Solomon Northup is a carpenter and also plays the violin. Two members of a circus company approach him and offer him a job as a violinist working for them. Solomon agreed and without telling his wife, he traveled to New York with them.
However, when he wakes up he is bound and held captive as a slave. He proclaimed his status as a “free man” but as a result he was beaten. He is then taken to New Orleans where he meets a sympathizer to slaves, and he convinces him to send a letter to his family.
Northup’s first employer was William Ford who ran a lumber mill. He was treated badly and punished but his carpentry skills did come of great use. Northup was also leased to other slave owners, including Tibeats, who attempted to beat him and Solomon fought against him, which led to further punishment.
His next employer was Edwin Epps, a unpleasant cotton planter who had a sadistic aura about him. Epps made use of Solomon’s skill and often made him whip other slaves. Solomon then meets and befriends Samuel Bass, a white man who works on the plantation. He confides in him and states that he is actually a free man. Solomon sent letters to his family through Bass and his situation was made aware to a man names Parker who notified Henry Northup, a white lawyer and Solomon’s friend.
Henry then travels to the cotton plant in order to set Solomon free. He hires attorney, John Waddill to assist him in his quest. They were able to set Solomon free. When Solomon filed a lawsuit against the men who sold him, he lost.
He then returns to his family after twelve years of imprisonment, as a free man.