Analysis Of Solomon Northup 's ' The First Act Of Kindness '

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Solomon Northup was a free black man living in New York with his wife and children when he was lured south, kidnapped, and sold into slavery. His memoir was written shortly after escaping and tells the story of his kidnapping, violent treatment as a slave in Louisiana and his escape due to the help of an abolitionist carpenter. Northup labored for twelve years under many different masters. Some are spoken of with emotions of gratitude and others in pure hate and bitterness; which shows the argument of the book is that “there are men of humanity as well as of cruelty” (preface xix). Solomon Northup was approached by “two gentlemen of respectable appearance” near the end of March, 1841 (p 10). After being introduced by an acquaintance the gentlemen inquired about Solomon’s violin skills and proposed a business opportunity in Washington. This is when the two men made the transaction to have Solomon kidnapped and chained after getting him intoxicated. This is the first act of cruelness seen in the novel. The first act of kindness Solomon experiences as a slave is thanks to his first master, William Ford. Solomon recalls, “there never was a more kind, noble, candid, Christian man than William Ford” (p 53). Solomon is treated kindly by both William Ford’s wife and his slaves. On Sundays, Master Ford holds a church service for his slaves. In gratitude for Ford’s kindness, Solomon devises a way to transport lumber via waterway instead of land, saving the master money. Solomon now
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