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Rape In Celia, A Slave, By Melton Mclaurin

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Celia’s remarkable and fascinating account illustrates the complex issues that lie in the American foundation of a slaveholding society in Callaway County, Missouri. The slavery system grew into a nightmare of cruelty and abuse during this dark period. In the book Celia, A Slave by Melton McLaurin, the historian succeeds to convey the story of a slave girl by the name of Celia who suffers repeatedly sexual exploitation by her master and ultimately hanged for his murder. This event took place during a dark period of the antebellum America. Celia’s trial opened a new chapter in the world of slavery; socially, politically, and sexually, pushing beyond the limits in a system that didn’t see slaves as humans but viewed as property. McLaurin uses…show more content…
This social issue is a condition that concerned most slave females in society, but there was no law to protect them from such violation. Since there was no law that made slave rape a crime, it was impossible for whites to press charges. He describes how female slaves were sexually assaulted by their owners on a daily basis and at the same time brutally punished. When Celia is first brought, she is raped on the way home and it’s clear that she is to replace Newsom’s wife. Celia suffered this hate crime, rape, repeatedly against her will by her master, giving life to two children. The defence attorney claimed Newsom’s death as a justifiable homicide, an act of self defence “that even a slave woman could resist unwanted sexual advances”. At the same time the defense counsel questioned the competence of a slave woman, “The issue of who controlled access to female slaves held tremendous economic, as well as social significance”. In October 1855, she was sentenced to death by hanging. Many people became outrage by this frustrating case because there was an appeal to the supreme court but the execution was still scheduled to take place. Thus saying McLaurin implies that the rape of a slave woman is seen as insignificant and was justified by the law. The rape of a female slave is not rape but…show more content…
In the book, it reveal that the state of Missouri had a law against rapping woman but that’s only accounted for white females. The only thing that the slaves had was a law that allowed them to defend themselves even if it meant taking a life “the law gave a slave the right to use force to repel physical attacks that threatened his or her life”. Though the laws existed in the state it did not help Celia during her trial. Rape by a white man meant that the slave would have to testify. Celia did receive legal representation yet the lawyers could not adequately defend her because slaves were not allowed to testify in court nor get the full testimony answering the question “why kill Robert Newsom in the first place” . The evidence that would have helped her case was allowed but wasn’t used in her trail. In the dynamics of slavery, this book emphasize that the laws only protected the slave owner and that the only law slaves had failed to protect
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