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“Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup Essay

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Updated: Sep 20th, 2021

As abolitionists, we feel that cruelty is inescapable among whites in the South throughout long years οf slavery. One οf the ways that cruelty is created among white people in the South is caused by husband’s infidelities. Solomon Northup felt that mistress Epps was not that evil, and that “she was possessed of the devil [through] jealousy”. Throughout Twelve Years a Slave, we saw mistress Epps lose her humanity. Knowing that her husband was cheating on her with Patsey made her a cold-blooded woman. When Patsey was being whipped and was screaming for mercy, mistress Epps just stood “on the piazza among her children, gazing on the scene with an air of heatless satisfaction”. We feel that unless slavery is abolished we will see more and more people lose their hearts and become evil.

The cruelty that was created during slavery, made many Southern whites disrespect people οf color, which explains why some free blacks were tricked into slavery. A perfect example was Solomon Northup, who was a free man since the day he was born. However, as he was looking to make money, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The only way that blacks could prove their freedom was through papers, which were stolen from Solomon. There was no police or any other authority that he could turn to in order to get help. Sadly, Solomon was not the only one who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Robert was also born a free man, who came to the South to get work. Since he didn’t have free papers, he was seized at Fredericksburg, “placed in confinement, and beaten until he had learned, as [Solomon had to], the necessity and the policy of silence”. Unfortunately, there were many other people like Solomon and Robert, who were tricked into slavery.

Cruelty can also be seen with the law that did not protect slaves from anything, even murder. If a master wanted to kill his slave it wasn’t that hard to do, because he did not have to worry about witnesses. If a slave were to be killed “even in the presence of a hundred slaves, not one οf them, by the laws of Louisiana, could have given evidence against [the master]”. From these examples, as abolitionists, we have to argue that allowing slavery, makes Southern whites cruel and savage. Unless we abolish slavery, we will soon see Southern states turn into an uncivilized and barbaric society.

The third reason that slavery should be abolished is that it turns Southern whites into greedy and lazy citizens. Greed can easily be seen from people who own slaves because all they care about is making that slave work as much as possible, so he or she can produce more prοfit. However, greed can also be seen in people who do not own slaves. In 1850, only one-fourth of all white families in the South owned slaves, and half of those owned fewer than five slaves. As abolitionists, we wonder if only 25 percent of people in the South own slaves, how come so many southerners, are willing to fight and argue in defense οf something they do not use? The answer to this question is simple, it was due to greed, a feeling that many whites in the South possess. Those who do not own any slaves hope to one day. Also, even poor whites accept and like the racist assumptions on which slavery was built, because that way, poor whites were above slaves.

Since the growing cotton economy made slavery more attractive than ever before, Garrison knew that all slaves could not be free overnight. He felt that “first people had to realize that slavery was sinful and its continued existence is intolerable”. As abolitionists, we feel that slaves are not necessary for cotton production, because 50 percent οf farmers, who are in the cotton business, do not own slaves. But due to the fact that southern whites were becoming more and more greedy, the slavery population almost doubled between 1810-1830. Owning a slave, allows a planter to harvest fields of cotton more efficiently; therefore, it provides more income. In 1850, the twelve wealthiest counties in the United States were all in the South, which shows that people’s number one priority, in the South, was wealth.

Another major change that occurred throughout slavery is the fact that whites in the South are becoming lazy. As abolitionists, we feel that pine-barren people are proof that slavery degrades whites and makes them lazy. Also, due to the fact that children had slaves to boss around, shows that from an early age children are learning to put their responsibilities on someone else, instead of doing the job themselves. The son of master Epps, kept his sick or older slaves “to wait on the little Eppses”. Since the plantations never lack responsibilities for slaves, it shows that if a slave were to finish his or her job early there is always something they can do in order to help the master or his family. The fact that slaves are starting to work around the house, away from agriculture, is a perfect example that people in the South are getting lazier every day. The simplest task that a master could do himself, such as getting a cup οf tea, or getting a newspaper, is put upon slaves. We feel that if that doesn’t change soon, the Southern society will become completely dependent upon slaves, which is unacceptable because every human being in this world should be treated equally and with respect.

In conclusion, due to the fact that slaves are treated inhumanly and because slavery makes Southern white society savage, cruel, greedy, and lazy, we feel that it should be abolished. By abolishing slavery, not only will it finally create justice among slaves who are supposed to be equal as it was stated in the Declaration οf Independence; it was also put an end to the white Southern society who is growing to be barbaric and uncivilized. When the founding father of America came to this country, their goal was to make men equal. They were running away from a country that wanted to enslave people by their religion. Therefore, we cannot allow people to treat African Americans with disrespect.

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