A Key to Chapter 31

Stowe provides further details about her story based on actual events in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Chapter 31:

In A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe relays the life and story of Solomon Northrop, a free coloured citizen from Saratoga Springs, NY, who falls to sleep one night in a Gadsby hotel room and wakes up the next morning chained to the floor and handcuffed in the William’s slave pen somewhere in Washington City, having been kidnapped:

“The principle which declares that one human being may lawfully hold another as property leads directly to the trade in human beings; and that trade has, among its other horrible results, the temptation to the crime of kidnapping.

Around the trader are continually passing and repassing men and women who would be worth to him thousands of dollars in the way of trade—who belong to a class whose rights nobody respects, and who, if reduced to slavery, could not easily make their word good against him. The probability is that hundreds of free men and women and children are all the time being precipitated into slavery in this way.”

Solomon was instrumental in recounting how slave women were whipped and hence scarred as punishment and was eventually able to write a letter to a man he knew back home, who then was able to help free him from the South.

“When Solomon was about to leave, under the care of Mr. Northrop, this girl came from behind her hut, unseen by her master, and, throwing her arms around the neck of Solomon, congratulated him on his escape from slavery, and his return to his family;
at the same time, in language of despair, exclaiming, “But, O God! what will become of me?”

Had not Northrop been able to write, as few of the free blacks in the slave States are, his doom might have been sealed for life in this den of misery.”

The full story of both connections can be read in Chapter 8 Part III   “Kidnapping”  of A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Chapter and Commentary Table of Contents


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