Celia, A slave, is a book published in February 1, 1999, written by Melton A. Mclaurin. This book tells us an incredible history about what happened to slaves in colonial times and how white men treated people with discrimination, desigual and disrespectful where law was often modified in order to benefits white people. Celia was only fifteen years old when she got owned by a man named Newson. A person Owned by another person? Yes, sadly, this is what black people experienced in colonial times. In addition to this, Celia got raped several times by this men.
It was not much later on that she got accused for committing a serious crime which led her to jailing and going through legal processes to fight for her allegation of being guilty. While been in prison, she gave birth to her there baby. Mclaurin was her lawyer defensor that tried to help her through all celia’s trial. After the trial and all the testimony of witness, Hell judge that conducted celia’s case gave his last speech as it follows “The jury had no choice but to arrive at one verdict” (101).
But what was that serious crime that she committed if she was only fifteen years old? Was she really guilty or innocent? Want to find out Celia ending? In this book we will learn and investigate more about the injustices that white people made for their convenience having Celia’s history as reference. I invite you to accompanying me to investigate more about the true facts that slaves live in colonial times and how Celia ending is a clear example of injustice. Book summary
At the beginning of the Chapter one, called ” Beginnings” It tell us a little of information about who Robert Newsom was and what his role in County, Missouri, and in Celia’s life was. In 1819, Newsom immigrated from Virginia along with his wife and two children’s. Upon his arrival he started to work as a farmer along with some slaves that he had acquired. In this chapter it also introduces us another men named John jameson who also played an important role in Celia’s life as her defensor (lawyer).
Jameson emigrated from from Kentucky in 1825. He worked as a lawyer in county, Missouri; however, eventually he acquired a position of minister in the city. Chapter two “The Crime” In 1819, Missouri county wanted to become a state; however, to do so, members of the congress request the county to stop slavery; as a result of this, the county receive this notice with great opposition which lead to an agreement known as “Missouri Compromise” that allowed the county as a slave state.
Consequently, In 1850, Robert Newsoms become owner of four slaves including Celia, four adult men and a fifteen year old boy. Newsoms was known for the relationship with Celia, which he presently bought her since her wife had been dead for two years, as a result of her death, he needed someone to help him with the household tasks. As a result of this, Jameson argued that Newsom bought Celia for sexual purposes because If he was in need of domestic help; he could have get married again. In fact, His daughters lived at the house and he could have received help from them.
Celia was raped by Newsom and then she was separated from the rest of the slaves and put a different room so she can not tell anyone about what happened. During a certain period of time, Celia conceived two kids from Mc Newson; however, she was pregnant with a third one. Jameson also discusses that Newsom children’s suspected about their father raping Celia, but they would not opposite to his father belief. On a Saturday night, June 23, Newsom came to Celia’s room and try to abuse of her; however, Celia refused and hit him with stick on his head which provoked his death.
As she recognized his death; she burned his body in her fireplace, and hidden any notable evidence under the floor. The morning after that night, Celia had Newsoms grandson removed ashes from her fireplace without any knowledge about what happened the night before. Chapter three, “Inquisition” On Sunday, June 24, after his Newsoms daughter’s noticed that his father was missing for breakfast, they asked for help, to William Powell their neighbor, also slave owner.
William Powell was also intrigued about what happened to Newson. Consequently, Newson son joint the search for his father. At the same, Newson’s family was aware about the relationship between Celia and Robert, so he was also questioned;however, Robert denied seeing him. As the group were searching for Newson’s desaparicion, they confronted Celia, after a few negations about seeing newsom, with powell pression, she admitted that Newsom passed by her window hitting him in his head but he went away.
Eventually, Celia admitted that she killed Nesom accidentally and that she burned his body in her fireplace and later on evidence was found in her fireplace. All the evidence found was taken to Virginia Wainscot room where the elements founds including Newson Bones were kept safe. On monday, June 25, A group of men were sent to question the family, including Powell the neighborhood and celia, later on she was guilty and put on jail.
Due the the scandalous of Celia been arrested and taken to jail, local newspapers and the media started to speculate and create fake information such as Newsom was killed in Celia’s kitchen and not in her room. This also provoked fears among the others slaves in the area and made investigators think that not commit the crime by herself and that she needed help to kill Newsom. Moreover, Mclaurin Celia’s defensor believes that nobody in Newsoms family was involucrated in the incident and made wonder everyone what was Newson doing in Celia’s room.
Backdrop” chapter 4, In this chapter is discussed the political rules that were going on in Missouri when celias was been sntenciating so as well as Daniel Atchisons who tried to incorporate Kansas in the agreement of “Missouri Compromise” as a slave states. Chapter 5, “The trial” On October 9, 1855, the judge Williams Augustus Hall from Virginia, who was an active political democrats who had” Strongest Unionist Sentiments” (68). In Missouri. Augustus Conducted Celia’s case, In which John Jameson, Nathan Chapman and Isaac Boulware were assigned as knowledgeably politics choices for the defense of Celia.
McLaurin defensor of Celia said that Williams Hall wanted Celia to had an attorney who was not in her side with ,” One whose Presence would make it difficult for the slavery’s critics to label the trial a farce or shame, and one would not aronse the emotions of Missouri’s more militant pro slavery faction in the process” (70). As Jameson was chosen for Celia’s case, Mclaurin thought that since he was owner of slaves and had two daughters, he would have been more cruel over celia’s case; however, he was not told about celia’s case.
After a long trial and process in celia case with many witness like William Powell, Jameson’s discussed that Celia feared for her life at the time of killing Newsom. Mclaurin thought that Jameson assisted and was fair enough in celia case; however, the judge was not on celia’s side so he argued every line and question that Jamerson presented on celia’s side. In chapter 6 “The verdict” the judge hall gave his last words with the next quote, “The jury had no choice but to arrive at one verdict” (101) in which Celia was guilty in Newsom murder.
Eventually, Celia’s defensor filed a motion on Judge Hall; however, the motion was denied. Celias gave born to her third child in prison. In chapter 7, “Final Disposition” Is in which Celia escaped from jail to trying to avoid her execution so her appeal could take place and could be discussed. Her lawyers knew that she could have been innocent; however, white men performed illegal laws against slaves. After so many intents to avoid her execution, In this chapter is where the execution of Celia’s takes places.
Her hanging took place on december 21, 1855, she was asked if she committed the crime with any help ;however, she refused and said that she acted alone. It is unknown where her body was buried and what happened to her children’s. Review I thought that this books is really helpful to understand and reflect what African-American people went through lives. In fact, some kind of way, I related with the story because I am hispanic and also have brown skin that perhaps made me look like African-American so I know what is being discriminated.
With all the situation going politically today, Celia story is not too different what is we live today. However, slaves or exploitation of people in cultural times was more obvious, instead, today we still have discussing the fact that white people should own more land and get pay more. The Author Melton A. Mclaurin did a great job in his writing, the book structure and word choices are very clear to understand; however, I must that some parts were lacked of evidence and some parts needed a little more of details or facts to make the reader understand fully the story.
Moreover, it also provides exaggerated information such as celia’s burning the the body into her firepot. How come? The body is too big to burn in a fireplace; furthermore, she asked Newsom grandson the morning after the crime to take the ashes out, he would have noticed any rest of the body in the fireplace. Also I believed that there was irrelevant information; for example, chapter 4, in which they talk about trying to incorporate Kansas in the agreement of “Missouri Compromise” slaves stages and some other personages that I did not understand why they were in the story, and that is why I did not write much about the chapter 4.
Even though because of the political situation in which white people had the power and did not recognized equal rights, I believe the book could have been more short at describing more about facts about celia’s trail and deleting political aspects so the reader do not get lost. On the other hand, Even though I read the book in approximately six days, I would not recommend this book for students who only want to read it for a book report. It would be more interesting to read without any rush no thinking about writing a report.