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In 1850 slaves were typically used for hard labor in plantations and once the “owner” didn’t need them anymore they would sell them which would cause the slave to leave their family and it was usually a goodbye and a not see you later. Being a slave you had no idea what would come ahead. You could be getting punished one minute and the next you could be getting sold to another plantation. In this essay I will be explaining the crimes that both Nat Turner and Celia committed and I will give a recommendation on which one should not be executed.
Nat Turner was born into slavery in deep southern Virginia, Southhampton. Nat grew up in a typical slave life. He had little freedom, he couldn’t marry, vote, own property, or earn money. Nat was a spiritual leader for his fellow slaves at his plantation when he was in his twenties. Turner had a vision, “I saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle…” Nat Turner thought that God was giving him a vision saying that he would need to do an insurrection, an uprising or battle against authority or the Government. Turner was living with the Travis family which he said were a kind master and he gave turner great confidence in himself. However, the night the Travis family ate dinner with Nat after they all went to sleep Nat and the other fellow slaves went in and murdered them.
Nat Turner, Henry, and Will, fellow slaves, went plantation to plantation and murdered their white families including women and children. Age and sex were to be spared through this uprising. Turner was determined to start his journey towards Jerusalem. Nat had a group of fifty to sixty fellow slaves all mounted and armed with guns, axes, swords and clubs. As they started towards Mr. James W. Parker’s house they were met by a party of white men who had fired on those at the gate and dispersed of them. Turner and his men all formed and halted to Turner’s command and the white men started to walk towards them, eighteen to be exact, and one of them fired against the Captains command. “I scratched. Hole under a pile of fence rails in a field, where I concealed myself for six weeks…”. Nat Turner decided to hide-out and only leave for a few minutes at a time to go get water. He was soon captured and taken into prison and he was tried.
Now too Celia who got bought by Robert Newsom when she was fourteen. Robert bought her because his wife had passed away and he needed a new sexual partner. The same night he bought her he rapes her. In the book, Celia, a Slave says, “Modern research indicates that rape victims experience a variety of responses; fear, rage, an overpowering sense of violation, sometimes helplessness, and a loss of self-esteem.” Celia began to have a relationship with Robert for about five years but she also began to have a relationship with another slave, George. She soon became pregnant but didn’t know who was the father. George gave her an ultimatum saying she needs to stop talking to Robert or he will stop talking to her.
“Celia reached into the corner and retrieved the large stick that she had placed there earlier in the afternoon precisely for the purpose of defending herself should Newsom ignore her warnings.” She began to hit him and then burned his body to hide the evidence cause she knew what would happen to her if anyone found out that she killed her “master.” Eventually they found out and she was going to be tried for the murder of her “master.” Celia’s attorney, Jameson, came up with a defense about how Celia could legally defend herself from rape. Jameson also uses witnesses to provide evidence that Celia was being sexually assaulted by Robert Newsom. In 1850 the debate over slavery has increased. The Kansas-Nebraska act has just been passed which allows the residents of the state to vote on whether or not slavery should be allowed in their state. Also this was part of the abolition movement which was going through out America and it was to abolish slavery for good. At this time whites were terrified of the uprisings slaves were doing.
In conclusion over Nat Turner and Celia on which one should be given a more merciful punishment. I would have to recommend that Celia gets the merciful punishment. Because she was raped by her “master” and she got pregnant by him or George her other lover. Celia did nothing wrong she was protecting herself against harm and after she repeatedly said no to him he kept pushing towards her and finally she had to use harm unfortunately. Yes she was a slave and this was her “master” Robert Newsom, but she had to draw the line because she wanted to stick with George. In the book Celia, a Slave they say, “Black female slaves were essentially powerless in a slave society, unable to legally protect themselves from the physical assaults of either white or black males…”. The book also says, “Indeed, conviction was impossible since slave women were not protected from rape by law, no matter the color of her attacker.”
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