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PHOTO ESSAY

Slave Narratives

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"Twelve Years a Slave," title page of Solomon Northup's narrative, 1853.

Courtesy of New York Public Library

With an abundance of slave narratives available the more original the story was, the wider the potential audience. Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup (1853) gained great popularity in part due to Northup's exceptional tale. Northup was born free in New York state in 1808. When he was thirty-three, Northup was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years as a slave in Louisiana. A year after he was rescued from enslavement, Northup published the account of his time as a slave and the narrative was an immediate success. Since 1999 the residents of Saratoga Springs, New York have celebrated Solomon Northup Day every July 24th in his honor.

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