the shadow of the cloud, into the thick darkness whereof I was soon to disappear, thenceforward to be hidden from the eyes of all my kindred, and shut out from the sweet light of liberty, for many a weary year.


Chapter 1
CHAPTER 1
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 say, 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 upon as large a scale as my utmost means would permit. Anne was diligent about the house affairs, while I toiled laboriously in the field.

On this place we continued to reside until 1834. In the winter season I had numerous calls to play on the violin. Wherever the young people assembled to dance, I was almost invariably there. Throughout the surrounding villages my fiddle was notorious. Anne, also, during her long residence at the Eagle Tavern, had become somewhat famous as a cook. During court weeks, and on public occasions, she was employed at high wages in the kitchen at Sherrill’s Coffee House.

We always returned home from the performance of these services with money in our pockets; so that, with fiddling, cooking, and farming, we soon found ourselves in the possession of abundance, and, in fact, leading a happy and prosperous life. Well, indeed, would it have been for us had we remained on the farm at Kingsbury; but the time came when the next step was to be taken towards the cruel destiny that awaited me.

In March, 1834, we removed to Saratoga Springs.

We occupied a house belonging to Daniel O’Brien, on the north side of Washington street. At that time Isaac Taylor kept a large boarding house, known as Washington Hall, at the north end of Broadway. He employed me to drive a hack, in which capacity I worked for him two years. After this time I was generally employed through the visiting season, as also was Anne, in the United States Hotel, and other public houses of the place. In winter seasons I relied upon my violin, though during the construction of the Troy and Saratoga railroad, I performed many hard days’ labor upon it.

I was in the habit, at Saratoga, of purchasing articles necessary for my family at the stores of Mr. Cephas Parker and Mr. William Perry, gentlemen towards whom, for many acts of kindness, I entertained feelings of strong regard. It was for this reason that twelve years afterwards, I caused to be directed to them the letter, which is hereinafter inserted, and which was the means, in the hands of Mr. Northup, of my fortunate deliverance.

While living at the United States Hotel, I frequently met with slaves, who had accompanied their masters from the South. They were always well dressed and well provided for, leading apparently an easy life, with but few of its ordinary troubles to perplex them. Many times they entered into conversation with me on the subject of Slavery. Almost uniformly I found they cherished a secret desire for liberty. Some of them expressed the most ardent anxiety to escape, and consulted me on the best method of effecting it. The fear of punishment, however, which they knew was certain to attend their re-capture and return, in all cases proved sufficient to deter them from the experiment. Having all my life breathed the free air of the North, and conscious that I possessed the same feelings and affections that find a place in the white man’s breast; conscious, moreover, of an intelligence equal to that of some men, at least, with a fairer skin. I was too ignorant, perhaps too independent, to conceive how any one could be content to live in the abject condition of a slave. I could not comprehend the justice of that law, or that religion, which upholds or recognizes the principle of Slavery; and never once, I am proud to say, did I fail to counsel any one who came to me, to watch his opportunity, and strike for freedom.

I continued to reside at Saratoga until the spring of 1841. The flattering anticipations which, seven years before, had seduced us from the quiet farm house, on the east side of the Hudson, had not been realized. Though always in comfortable circumstances, we had not prospered. The society and associations at that world-renowned watering place, were not calculated to preserve the simple habits of industry and economy to which I had been accustomed, but, on the contrary, to substitute others in their stead, tending to shiftlessness and extravagance.

At this time we were the parents of three children—Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. Elizabeth, the eldest, was in her tenth year; Margaret was two years younger, and little Alonzo had just passed his fifth birth-day. They filled our house with gladness. Their young voices were music in our ears. Many an airy castle did their mother and myself build for the little innocents. When not at labor I was always walking with them, clad in their best attire, through the streets and groves of Saratoga. Their presence was my delight; and I clasped them to my bosom with as warm and tender love as if their clouded skins had been as white as snow.

Thus far the history of my life presents nothing whatever unusual—nothing but the common hopes, and loves, and labors of an obscure colored man, making his humble progress in the world. But now I had reached a turning point in my existence—reached the threshold of unutterable wrong, and sorrow, and despair. Now had I approached within the shadow of the cloud, into the thick darkness whereof I was soon to disappear, thenceforward to be hidden from the eyes of all my kindred, and shut out from the sweet light of liberty, for many a weary year.