|Back to Back Issues Page|
Living the Adventuress Life, Issue #001 - Whatever happened to Solomon Northup?
March 11, 2014
|Dear VIP (Very Important Adventuress)
Whatever happened to Solomon Northup?
By now you probably know the movie “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture this year at the Academy Awards.
It’s an incredible true story of a rural New York farmer and violinist, Solomon Northup, a free black man in the pre-Civil War era.
The movie chronicles his 12 years as a slave after being lured to Washington, DC for a music gig, then kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Southern United States. The movie ends when he regains his freedom and is reunited with his family, who thought him long dead—and naturally his wife had remarried.
But then what happened?
Well, he wrote a memoir. The first year he was free (1853) he hooked up with writer David Wilson and in 3 months together they wrote the book.
In it Solomon identified his kidnappers. While he subsequently brought suit against them in Washington, DC, he lost because DC law prohibited him—as a black man—from testifying against whites. He couldn’t even sue them for civil damages.
The novel "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" was already a bestseller, and within 3 years Solomon’s book sold 30,000 copies.
Probably because his chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist ultimately led to his freedom from slavery, Solomon Northup got involved in the abolitionist movement. He lectured through the northeast to support the cause.
In 1858, a local newspaper story said he had been kidnapped again and was again a slave. But 21st-century historians Clifford Brown and Carol Wilson believe a second kidnapping was unlikely as Solomon would have been too old to be of interest to slave traders, so most likely he died of natural causes. Solomon Northup’s disappearance has never been explained; the location and circumstances of his death are unknown.
This reminds me of the story I wrote in my first published book, "Elizabeth Samson, Forbidden Bride."
Elisabeth Samson was a free negress in the 18th century Dutch plantation colony of Suriname, owner of several flourishing coffee plantations and hundreds of slaves. Dutch law forbid her to marry her consort because he was white. She became the first black woman to receive permission from the Dutch government to marry white.
Warning, Spoiler alert to follow :)
It took Elisabeth decades to win in the Dutch court, and by then her beloved had died.
So, determined to have the one thing her riches couldn’t buy—a white husband—she found someone else to marry.
After her death her white husband lived well on her wealth. Because Elisabeth never had any children, commercial businessmen in Amsterdam inherited her property when her husband died in 1784, and the court’s intention became a reality―all properties had returned to white people.
Elisabeth Samson’s hard-earned, free-loading white husband did not even purchase a tombstone for his wife, and the exact location of her grave has never been found.
Imagine, a legendary historic figure in Suriname, and no one has any idea where she’s buried!
Solomon's and Elisabeth’s life story endings remind me of how detailed and documented our lives are today. Unless there’s foul play or you go into the Witness Protection Program, it’s pretty hard for the average person to simply disappear.
And what adventuress would really want to? My wish for you today is that you are enjoying your life to such a full extent that the thought of “disappearing” would never occur to you!
By the way, when “12 Years a Slave” won the Academy Award for Best Picture it made history as the first movie―in 86 years of Oscars―with a black director to win this highest honor.
Have an E-ride day!
Editor & Chief Adventuress
|Back to Back Issues Page|