Cover To Cover…‘Twelve Years a Slave’

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Your grandmother always loved stories.

Nobody could tell them like she could, either. She was full of tales of caution and thrift and could remember things that happened back when she was a girl. She even knew stories about her own grandparents, the lives they led, and how they survived.

Sometimes, you wish you could have a talk with those ancestors of yours. You can’t…but you can learn from a voice of 150 years ago by reading “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup.

Born in July, 1808, Solomon Northup was the grandson of slaves, the son of a free man, born a free man himself. He lived in New York, married a “colored girl” with “the blood of three races” in her veins, which gave her a “singular but pleasing expression.” They had three small children and were enjoying a certain level of prosperity when Solomon, trusting two new friends, went to play his violin and was poisoned, captured, beaten, renamed “Platt” and sent to the south as a slave.

His first master was a “kind, noble…Christian man” named Ford who, perhaps, could’ve been trusted with the facts of abduction and enslavement. Still, having been beaten into silence once, and threatened, Platt kept the truth to himself and worked hard. Later, Ford fell on hard times and reluctantly sold his slaves, though he retained some ownership of Platt.

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