free paper, slave-dealer, slave pen, paddle, cat-o’-ninetails, Great pine woods, Red river, Platt, Bayou Boeuf, Luke 12:47, Sabbath, corn coffee, nigger breaker, overseer, driver, patrollers
This book written in 1853 is a classic. During this period slavery was legal in southern states of the USA. Slaves were bought and sold like cattle. In northern states however the colored people could live freely as slavery was not practiced. During these times freed colored people from the north were kidnapped into the south and sold as slaves. The author of this book suffered this fate and spent 12 years as a slave in southern plantations.
This book starts with Solomon introducing us to his world as a free colored man in Kingsbury. A brief introduction to his family and surroundings. One can assume he had a happy life with a complete family, some property to his name and both husband-wife were able earners. Solomon also earned as an occasional violin player. It was his skill as a musician that introduced him to a couple of circus employees who would hire him for a travel-to-perform job. First to New-york and then to Washington. During their stay in Washington, Solomon was drugged and sold to a slave-dealer named James H. Burch. In the next chapters the author documents the ordeals of next 12 years.
There are all kind of characters in this journey. Some are sufferers, some are sympathetic and some are evil. The author describes them sometimes directly with what he felt about them and sometimes the reader can judge from the course of action these characters took. Other than himself Solomon focuses on the sufferings of some of the fellow slaves like Eliza, whose children were separated from her and sold to different owners. Or Patsey who was a skilled cotton picker but her master’s wife’s jealousy made her life miserable. Among the sympathizers there is a William Ford for example, the first master of Solomon. Who is sympathetic towards slaves and does not treat them like cattle. In author’s words “Were all men such as he, Slavery would be deprived of more than half its bitterness”. Then there is a wonderful Samuel Bass, the Canadian carpenter who in my opinion is the hero of this story. Bass it seems could see the world as it will be years after his time. Among the evil there are is the slave trader Burch, the carpenter-master John M. Tibeats and mostly master Edwin Epps.
Conclusion & Rating:
(4 / 5)
During the journey of this book the reader comes across the day to day life of a slave in a plantation farm. What were the tasks in a cotton plantation or in a sugar cane plantation and how inhumanely he was made to labor with the use of overseers, drivers, lashes and dogs. For a person of today’s time it is hard to imagine this life and exactly the reason why he should read this book.