12 Years a Slave is a remarkable and emotive biographical account that begins in the year 1841, when Solomon Northup, a black African-American freeman of the state of New York, is forcibly taken into slavery and transported to the cotton fields and sugar plantations of Louisiana.
The slave narrative follows Solomon’s incarceration fettered to chains in a Washington DC slave pen and subjected to brutal floggings in the cotton fields of the South. Prior to his bondage, Solomon (aged 21) had acquired, “humble habitation” which provided him with the means of “happiness and comfort.” He married his wife Anne and worked on an old Alden farm until 1834, where he raised his young family of two daughters and a boy. Though the work was hard, Solomon prospered and became a self-sufficient and well-respected member of his community. Anne was also renowned as being a tantalising cook.
In March 1834, Solomon and his family moved to Saratoga Springs where he laboured on the Troy and Saratoga railway. It was here that Solomon, himself the son of an emancipated slave, had his first encounters with subjugated slaves from the South who were accompanying their masters.