This is the true story of Solomon Northup, who was born and raised as a freeman in New York. He explains his kidnapping in Washington, D.C., and subsequent sale into slavery. After having been kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana by various masters, Northup was able to write to friends and family in New York, who were in turn able to secure his release. Northup's account provides extensive details on the slave markets in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans and describes at length cotton and sugar cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana. His extraordinary journey proves the resiliency of hope and the human spirit despite the most grueling and formidable of circumstances.