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Celie

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Mclaurin, Celia, A Slave. New York: Avon Books, 1991. Celia, A Slave describes the hardships and trials about a slave named Celia. She is 14 years old and is owned by Robert Newsom, a wealthy white man and his family. When Celia arrives she already knows how to cook and clean. Celia works under the supervision of Virginia and Mary, who are Newsom’s daughters. Robert Newsom already owns five slaves before journeying to Audrain County in the summer of 1850 to purchase Celia. Robert Newsom decides that he is going to be wealthy so he decides to move his family out of Virginia. This move for Newsom was “the promise of a better life that lends him and his family to Callaway County in Missouri” (p.2). When Newsom and his family arrive in Callaway between “1819 and 1822” (p. 2) he purchases land to help build his wealth. Missouri in 1855 was a slave state that was working towards becoming a free state. Life for Robert Newsom came to an end “June 23, 1855” (p.33) when his life is taken by Celia. Newsom and his family settle in Callaway Missouri and he builds his plantation and becomes wealthy. In the summer of 1850 he loses his wife. He is content because he is a “prosperous man, the owner of eight hundred acres according to the census” (p. 9). Newsom owns five male slaves. He realizes he needs a female companion to fulfill the womanly duties around his planation. He travels to Audrain County. Newsom purchases Celia so that she can cook, and clean. Celia becomes the property of Newsom. Celia does not know what Robert Newsom has in store for her and on their journey back to Callaway County she is raped by Newsom. Celia is continually raped until she is pregnant. Life on the plantation for Celia was different from the other slaves because she has to meet all his needs Celia has a cabin in the back of Newsom’s plantation. Robert Newsom walks to Celia’s cabin at nights where he continues to rape her for the next five years. Celia finds comfort from George, who is a slave who Newsom owned before he purchased Celia. Celia and George fall in love and at nights George visits Celia and stays a couple of hours or stays all night. Celia becomes pregnant and George is very envious because they are not sure if the baby is George’s or Newsom’s. George becomes furious and demands Celia find a way from getting exploited by Newsom. Slaves in the 18th century did not have rights as far as how their masters treated them. Missouri law stated that it was a crime to take a woman by force. This law did not apply to slaves and therefore Robert Newsom could whatever he chose to do and he continues to rape Celia. Celia does not want to lose George but she wants Newsom to stop raping her. She goes to Virginia and Mary to seek their help in stopping Newsom from raping her while she is pregnant. She does not tell the women she is pregnant but tells them she is sick. Celia mentions to the daughters that if Newsom does not stop she will hurt him. On June 23, 1855, Newsom walks to Celia’s cabin were he plans to sexually assault her. When he arrives at the cabin, Celia strikes him in the head and he falls to the ground. She had intended to scare him but instead she has killed her master. A petrified Celia realizes she what she has done and has to think quickly because she knows his family will be looking for him. Celia decides to dispose of Newsom’s body by burning his remains in the fireplace. The daughters are worried and set out to search for their father. All attention is directed toward George because he has been pressuring Celia to take care of the situation. However, George leads the authorities to Celia and the investigation begins. After a few hours of questioning Celia she pleads guilty to murdering Robert Newsom, but states it is self-defense because Newsom has sexually assault her for over five years. Celia’s trial takes place. Judge Williams Hall is in charge of the case. Testimony is given for both sides. In closing arguments Celia’s attorneys argue self-defense on the other hand prosecution states no evidence proof that Newsom is sexually assaulting Celia. In state of Missouri in 1850 it was a law declaring blacks incompetent in cases against whites, There was a law if any slave lifted their hands against a white they were to be punished per the law. The jury finds Celia guilty and sentences her to be hung. Celia’s attorneys file an appeal and it is denied. Celia’s trial brought a lot of attention to Missouri especially proslavery and anti- slave groups. On “December 21, 1855 around 2:30pm Celia was hung to death by a gallows” (p. 135).…...

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