Civil War & Reconstruction Trail to Freedom Solomon Northrup in Stafford

Solomon Northrup in Stafford

Prior to the two “Trail to Freedom” exoduses during the Civil War, Stafford’s Aquia Landing witnessed other enslaved persons attempting freedom.  Solomon Northrup was the subject of the movie, “12 Years a Slave.” (The movie received an Oscar for best picture!)  Solomon Northup’s autobiography detailed that he was a free-born black in New York who owned land and became a farmer and violinist.  He was kidnapped by slave-traders in 1851, after being offered a well-paying job as a violinist.  He traveled with his “proposed employers” to D.C. where he was drugged, sold into slavery, and purchased by James Burch, a notorious slave trader.  In the district he woke up finding himself in “a slave pen within the very shadow of the Capitol!”  From the district, Solomon was placed in a steamboat which traveled to Aquia Landing. He, four other “slaves,” and Burch departed Aquia via stage coach.  They traveled along today’s Brooke Road, across Chatham Bridge, and went to the train station in Fredericksburg.  They boarded a train and traveled on to Richmond where Solomon was shipped to New Orleans. A Louisiana plantation owner purchased him.  He remained in that state until he got his freedom a dozen years later.   (In his autobiography he detailed his time at Aquia Landing.)