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Celia, A Slave
Melton McLaurin
Celia was the name of a young female slave, who came to work for a prominent Missouri family called the Newsoms. Robert Newsom, a plantation owner in Callaway, Missouri, purchased her at age 14. Newsom was recently widowed and it seems he purchased Celia, looking for sex. He started raping her after being brought back to the farm. From then on, Newsom "visited" Celia often in a cabin he provided for her which was very close to the main household. Over the years, Celia had two children with Newsom, which he also considered "his property". The interesting thing about Celia’s story is that it recounts a tale of social strife and clearly indicates the fact that slaves were playing with a heavily stacked deck in relation to their Caucasian opposites.

Celia was a slave who wanted to be with a fellow male slave named George. George gave her an ultimatum to stop all sexual relations with their slave master, Robert Newsom or it would be over between them. Given such an ultimatum, Celia had no choice, but to plea to her master to stop or else; Robert Newsom however, did not care as he bought Celia just so he could have sex with her. In the following night, Robert Newsom tried to rape her, but Celia who came prepared used a stick to counter Newsom to scare him. However, Celia ended up mortally wounding Robert Newsom in self-defense. The following morning, family and friends went looking for Robert Newsom. They somehow got the idea to interrogate George. William Powell, another farmer who lived close to the Newsom farm interrogated George. After Powell's interrogation, George ended up pointing the interrogation party to Celia. Celia at first, tried to deny that she knew anything. However, despite tenacious efforts, Celia ended up giving Powell a confession, which would inevitably land her in the courtroom (McLaurin 50-52). Throughout the antebellum period, issue number one was slavery. Celia's trial was surrounded by bitter debate. In...
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