12 Years a Slave

William Ford Character Analysis

Ford is Solomon’s first master, as well as Solomon’s only kind and compassionate master. Ford purchases Solomon (whom he knows only as Platt), along with a slave named Harry and another named Eliza, from slave dealer Theophilus Freeman. Ford is married to Mistress Ford, whom he treats with tenderness and love. A fatherly, devout Christian man, Ford treats his slaves like family, and his slaves consider him their father figure in return. Ford frequently acts as Solomon’s protector even after Solomon is sold to the erratic, hard-to-please John Tibeats. Solomon deeply respects Ford and knows that he only owns slaves and is a proponent of slavery because of his environment—had he grown up in the North, Solomon believes that he would certainly be against slavery.

William Ford Quotes in 12 Years a Slave

The 12 Years a Slave quotes below are all either spoken by William Ford or refer to William Ford. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Graymalkin Media edition of 12 Years a Slave published in 2014.
Chapter 7 Quotes

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 fathers before him, he saw things in the same light. Brought up under other circumstances and influences, his notions would undoubtedly have been different.

Related Characters: Solomon Northup (speaker), William Ford
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

It is not the fault of the slaveholder that he is cruel, so much as it is the fault of the system under which he lives. He cannot withstand the influence of habit and associations that surround him. Taught from earliest childhood, by all that he sees and hears, that the rod is for the slave’s back, he will not be apt to change his opinions in mature years.

Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
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William Ford Character Timeline in 12 Years a Slave

The timeline below shows where the character William Ford appears in 12 Years a Slave. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...eventually returned to Freeman’s slave pen, they are examined by a potential buyer named William Ford. He asks many of the slaves “if [they] thought [they] would like to live with... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Solomon tells his reader that Ford is a Baptist preacher and is known for being kind and morally upright. Solomon asserts,... (full context)
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As Solomon travels with Ford and the other slaves to Ford’s home in the Great Pine Woods, Solomon considers telling... (full context)
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Eventually, the group comes upon Ford’s household. The property is a “quiet, lonely, pleasant place” and is “a green spot in... (full context)
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Christianity Theme Icon
Ford takes it upon himself to read scripture to his slaves and teach them to treat... (full context)
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One day, while manufacturing lumber under the guidance of Ford’s foreman, Adam, Solomon comes up with the idea of transporting the lumber on the stream... (full context)
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One day, Mistress Ford asks Ford for a loom so that the slaves can make cloth. Solomon asks to... (full context)
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Solomon thinks he would be happy serving Ford all his life if his family were there with him. He warns the reader that... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Ford runs into financial troubles, partially due to having to pay Tibeats for all of his... (full context)
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Solomon accompanies his new master, Tibeats, to Ford’s plantation on Bayou Boeuf, which is nearly thirty miles from Ford’s home in the Great... (full context)
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...that he received. Asserting his authority as overseer of the plantation, Chapin reminds Tibeats that Ford holds a mortgage on Solomon. Tibeats’ companions quickly ride off, and are followed a few... (full context)
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...When the slave arrives, Chapin tells him to ride as quickly as he can to Ford’s home and tell him that Tibeats is trying to murder Platt (Solomon). 11000 (full context)
Chapter 9
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Much to Solomon’s relief, Ford arrives and frees Solomon from the ropes. Moments later, Tibeats and his two companions also... (full context)
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Tibeats hires Solomon out to Peter Tanner, Ford’s brother-in-law, whom Solomon immediately dislikes. Although he reads the Bible to his slaves like Ford,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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He decides to turn north-west, aiming for the Great Pine Forest, where Ford lives. Along the way, he runs into a white man at a small plantation. Solomon... (full context)
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...a human), gives him directions and does not demand a pass. Solomon quickly departs, reaching Ford’s home a few hours later. When he arrives, Solomon is in such a sorry state... (full context)
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That evening, Ford listens sympathetically to Solomon’s story about fleeing from Tibeats and traveling through the swamp. Ford... (full context)
Chapter 11
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In the morning, Solomon tends to the garden to show his gratitude. Although Mistress Ford tells Solomon that he need not work and should continue to rest, Solomon still wants... (full context)
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On the fourth morning, Ford and Solomon set off for Bayou Boeuf. Ford rides on horseback while Solomon walks alongside... (full context)
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As Ford and Solomon near Bayou Boeuf, they come across Tibeats on horseback, who turns around and... (full context)
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...even promises that if Solomon works hard and faithfully, he will be able to visit Ford in the course of a few weeks. Right before Solomon is about to embark on... (full context)
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Once at Ford’s plantation, Solomon spends the evening catching up with the other slaves. He is shocked to... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...of a white man. He notes that there are exceptions, like the gentle and empathetic Ford, but that most slave owners become “brutified and reckless of human life.” Solomon asserts that... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...that not all slave owners are cruel like Tibeats or Epps; although rare, slaveholders like Ford and Miss McCoy do exist. (full context)