Manifest of the Brig Orleans - Solomon Northup

Manifest of the Brig Orleans - Solomon Northup American History Civil Rights Ethics Nineteenth Century Life Social Studies Slaves and Slave Owners

Solomon Northup—a free black referred to as "Plat Hamilton"—is listed as "slave," on a ship's manifest, after Northup was kidnapped and sold by two men pretending to be his benefactors.

How do we know this? Because the ship's manifest survives.

"Plat Hamilton" is listed as slave number 33 on the manifest of the Brig Orleans. This particular manifest applies to the Orleans, and its "cargo," when the vessel sailed from Richmond to New Orleans in April of 1841.

According to the manifest, "Plat" was 26 years old at the time. His height was 5 feet 7 inches, and his complexion was "yellow."

Because America had outlawed importing new slaves, as of the 1st of January in 1808, the Orleans' list of slaves also includes this sworn statement:

We do solemnly swear, to the best of our knowledge and belief, that the abovementioned Slaves were not imported or brought into the United States from and after the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and eight [1808] and that under the laws of the State they are held to service or labor. So help us God.

The document was signed on April 27, 1841. That date helps us to track when Solomon left Virginia for Louisiana on his journey into slavery.

Before the Orleans could leave Richmond, the Collector's Office had to give its permission that the slaves could be transported South. Thomas Nelson, the Collector in Richmond, gave his approval once the ship's captain swore to the accuracy of the manifest:

William Wickham, Master of the Brig Orleans, having sworn to the above Manifest, consisting of Forty One Slaves and delivered a duplicate thereof, according to law, permission is hereby granted to the said Brig Orleans to proceed with the above described Slaves to the Port of New Orleans, as her aforesaid Port of destination.

Given under my hand, at Richmond, this 27th day of April, 1841.

Thomas Nelson

Most of the slaves were shipped by George W. Barnes. The rest were shipped by James Burch.

Among the slaves shipped by Burch were:

  • Solomon Northup (called “Plat Hamilton”);
  • Eliza (whose slave name was "Drady Cooper"); and
  • Eliza’s daughter Emily.

The manifest tells us that in April of 1841, Eliza was 22 years old and her daughter was 7. By this time, Eliza's son had already been separated from his mother and half-sister and sold to another slave owner.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 04, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Nov 04, 2016

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Public Domain.


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"Manifest of the Brig Orleans - Solomon Northup" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 04, 2014. Dec 10, 2019.
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