Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

Our thanks go first to Louisiana State University. Our research was facilitated by reduced teaching loads, grants, and the cooperation of such administrators as Dean Morris Abrams and Dean Max Goodrich. We are also grateful to Richard N. Current, Kenneth Stampp, and David Levy for their critical reading of various parts of the edited manuscript. ...

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xxiv

The story of Solomon Northup approaches the incredible. "It is a strange history," wrote Frederick Douglass when the book was first published in 1853; "its truth is stranger than fiction." The nineteenth-century title itself evokes disbelief: Twelve Years a Slave, Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, from a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River in Louisiana. ...

Title Page of Original Edition

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pp. xxv-xxvi

Dedication

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pp. xxvii-xxviii

Contents

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pp. xxix-xxxvi

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Chapter I

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pp. 3-11

Having been born a freeman, and for more than thirty years enjoyed the blessings of liberty in a free State—and having at the end of that time been kidnapped and sold into Slavery, where I remained, until happily rescued in the month of January, 1853, after a bondage of twelve years ...

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Chapter II

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pp. 12-20

One morning, towards the latter part of the month of March, 1841, having at that time no particular business to engage my attention, I was walking about the village of Saratoga Springs, thinking to myself where I might obtain some present employment, until the busy season should arrive. ...

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Chapter III

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pp. 21-32

Some three hours elapsed, during which time I remained seated on the low bench, absorbed in painful meditations. At length I heard the crowing of a cock, and soon a distant rumbling sound, as of carriages hurrying through the streets, came to my ears, and I knew that it was day. ...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 33-40

At intervals during the first night of Eliza's incarceration in the pen, she complained bitterly of Jacob Brooks, her young mistress' husband. She declared that had she been aware of the deception he intended to practice upon her, he never would have brought her there alive. ...

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Chapter V

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pp. 41-50

After we were all on board, the brig Orleans proceeded down James River.1 Passing into Chesapeake Bay, we arrived next day opposite the city of Norfolk. While lying at anchor, a lighter approached us from the town, bringing four more slaves. ...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 51-60

The very amiable, pious-hearted Mr. Theophilus Freeman, a partner or consignee of James H. Burch, and keeper of the slave pen in New-Orleans, was out among his animals early in the morning. With an occasional kick of the older men and women, and many a sharp crack of the whip about the ears of the younger slaves, ...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 61-74

On leaving the New-Orleans slave pen, Harry and I followed our new master through the streets, while Eliza, crying and turning back, was forced along by Freeman and his minions, until we found ourselves on board the steamboat Rodolph, then lying at the levee.1 ...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 75-85

William Ford unfortunately became embarrassed in his pecuniary affairs. A heavy judgment was rendered against him in consequence of his having become security for his brother, Franklin Ford, residing on Red River, above Alexandria, and who failed to meet his liabilities.1 ...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 86-96

Asthe sun approached the meridian that day it became insufferably warm. Its hot rays scorched the ground. The earth almost blistered the foot that stood upon it. I was without coat or hat, standing bare-headed, exposed to its burning blaze. Great drops of perspiration rolled down my face, drenching the scanty apparel wherewith I was clothed. ...

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Chapter X

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pp. 97-107

At the end of a month, my services being no longer required at Tanner's I was sent over the bayou again to my master, whom I found engaged in building the cotton press. This was situated at some distance from the great house, in a rather retired place. I commenced working once more in company with Tibeats, being entirely alone with him most part of the time. ...

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Chapter XI

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pp. 108-121

After a long sleep, sometime in the afternoon I awoke, refreshed, but very sore and stiff. Sally came in and talked with me, while John cooked me some dinner. Sally was in great trouble, as well as myself, one of her children being ill, and she feared it could not survive. ...

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Chapter XII

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pp. 122-132

Edwin Epps, of whom much will be said during the remainder of this history, is a large, portly, heavy-bodied man with light hair, high cheek bones, and a Roman nose of extraordinary dimensions. He has blue eyes, a fair complexion, and is, as I should say, full six feet high. ...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 133-144

On my arrival at Master Epps', in obedience to his order, the first business upon which I entered was the making of an axe-helve. The handles in use there are simply a round, straight stick. I made a crooked one, shaped like those to which I had been accustomed at the North. ...

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Chapter XIV

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pp. 145-158

The first year of Epps' residence on the bayou, 1845, the caterpillars almost totally destroyed the cotton crop throughout that region.1 There was little to be done, so that the slaves were necessarily idle half the time. However, there came a rumor to Bayou Boeuf that wages were high, and laborers in great demand ...

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Chapter XV

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pp. 159-169

In consequence of my inability in cotton-picking, Epps was in the habit of hiring me out on sugar plantations during the season of cane-cutting and sugar-making. He received for my services a dollar a day, with the money supplying my place on his cotton plantation. ...

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Chapter XVI

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pp. 170-179

With the exception of my trip to St. Mary's Parish, and my absence during the cane-cutting seasons, I was constantly employed on the plantation of Master Epps. He was considered but a small planter, not having a sufficient number of hands to require the services of an overseer, acting in the latter capacity himself. ...

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Chapter XVII

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pp. 180-191

The year 1850, down to which time I have now arrived, omitting many occurrences uninteresting to the reader, was an unlucky year for my companion Wiley, the husband of Phebe, whose taciturn and retiring nature has thus far kept him in the background. ...

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Chapter XVIII

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pp. 192-202

Wiley suffered severely at the hands of Master Epps, as has been related in the preceding chapter, but in this respect he fared no worse than his unfortunate companions. "Spare the rod," was an idea scouted by our master. He was constitutionally subject to periods of ill-humor, and at such times, ...

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Chapter XIX

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pp. 203-215

In the month of June, 1852, in pursuance of a previous contract, Mr. Avery, a carpenter of Bayou Rouge, commenced the erection of a house for Master Epps.1 It has previously been stated that there are no cellars on Bayou Boeuf; on the other hand, such is the low and swampy nature of the ground, the great houses are usually built upon spiles. ...

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Chapter XX

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pp. 216-224

Epps ordered one of the slaves to take charge of his horse, and with much talk and laughter they passed into the house together; not, however, until Bass had looked at me significantly, as much as to say, "Keep dark, we understand each other." It was ten o'clock at night before the labors of the day were performed, when I entered the cabin. ...

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Chapter XXI

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pp. 225-242

The letter written by Bass, directed to Parker and Perry, and which was deposited in the post-office in Marksville on the 15th day of August, 1852, arrived at Saratoga in the early part of September. Some time previous to this, Anne had removed to Glens Falls, Warren county, where she had charge of the kitchen in Carpenter's Hotel. ...

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Chapter XXII

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pp. 243-253

As the steamer glided on its way towards New-Orleans, perhaps I was not happy—perhaps there was no difficulty in restraining myself from dancing round the deck—perhaps I did not feel grateful to the man who had come so many hundred miles for me—perhaps I did not light his pipe, and wait and watch his word, and run at his slightest bidding. ...

Appendices

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pp. 254-266

Index

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pp. 267-273