What Happened to Solomon Northup?Until recently, little was known about Northup followingpublication of his book Twelve Years a Slave in 1853.
Work of Joseph Logsdon and Sue EakinAn edition of Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1968 bythe Louisiana State University Press, included anintroduction by the editors, Joseph Logsdon and SueEakin, as well as footnotes throughout the text whichprovided confirmation or additional information aboutpeople, places, and events mentioned in Northups book.The introduction contained some information relating toNorthups life after the publication of his book in July1853.
Information in the Logsdon/Eakin introductionAfter describing the apprehension and trial of Northupskidnappers, the editors write:"What finally became of Solomon Northup can only be conjectured. Propertyrecords of 1863 show that his wife and son-in-law sold their adjoiningproperty that year. Solomon evidently had died, and his family now movedfrom the area, perhaps to Oswego, where his brother and son once lived."This is mostly incorrect. The properties were sold in 1864,and his wifes property had been purchased in her namealone in 1855. His family relocated to Moreau, New York,near their previous place of residence, Glens Falls.
Solomon Northup: His Life Before and After Slavery, 2012,by David FiskeIn January 2012, researcher David Fiske published a bookincorporating information obtained during over 12 yearsspent researching Northup.It includes many previously unknown details aboutNorthups activities.
Northups Early Public AppearancesWithin weeks of his return home in 1853, Northupappeared at anti-slavery meetings in Albany and Troy inNew York.No doubt public awareness of his remarkable story madehim a valuable figure at these rallies.
Northups Lecture TourFollowing publication of his book in July 1853, Northupbegan traveling to give lectures and to sell his book.Over two dozen appearances have been documented innewspaper accounts during the period 1853 to 1857.
A description of one of Northups talks"Northup tells his story in plain and candid language, andintermingles it with flashes of genuine wit. It is a suretreat to hear him give some hazardous adventure, withso much sans froid, that the audience is completelyenraptured and the house brought down."- Frederick Douglasss Paper, January 27, 1854
Plays about Northups life• In the spring of 1854, a theatrical production waspresented at the National Theater in Syracuse, NewYork• Newspaper reports suggest it was not an overwhelmingsuccess• Northup reportedly played himself• In 1855 a traveling group presented a play called "TheFree Slave" in several towns in Massachusetts• Northup was not in the cast, but he reportedly greetedthe public
Northup receives some bad press• Newspapers in Massachusetts warned print shops andlodging establishments that the acting group sometimesskipped out on their bills• In St. Albans, Vermont, in 1856, some cast members(probably acting in a version of "The Free Slave")became intoxicated and engaged in a fist fight
Northup and the Underground RailroadAfter the Streetsville incident, no newspaper reportsconcerning Northup have been found. However, letterswritten by the son of a Methodist minister in Hartland,Vermont say that Northup, along with another black man,Tabbs Gross, assisted his father (the Rev. John L. Smith)getting fugitive slaves to Canada. The letters are in thecollections of Harvards Houghton Library.
Letters referring to Northups work on the UndergroundRailroad
Information on Northup, and on the new book:Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of theAuthor of Twelve Years a Slave• Go to solomonnorthup.com• Read about (and order) the new book• Basic information on Northup• Upcoming appearances by David Fiske• How to arrange a presentation