AAS271 Lecture Notes and Study Guides
AAS271 Lecture Notes and Study Guides AAS271
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AAS271 Intro to African American Studies Professor Kha beer Class Notes for Exam 1 Naming and History 0 African longest name in the US 0 Wanted to be named African because land of their origin AfricanAfroAfricoAmerica Colored Negro Moor Ethiopian Black African American Mulatto Creole 0 Chocolate Hi yellow Redbone Light skin 0 Africa was thought to be uncivilized 0 That s why they didn t want to be called AfricanAmerican Negro Came from the Portuguese word used to describe Africans Became synonym for slaves Advocated for the n to be capitalized Moor o Iberian Peninsula Broad term for Muslim Became rationalize dark skin 0 Ethiopian 0 European Christian perspective 0 Find African American people black identity Creole Depends on where you are different meanings 0 Race o Is a social category 0 Not a DNA thing Isn t a biological truth o Is a social reality humans have come to identify people 0 Terms used for AfricanAmerican race Mulatto Mixed Race 0 Chocolate What Is African Studies 0 What is African Studies Broad eld of study that combines several disciplines for the sole purpose of studying Africa and its people origins history culture experiences contributions 0 The Problem of Africa 0 What is Africa s place in world history In the world today 0 Africa has no History 0 George Willhelm Fredrich o Hegel important European philosopher 0 quotAt this point we leave Africa For it is no historical part of the world it has no movement or development to exhibitquot The Philosophy of History 99 0 quotHistorical movements in it that is in its northern belong to the Asiatic or European worldquot Hege99 quotAfropessismquot quotSee and thenquot Africa always some kind of strife and struggle in Africa pic of young children in Africa with helper opposed to a place of possibilities and opportunities 0 White Mans Burden Picture of women buying African baby on the market 0 Poem quotServe your captive s needsquot Euphuism for imperialism This doesn t make sense 0 You wouldn t be helping someone by imprisoning them 0 mperiaized and domination of white men over other people 0 Inferior superior ObjectivityUniversality Epistemology What counts as knowledge 0 If they cant have oral history then much would have been lost because lots of things happened Epistemology as what counts as knowledge Afrocentricity expanding what counts as knowledge 0 Methodology 0 What are your tools 0 Oral or written history 0 Oral history ways that history is transmitted 0 Written from perspective 0 What we write depends on perspective 0 We all see the world from our perspective 0 These forms are both vaid forms of historical recoection The Problem of Blackness 0 Black Pathology vs White Normativity Eurocentricity Black Pathology 0 Opposite of white normativity think of it as a disease ony escapeifaccept 0 White Normativity Universal and objective Idea or particular way of being in the world that is ideal the way things should be 0 Double Consciousness WEB Dubois Challenging the Concepts 0 Development of the Discipline 0 18831915 0 quotThe common objective was to de ne and describe the rule of AfroAmerican in the Nation 0 1915 0 Common objective was quotsave and publish the records of the Negro that the race may not become a minor factor in the thought of the world 0 19351960 Questioning epistemologyblacks should not quotdepend on the majority group for de nition of themselves of social realityquot 0 1960 Present 0 Local and global lenses multiple methods and analytical perspective 0 What are the challenges of the 2lst century 0 1894 Purdue graduates rst black male student David Robert Lewis 0 1942 Purdue total campus population 6687 black population 12 4 o 1965 20176 Black Population 129 06 o 2013 36774 Black Population 1721 46 0 quotSoft moneyquot 0 Can stop nding right away 0 You have to pursue Not a guarantee 0 Could dry up 0 Effects from soft money Harder to recruit faculty 0 Stability of research Institution lack of support Naming African Studies 0 Black Studies Africology PanAfrican studies AfricanAmerican and African Studies 0 What s the core Motivate different names 0 Creating an identity or history point or make index 0 Afrocentricity o Placing African ideals at the center of any analysis of African culture and behavior Epistemology African as subjects not objects 0 quotMany ways of knowingquot quotThe system exists because of racism not the other way aroundquot Since its been Eurocentric African just been an object rather than a subject 0 Afrocentric Africans are subject not objects 0 They make choices and make things happen in the world from in their own paradigms Need to make the center one that comes from that experience 0 Circle Between Lines 3rd paragraph pg 11 quotAll differences exist Zimbabwe All people descend from the continent are Africaquot Isn t Afrocentricity just as biased Refer to last sentences Afrocentricity is about expanding o If we learn these histories everyone will bene t 0 Circle Between Lines Talks about writing 0 Pg 17 written oralkinetic that your body has what s measurable is not sufficient Ended of Afro opening by expanding what counts as knowledge 0 To be African is to be Afrocentricquot o No 0 You have to be taught this theory of knowledge Music Video KRS In 1933 Carter G Woodson published the Mis Education of the Negro in his book he noted o In the description of the various parts of the world geography The parts inhabited by the Caucasian were treated in detail less attention was given to the yellow people still less to the red very little to the brown and particularly none to the black race 0 How much has changed in school education between Woodson 1933 and KRS one 1989 Since KRS one KRS it has changed but not a lot they teach you but not in depth in geography What is he meaning in his song What does he mean by quotyou must learnquot 0 Names all names you have to earn about African American History Preventing future violence line about Jews Idea that everybody must learn What kind of facts must be learned 0 Accuracy of location 0 Important African Americans who contributed to history 0 Knowing the world in detail and not shorting a part of the world 0 Knowing the timeline Also need to learn purpose of rediscovering Is this an example of Afrocentricity Yes Afrocentricity Concept theory method a way of interpreting info in order to study any of the behavior tradition customs in order to understand that you have to understand African ideals comes from o Fundamentally challenging that European and white people are superior to African Descent people Afrocentricity sees itself not as replacing ideology but expanding and opening up Black Feminism Womanism African Womanism Centering the black woman s perspective What is this perspective 0 lntersectionality Bothand race and gender and class as simultaneous points of experience and oppression o Additive Eitheror race or class or gender Multiple levels of Analysis 0 Individual Communal Systemic System itself embedded attitudes beliefs quotPersonal is Politicalquot Person experience a source of political inferior Analysis personal experiences are re ected Black Feminism quotStruggle against racism sexism and social class exploitationquot quotRefusal to be silencedquot quotPersonal is politicalquot o quotEmpowerment in everyday lifequot Collins 742 Womanism 0 Holistic Community centered Inclusive Africana Womanism Complex realities of black women can never be adequately addressed through a framework whose origin erased them Africana Ethnicity and Culture Afrocentric cosmology 0 Must rst ght battle of racism saying we cant get to the gender unless race issue is addressed SoladaritylsForWhiteWomen Twitter Campaign 0 One way for white people other way for black people 0 Care about the wrong thing Responds to limitations of White Feminism Race Class 0 Community Black Male Chauvinism double standard again 0 Black Feminism Respond the experience black men has dominated not as male struggle is struggle for all of us 0 Should be done with all of us in mind On Naming Slave Bondspeople Enslaved African Enslaved African American 0 Slavery in African Eastern Trade 0 Didn t lose your identity of human being 0 You may become a family member 0 Still had rights as human 0 Characteristics of TransAtlantic Slavery Race based Seen as exhaustible workforce Question of humanity Slavery on other continents was different 0 Would enslave white and black people 0 What made you a save 0 Race based 0 Could be captured 0 Born into it condition of the mother 0 Property 0 Trans Atlantic quotTriangular Tradequot 0 Race based Perpetuity ongoing no end no clause 0 lnvented 15th century through 1810 0 Main Sources of Supply 0 6 regions on continent of Africa where people are coming from o 12 million people 0 Controversy The Number Game o How many Africans were taken o Is this calculation based on all available data or effort to down play the number and slave trade 0 Destinations 0 95 outside of the US 5 US quotSeasoning Breedingquot 0 Cotton vs Sugar Cadbbean Where you were seasoning breaking in slaves United States 0 Breeding 0 Making more slaves Creatingreplenishing slave population vs replenish through getting new slaves quotLets Get Freequot Resistance and Revolution Queen Nzingha 1633 o Ruler but diplomat Negotiated with Portuguese Toussaint L ouverture 17911804 Shaped the Americas perform ritual 0 Haiti resisted in the past Haiti Revolution Bahia Brazil 1807 1809 1814 1816 o 1835 religious element Slave Muslims The Book of Negros Includes name and description of black people who left New York to go to Europe Black loyalists Slave owners try to take them back some were unsuccessful 0 Were fugitives who lied who they were Denmark Vessey 1821 0 Led one of largest revolts in US history in Charleston South Carolina Inspired by what he hears about in Haiti 0 9000 slaves midnight on second Sunday Ultimately not successful because a spy gave it away 0 Continue to plansomeone else plan 0 He and others were hanged Vessey source of inspiration 0 quotLet my people goquot Institution of liberation and protest quotCurse of Hamquot Institution of accommodation and subjugation 12 Years A Slave Notes Solomon Northup Middle class 0 Free man by his father 0 lgnorant Never counseled a slave Worked on the railroad Played violin 0 Farmer Wife was different ethnicity and worked as a cook James Burch Domestic Slave Trade 0 quotSecond Middle Passagequot 0 Well known slave dealer 0 Beat Solomon for telling him he was a freeman o Kept them in captivity in DC Settings 0 DC Williams Slave Pen 0 Richmond Virginia 0 Norfolk Virginia 0 New Orleans Louisiana Arthur 0 Other slave with Solomon 0 Born a freeman in Norfolk 0 Had a family and kids 0 Same life story as Solomon 0 He got rescued by a friend after he got off the boat in new Orleans Escape plan 0 Going to hid on the boat and try to steal their guns before they can run off 0 Write a letter to his family Reaches them but have no way of knowing where he was pg44 Platt Name Change 0 Changed his name to Platt because it would strip his identity o If they called him Northup someone might identify him 0 Power You are mine I name you Clem Ray 0 Gets sent to Burch Doesn t end up on the boat 0 He escapes walks to Canada he lodges at Solomon s brotherin law s house pg 36 Why was there so much brutality Beat the humanity out of people Brutality is something both physical emotional psychological Threat of rebellion resistance threat of escape was always there 0 Theophilus Freeman Selling Solomon Eliza and the kids Stopping her from crying Distributor Purchases enslaved Africans and then resells them Creates a boutique has Solomon play the violin Randall and Emily Eliza was suppose to be free but her slave master died and his kids sold her Elisha Perry was her master Randall was a boy child Has relationship with her and its transgressed against society but there still his property Came out of racial order because had power between them 0 Conditions of Slavery Complex set of relationships that emerged from reproduced and resisted the racial order quotIn the antebellum south slavery provided the economic foundation that supported the dominant planter ruling class Under slavery the structure of white supremacy was hierarchical and patriarchal resting on male privilege and masculinity honor entrenched economic power and raw force Black people necessarily developed their sense of identity family relations etcquot 0 Quote from Randall Pg 50 He understands he has to be a man Maturity He s consulting his mother 0 Quote from Emily Pg 53 She doesn t understand yet Light skin and nice hair She will be worth a lot of money when she s older Ages are different 0 Ford Tibeats Chapin Epps O 0 Ford 0 O 0 Owners overseers p 147 Drivers p 148 Patrollers p 156 Christian Good person Generous Kindness 0 I m kind to people who I own but only because it bene ts my pro t margin more likely to repro t off your investment pg 98 Tibeats Ford gets into debt so he sells Northup to Tibeats Northup beats Tibeats Chapin Is an overseer o Helps Northup stay alive saves his life 0 Argument that he still has debt so someone will have to pay for him and then Tibeats will be in debt 0 Last slave owner 0 Mean cruel drunk 0 Evil of being a slave owner Rapes woman terrorizes them 0 Initially an overseer got the plantation from marrying his wife Overseers Oversee they watch the slaves make sure the slave are performing labor Overseers are usually white deer Followed behind the slave Was under the overseer Was usually another slave 34 of white Americans did not own slaves What was their relationship to slavery They would perform roles Gain from the products that they slaves are picking Armsby 0 Poor White working in the eld 0 Wanting to move up to whatever work force 0 Was going to tell on Solomon to move up What does Epps believe Platt Believes because he told him I never lied to you before Epps has incentive to believe Solomon because he invested a lot in Solomon Armsby became despicable to him Percentages of labor that you re doing all the time o 55 Cotton 0 15 Domestic Servants 10 Tobacco 10 Sugar rice Hemp 10 Trade and Industries Working in the elds and scared you re not doing enough work Basket of cotton with fear Always approach the gin house with fear pg 109 Live under constant surveillance 0 Responses to Slavery AuntPhebepg122 0 Put in the kitchen Sly old creature Seemed quiet didn t say anything 0 When she wasn t by owners she talked all the time Wiley pg 1578 Celeste I09 161163 0 Got iron neck brace on Unnamed 148 0 Armed resistance Beats the overseer and cuts up into pieces Platt Patsey Uncle Abram pg 149 0 Fake being hit 0 Platt pretends to beat him Armed resistance lnfanticide Arson Flight MaHnge ng Accommodation Sabotage Poisoning The Differences about being in the eld and being in the house Being in the house you watch more closely what you do Tasks would be different Increased level of surveillance Patsey quotQueen of the eldquot Picks the most cotton Subjected to sexual violence It s the love and the hate Mistress Epps hates her 0 CharlotteHarriet Shaw pg 169 Slave for Shaw Had sexual relations and he marries her Patsey would go to her and talk to her Both have been raped by their master Where Patsey gets her soap from They were sexual objects Madam McCoy pg 190 Angel slave owner Based on the story of Margaret Garner Her husband and kids plotted to leave Kentucky for Ohio reached it and crossed the Ohio river get to other side and split apart Margaret and her children and husband Becomes clear they re not going to make to freedom so she kills the younger daughter but then she cant kill the other children because she gets stopped Trial she was charged for theft because her kids were slave owner s property Poem quotI will do a deed for freedomquot 0 White Woman in this Society Ch 20 Exam39 Did not have power over white men but had power over slaves Cared about slavery Don t have as much rights Where do they t in this hierarchy Does bene t from a system of slavery o Afrocentricity Desire of AfricanAmericans to learn culture center their experience expanding open up epistemology African Descent fundamentally shifting what knowledges and how we think about theoretical approach what counts as knowledge understand other contributions other groups of other color bene t as well from theoretical approach AASZ71 Exam 2 Notes 10162014 13th Amendment Abolished slavery 14th Amendment 0 Clause 1 de nes what a citizen is 0 Clause 2 protection against state a state cannot limit your rights 0 Clause 3 forbid the states to deny any person anything without due process cannot punish you for a crime without a trial 0 Clause 4 forbids states to deny equal protection of the law cannot protect a certain group of people and not another 0 Clause 5 granted Congress the power to enforce the amendment 15th Amendment 0 gave blacks the right to vote The Black Cult 0 The rights of freeman The can t vote they can t own property can t sue anyone can t enter into contracts can t be a witness Civil Rights Act of 1866 0 Federal act Jim Crow Law 0 The rights were taken back after the Civil Rights Act of 1866 0 After inauguration of Rutherford B Hayes in 1877 Mandated segregation of the races separate bathrooms schools water fountains etc 0 Need to do research on this Literacy Test 0 Made them read and recite the constitution Poll Test 0 Had to pay some amount of money to vote Grandfather Clause o If your grandfather voted you can vote o If he didn t vote you can t vote The New Negro World War 1 0 Fight for democracy 0 Shows hypocrisy of the US o Blacks were very patriotic willing to ght and help make weapons Deepened their passion to ght the white supremacy 0 Race Consciousness 0 Being aware of your physical characteristics your history your race etc o Attempt to transform the stereotype Artistic Expression 0 Magazines Harlem Renaissance o A rebirth of Harlem Because of great migration Harlem becomes a place where a lot of blacks are 0 See an emergence of art music etc Gender and Sexuality Gender 0 Roles behaviors activities and attributes that a society considers appropriate for those identi ed as men and those identi ed as women 0 Wearing skirts in America is considered gendered for women it s normal in America that women wear skirts and men don t 0 In other countries the sarong is worn by both men and women and would not be considered normal in America 0 Gender expressiongender identity You may be born a female but dress and act as if you are a male 0 Hypodescent Ideas of gender and sexuality work in this way women sometimes become a symbol or metaphors of quotwhat makes this place why it is and why these other peoples or places are different or dangerousquot Sexuality o Aspects of personal and social life which have erotic signi cance 0 The idea of what and who you desire and when you desire those things 0 Jackson and Scott 1996 Blackness White Gaze l Sexuality A Triangular Relationship 0 The gaze is always judgingmeasuring how black people express their gender and sexuality Reverse Gender and Deny Sexuality o Emasculating black men and making men out of black women 0 Uncle Tom Wants to be white thinks he is white was white had a reverse Michael Jackson disease Black men asexual and loyal to whites at all costs 0 Mammy Black women as asexual nurturing dutiful servant Hattie McDaniel was the rst black woman to win an Oscar played Mammy o Jezebel Black women as hypersexual quotthese women are going to come violate and manipulate your young and impressionable childrenquot In our society it is not appropriate to have those deviant desires Halle Berry won second Oscar as a black woman 0 Sapphire Black woman as uniquely and inappropriately angry Picture on the cover of quotThe New Yorkerquot that depicted Michelle Obama Ready to go to war battle confrontation with anyone quotshe s angry and there s just no reason for itquot Afro symbolizes de ance Name Sapphire comes from an early television show Amos and Andy 0 Tragic Mulatto Dangerous displaced The movie quotBele about when people were speaking out about how slavery was wrong black woman got pregnant with white man s baby and then died man wanted to take care of the mulatto baby but the uncle did not allow it because she was mulatto The term mulatto which we don t use anymore is tragic there were fears of blackwhite mixing 0 Django Unchained Sam Jackson s character quotWhite man has power and authority and my loyalty is to himquot 0 Dear White People Movie Experience of blacks at Ivy League colleges Deviant and Dangerous Sexuality Vogue Magazine cover w LeBron and Gisele vs King Kong scene 0 Portraying LeBron James as a monkey like King Kong s desire for a white woman Portrays black sexuality as animalistic primitive dangerous deviant quotMedia and Popular Culture are Primary Sites for the dissemination and construction of common sense notions of Black Womanhoodquot p 117 and Manhood lntersectionality Bothand race AND gender AND class as simultaneous points of experience AND oppression What is considered appropriate for blackness What is considered appropriate for females What is considered appropriate for blackness AND femaleness Black Womanhood Male Gaze l Sexuality Triangular Relationship 0 quotWhere my girls atquot Questions from Class Discussion 0 If objecti cation is not a big deal to some women does that mean it is not a real issue 0 It is obviously still an issue If kids are going to grow up listening to music that constantly object es women they will continue to think it is okay to objectify women How does Beyonce s pregnancy compare to the response to Lauryn Hill s pregnancies 0 People were happy for Beyonce because they wanted her to have a baby but people told Lauryn Hill to get an abortion because they wanted her to focus on her career rather than a baby Beyonce was married to ja yZ so it was a quotpower baby In America marriage is still the most legitimate form of a relationship and the point is that Beyonce was married and Lauryn was not Why is it that we might not have noticed the connections between Scary Spice and the mad black woman stereotype Is the author making too much of it or is it because black women as scary spice made sense and was so unnoticeable 0 I never even noticed that one of the Spice Girls was black As a kid I didn t sit in front of the TVand go quotthat one is white and that one is black they were just the Spice Girls to me What if a black woman wants to show her sexuality What if she wants to wear animal print because she likes it 0 If you try to show your sexuality through apparel people are going to judge it anyway There is no answer to this question 12 Years A Slave by Soloman Northup AASZ71 Intro to AfricanAmerican Studies Book Review Study Guide The Book At A Glance Solomon Northup s 12 Years a Slave recounts the author s life story as a free black man from the North who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the preCivil War South The son of an emancipated slave Northup was born free He lived worked and married in upstate New York where his family resided He was a multifaceted laborer and also an accomplished violin player In 1841 two con men offered him lucrative work playing ddle in a circus so he traveled with them to Washington DC where he was drugged kidnapped and subsequently sold as a slave into the Red River region of Louisiana For the next twelve years he survived as the human property of several different slave masters with the bqu of his bondage lived under the cruel ownership of a southern planter named Edwin Epps In January 1853 Northup was nally freed by Northern friends who came to his rescue He returned home to his family in New York and there with the help of editor David Wilson wrote his account in 12 Years a Slave Major Characters Solomon Northup aka Flatt A free black man who lived in the northern United States in the 1800s Solomon was kidnapped in 1841 at age 33 and sold into slavery in the South where he lived until he was rescued by friends in 1853 Solomon was married to Anne Hampton Northup and with her had three children Elizabeth Margaret and Alonzo The author of the memoir 12 Years a Slave he chronicled his experience and ultimate emancipation as part of the abolitionist movement in the mid1800s Henry B Northup A white man related to the family that owned Solomon s father as a slave and from the family from which Solomon took his last name A lawyer he journeyed south to rescue Solomon from captivity Merrill Brown One of two white con men who with Abram Hamilton deceived Solomon Northup and orchestrated his kidnapping About 40 years old short and thick set Brown with Hamilton promised Northup lucrative work as a violin player in a circus and thereby convinced him to accompany them to Washington DC There they drugged him and allegedly sold him to slave traderJames H Burch while he was unconscious Abram Hamilton With Merrill Brown cokidnapper of Solomon Northup Around 25 years old tall thin and somewhat effeminate James H Burch A brutal slave dealer who rst kept Solomon Northup in captivity in Washington DC A business partner with Theophilus Freeman of New Orleans Burch was white around 40 years old and a large powerful man with chestnut hair slightly gray Burch shackled Northup in a hidden slave pen and then apparently enraged by Northup s claims that he was a free man beat and whipped Solomon into submission After the brutal beating Burch threatened to kill Solomon if he ever mentioned his freedom or background again Believing that threat applied to all slavers Northup never spoke to anyone again of his being born free until nearly 12 years later Upon being emancipated Northup and his lawyer pressed criminal charges against Burch and his accomplice Ebenezer Radburn However Burch prevailed in the proceedings by hiring false witnesses to testify on his behalf Eliza Berry A fellow black captive in James H Burch s Washington DC slave pen and lifelong friend to Solomon Northup She was the mother of both Randall Berry and Emily Berry She had been the slave and mistress of a rich white man named Elisha Berry who treated her kindly and fathered her daughter Emily Elisha Berry promised emancipation for Eliza and her children upon his death however when he passed away his heirs reneged on that promise Under the ruse of taking her to get her free papers the heirs sold Eliza and her children into Burch s slave pen From there she was sent downriver where Theophilus Freeman cruelly separated her from her children She was sold with Solomon Northup to William Ford in Louisiana She never recovered from the emotional devastation of losing her children mourning them the rest of her life and dying without ever seeing Randall or Emily again Theophilus Freeman A New Orleans Louisiana white slave trader who worked in association with James H Burch He took possession of Solomon Northup in New Orleans and there forcibly assigned him the name Platt He ran the slave auction that sold Platt to William Ford of Louisiana He was responsible also for separating Eliza Berry from her children William Ford The white man who bought Solomon Northup and Eliza Berry from Theophilus Freeman Described by Northup as a noble candid Christian manquot he owned a large plantation as well as a lumber mill in the quotGreat Pine Woodsquot in the parish of Avoyelles on the right bank of the Red River in central Louisiana Highly regarded by Northup as a fair and kind slave owner he rescued Solomon from John M Tibeats and others on several occasions He was forced to sell Northup after facing nancial setbacks He later became a Baptist preacher john M Tibeats A white carpenter who worked for William Ford In 1842 he took possession of Solomon Northup as payment of a debt by William Ford Described as a quotquicktempered spiteful manquot Tibeats was Northup s archenemy More than once he tried to kill Solomon out of anger but was prevented each time Eventually he sold Solomon to the cruel cotton planter Edwin Epps Mr Chapin William Ford s white overseer on the Bayou Boeuf plantation Described as quota kindlydisposed manquot When John M Tibeats tried to lynch and hang Solomon Northup it was Chapin who rescued him at gunpoint from Tibeats gang He then sent word to William Ford who came to Solomon s aid Edwin Epps Solomon Northup s nal and cruelest master A cotton planter he owned Northup for about ten years before the slave was freed by his friends from the North Epps was heavy tall with high cheekbones and blue eyes A frequent drunk he was given to ts of rage and violent mirth He delighted in both whipping his slaves and in making them dance all night in false exhibitions of happiness Cunning shrewd and merciless he was known as a quotnigger breakerquot His own slaves nicknamed him quotOld Hogjawquot He was guilty of frequently raping and whipping the slave girl Patsey Mistress Epps Edwin Epps wife Welleducated attractive and from a respected family she was generally kind to her husband s slaves except Patsey whom she hated as a jealous rival Unable to convince her husband to sell Patsey she instead insisted that her husband punish Patsey with frequent whippings and deprivations When Edwin Epps tried to attack Solomon Northup with a knife she argued in Solomon s defense Patsey A 23yearold black slave of Edwin Epps and the most tragic gure in 12 Years a Slave Naturally quota joyous creature a laughing lighthearted girlquot frequent beatings and abuse made her despondent and suicidal as the years went on She was a victim of repeated rapings by Edwin Epps and also of the jealous cruelty of Epps wife Because she was the fastest most productive cotton picker on Epps plantation Epps refused to sell her despite his wife s constant demands in that regard Solomon was forced to brutally whip a naked and helpless Patsey while Edwin Epps and Mistress Epps goaded him on Armsby A poor white man who worked alongside eld slaves at Edwin Epps plantation for a short time Solomon Northup asked him to mail a secret letter in return for payment Armsby promised to deliver the letter from Solomon to the post of ce However Armsby betrayed his promise and instead reported the incident to Edwin Epps Mr Bass A white carpenter working to build a house on the Epps plantation Bass was a native of Canada and an outspoken abolitionist Solomon Northup con ded in him and he responded with loyalty and help At great risk to his own safety Bass wrote and mailed letters to Northup s friends in the North and was instrumental in helping those friends nd and rescue Solomon from slavery Minor Characters David Wilson Solomon Northup s white editor and transcriber Northup dictated his story to Wilson who wrote it down and prepared it for publication under the title 12 Years a Slave Anne Hampton Northup Solomon s wife and the mother of his three children A black woman of mixedrace ancestry she worked as a cook Cephas Parker and William Perry Coowners of stores where Solomon Northup and his family shopped and friends to whom Solomon addressed his letter for help Elizabeth Northup Solomon s oldest child she was 10 when her father was kidnapped Margaret Northup Solomon s second child she was 8 when her father was kidnapped Alonzo Northup Solomon s youngest child he was 5 when his father was kidnapped Ebenezer Radburn Accomplice ofJames H Burch who was a Washington DC slave dealer Clemens Ray A fellow black captive in Burch s Washington DC slave pen Randall Berry Eliza s treasured son and a captive in Burch s Washington DC slave pen Emily Berry Eliza s daughter about 7 or 8 years old and a fellow captive in Burch s slave pen Robert A captive with Solomon Northup he was a coconspirator in an aborted plan of revolt against his white captors He died from smallpox before the plan could be carried out Arthur A captive with Solomon Northup he was a coconspirator in an aborted plan of revolt against his white captors He was rescued by friends in New Orleans Peter Tanner William Ford s brotherinlaw he took possession of Solomon Northup for a short time He used the whip the Bible and wooden stocks as means of keeping his slaves subdued Abram An elderly slave of Edwin Epps of failing strength and mental faculties Kind hearted but absentminded and a great admirer of philosophy and General Jackson he was sometimes called quotUncle Abramquot Wiley A 48yearold eld slave of Edwin Epps and married to Phebe He tried to run away once but was returned to Epps and beaten severely as punishment Phebe A house slave of Edwin Epps married to Wiley mother of Bob and Henry and sometimes called quotAunt Phebequot Bob A eld slave of Edwin Epps and Phebe s son by a former husband Henry A eld slave of Edwin Epps and Phebe s son by a former husband Edward A house slave of Edwin Epps and the son of Wiley and Phebe Harriet Shaw Black wife of the white Mr Shaw and a friend to Patsey Young Master Epps The son of Edwin and Mistress Epps A bright energetic boy of 10 or 12 years who imitated with joy the cruelties of his father john P Waddill A lawyer in Marksville Louisiana who assisted Henry B Northup in rescuing Solomon Northup Benjamin 0 Shekels A slave trader and witness on behalf ofjames H Burch during the trial ofjames H Burch and Ebenezer Radburn Benjamin A Thorn A witness on behalf ofjames H Burch during the trial Solomon Northup Staunton Margaret Northup s son and Solomon Northup s grandson Character Map 1gul39iiiiliia in Fari Slave mar Hiri i Eitiid Eitiimn m Jmea Ha Eumh IZELWE39 iiazien ameii Hainnr i iHiziariihLupa iLawaari Julin iiL Tihgaza39is C13 rpEntari39EIava rmer cruel Edi39uii39iil39l Epp i ElanFE i39i39 EF ausi ii Fi BELIEFS 11mm anquot E ium mi Miarump jiiii frEE black man kidnapped int slawaw I in amed 1e E1155 WIquotaim carpenter abli nniaii Misstrea Eppa iffiiiie if Edwin E 3i Hueyquot QEIE39E39EJ Book Summary 1 Solomon Northup Free Man In Chapters l and II Northup tells of his life as a free black man living in upstate New York Born in July 1808 he was the son of an emancipated slave He grew up working on a farm at his father s side and also was educated to a degree of competence in reading and writing Additionally he learned to play the violin a skill that would be both a blessing and curse to him in coming years At age 21 he married Anne Hampton and they settled down to raise a family Solomon worked in many trades including farming lumberjacking and performing on the violin while Anne earned money as a cook They had three children In 1841 Solomon met two white men who offered him lucrative work with a circus if he would travel with them to Washington DC Unsuspecting he joined them in their travels and in Washington DC after a day of unusual revelry and drinking became terribly ill On his way to see a doctor he passed out When he woke up Solomon Northup was alone chained in darkness 2 Solomon Northup Captive This second period of 12 Years a Slave told in Chapters Ill VI relates how Solomon nds himself a prisoner in the slave pen ofJames H Burch a brutal slave trader in Washington DC When Solomon protests his captivity and asserts his right to freedom Burch responds by beating him into submission and threatening to kill him if he ever mentions his freedom again At length Solomon is allowed to join the other slaves being held by Burch and he discovers just how hopeless his situation is Surrounded by slaves and a few other kidnap victims he is transported downriver eventually landing in New Orleans Louisiana Solomon and the rest of Burch s gangquot are transferred into the slave pen of Burch s associate Theophilus Freeman Freeman changes Solomon s name to Platt thereby erasing any connection to his past Solomon is put up for sale but his sale is delayed when he contracts smallpox which nearly kills him After he nally recovers he is sold along with a slave girl named Eliza to a man named William Ford 3 Solomon Northup Slave Next begins the third leg of Solomon Northup s journey told in Chapters VII XI Solomon is now a full edged slave named Platt working on the plantation and lumber mill of William Ford deep in the heart of Louisiana Ford is a kindly master devout in his Christian faith and given to generosity toward his slaves Solomon nds it almost a pleasure to be in Ford s service and even gures out a way for Ford to save considerable time and money by transporting lumber via waterway instead of by land Solomon is wellliked by Ford in return However a series of nancial missteps result in Ford selling Platt to a cruel carpenter named John M Tibeats Tibeats soon becomes Platt s worst enemy constantly threatening and berating him While working on a project Tibeats becomes so enraged that he attempts to whip Platt Platt is the stronger of the two though and he turns the tables on his new master whipping him instead Hellbent on revenge Tibeats twice attempts to murder Platt Only the intervention of William Ford and his overseer Mr Chapin saves the slave s life Unable to kill him yet bearing murderous hatred toward him Tibeats sells Platt to the notorious quotnigger breakerquot Edwin Epps 4 Solomon Northup Slave Under Edwin Epps The fourth phase of Solomon Northup s 12 Years a Slave told in Chapters XII XX focuses on the ten years he lived under the tyranny of Edwin Epps on two different plantations in Bayou Boeuf along the banks of the Red River in Louisiana Epps is indeed a cruel master A whip is his constant companion and he uses it almost daily on his slaves Solomon describes his life under Epps in detail relating stories of abuse humiliation and deprivation among all the slaves Patsey a slave girl gets the worst of Epps treatment She is repeatedly raped by him and also whipped by him at the insistence of his jealous wife At the worst point she visits a friend at a nearby plantation simply to get a bar of soap because Epps wife won t allow her to have any When Patsey returns Epps is furious thinking her guilty of a sexual encounter Platt is forced to whip a naked helpless Patsey while she screams for mercy The years pass by and Solomon almost loses hope Then he meets a carpenter named Bass an abolitionist from Canada who is hired to work on a building project for Epps Bass learns of Solomon s story and decides to help He sends letters to Solomon s friends in the North asking them to come and rescue the slave from his captivity 5 Solomon Northup Free Man Again The nal section of 12 Years ofSave Chapters XXI and XXII and Appendix tells of Solomon s escape from captivity Thanks to the faithfulness of Bass Solomon s friends in the North are alerted to his location and come to set him free Henry B Northup a white man who is a relative of the person who once owned Solomon s father gathers legal support and travels to Louisiana to nd the slave After some searching he nds quotPlattquot and with the help of a local sheriff emancipates him from the clutches of Edwin Epps They travel back to New York stopping for a time in Washington DC to pursue legal charges againstJames H Burch for his role in the kidnapping of Solomon Northup In the end though Burch is acquitted because of false witnesses and racist bias in the courtroom After that Solomon is nally reunited with his family in Saratoga Springs New York where he nds that his daughter has married and he is now a grandfather His grandson has been named in his honor Solomon Northup Staunton Three Most Important Aspects of the Book 12 Years a Slave presents a startlingly accurate and veri able account of the common slave experience in the United States in the antebellum preCivil War South From start to nish basic facts about the time the places the people and the practices of the day are incorporated sometimes in excessive detail into Northup s story He speaks with authority on all subjects of his enslavement naming names and pointing out landmarks along the way In doing so he dares skeptics to refute his story knowing that public records and common knowledge would defend it For example when Northup accuses a wicked slave trader of keeping him captive in Washington DC he not only names that slaver he names the slaver s accomplice identi es exactly where the slave pen is hidden and describes the physical structure of the slave pen in detail The result During the trial that took place after Northup had been freed that slave trader couldn t deny having kept Northup as his captive in that nowexposed slave pen Additionally the accuracy of and factual detail in 12 Years a Slave have kept this book prominent as a reliable historical reference on slavery for more than 150 years since it rst debuted 12 Years a Slave serves as a timeless indictment of the practice of quotchattel bondagequot or human slavery Northup s detailing the abuses he endured and those he was forced to in ict provides a warning to all generations of the moral costs that slavery exacts from everyone involved The slave himself or herself is degraded made to suffer awful torments and cruelly robbed of physical emotional and spiritual riches Still the slave is not the only one who suffers By participating in slavery the master is morally degraded and emotionally desensitized His religion is made hypocrisy His family legacy is robbed of basic human graces like love justice and integrity In this respect Northup s 12 Years a Slave is notable for giving human faces to the evil that was once common practice and for sounding a constant warning of the awful consequences of chattel bondage 12 Years a Slave is a testimony to the power of the human spirit and the enduring determination of hope Solomon Northup is deceived kidnapped abused removed from family deprived of identity and beaten into a long weary unjusti ed submission Yet he is never broken Even in his worst days of sorrow lived under the cruelties of Edwin Epps he never gives up hope that one day he will be free He never loses faith in his friends constantly assured that if he can only get word to the North then they will indeed come to his rescue And they do In the end Solomon Northup s heartbreaking journey uplifts because in his testimony is evidence that faith and hope can endure and triumph Primary Setting The Red River region of Louisiana Secondary Settings Saratoga Springs New York Washington DC New Orleans Louisiana Major Thematic Topics Slavery as a moral cancer freedom injustice the inherent dignity of all humanity the place of women in society religion and slavery man s inhumanity to man slavery s toll on servant and master alike Major symbols Chains the whip the Bible water the swamp Chapter Summaries Chapter 1 Solomon Northup begins 12 Years a Slave by clearly stating his goal in writing quotMy object is to give a candid and truthful statement of facts to repeat the story of my life without exaggerationquot Northup then tells of his family history Solomon s father Mintus served the white Northup family in New York until he was emancipated upon the death of his master Solomon was born free to Mintus in July 1808 in Minerva New York He grew up working as a farmer alongside his father until Mintus died in 1829 Soon after Solomon married Anne Hampton eventually setting up home in Saratoga Springs New York Anne established herself as a cook Solomon labored in various industries and became known as a ne violin player They started a family and Northup set about living a life lled with nothing but the common hopes and loves and labors of an obscure colored man making his humble progress in the worldquot Chapter 2 Chapter II reveals how Solomon Northup came to be lured away from his home in Saratoga Springs and subsequently kidnapped and forced into slavery In March 1841 Northup was unemployed and looking for work While walking in Saratoga Springs he met Merrill Brown and Abram Hamilton two quotgentlemen of respectable appearancequot They asked about his experience as a violin player and offered Solomon lucrative pay to join them in working for a circus in New York City Solomon eagerly accepted The three men traveled to New York City but the circus was not there Brown and Hamilton then urged Solomon to go farther to Washington DC which at the time was slave territory At this point Northup was not suspicious of them whatsoever After a day of celebration in Washington DC Northup began to feel sick though not drunk On the way to see the physician he passed out eventually waking up in darkness and in chains Chapter 3 Now begins Solomon Northup s true 12year agony initiated by the appearance of James H Burch Following the night of being ill Solomon awakens in a cell where he is held captive in chains In time his cell opens and a harshlooking man enters quotJames H Burcha wellknown slavedealer in Washingtonquot Burch is accompanied by his lackey Ebenezer Radburn Northup immediately begins protesting his imprisonment quotAgain and again asserted l was no man s slavequot In response Burch beats Northup mercilessly with a wooden paddle and a quotcato ninetailsquot whip until Solomon is completely subdued Then Burch threatens to murder Solomon if Solomon ever mentions freedom again Over the next several days Solomon is allowed to move around He discovers that he is being held in quotWilliam s Slave Penquot in Washington DC He meets other captives including Clemens Ray Eliza Berry and Eliza s children Northup nishes this chapter by brie y summarizing Eliza s story She had been the slave and mistress of a rich white man who also fathered Eliza s daughter Emily Her master promised that upon his death Eliza and her children would be set free After his death though his soninlaw reneged on that promise and instead sold Eliza and her children to Burch leaving her only to mourn the impending separation of her family at a future slave sale Northup ends this chapter with the heartbreaking news that quotEliza is now deadal her fears were realizedquot Chapter 4 Eliza spends her rst night in Burch s slave pen mourning her situation and the deception that delivered her children into this place The next midnight in the cover of darkness Burch and Radburn move Solomon Eliza and the other slaves to a steamboat moored on the Potomac River In the morning they sail downriver eventually transferring to stagecoaches and then to railcars until they reach Richmond Virginia Here the slaves are transferred to the pen of Mr Goodin When Solomon lets slip that he is from New York Burch again threatens to kill him In Goodin s slave pen Northup meets other black captives including a free man named Robert who like Solomon has been kidnapped and sold into slavery In the morning all the slaves except Clemens Ray are marched through Richmond and forced to board the brig Orleans and continue sailing farther downriver Burch takes Clemens Ray and returns with him to Washington DC Northup comments with satisfaction that he later discovers that Ray escaped slavery and found freedom in Canada Chapter 5 The brig Orleans and its slave cargo continue down the James River nally clocking in Norfolk Virginia There more slaves are brought on board including a large black man named Arthur who like Northup has been kidnapped from freedom The whole company continues downriver and Northup gives detailed descriptions of life on the ship during the journey As he befriends Arthur and Robert the three of them plot to overthrow their captors and escape Those plans are thwarted however when Robert unexpectedly contracts smallpox and dies A white sailor named John Manning learns of Northup s plight and is moved to help him When the ship reaches port at New Orleans Manning delivers a letter on Solomon s behalf to the post of ce The letter reaches Northup s friends in New York but they are unable to determine where he has been taken As a result no one comes to Solomon s rescue at this time In New Orleans Arthur is rescued by white friends who have come to set him free Solomon and the rest of Burch s slaves are delivered to a slave trader named Theophilus Freeman Freeman forcibly changes Northup s name to Platt ln despair Platt spends an entire night in prayer quotTo the Almighty Father of us all the freeman and the slave l poured forth supplications of a broken spiritquot Chapter 6 Northup opens Chapter VI with a deriding sarcastic description of New Orleans slave pen keeper Theophilus Freeman He describes the white man s morning routine as being out among his animalsquot early and quick to kick or whip young and old alike Next he details the preparations Freeman requires to get his property ready for the sales roomquot Part of that includes making slaves dance for prospective customers and in that effort Solomon s ability to play the violin sets him apart Buyers come with frequency to Freeman s sales floor over the next days One man is interested in Platt but the price is too high Other humans are sold including Eliza s son Randall Eliza s separation from her son is told in heartbreaking detail quotDon t cry mamaquot Randall says while being taken away quotI will be a good boyquot After a time another man closes a deal with Theophilus to purchase Platt and Eliza Again the mother is distraught this time at being separated from her daughter Emily Moved by her sorrow the white man offers to buy Emily as well but Freeman adamantly refuses to sell In the end they are forced to leave without the child Eliza weeping and Emily s tiny voice calling desperately for her mother to come back Northup reveals that Eliza never saw nor heard of her children again Chapter 7 Platt and Eliza now named quotDradeyquot are transported by their new owner William Ford to his home in the quotGreat Pine Woodsquot on the banks of the Red River in the Avoyelles and Bayou Boeuf region of central Louisiana According to Northup quotthere never was a more kind noble candid Christian man than William Fordquot When they reach the Ford plantation they are greeted warmly and treated kindly by both William Ford s wife and by his slaves Eliza is assigned to work in the house Platt is sent to work in Ford s lumber mill This continues through the summer of 1841 On Sundays Master Ford makes a habit of gathering his slaves for a church service preaching to them from the Bible and encouraging moral behavior In gratitude for Ford s kindness Platt devises a way to transport lumber via waterway instead of over land thereby saving the master a lot of money Platt also earns himself a reputation as the quotsmartest nigger in the Pine Woodsquot as a result of this success Eventually Platt is assigned to work with one of Ford s hired hands a shorttempered white carpenter named John M Tibeats Chapter 8 Bad luck comes to the Ford estate and as a result of nancial missteps William Ford is forced to sell Platt to his carpenter John M Tibeats With his new master Platt goes to work on Ford s Bayou Boeuf plantation 27 miles away There Platt and Tibeats engage in several building projects for Ford Platt nds Tibeats to be almost the opposite of William Ford in manner and conduct Tibeats is abusive bitter angry never satis ed and unreasonable in his demands After a perceived slight Tibeats is enraged and tries to whip Platt but the slave being stronger than the master Platt turns the tables In his own t of anger Platt instead whips Tibeats quotuntil my right arm achedquot After the beating Tibeats leaves the plantation swearing he will have revenge Tibeats returns soon after with two white henchmen in tow They tie up Platt and prepare to hang him from a nearby tree Finally William Ford s white overseer Mr Chapin intervenes Threatening to shoot Tibeats he rescues Platt from hanging and chases away the three men He also sends word to William Ford that Tibeats is quottrying to murder Plattquot lnexplicably though Chapin leaves Platt bound and immobile in the yard Chapter 9 It is still early in the day and Platt is left bound and immobile in the yard where Tibeats and Chapin have left him Throughout noontime and the rest of the day the sun beats down on him His arms and legs swell and ache from poor circulation caused by the tight ropes around him Though nearby Chapin refuses to alleviate Platt s pain quotwhy he suffered me to remain in agony the whole weary day I never knewquot Northup says At the hottest part of the day another slave named Rachel ventures to at least give him a sip of water and then quickly retreats Platt spends his day in meditation on the awfulness of his situation and comments wryly came not to the conclusion even once that the southern slave fed clothed whipped and protected by his master is happier than the free colored citizen of the Northquot At long last William Ford arrives and cuts Platt free A few days after that Tibeats hires Platt out to Ford s brotherinlaw Peter Tanner Tanner is hard and demanding but keeps Platt in relative safety on his plantation Chapter 10 Platt spends a month in relative safety at Tanner s plantation before returning to work for Tibeats It takes only a few days for Tibeats to become violent again After a minor disagreement Tibeats attacks Platt with a hatchet Again the slave is able to disarm the master but unlike before Platt acts only in selfdefense this time Enraged Tibeats attempts to kill Platt with an axe Platt prevents Tibeats from using the axe and nally begins to choke the life out of his master Platt nally releases Tibeats alive and runs away The next hours are lled with danger and fear as Platt must brave the Great Pacoudrie Swamp with its poisonous snakes and alligators to escape the dogs Tibeats has sent to hunt him down At last after a long and frightful night he nds his way back to William Ford s home where he is given shelter and safety at least for the moment Chapter 11 At William Ford s plantation Platt is given shelter and treated with kindness which he tries to repay by working in Ford s wife s garden After four days William Ford accompanies Platt back to Tibeats and the plantation in Bayou Boeuf There Ford lectures Tibeats on the proper treatment of slaves urging him to treat Platt humanely Tibeats apparently listens and Platt is spared punishment for running away Tibeats subsequently hires Platt out to a Mr Eldret for work clearing trees in Big Cane Break 38 miles away The work is hard but satisfying and Platt is treated fairly by Eldret They are joined by four quotlumberwomenquot black slaves whom Platt is impressed to note are quotequal to any manquot At length Platt s hard work earns him a weekend pass to visit William Ford s home While there he reunites with Eliza and observes that she has become a shell of the woman she once was He reports that she later dies in sorrow and agony in the service of a cruel master On his way back to Big Cane Break he meets Tibeats who informs Platt that he s been sold to the planter Edwin Epps Chapter 12 Now begins the last worst and longest phase of Solomon Northup s odyssey as a slave He is taken to Edwin Epps plantation nearby on Bayou Huff Power At rst he is pleased to be freed of Tibeats erratic cruelty but Epps proves to be an even worse human being than Tibeats Northup describes his new master as quotportlyquot repulsive and a drunk who enjoys whipping his slaves just for the pleasure of hearing them screech and screamquot After this introduction to Edwin Epps Northup digresses into a detailed description of the daytoday duties on Epps cotton plantation along with descriptions of agricultural labors slave living conditions and even commentary on gardens and growing owers Most important though is his introduction in this chapter to the slave girl Patsey quotthe most remarkable cotton picker on Bayou Boeufquot She will play a large role in the rest of Solomon Northup s story Chapter 13 Upon arriving at Epps plantation Platt is instructed to make an axe handle He makes a curved one similar to what he d known in the North Epps used to seeing only straight handles is surprised and impressed by Platt s work Platt then becomes very ill and almost dies before Epps nally calls a doctor to help After he recovers Platt is put to work picking cotton in the eld a job to which he is poorly suited At length Epps assigns him to other hard labors instead Epps is known as a quotnigger breakerquot and on his farm it was rarely that a day passed without one or more whippingsquot Slaves were whipped for falling short of their cotton picking quotas for breaking a branch in the eld for appearing to be idle in the eld for quarrelling with cabinmates and more When drunk Epps also had a peculiar habit of rousing his slaves at all times of the night and forcing them to dance for his entertainment Those who danced too slowly were whipped Platt was required to play the violin Northup nishes this chapter by introducing the other slaves on Epps plantation including Abram Wiley Phebe Bob Henry Edward and Patsey Patsey is given special attention described as quota splendid animalquot skillful industrious and the best cotton picker of all She is also the most abused of all Epps slaves a victim of her master s frequent rapes and the hatred of her master s wife Chapter 14 A blight of caterpillars destroys the cotton crops of Epps and his neighbors As a result Platt is hired out to Judge Turner s sugar plantation to earn money for Epps Unlike at cotton picking Platt is a natural at harvesting sugar cane ln Judge Turner s service Platt becomes an overseer of sorts and is given the responsibility of whipping any of his fellow slaves who are deemed to be standing idlequot He s also allowed to play his violin for special occasions and given wages for any work done on the Sabbath With his quotSunday moneyquot and earnings from violin playing Platt amasses a small but signi cant amount of money Because of this he writes he was quotlooked upon by my fellows as a millionairethe wealthiest nigger on Bayou Boeufquot During this time Northup risks asking a ship captain to smuggle him back to the North but the captain declines out of fear Upon returning to Epps farm Platt nds Patsey hardpressed between her master s sexual violence and the jealous hatred of Epps wife Though Epps refuses to sell Patsey he does indulge his wife s whim by ogging Patsey when Mistress Epps demands it Platt can do nothing for Patsey but he does use his ingenuity to invent sh traps for himself and the other slaves With these traps in place the slaves gain a steady source of free fresh sh to add to their meager diet Lastly Northup tells the scandalous tale of a nearby plantation owner who kills a rival and is made into something of a local hero as a result Chapter 15 Epps hires out Platt each year to work in sugar cane plantations In this capacity Platt is put in charge of a gang of up to 100 slaves for three years in a row At this point Northup interrupts his narrative to give a detailed report on the common practices for cultivating sugar cane Northup then tells what Christmas holidays were like on Epps farm During this season Epps slaves are granted three days off the only time off they get the entire year One plantation in the area hosts a celebration for all the surrounding slaves lnvariably Platt is called upon to play violin for these Christmas events There are unspeakable delights for Christmas supper and there s dancing and courting and slave girls with their hair twined up in their best red ribbons There are even marriages from time to time Still despite the happiness of this season Northup points out it only exists for three days of the year Chapter 16 On Epps plantation Platt is made a driver in the elds Drivers are black slaves who assist the white overseer and quotare compelled to do the whipping of their several gangsquot Platt performs this duty reluctantly but quotdared not show any lenityquot to his fellow slaves when Epps is present If Epps is absent though or at a distance Platt tries to soften the blows of the whip to spare the slaves as best he can Platt also tries to help Patsey avoid torment by Epps or his wife On one occasion this angers an intoxicated Epps to the point that he tries to kill Platt with a knife Platt is too fast and is able to avoid the knife thrusts of the drunken man It becomes almost a deadly game Epps chasing Platt dodging until Mistress Epps nally intervenes to rescue Platt from her husband Epps hires a poor white man named Armsby to work in the elds with the slaves Platt risks asking Armsby to mail a letter for him and Armsby agrees to in return for payment Armsby then betrays Platt s plan to Epps Epps is suspicious of Platt but in the end the slave is able to convince his master that Armsby is a liar After that Platt is fearful he will be caught and punished by his master for any attempts to escape or wors that he will never be rescued at all Chapter 17 Northup now recalls the sad fate of fellow slave Wiley One night Wiley sneaks away to another plantation for a social visit He loses track of time and is late returning On his way back Wiley is caught by a roving gang of white patrollers They whip him severely and return him to Epps who adds another ogging ln desperation days later Wiley runs away for good To everyone s surprise he actually escapes and is not seen for three weeks He nally returns carrying a message from Mistress Epps uncle asking Edwin Epps not to punish the former runaway However Epps in icts quotone of those inhuman oggings to which the poor slave is so often subjectedquot Northup then re ects on the dangers of trying to escape slavery relating gruesome stories of those he s known who tried to run With great contempt he tells of Lew Cheney a black slave who stoked a rebellion and then betrayed all his black companions His black followers were rounded up tortured and executed in reprisal while Cheney himself was rewarded by his white masters The chapter ends with commentary on the near hopelessness of a potential slave insurrection and with a warning that white masters may someday yet be objects of the black slave s vengeance Chapter 18 Northup relates more stories of brutality from his time as a slave on Epps plantation At one point a white tanner named Mr O Niel inquires about buying Platt from Epps Platt comments privately to Phebe that he would be happy with that arrangement but Mistress Epps overhears him and tells her husband Epps refuses to sell Platt and is enraged that Platt would dare to dream of serving another master He punishes Platt with a merciless whipping Another time Epps grows angry at Abram s elderly confusion and punishes him by stabbing him in the back with a knife wounding him severely Patsey also suffers from Epps unreasonable anger One day she goes to a nearby plantation to get soap When she returns Epps is furious with her accusing her of having an affair with the white master of that plantation He has her stripped naked and tied to four stakes in the ground Then he forces Platt to administer a brutal whipping At last Platt can do no more and Epps himself picks up the whip and continues beating Patsey with an unnatural fury until he is nally too exhausted to beat her anymore Patsey is never the same again Northup ends this chapter by telling of Epps oldest son a boy about 10 or 12 years old An admirer of his father the boy gleefully rides into the cotton elds with a whip in his hand often beating and cursing the slaves while his father looks on laughing Chapter 19 It is now summer of 1852 and Platt has been a slave for more than a decade Epps hires a crew of carpenters to build a house on his property and among the crew is a white man named Bass Platt is assigned to work with Bass and discovers that he is from Canada and an abolitionist at heart He overhears Bass and Epps have many friendly arguments about the bene ts and evils of slavery Platt decides to risk asking Bass for help Bass proves to be a faithful friend and secretly sends letters on Northup s behalf to Northup s friends in Saratoga Springs New York Both men wait to hear word in return but there is no response By summer s end Platt is almost ready to give up hope but Bass encourages him His work done on the house Bass leaves Epps plantation but promises to return at Christmas when they will consider what else they can do to keep pursuing the slave s rightful freedom Chapter 20 In December 1852 Bass returns to check on Platt Much to both men s disappointment Bass reports that there has been no response to the letters they sent to the North during the past summer Bass however is not ready to give up He promises to travel to Saratoga Springs where he will try to contact Northup s friends personally He tells Platt he is determined to see him freed from slavery and encourages him to keep up hope At Christmas Platt is hired out to play violin for several celebrations After the holiday Platt returns to work in Epps elds One Saturday he s whipped for oversleeping Sunday he spends in misery from the pain of his whipping and from the sorrow of the apparent failure of Bass letters Monday morning January 3 1853 begins like any other day on Epps plantation until Northup writes in his memoir quotLooking up we saw two men approaching us through the cotton eldquot Chapter 21 Chapter XXI is a ashback that tells the story of Bass letters from the Northern side lling in the gaps that Platt and Bass couldn t know from their location in the South Bass letters arrived in Saratoga Springs New York and were immediately forwarded to Northup s wife Anne She in turn shared them right away with Henry B Northup a lawyer and relative of the family that had once owned Solomon s father Mintus Henry Northup spent several months preparing the case to prove Solomon s status as a free man and with the support of the governor of New York and other government of cials traveled to Louisiana to rescue Solomon In Louisiana a chance meeting with Bass provided the critical information Henry Northup needed to nd Solomon on Epps plantation Enlisting the help of the local sheriff he went there and rescued Solomon on January 3 1853 over Epps great objections and threat of legal action On January 4 1853 they boarded a steamer headed for the North Solomon Northup was nally free Chapter 22 On their way back to Saratoga Springs New York Solomon Northup and Henry B Northup make two signi cant stops First in New Orleans they secure an of cial certi cation from the State of Louisiana verifying that Solomon is indeed a free black man Next they travel to Washington DC where they stay for a time in an attempt to pursue criminal prosecution againstJames H Burch the slave trader guilty of kidnapping and initially enslaving Solomon Burch s trial is something of a circus Faced with overwhelming evidence against him Burch can t deny that he kept Northup a prisoner Remarkably Burch is allowed to testify on his own behalf but Northup being black is not The white man s defense then centers on the ludicrous assertion that the black Northup told Burch he was a slave and that in fact he would like to go southquot The result is that Burch is absolved of all charges against him and justice is left unsatis ed Unsuccessful in prosecuting his kidnappers Northup continues upriver to New York where he is nally reunited with his family and where he meets his grandson Solomon Northup Staunton for the rst time He closes his memoir with a few nal comments and a wish quothenceforward to lead an upright though lowly lifequot
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