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12 Years a Slave - Summary

Solomon Northup is a free black living in Saratoga Springs, New York with his wife and children. In 1841, Northup (a violinist, among other things) is lured from his home to Washington City (as America's capital was then known) by two white men who identify themselves with fake names.

The two whites have a nefarious plan. Instead of providing musical work for Northup, as promised, they plan to kidnap him and sell him into slavery.  At the time, Washington City is known as a place for the buying and selling of slaves.  A "slave pen" is within sight of the Capitol Building.

Carrying out their objective, the two men sell Northup to a slaver who, in turn, sells Solomon to a plantation owner in Louisiana. Part of America's chattel-slavery system, Solomon is no-longer known by his own name.  Instead, he is given the name "Platt."

While on a ship transporting him to New Orleans, Northup asks a crewman from England to write a letter to his friends in New York. The letter describing Northup's plight reaches its destination, but no one in the North knows where Solomon has been taken.

Twelve years pass. Solomon endures the agonies of slavery and sees how the system degrades both slave and slave owner. Not everyone agrees with slavery however, and Solomon finds a friend in a Canadian man named Bass.

Not only does Bass despise the institution of slavery, he is willing to risk his own life and spend his own money to help Solomon.  He writes a letter to Northup's friends in New York, generally describing what has happened to Solomon and giving them his general location.

Throughout his long ordeal, Northup hangs on to the hope that he may one day be rescued from the life of a slave. He longs to be reunited with his wife and children.

In this story, based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup (which became an Academy-Award-winning film), meet the real "Platt."  Uncover what life was like for slaves in America's capital city at the time Solomon was kidnapped and sold as a slave. Virtually visit the real places where Solomon was taken during his long journey - and - learn how hope of rescue kept him going even when it seemed his dream of going home would never come true.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 4999stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 27, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Feb 02, 2017


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"12 Years a Slave" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 27, 2014. Mar 23, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/12-Years-a-Slave0/Summary>.
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