Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man

In 1841 Solomon Northup was living in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with his wife and three children. Solomon was educated. At 32 years old he was happy with his life as a free black man. Slavery had been outlawed in New York in 1827.

Times were difficult. Solomon was willing to work in many different jobs to make ends meet for his family. He was an excellent fiddler having learned to play the violin as a child. Solomon also drove a carriage for the hotel where many people stayed in Saratoga Springs during the summer. At other times he worked as a carpenter building railroads.

When two white men hire him to drive them by carriage to Washington, D.C., Solomon is eager for the money he will make. He makes certain that he has his “free papers” with him should they be stopped along the way. What the trusting Solomon doesn’t realize is that these two men are actually going to make money off of him by selling him to a slave dealer.  

His hardships begin when he is transported by ship to New Orleans. He has a merciful master at first, but when this man falls on hard times, he sells Solomon. Each time he is sold his name is changed. His first name is now Platt. His masters’ names become his last name.

How will he ever regain his freedom? Writing and the mailing of letters by black men in the South is outlawed. Who can he trust to help him? How can he endure the suffering and hard labor demanded of all the slaves? If his family does try to look for him, how will they find him since his name is changed?

I loved this easily accessible book which contains maps to help envision his journey, illustrations from the 1840’s, a bill of sale to one of his masters, and his brave account of the torment he endured.

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