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Solomon Northup, author of Twelve Years a Slave

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Solomon Northup, author of Twelve Years a Slave

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A new book co-authored by David Fiske, Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave, is a follow-up to Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave, which was published in 1853.

A new book co-authored by David Fiske, Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave, is a follow-up to Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave, which was published in 1853.

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Solomon Northup, author of Twelve Years a Slave

  1. 1. What Happened to Solomon Northup? Until recently, little was known about Northup following publication of his book Twelve Years a Slave in 1853.
  2. 2. Work of Joseph Logsdon and Sue Eakin An edition of Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1968 by the Louisiana State University Press, included an introduction by the editors, Joseph Logsdon and Sue Eakin, as well as footnotes throughout the text which provided confirmation or additional information about people, places, and events mentioned in Northup's book. The introduction contained some information relating to Northup's life after the publication of his book in July 1853.
  3. 3. Information in the Logsdon/Eakin introduction After describing the apprehension and trial of Northup's kidnappers, the editors write: "What finally became of Solomon Northup can only be conjectured. Property records of 1863 show that his wife and son-in-law sold their adjoining property that year. Solomon evidently had died, and his family now moved from the area, perhaps to Oswego, where his brother and son once lived." This is mostly incorrect. The properties were sold in 1864, and his wife's property had been purchased in her name alone in 1855. His family relocated to Moreau, New York, near their previous place of residence, Glens Falls.
  4. 4. Solomon Northup: His Life Before and After Slavery, 2012, by David Fiske In January 2012, researcher David Fiske published a book incorporating information obtained during over 12 years spent researching Northup. It includes many previously unknown details about Northup's activities.
  5. 5. Northup's Early Public Appearances Within weeks of his return home in 1853, Northup appeared at anti-slavery meetings in Albany and Troy in New York. No doubt public awareness of his remarkable story made him a valuable figure at these rallies.
  6. 6. Northup's Lecture Tour Following publication of his book in July 1853, Northup began traveling to give lectures and to sell his book. Over two dozen appearances have been documented in newspaper accounts during the period 1853 to 1857.
  7. 7. Newspapers reported Northup's lectures
  8. 8. A description of one of Northup's talks "Northup tells his story in plain and candid language, and intermingles it with flashes of genuine wit. It is a sure treat to hear him give some hazardous adventure, with so much sans froid, that the audience is completely enraptured and the 'house brought down.'" - Frederick Douglass's Paper, January 27, 1854
  9. 9. Plays about Northup's life • In the spring of 1854, a theatrical production was presented at the National Theater in Syracuse, New York • Newspaper reports suggest it was not an overwhelming success • Northup reportedly played himself • In 1855 a traveling group presented a play called "The Free Slave" in several towns in Massachusetts • Northup was not in the cast, but he reportedly greeted the public
  10. 10. Northup receives some bad press • Newspapers in Massachusetts warned print shops and lodging establishments that the acting group sometimes skipped 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
  11. 11. Northup and the Underground Railroad After the Streetsville incident, no newspaper reports concerning Northup have been found. However, letters written 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 the collections of Harvard's Houghton Library.
  12. 12. Letters referring to Northup's work on the Underground Railroad
  13. 13. Information on Northup, and on the new book: Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author 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

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