Essay on Solomon Northup

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Separation and Survival in In the spring of 1841, Solomon Northup accepted an offer of short-term employment as a musician, accompanying a pair of white men, circus performers working their way back to their troupe. A free African-American and resident of New York state, Northup expected the job to take him from Saratoga Springs to New York City, entailing only a brief absence from home — so brief, in fact, that he did not leave word for his wife, also employed away from home for a number of weeks, since he expected to return before her. When they reached New York City, however, his employers urged him to continue with them to Washington, D.C., where they were to meet the circus, promising employment at high wages for the season…show more content…
Separation is a paramount theme, entwined for Northup — who had a free family awaiting his return, rather than a slave family he might have had to leave behind — with strategies of survival and plans for escape. Not only Northup's own story, but those of the slaves he met and lived with are included in his narrative,. especially in the first half, which details how Northup was transported from Washington to Richmond and finally to Louisiana, where he was sold to a planter in the Bayou Boeuf area, William Ford.
Northup's experience, while not commonplace, was also not unique: of the fourteen slaves on the trip to New Orleans, two others were kidnaped free men, wrested from their families. (The closing of the African slave trade in 1808, as the plantation revolution was taking hold in the Mississippi Delta area, created a voracious appetite for slaves in the deep South. The contemporary decline of the staple-crop plantation system in the Chesapeake area made slaves a profitable export for the Chesapeake states, and Washington, D.C., a logical place to sell slaves, and that profitability no doubt was an inducement to kidnappers.) In Williams' slave pen in Washington, Northup met a man named Clemens Ray, who had long lived in

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