Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (Free Audio Book)
Twelve Years a Slave Read by Rob Board
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In 1841, when Northup was thirty-two, he was asked by two men, who called themselves Merrill Brown and Abram Hamilton, if he would like to join them and work as a fiddler as part of a circus company.
Originally the job was for several dates in New York, so Northup did not bother letting his wife Anne know about the gig, but then the men offered Solomon further dates in Washington. The offer was very generous and they even included his travel expenses. Solomon agreed to travel with them to Washington.
As they were traveling to Washington, where slavery was legal, Northup had papers drawn up to show his identity. Brown and Hamilton made sure they had a copy of his papers; they told him they didn’t want him to be mistaken for a runaway slave! Washington hosted America’s largest slave market and it was becoming increasingly common for people to kidnap free black citizens and then sell them as slaves.
Northup spent a day in Washington with his soon-to-be kidnappers, soaking up the views and enjoying the big city. However, as evening approached he became ill. The two men known to him as Brown and Hamilton had drugged Northup with belladonna, aka deadly night shade. Northup’s recollection becomes hazy but he recalls intolerable pain then waking from the fever alone and in chains.
Summary from the biography within 12 Years a Slave.