1 Episode results for "Mr Tibbets"

12 Years a Slave with Professor Greg Jackson

Based On a True Story

1:15:40 hr | 6 months ago

12 Years a Slave with Professor Greg Jackson

"Hello and welcome to based on a true story. The podcast that compares your favourite Hollywood movies with history on today's episode. We're going to learn about the movie. Twelve years a slave and right now. I need to let you know that. We'll be talking about some very serious subject matter including racism rate and stuff so consider this your parental advisory before listening to this episode. Now if you haven't seen the movie twelve years a slave was released in two thousand thirteen and it tells the story of a man named Solomon Northop who was kidnapped and sold the slave owners in the southern United States in the mid eighteen. Hundreds to help us separate fact from fiction. I'm joined by Professor Greg Jackson from Utah Valley University and host of the extremely popular podcast called history. That doesn't suck before we chat with Gregg though. Let's set up our game truth and ally. If you're new to the show here is how it works. I'm about to say three things. Two of them are true and that means one of them is a lie. Ready Okay here. They are number. One Solomon was kidnapped from New York and take into Louisiana where he was sold as a slave number two. The character of Patsy in the movie was based on very real events. Number Three Bass helped Solomon gain his freedom by writing a letter to Solomon's friends in the north. Got Him. Okay now as you're listening to our story today. Your challenge is to find the two facts scattered somewhere throughout the episode and then by a simple process of elimination. You'll know which one is the lie. And of course we'll do a recap at the end of the episode to see how well you did all right now. It's time to get Greg on the line to chat about the movie twelve years a slave before diving into some details. Even though I never got the sense from the movie that it changed any of the names or places or anything like that. I also know a lot of times movies do that sort of thing. So let's start with the WHO when and where in the movie I there's the WHO the main character in the movie of course is Solomon North Up. He's played. I Chew Hotel Ejiofor by pronounced that correctly and to look that one up here. I'm impressed and we find out pretty quickly. That Solomon is a very accomplished violinist. And then there's his wife and his two children Margaret and Alonzo as for when and where the only bit of texts that we see in the movies the beginning where it tells us the years eighteen forty one and it's in Saratoga New York of course. The movie also makes clear that that's where Solomon is from but it's not necessarily where he spent his years as a slave in fact. I don't even remember the movie ever mentioning in any of the dialogue. I was listening for it and I don't remember him them saying this is actually where we're at really only just mentioned it as the south. So how well did the movie do? Capturing the overall essence of the true events the overall essence. That was quite good. I in fact. I'm going to say that's the greatest strength. There are definitely some liberties taken. And that's going to happen. I don't like to be. I don't like to be the historian. Hugest slams a movie of I had one when a colleague when I was teaching part time at Westminster College in Salt Lake. Who used to say historically just the worst crowd of people that ever take to the movies right just no ability to enjoy film So I kind of always never wanted to be that guy so I guess what I'm saying. Is I appreciate that. Some of the liberties are taken. Because it's really hard to tell an entire autobiography in two hour film. It's on a screen you know the the medium Messing things up but the overall essence is really quite good. We'll get into some of the specifics and some of the things that made me do my historian cringe of us. Not Quite right but you know if I were to give a grade to it put on my professor cap here. I give it. It's a really strong. Plus her you know maybe even in a minus really quite well done in terms of the overall essence s really good and I like the way you phrase that had some Historians come on the show and they'd be like I have to take the day off when I go see a movie. It's are in. Unfortunately I'll add this caveat. It's really unfortunate that I don't think we do a good enough job. Reminding ourselves in the public sphere. Or even JU training people in school to remember when it comes out of Hollywood. Were enjoying art just like. I'M NOT GONNA look at a painting and think. Wow this is a photo from a historical event right. It's interpretation and it's often altered a bit to speak to present realities so anyhow I like all those things in mind and just enjoy it for what it is that makes sense now. According to the movie Salman north of his hired by two men named Mr Brown and Mr Hamilton. They say they run a circus and they hire him to go to Washington where he's GonNa play the violin for their show or something like a circus when he gets there. Mr Brown and Mr Hamilton treat Solomon to elegant dinner plenty of Alcohol. Salman drinks little bit too much passes out and then when he wakes up. He's in chains. And then his captors showed up the captors that show up art Mr Brown and Mr Hamilton anymore. It's someone else and they try to convince Solomon that he's not a freeman. They beat him as they try to get. Solomon to admit that he's a runaway. Slave from Georgia course. Solomon doesn't want to admit this because he's not true not true right but he doesn't have any of the paperwork. They stole paperwork that he must have. Had you know as reaching into his pockets trying to find the paperwork to prove otherwise and he doesn't have that so the men take him and a bunch of others that we can only assume have gone through the same sort of thing. They're taking on a riverboat somewhere. This is leading back to what I mentioned earlier. Doesn't really tell US exactly where they're headed. But the impression that I got was essentially they were that was why he was going from New York to Washington was because it was easier somehow for the kidnappers to take them from Washington. I'm assuming maybe on the Potomac on the east coast to the southern United States. I'm just assuming that from the geography rather than something that the movie mentioned. But how did the movie do showing cow? Solomon was kidnapped and then sold into slavery. I was really pleased with this now. We are going to talk about some liberties here because there are definitely some taking again to the idea of the essence. The essence was all right. They did try him out of New York because of course New York is a free state and it's a lot harder for them to capture him there and you know basically I mean. There's no choice about this was human trafficking. That's what was going on. And the simple fact of the matter is that with slavery being permitted in the southern states at this point you know it was legal to human traffic. I think that's a good way to try and convey that in twenty-first-century terms so he being freeman is born free. His father had been asleep. I believe in Rhode Island but song and himself was born free living this this life as a freeman in the state of New York. You can kind of see how removed even was not to say he's not aware ASLI recourse. He is right key young doubtedly even though it's not discussed in his autobiography he undoubtedly faced racism in the north at various times. But he's far more trusting than he should be. It doesn't occur to him that they would be doing something so mischievous so they actually go out of their way to really make sure that he trusts them. They actually procure his free papers. He didn't have any. It wasn't huge. Need in his mind he just never bothered to get them though. That's something that he could have done earlier in his life. So all the more reason we think about how nefarious this really is that they took him explicitly to get his free papers before they take him to Washington DC. Wow Wow that's messed up. Yeah it's pretty messed up. I just assumed that he had them because I mean unfortunately in that time that he would have had them. Yeah No. It wasn't something that he had ever bothered to do priestess because you know all the way up in the state of New York and in a world without airplanes sure you've got trains. The road system's not incredibly robust. It's not you can move across the country that swiftly so this is what I mean by have no doubt that as a black American. He had to have experiences with racism and slavery certainly had to cross his mind though. None of. That's in the autobiography right. That's just not par the scope but it clearly wasn't present enough in his mind he ever bother to get papers previously so they get him down to DC yesterday wine and dine him one of my issues though with the film. And I'm sure again. This was a matter of trying to explain. Things very quickly is that they did depict him being drunk and that just simply was not accurate in fact Solomon in his autobiography. If you don't mind me even quoting in my edition. This is from page thirteen. He says quote. I did not become intoxicated. As may be inferred from what subsequently occurred towards evening and soon after partaking of one of these publications I began to experience most unpleasant sensations. I felt extremely ill. My head commenced eighteen. Adul- heavy pain in expressively disagreeable. So they drugged him. He wasn't drunk. Essentially as what? It sounds like yeah so not at the film held back by any means on the evils of slavery and the human trafficking that was involved in the interstate slave trade but in some ways worse on this particular thing. Because they're just trying to move so quickly right I mean. They took him to get free papers. Just to trick them all the more to your really ingredient In Bill Trust and then they didn't just get slammed yeah. They didn't lean on some weakness that he might have for alcohol. That's that's not song. This is a pretty sober dude. They drugged him. So yeah it's it's actually kind of worse. I guess I would say now. The the beating that happens in the south I mean they take words straight out of the autobiography so again law. This is done quite well but then they do. They do move quickly we see them load. Solomon and other slaves onto a boat and he kinda whisks off on a break and in reality there were ferries involved. Their carriages involve often be moved at night because even though they're in the south what they're doing is shady a so they pass through Fredericksburg. Virginia the past the Richmond. You know these are major cities and yet he. He's with a large group of people at one point. He's asked by someone involved in in their movement. I can't recall his exact name. But he's asked where he's from he says New York and shock registers on this man's face who clearly doesn't know that. Solomon has been illegally kidnapped. The insolvent gets the look from one of his His captors James Birch. And he he can read. It saw very intelligent man. He could tell. Oh I need to dial this back real quick on getting me in trouble so he starts making sound like he's just traveled to New York and after that Burr says you ever say you're from New York again. I'm going to kill you. Oh well when. I was watching the movie. The impression that I got was when Solomon is on the boat that his situation was not with that that everybody on the boat was kidnapped and trafficked essentially from northern states and sold into slavery in the south but it sounds like if that person was surprised that he was from New York that that wasn't necessarily the case for everybody not for everyone that was inexpensive everybody being transported with Solomon but Solomons experience was certainly not a complete ab morality. There were others like him who were kidnapped and he had heard stories of this. Y'All almost the impression I get. Is I read his autobiography? He mentions as he's waking up in the cell starting to think wait. Have I been kidnapped? Am I being taken into slavery? And it's clear that he heard these stories but it was almost like this but that will never happen to me sort of sort of like you know when people get lazy about wearing a seatbelt. Just think he gal while I mean like I'm GonNa get in an accident right and then you know these things happen. So similarly. Solomon he's not alone. Frederick Douglass who wrote three autobiographies over the course of his life. He doesn't give any details. He doesn't as I recall specific person but he mentioned that this practice existed and we have no even knowing how many free black northerners were kidnapped and taken to the south as slaves. But it definitely happened. The first person after Salomon is sold in the movie. He sold to benedict. Cumberbatch is character. Someone named Mr Ford and we see him. Purchase Solomon and a mother named Elisa for a total of seventeen hundred dollars. It was a thousand for Solomon and seven hundred four Liza. And this it's just it's a gut wrenching scene. The woman is torn. She has two children and she just crying over the loss of her children that they won't include them. You're right so they have to separate them. Oh in fact mentioned that Solomon is forced to go by the name Platt in order to try to cover up that he was in fact a freeman the overall sense that I got from Benedict cumberbatch. His Character Mr Ford in the movie was that he wasn't really as mean as some of the others around He even tries to purchase the children so that they can stay together and with with Elisa but then we kind of get this idea that there was a scene where Solomon's talking with Elisa and and his account Mr Fordis- is treating US differently now but then Elisa has to remind Solomon that he might be a little bit better but he still bought us. We're still slaves and we should not be slaves so it's kind of a a a two part question here. But first we're Mr Ford and Eliza based on real people and then was there a time when Solomon started to feel almost appreciative for Mr Ford before. Elisa gave him a reality check. Sure let's Let's go ahead and take that question. It's two parts so first off. Yes Ford and Eliza these were very real people and again into large essence of the film a lot of things do stick with the timeline and things transpired to touch on that gut wrenching scene. I mean I cried the first time I saw that. I'm sure a lot of people do it. Actually they do this throughout the movie again. I'm sure it's something that many filmaker feels press to doing. They truncated what happened into one. Seen what was really dragged out in reality when they're being sold in word in Louisiana at this point when they're being sold Randall. Who is older son? He's already gone. He'd been sold that morning and I mean it's it's hard to read Dan as he's being sold away from his mother that morning to planter from I believe a baton rouge he turns to mom and assures her that he will be a good boy and a Tanaka. Cry In. It's GonNa be okay and with that he disappears from her life and a Solomon says. You Know I. I've no idea what happened to them. That's it there's no communication it's never see him again gone. Yeah wow so then we get to the afternoon and now Mr for chose up so hurt. You Know Elisa Son was not even a factor in this and then Mr Ford. He tries to keep them together. He offers to buy the daughter. Although Solomon writes that Mr Ford stated I have zero purpose in in buying the daughter she? I don't have any role she can serve. You know economically but I don't want to separate a mother and daughter. I am happy to pay you. Fair market value essentially. I know these are very uncomfortable. Terms as we're discussing human beings for us in the twentieth century but these are the realities and so he. He really tries to buy the daughter. I think the film skips a little bit on this. It doesn't quite play. It plays down if anything the extent to which Mr Ford really tried to keep this family together and Mr Freeman the very ironically-named slave dealer here. Mr Freeman makes it very clear that he has no interest in selling in fact If I can just go ahead and quote psalm in once more he says Mr. The man who Mr Four. He has an introduced his name yet. In the autobiography but man remarked he was not need of one so young that it would be of no prophet to him but since the mother was so fond of her rather than see them separate he would pay reasonable price but to this humane proposal. Freeman was entirely deaf. He would not sell her then or on any account. Whatever and the reason for this. Dan is one of the truly. I mean slaves low but there are there are even lower lows within that system. Then you know some other things. She's going to be basically forced to be a prostitute if we're to keep reading Saul and goes on to explain how Mr Freeman notes. How beautiful the girl is. And that's why he has interest in selling her. He's not going to sell her for years. That this little girl will grow up to be very attractive and there was a term for this in the enslavement system. These these women these girls often they were known as fancy girls. I mean basically. There's just no to his about it. Freeman was keeping her to her as a sex slave at some point. Wow just when he thought it couldn't get worse. Yeah and so you. Mr Ford does purchase Eliza basically I'm not trying to making is sorts of Excuses trying to bring us into this reality. The greedy ugly reality of this this economic system. I if he doesn't by ELISA IT'S NOT GONNA help keep that family together. You was going to be sold that day regardless of anything Mr Ford did and that and her daughter was going to be caps regardless of anything. Mr Ford could do so it. It's really ugly. All right so the are real people now to the second part of your question terms of Solomon feeling some sort of appreciation this is the most inaccurate part of the entire film is the way that Mr Ford is depicted e was far more appreciated by Solomon than the film shows. And if I can take one quick note here this is part of why. I love Salman's autobiography. Not because that we want to say there is some super kind slave owners in that sort of a terrible excuse sort of way that you sometimes hear from people you know that. Oh slavery wasn't bad. No slavery was awful. It was hideous but he is. I'm just so impressed with him as a human being I I don't. I don't know that I could be sold into slavery. And then make such such a objective. I guess assessments of people within the system of maintaining some sort balance. I guess you know I I just and of course you know. We're we're speaking to twenty percents or so removed from it. It just baffles me. That Salman is such a good human being even be capable of this. In in my opinion it sounds like the appreciation that we saw on screen was just a a small tidbit of what Salman really did feel towards Mr Ford. Even not a like you said not to make it. Lessen the fact that he still you know was a slave owner and I couldn't imagine any of that situation but I also think you're saying I couldn't imagine being in that situation and making those sorts of observations. I mean really. I can't do justice to Solomon's words if you don't mind I'll actually read a solid paragraph here where he describing his feelings towards Mr Four. Am I edition? This is pages. Forty seven hundred forty eight so to quote Solomon. Our Master's name was William Ford emeny northern minds perhaps the idea the man holding his brother. Mannion servitude and the traffic in human flesh may seem altogether incompatible with their conceptions of moral religious life from descriptions of such men as Birch and Freeman and others here and mentioned they are led to despise and execute the whole class of slaveholders indiscriminately but I was sometimes his slave and had an opportunity of learning well his character and disposition and it is but simple justice to him. When I say in my opinion there never was a more kind noble candid Christian Man Than William Ford the influences and associations that had always surrounded him blinded him to the inherent wrong at the bottom of the system of slavery. He never doubted the moral. Right of one man holding another in subjection looking through the same medium with his father's before him he saw things in the same light rod up under other circumstances and other influences. His notions would undoubtedly have been different. Nevertheless he was a model master walking uprightly. According to the light of his understanding and fortunate was the slave who came into his possession were all men such as he slavery would be deprived of more than half its bitterness. So yeah you know. It's the sort of thing that you could see. Someone who falsely wants to excuse slavery Quoting out of context. But it's that's what Solomon Really Thought and felt and it's all again to where I'm so impressed with him his ability to really have three dimensional characters to to see the the beauty even within an ugly system. I also think it's worth noting that Frederick Douglass again in his autobiographies he doesn't have anyone in his life that he felt quite as fondly towards as Solomon but he often meet some notes about how this system it pulls everyone down You know this is. This is not to say that Mr Ford's being pulled down as equate to slavery. Of course not but that you know this. This system like the poverty cycle today or violence domestic violence. That's the way that it. Cyclically continued the ills of of this specific system of slavery. One thing as you're reading that that really struck me as interesting based on what you were talking about before is it. Sounds like Solomon was so not familiar with the intricacies of that system before he was kidnapped. But then just how much this experience I mean. It's in the title of the movie. You know twelve years. He learned so much about that and the way he was able to put the readers or viewers of of the movie telling his story into his own shoes. That's very telling of the type of person that he was. Yeah now he is generally one of my heroes yeah. I think it's a shame that we haven't made a bigger point of telling his story. Traditionally you know in it among the heroes in legends of of the United States. And I'm sure that's born partly out of wouldn't acknowledge such a an incredible human being who was a slave. You're also bringing up the shame. That's felt of slavery. Yeah you can't have one without the other right by. I just think Solomon should absolutely be loud and celebrated. I'll also add that when we get to scenes with With tibbets it's Mr Ford who who saves Solomon's live always goes to bat for him. He stands up for him unlike. Say Frederick Douglass is experience where the more levelheaded masters in his life. Have no problem saying well. Yeah it's really too bad that the skies being really violent towards you but all lose money so you need to go back to work. Mr Ford is always ready to stand up for him. He tells Mr Tibbets that he does not sell Psalm and get him out of his ownership. Which that's kind of gloss over in the movie but Tibbets has purchased Solomon from Mr Ford by on a mortgaging basis. So that's where Mr Ford still has a vested interest in him. And he's able to protect him but MR foretells tip it's at one point. After some of their fights you are going to either rent him out where you will sell annual somehow get him out of your life or I will make sure he's out of your life. You're not going to kill this man. You're not going to keep beating on him. This is not not acceptable. He also is never told. This happens in the movie. Solomon Tells Mr Ford that he's actually Freeman and the way that than it had. Cumberbatch does He's phenomenal actor does a great job with the role. But you know a Mr for tennis links back from this like oh. I can't hear these things sort of you know. Don't don't make my world morally complicated. Ford was never informed of this so that was just a fabrication flat out so again the essence of the film capturing the depravities of slavery great perhaps in that process though Mr definitely did not get a fair shake. I want to touch on that one character that you talked about tibbets because there's a moment in the movie where. Tibbets actually hangs Solomon in retaliation for Solomon standing up to him. And then we see Mr Ford step in or actually I think it's Mr Ford overseer first step in now believe Chaplin Yeah. He's he steps in but then he stops the hanging but then he just leaves Solomon to hang there while he goes to get Mr Ford. We don't really see exactly how much time passes. But you get the sense that it was daytime and then it starts to get hymie dusk by the time Mr Ford gets there. He comes cuts down. The Rope Saves Solomon but then he tells Salomon tibbets is going to. He's going to keep coming. He's not going to stop. So what Mr Ford ends up doing. In the movie is an attempt to save salmon's life. He sells salomon to another plantation. And that is where we I see Michael Fast benders character Edwin APPs so I have to ask did. Solomon nearly die by hanging. What can I assume was hours in the movie shows and then it was at the reason why Solomon was sold from Mr Ford to Mr APPs. So first off. He is laughed hanging out. What isn't readily apparent in the book? And so I'm I'm inclined to think that this is probably a little bit of liberty and the depiction. I do not recall him being tiptoed. Don't get me wrong. Terrible way. Spend a day right and and he mentions mentions that that doesn't do justice. Solomon is absolutely being tortured. In this moment it's awful. He's left height of all day. Long is Ford who comes and cuts down. He doesn't even know himself why he was left in that position. He speculates that the overseer he he says he's not sure why. Chapin left him up which is guy just lacking in moral courage. That's one of the things a Salman speculates on a just a coward. Not Willing to undo tibbets had done in other thought that Salman entertains is that perhaps Chapin wanted to ensure that Ford saw just what Tibbets had done to to Solomon Though for Solomon makes pretty clear I really would rather have been cut down than been left in this position for an entire day suffering but that did happen and outfight again. This is another truncated thing. It really synthesized a number of conflicts that there are at least two conflicts took place over the course of a month. One of which solvent really just wants on haunted. He wins the fight. It's just cheered for misery. Does autobiography right and he doesn't want to do this. But you know at some point this human being right. He's got a defend himself he can't you can't just let. Tippett's literally kill him. Which is what he feared would happen. So he finally fought back choked tibbets until he he passed out and then Solomon ran for the swamp fearing for his life and was greatly relieved when from a distance he saw Tippett's regained consciousness in walked to the house because at least then he knew he wasn't going to be charged with having killed a white man. So you know things kind of die down after that and then we have another fight is these things are going on when Mr Ford. A to get to the second part of your question with Mr Ford Continuing to protect Solomon says Tippett's. It's clear that you hate him. I'm not GonNa let you kill this man. I'm not GonNa let you harm this man. It you have got to divest herself of you're young. You're economic stake. Where he like. We do with houses today. We had a mortgage on Solomon. So yes he gets sold because typically is going to kill him if he doesn't sell empathy inaccurate thing. Perhaps as I as I recall in the film I don't think it really got into the nitty gritty of this shared interest. Where tibbets is the owner. You know buying by just just like someone with a house to return my mortgage example right like it's shirts your house. You call it your your house but really the bank owns it and if you fail to make payments as the house will get repossessed right. So that's the the financial relationship here so tibbets APP per the instructions of Mr Ford sells off Solomon to APPs and since APPs as as I recall at least Did Not need to have a mortgage the purchases full and complete and at this point. Mr Ford is no longer in the picture. Okay so just to feed that back. Make sure I understand that example there would was Mr Tibbets the bank in that example. Or was he the before the bank and not example. Okay so he would have essentially held the mortgage than tibbets. She'll be paying on. Yeah so tibbets Activities would be like the middle class person looking to buy a house and I think that's a pretty fair comparison. Most slave owners only owned a a very few slaves. Would you picture this to go? Super Stereotypical right like this gone with the wind. Massive plantations sort of thing. That's a very small minority of the population in the south under the economic system. We have a terrible spread of wealth. It's highly concentrated in a very small upper class and then you get to planters who own. The vast majority of slave owners have less than twenty slaves. And of course you get to to poor whites who ono sleighs. By the time we get to the civil war as things continue to spread in terms of the inequality continued to spread. You have a very small minority of really massive plantations compared to those who own just a handful so Tippett's would be more like a an upcoming type. Who's trying to acquire slices trying to build up a big plantation okay? That's a good explanation because I don't feel the movie really explained that side of it very much. It whisked over a lot of that. These two people are fighting against each other. And then all of a sudden Mr out of the picture which you know to be fair it hits a Hollywood film and they're trying to entertain people's much. Tell a story right I. Most people are interested in taking a forty minute aside to explain the intricacies of the southern economy for triple war. So I mean either loved it but yeah it goes back to the Historian. Side exactly Speaking of Mr Apps the first that we see Edwin APPS. That's Michael fasteners character. He's reading to the slave from the Christian Bible which I find very ironic now as EPPs explains it. The Bible is saying that if the slaves don't obey their master then they'll be beaten with a great many lashes. Needless off forty hundred hundred fifty lashes. The movie doesn't really say what scripture it is but I jotted down and looked it up. It's Luke chapter twelve verse forty seven and it really is part of the Bible that he's reading from the quote that he's using in the movie comes from something that Jesus himself was saying as he's talking to his disciples so I'm curious scripture used as a part of the excuse for slavery by people like APPs who at least in the movie they claim to be a godly man. Despite doing these horrible horrible things one hundred percent yes in fact that specific verse Sullivan Does Mention. It in his autobiography now. I don't believe APPS was the one reading from it when he cited it when Solomon cited it but the fact that Solomon would point to it. It just tells me that he probably heard it. Far More than on one occasion is twelve years living life and slaved. It was a very common thing. You had a lot of preachers. Who readily turned to the scriptures and used it to excuse slavery. Let me also point out that. Christianity was used by slave owners as they didn't just look into Christianity and say look. Here's a verse or two or we can justify our owning slaves but some even justify the fact that they were converting slaves to Christianity. As basically you know that we are good people this is. This is how we can feel okay about what we're what we're doing and you know. I don't know if it would be that overt. I think Salman that the passage quoted from his description of Mr Ford. It so cleanly describes how many slaveholders they're raised in the system it never occurs to them to question it but this is all part of the society building up the reasons why it's okay for them to do it. So as Africans are kidnapped and taken to the Americas they come with indigenous African religions of all different types and allow them are are also Muslim Islam had spread south of the Sahara desert by this point it to this day in the more northern regions of sub Saharan Africa. You have a very split on Christian population so yes converting recently arrived slaves or those those holdouts if you will to Christianity that this is all part of feeling good at night about what they're doing. Wow and then. I'm assuming after converting them to Christianity. It's not like they would set them free. Yeah exactly so it's like it doesn't make sense. No I think reservoirs lane if you're familiar with him. He's written a number of books No God but God zealot. He's a rather popular scholar of religion. He makes a point that people often bring to their scriptures who they are and he's usually discussing Islam Christianity but basically the a violent person looks towards scripture. They find reasons rationale for being violent where guide not only sanctions but he blesses their violence whereas you know the more kind gentle soul they latch onto those sorts verses. Because I can either find Jesus saying I come A nonce facing the exact wording. I don't remember the exact wording but it's I do not come to bring peace but to bring the sword or something like that. Yeah something like that but of course I can also find. Jesus saying you know to for not only to forgive forgive. You know not just seven times but seven times seventy turn the other cheek. Right so yeah. That's kind of Raza as let's take and that's really resonated with me. I think it's interesting to see that you had those who were happy to use the Bible to excuse slavery while at the same time. You've also got abolitionist preachers. Who are you know saying that? This is absolutely abhorrent in the eyes of God. Yeah and using the scriptures as their rationale for that as well exactly now one thing. I'm curious about the anytime that I watch a movie. And there's numbers or stats. It's low hanging fruit for me to try to do a fact check on that and so when solving goes to Mr APSIS PLANTATION. We get an indication of how much cotton they're supposed to pick and we find out this from some of the lines in the movie. Patsy is somewhere around five hundred pounds of cotton which cotton is not very heavy with a five hundred pounds. I can't even imagine that Solomon picked one hundred and sixty pounds and this is a in a single day and then there's a white man they're named arms and he only picked sixty four pounds but then APP says that two hundred pounds is a normal day's work and then in another show of racism there he tells arm speed at pick. Sixty four do better tomorrow and then he takes. Solomon out who did a one hundred and sixty pounds and he whips him because he didn't hit that two hundred pound quota. So it's hard for me to fathom even how much space five hundred pounds or one hundred sixty pounds worth of cottonwood take but are those numbers real. They are two hundred. Pounds of cotton per day was pretty much the expectation. This is again where I think. The essence of the film is quite fantastic. They're filling in a lot of blanks here perfectly fair for me to do because Solomon he can only speak to his experience and your nikes detailing every single day. What's also bear in mind? He's trying to recall things that happened years. After the facts Nike kept a journal as these events rolled out so try to recall. This part. What happens when you watch the movie and you've read the sources and sometimes it gets difficult to save for Sir. I can't recall off the top of my head that that exact scenario played out with the white hired help. But that's absolutely something that that would have happened so again. I'm going to caveat that I'm just not remembering it myself. Maybe it is in there in his over two hundred autobiography. And I've just forgotten that one instance but I don't think that was an unfair play as they're trying to convey the essence of a things that really would happen on these plantations but yet two hundred pounds and some slave owners. Were happy to ratchet it up if somebody did to twenty one day while now. That's their new standard in. Beat them if they don't continue to meet it allow. Yeah it's awful. You're talking earlier about how it was rare to have those huge plantations again going back to gone with the wind. You know in in that example ABC still trying to wrap my head around how much space two hundred pounds of cotton and how much land you would have to have for that much for single person to pick in a single day doing that every single day. I'm just picturing must be a massive massive fields that Mr EPPs must've had sure I mean. I don't know the acreage of his plantation. Off the top of my head but they're huge and you know to to make sure that we're being perfectly accurate and when I say that it's rare to have these massive gone with the wind style that type of wealth I mean I think at our twenty first century world where we live in either high density housing. Maybe right like we live in a condo. A town home. Maybe we live in the suburbs. And so we enjoy it entire. What quarter Acre of land to live on? This is a different standard so when we talk across small plantation yeah we were still talking acres and acres of land at which is just you know. It's it's small compared to these massive plantations and the number of slaves on in working are are under twenty as opposed to plantations where there are hundreds an often. What we're talking about the truly large wealthy southern slaveholders. They have multiple plantation. So it's not like all those hundreds or working on one single plot of land. They may have one piece of property. You know in this by you and then sixty miles away. They've got a piece of property. That's also growing cotton yarn entirely different crop so picturing this big uniform rectangular plantation with perfect rose. That will be quite realistic. That makes a little more sense. There now. Want to talk about the character that I just mentioned previously patsy. Her part of the story in the movie the movie's Gut wrenching. And I can't count them. Monetize that I cried throughout it right. This is about one though. Yeah YEAH PATCHY IS MR. Apps is just taken with in with her. He rapes her. We only see at once in the movie but it's implied that that's just a a regular occurrence and then on the other side Mrs Apps Mr Xs wife clearly knows something's going on and we don't really know if she knows the extent of it but she takes all of this out on. Patsy so patsy is getting it from both sides both from Mr Epson and Mrs APPs even so much so that Mrs fs won't give Patsy soap to clean herself with. And there's one point in the movie where Patsy says she trying to get some soap from a neighboring plantation. 'cause she smelled so bad that she was making herself gag. And it's got things just got so bad for her that you can just feel it when she goes to. Solomon and she's like kill me I want to get out of this living hell and he denies the request saying that. He just can't do it. I'm hoping there's not truth to her story but unfortunately I have a feeling there is some truth to that. Unfortunately there's a lot of truth to her story. This is one of the more accurate depictions in the film. You know where we're not just talking essence but you know really pretty well done it. You know I already mentioned the existence of quote unquote a fancy girls earlier and patsy had the misfortune in this world to be an attractive enslaved woman and that's just a recipe for Demi is gonNA depend on the winds in the morality of the slave owner. You know but it often meant rape now. Solomon's record never uses the word rape. I personally think she was not in my mind. There's no question only as a as a careful historian who never wants to say something that isn't in the record itself all just note that that Solomon didn't say the good grief given the circumstances given EPS is clear lack of a moral compass. A he anticipates they are night and day from Ford which again. I'll beat up on on this point. This is part of the Excellence of Solomon's record is the way he gives us very full characters. Really showing us. Those who are capable of maintaining morality despite a system that gives them complete permission to have zero morality and those who readily given to their worst aspects of their personality and indulge in violence and and rape against the these human beings that they are able to treat as Chattel. Patsy story is true at Solomon is forced to whip her and he does. This did happen movie. Yes he throws down the whip and refuses to do it and Yeah I mean this is Yeah these are all things that happened while I was hoping that wasn't true but I have a feeling just based on the discussion we've had so far. This is another instance that shows. How so many good people get stuck in absolutely impossible situations that we have the luxury of not having to worry about as much in the twenty first century. I mean Solomon has no interest in getting patsy. He knows he doesn't do the whipping. Though that APPs is GonNa do the whipping in EPS is going to do it far harder right. Yeah I can't. It's an impossible situation. There's no there's no winning. You can't win going back to the movie. While working on episodes plantation Salman meets a man by the name of Bass. He's played by Brad Pitt. Right away bass is a different person. We find out that he doesn't believe in slavery. He even confronts EPS with the saying that even though the law says that a white man can own a black man the law lies and he tells APPs that in the eyes of God. There's no difference kind of what we alluded to before where towns like he's using scripture as a reason for why this is an evil thing both human and there's GonNa come a time when the law changed it's the way that bass kind of phrases that to APPs of course in the movie it doesn't change his mind but Solomon overhearing this. It's gives him the confidence to confide and Bass and he tells them the true story he says. My name isn't Platt which is what everybody had called him. My Name is Solomon North up and I'm a free man from York and he asks bass to write a letter to his friends up in the north on his behalf. Movie doesn't do a real deep dive into who bass is but he seems to play a pretty major role in Solomon story even if it is a small role in the movie but it's a major role assuming that that actually happened in the overall story for. Solomon what do we know about who he was and the parts that we saw in the movie from a historical perspective so again broad strokes here pretty good bass is a Canadian middle aged. I think something that isn't brought up enough in the film for my historical liking again. -gratulations to the filmmakers Johar. Hard thing to do but being an abolitionist which is what bass is. That's crazy. Talk at this point in history or in the eighteen fifty or even coming up to the civil war in my experience in the classroom and other conversations. I've come to have the impression that Americans seem to think that it was the anti-slavery north versus the pro slavery south and the civil war. And that just gives way too much credit to most northerners to be really honest. You had anti-slavery people in the north but even anti-slavery was to be distinguished from someone who has an actual abolitionist being anti-slavery meant that you don't like it but and you're probably opposed to spreading to new. Us territories which is a major fight happening in the United States in the eighteen fifties. Ottawa builds up to the civil war. But actually being an abolitionist to says not only do we not want slavery to expand. We want to see slavery. Your advocated want that system wiped out where it exists. Those people are considered full on radicals. And they're quite rare so bass is a truly fascinating character and once again the type of person who ito these people exist in real life? We often use these. Large blanket. Know descriptions of say Democrats Republic's hands or he'll people in the south people and we often lose sight that there are people who disagree with the majority opinion within each of these sorts of religious political country Yo camps that are at might be so the idea that you'd get this Canadian abolitionist working in the south. It's only real life can be stranger than fiction like this. You know. He's absolutely out of place and yet here we are so it takes weeks though weeks of him working on absence land and talking with APPS and talking with Epson Way to only a white man can right. He talks to APPs as his equal. He's this skilled worker. Who's been been brought here to work? And he's able to do this with solvent Solomon's Great Carpenter and as they worked together. Salman has heard passes diatribes against slavery. He slowly thinks. You know what I'm ready to do this. I'm going to risk my life. And tell him the truth and he eases into even by saying that. I've actually been to Canada and vast kind of goes. Yeah sure you have been then solvents starts describing places in Canada and New York and you know again. This is the nineteenth century right Google maps. You know there's you know these sorts of things about these regions having been there and that's when bass kind of positive. Whoa hold up. This is serious. You're not kidding. And so then he tells them yeah tells them the whole deal and bass puts himself at great risk in helping. He gets a letter off. They continue to work together for weeks. They don't know whether or not it's right. You know this is an email that says since it's not a text message there's no tracking number and the letter that yet so they don't even know. Is HE GONNA get there when it gets there? It's been over a decade to Solomon even know. Sure there's gotta be some people in the town that still know him. But what if the the flu has come through and and killed you know the very people to whom he's writing and that sort of thing so it does get there and and you know the scene that we see in the movie. I think is really quite. Well done. Solomon's friend no relation At least not that I recall but quincy generally same last name. This is Henry North Up. He shows up with his lawyer. You know they've gotten the letter and they move quickly once they get there because of course they're sure that while. Apps is now going to roll over and do the right thing if you will you know right. He's already proven that exactly so they wait for the weekend and it's twelve o one on a Monday morning so literally one minute past midnight when they go and see a judge. Get the judge. Sign off on a warrant saying okay. Yeah there's a free citizen of New York has been kidnapped and taken here then absolutely. This New York lawyer has the right to extract him back to his home state so they get that squared away. They head over to the plantation where Solomon working and in that scene that you see where the sheriff gets out asks where asks where. Platt is of course last name. He's known by right. And he points to Henry North up and ask solvent. Do you know this guy. It does actually take a minute longer to play out the expect at first blush. But let's remember they haven't seen each other in over a decade and here's solar dream suddenly coming true out of the Blue. He doesn't get taxed. You Know Hey I'm on my way there's no. Eta sent by. Google maps can know Henry on route. So he stares out kind of blinks for a minute then. Finally you hit Henry North. Thank God thank God and in the Sheriff asked a few more questions to really kind of ensure the identity is of course human beings. Enslaved are very expensive so he's got ensure that this is really the case and it's only just a few more questions and finally yeah it's sorted out and so then absence told of of what's happened and Solomon is finally restored to freedom and by then head up to Washington DC where they try to prosecute the You know the scoundrels involved in this whole nightmare and from there they back to New York. I'm curious because in the movie I think it was arms. Beat the other person that was The the white man who like pick sixty four pounds of cotton or something. Solomon initially tried to get his help to write a letter and so that was one of the reasons why at least according to the movie he was so hesitant to go to bass later on because when he went to arms arms we then talked to. Mr Absence brought it to his attention. Do we know if he had tried? He explained his story to anybody before. Basser was he. The first one is the first one. He's really laid this out. There with key did get a sailor when he was first being transported down to Louisiana on the way there was a sailor that he was able to get the story too. So this is the very beginning of this twelve years ago and this sailor was willing to write a letter and did so however it was almost maybe offering a little bit of closure to his family sort of thing at best because the sailor and Solomon. They don't know where he's headed. They just know. He's being transported south. So now he's a needle in a haystack. Sure the family. Can you know at least know? That Solomon didn't leave them but they don't even know what state is in house even begin to look. That was the one at least successful ladder. He is forgive me. I I You know as I said earlier sometimes watching the movie in review the sources trying to recall in. If I am mistaken on that I do apologize. I don't recall him. Approaching arms be But it has been drilled into his mind at this point he knows not to say he's from the north he knows not to mention that he's literate. It's illegal to teach a slave how to read and write El Al. Oh Yeah it's By the time we know in the civil war plenty of very intelligent incapable black Americans. That don't know how to read and write it. Because of course education is one of the great ways to someone with the power to fight for themselves so you can see where slave systems would make laws that prohibited slaves from reading writing. I hadn't thought about it that way but yeah that makes sense. I mean you control the information. One thing that stood out to me throughout the entire movie was. There's no sense of a timeline to it. We we get that a bit in the very beginning that tells us the date but then after that there's no years there's no dates or anything like that. That are given which I think when I was watching this. It really helped. Add to this story sometimes. Like Oh man you know how much time has actually passing here but in that way just putting yourself in his shoes. You're not gonNA have a phone that that gives you the time all right so it helps add to the story that you're as lost as he is in some way in that way of you know not really knowing how much time actually has passed. I guess you could keep track of day and night cycles but I mean you can only keep track of that manually for so long right before you start to lose track things but I also know from looking back at history and having done this podcast for awhile that one of the key things that movies like to do a lot of times is to change the time line in order to shift things around again. We're trying to fit twelve years into an hour two hours right. So there's going to be timeline shifting in that way but now that we have a better idea of the overall story and some of the things that actually happened of course title of movie title of the Book. We know that the story was roughly twelve years. Can you give us kind of a bullet point of the events that we see in the movie and where in that twelve years it took place? Yeah I mean it's pretty sketched because he doesn't often but the broad strokes here is April eighteen forty one when he gets to Washington. Dc The next month. He's on his way down to New Orleans. And he sneaks off that letter that I just mentioned a moment ago you know through it through sailor by winter of eighteen forty two. That's win tibbets comes into the picture and again we already went through that complicated scenario. So that's where he's Mortgaged out situation than April of eighteen. Forty three is win. He has purchased by APPs and this is where things really just become broad because he's owned by ups for the next ten years and in fact the autobiography at least the edition. I have it in the way the page Asian is worked out. It's a little over two hundred pages. The first fifty or so are just his capture. It's where he's got a lot of the details and there's a lot of things happening. I think we fall into a little bit of not to downplay the severity and the the suffering of of slavery But by the time we're to APPs he's into the monotony of as well so there's just less details I guess it could sorry days running together. You just lose track of time. Yes precisely so you don't have these big markers in your mind. Shifts where WHOA. I'm being sent to an entirely different. You know plantation. I'm doing a very different job. Not The his jobs didn't change as you know is is even shown in the movie where he's moving things down rivers at one point and sometimes he's a carpenter sometimes he's in the field but yet he that's that's where we have apps and then of course. January of eighteen fifty three is when he regains his freedom now at the very end of the movie as very often the case. There's some text on the screen. Explains what happens to Solomon after being kidnapped and sold into slavery and according to the movie. Solomon brought the men responsible for his kidnapped to trial or mention that little bit briefly but it also says that he was unable to testify because testifying against whites in Washington. Dc was illegal. And so neither Mr Hamilton. Or Mr Browner prosecuted basically they just got away with their crimes absolutely really was Washington. Dc during civil war. That was a a northern union area. Right correct does that go back to what you're talking about earlier where it's not necessarily these divided lines of you know. There's no racism in the north and in the south it's slavery it does get back to that so when the civil war even happens the border states which are states whether they're slavery based on break off of slavery basically goes in gradation from the north where there is. I'm actually going to say almost no slavery. The northern states something is often forgotten by people did in fact permit slavery before the American Revolution in shortly after their largely non slave based economies. They just didn't have the right climate for it. It made no sense. You can't have a massive plantation in New England so the idea of owning a bunch of slaves and getting really rich off of just didn't fly so you didn't have a robust usage of slavery as such. They were more inclined to ended. You know as as their ushering in this new nation based upon the idea that all men are created equal liberty all these beautiful things that we think of when we think of the United States are we idealize about nation. The North was ready to end slavery. So they did gradual emancipation with a said in most states in this was done on state by state basis. They usually said okay. Anyone born into slavery after X. Year eighteen hundred eighteen o five etcetera will only be enslaved until they turned twenty five or twenty three or whatever and then they're free and any children are born free. And so this a setup those who did on slaves in the north to anticipate the shift that was coming repair their houses economically. If you will so you actually had just a very few. I'm talking over ninety years old slaves in some of the northern states. I I think the figures under a hundred people even but some some souls you know who were born in the seventeen ninety s or earlier still stolen slave. If they do get into the borders we start to get into states that have climate where slavery can make some money and they rely less on slavery and they tended to be more inclined to stick with the Union. Virginia was on the border with this in a very literal sense. And that's where the counties that now you'll broke off. It became the state of West Virginia. Did so because they were interested in leaving the union. They didn't really use slavery as much whereas other parts of the state were ready to go with. The confederacy and Virginia was one of the last jump on the confederate bandwagon of into the deep south. So sorry that's more explanation than you want to bear. But what I'm trying to situate at Washington. Dc had slavery had a robust slave slave auctions and many like Abraham Lincoln when he was a congressman representing Illinois. He even tried to pass a bill. That would have ended. Slavery in DC. Didn't happen couldn't make it happen. Didn't happen until he became president. In fact so yeah. There's a big slave market in D. C. In slavery still exists there even when the civil war breaks out. It's you know Kentucky. Is this border state. That never officially goes really one way or the other. And that's part of the awkwardness. Abraham Lincoln has the civil war when he gets to the emancipation proclamation. He's trying to keep his border states from joining the essay. Which is what's going to happen if he comes down to harshly on slavery. He's trying to keep the Democrats happy who don't want enslave religious. Want PRESERVE THE UNION. But then he's also got abolition saying okay. We're already going to war over Sherwood says state's rights but really slavery is these state right. There were fighting over here. Let's end slavery. All those tensions are boiling at the same time. It really helps paint another aspect of the picture of why Solomon's kidnappers would have gone that extra step to provide him the paper's going to Washington. Dc just as that extra layer of helping him feel safe and why those papers were unnecessary part of that. There's a little bit more about Solomon there at the very end talking about after he wrote his book which published in Eighteen fifty three to tell his story. Then it says that he lectured on slavery and even helped free some slaves in the underground railroad and then we find out at the very end. That's the date location. And circumstances of Solomon's death are unknown. That True Ya. He just kind of disappears from history. We look at him now and think. Wow An amazing American yet. What a hero as I said earlier in this very interview right. I mean I will never forget. The first time I read father's a slave I was moved to tears multiple times It really opened my eyes to this earlier on my my education. I didn't know nearly as much about the American slave system for the civil war Went when I read it. But it's not like Americans at the time saw this great hero in fact northerners. This is really fascinating at the end of his autobiography. He actually says you know some people in the north. They don't believe my story. They think this is insane. There's no way that Americans are this cruel to their fellow Americans who are enslaved. Which not that. They would think of it that way. Right more more likely they would just think of it as their slaves as a lesser class so northern can't even wrap their heads often even those who aren't abolitionist. They might not even be anti-slavery me they just don't care one way or the other but part of why they don't care. They just cannot fathom that the cruelty is described in. His autobiography are real. And people do this. These are contemporaries. They don't believe him and a solvent even says you know if anything I might have downplayed some of the cruelty that exists within the slave system. Partly because I realized people can't quite wrap their heads around it so he's not the hero that we see today at the time and he is able to disappear from the pages of history in a weird way. This is no knock on uncle. Tom's cabin but Harriet Beecher stowe her book comes out. I believe just after its time as Solomon's book and is Popular and well read as Solomon's book. Is You know. His actual autobiography her book. Which is kind of a fiction. I mean it's a composite a fictional story but it's based on the experiences of a number of slaves stitch together a towed into one succinct flowing narrative. But Harry it's book eclipses Solomon's so he kinda drops out of the picture that's part of how he ended up getting buried and partly thanks to the film. we've certainly talked about some of the weaknesses of the film in again. I'll save Mr. Ford is the one who drew the short Straw. But God bless the filmmakers for getting Salman story in front of Americans to you know to even think through these things and in grappling with challenges it to the screen. Yeah well thank you so much for your time to chat about twelve years a slave my pleasure at leads right into your podcast where I know you told Solomon Story and I. I love when I was listening to podcasts. I love that. It's a very different historical. Podcast is not just historical facts but you do a great job of telling the stories of history can share a little bit of information about your podcast and where someone listening can subscribe absolutely so history that doesn't suck and of course it's all the usual places that you'll find podcast. It and spotify and all that jazz website is history that doesn't suck dot com and we're on instagram twitter facebook on the works basically. I feel strongly that as great as we are doing. Today is professional historians at telling accurate history. I think we've sometimes let the stories actually slip out L. But we forget that. That's what draws people in that we are a species that love story so while. I keep the rigor the researches it's like I'm writing a research paper but I make sure that I rap all the the things that you might not find his fun to memorize like tax policy during the revolution. I wrap it up with the personal narrative like Patrick Henry Net situation get himself into hot water over the Stamp Act so you can get invested in Patrick and you know you accidentally pick up. The facts on the stamp acted at sitting firm. Yeah EXACTLY LEARN ABOUT TAXES. Get exactly exactly so thank you. It's it's been fun to do. It's been great to see growing. And this is my passion. You'll making making history fine accessible but keeping rigorous all at once at least. That's what I aim for. Thanks again so much for your time. My pleasure this episode of based on a true story was produced by me down the FAB. I'd like to thank Greg Jackson for his time and expertise in helping US separate fact from fiction in the movie. Twelve years a slave. If you WANNA learn more incredible stories from history including a deeper dive into Solomon Northrop's story go subscribe to Greg's podcast called history that doesn't suck and of course if you're driving or unable to head there right now. I'll make sure to add a link to Greg's podcast in the show notes for this episode as well as on the shows home on the web based on a true story. Podcast DOT COM. Okay now it's time for the answer to our troops and ally game from the beginning of the episode needs a refresher. Here are the truth and one light number. One Solomon was kidnapped from New York and take into Louisiana where he was sold as a slave number two. The character of Patsy in the movie was based on very real events. Number Three Bass helped Solomon gained his freedom by writing letter to Solomon's friends in the north. Did you find out which one is ally? Let's start with number. Three Bass helped Solomon gain his freedom by writing a letter to Solomon's friends in the north. That is true as Greg explained the character of Bass in the movie was based on a real person from Canada. Who was a strong abolitionist? When he found out Solomon was describing places in Canada and New York. That only someone who had visited those places could know about bass started to believe Salman Story and on the other side. Solomon started to believe that he could trust bass because he overheard bass talking to Mr EPPs so much about how wrong slavery was bass than helped. Solomon write a letter to his friends back in the north to see if they could help and that was the beginning of the end of Solomon's horrible years as a slave that brings us to number one Solomon was kidnapped from New York and taken to Louisiana where he was sold as a slave. That is well. That's the light even though Solomon was from New York he traveled to Washington. Dc with two men who orchestrated his kidnapping so it was from DC. That Solomon was kidnapped and sold to slave owners in Louisiana. That means number two is also true. The character of Patsy in the movie was based on very real events. Unfortunately the horrific story that we saw on screen with patsy that happened and it was a painful reminder of just how how terrible the situations where that. Solomon and all those sold into slavery faced that just about wraps up our time today but before we go. The last thing I liked to do on each episode is to share how much time and effort went into creating this episode. I know that is not something that most podcast do. And that's exactly why I'm sharing this information. If there's one thing that is surprising to most people who are new podcasting beginning podcasters or even if you've never created a podcast before when I tell somebody how much time and effort it takes to create a single episode. That is really what surprises them. The most so I figure maybe if you find out more about how much time money and effort it takes to create a podcast like this one. 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Solomon Northop William Ford Salman north Salomon tibbets Mr Freeman New York United States Ford Louisiana Mr EPPs Patsy Mr Brown Platt Mr Four Frederick Douglass Mr Ford Hollywood Washington