Whites have for years have argued that slavery was great for African Americans to be slaves because it civilized them, and they would be content within bondage. This was not the case, at least according to those who were held in bondage. The accounts of slavery are importantly known because of those who were emancipated or runaway slaves. In the novel, 12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup composed a narrative about his life as a free man, and about his life as a slave. During this time of cruel punishment and hard conditions of life as a slave in the 19th century South, this book shed light on life as a slave. Northup was born a freeman which was obtained from his father after being freed by the Northup family for loyal services. Since growing up in a free state of New York, Northup was able to be educated which was rare because of the sad disposition of the majority of his race.
In 1814, Northup was kidnapped and taken to the deep South, to the rugged life of slavery. Northup and other slaves were shipped to New Orleans. New Orleans had the biggest slave market in the South. It was never a place a slave would like ever to encounter. Before Northup arrived in New Orleans, they made frequent stops at different slave pens to resupply goods and obtain more slaves. Escaping always came to mind while on the ship but never was achieved; the opportunity was lost. Northup served many number of masters. Some of those masters were brutally cruel and others whose humanity Northup praised. Each plantation had its own set of morals, codes, and rules, but what the plantations had in common was they had a slave master they had to obey. The way that slave owners treated their slaves put a barrier between whites and blacks. African American slaves wanted to rebel but knew the consequences that came with the rebellion. Northup meets Bass a Canadian who is against slavery, which Northup confides in him the secrets of his past. Northup asks Bass to pass his letters to his friend in Saratoga. Later a Sherriff shows up at the plantation Northup is at and asks him some questions. Northup sees his old friend in the carriage and hugs him, Northup returns home and sees his wife and children again after twelve years.
It is impossible to understand the moral justification for slavery in the U.S. There is no doubt that the economic perspective was massive, but the responsibility of a government is established “for the people” is responsible for just that, and for it to encourage slavery is just doing the opposite. The American dream for the South was to develop a perfect agrarian society, where man’s religion and property were his own and was respected by the government and others. Our country was founded on a system of institutional racism, and slavery is among the strongest examples of this reality. This is the hard truth to accept while at the same time enjoying the freedom that our country gives.