September 29, 2014
Top: Modern Slavery
"Celia, A Slave" Paper
In the late 19th century slavery was a topic of debate across the nation. Missouri, the state where Celia, a slave, resided at the plantation of her owner Robert Newsom, officially became a slave state in 1820 due to the Missouri Compromise. At this time the slaveholding states feared that if they became outnumbered in Congressional representation that they would lack the power to protect their interests in property and trade. As a result, slavery was prevalent in the lives of those in both free and slave states. The slave-owners during this time period were the most powerful members of society. Agency is acting to control the events around you rather than being controlled by an outside source. Slave laws were set up to specifically prevent slave agency, especially in women, yet in 1855 Celia broke through those barriers.
After reading Celia, A Slave by Melton A. McLaurin, one can conclude that when a slave asserts agency the resulting effects can cause entire communities, and potentially an entire nation, to reassess the thousand-year-old establishment of slavery and especially it's effects on female slaves.
In 1854, Kansas and Nebraska were organized as territories with popular sovereignty (popular vote) to decide the issue of slavery. There was really no debate over the issue in Nebraska, as the territory was filled with settlers from the Midwest, where there was no slavery. In Kansas however, the situation was much different. Although most of the settlers were anti-slave or abolitionists, there were many pro-slave Missourians lurking just over the border who relied upon Kansas's admittance as a slave state. When residents in the territory voted on the issue, many fraudulent votes were cast from Missouri. This triggered the massive violence that...