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Brad Brink Prof Wheeler History 221 November 20 2000 Moral Dilemmas of Celia A Slave Melton McLaurins book Celia A Slave is the account of the trial conviction and execution of a female slave for the murder of her master in 1855 The author uses evidence compiled through studying documents from Callaway County Missouri and the surrounding area during the middle of the Nineteenth Century Although much of what we can determine about this event is merely speculation we are able to guess the motives that contribute to the way in which many of the events unfold Because of the details of the trial many of the people involved probably faced several difficult decisions that led to the outcome of the trial During the 1850s the United States was involved in a heated debate over the issue of slavery Many of the residents of Missouri and nearby Kansas were fighting for or against the institution of slavery The outcome of this trial was important because it could have a tremendous affect upon the way the legal system in Missouri viewed the rights of slaves and the ways in which they would be forced to interpret the laws of the State in regard to how they where to apply to slaves The first of the main characters we are introduced to is Celias master Robert Newsom Mr Newsom was a wealthy landowner in Callaway County In 1850 after the death of his wife Robert Newsom purchased a fourteen year old slave girl from nearby Audrain County The purpose as far as McLaurin can tell for her purchase was as a replacement for Robert Newsoms wife From the time that Newsom first acquires Celia he begins to rape her on a regular basis Although it was generally accepted as being morally wrong for a slave master to sexually abuse a slave Robert Newsom seems to view her as his property to do with as he pleased
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