Solomon Northup’s ordeal began when he woke up in the dungeon. He had been a free Black man who thought he was taking a job as a traveling musician. Instead, his “employers” had drugged him and smuggled him out of New York, and when he regained his senses, he found himself chained to the floor. The year was 1841, and slavery was still legal in much of the United States.
Journey to Freedom
Alone without his family or his belongings, Northup couldn’t prove his identity. He was considered property, and passed between slaveowners who were increasingly demanding and cruel. Eventually, with the help of a lawyer, he was freed and wrote the memoir that would, much later, become an Academy Award-winning film. Learn about his painful story in our Instaread on Twelve Years a Slave.