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Celia was only fourteen years old when she was acquired by John Newsom, an aging widower and one of the most prosperous and respected citizens of Callaway County, Missouri. The pattern of sexual abuse that would mark their entire relationship began almost immediately. After purchasing Celia in a neighboring county, Newsom raped her on the journey back to his farm. He then established her in a small cabin near his house and visited her regularly (most likely with the knowledge of the son and two daughters who lived with him). Over the next five years, Celia bore Newsom two children; meanwhile, she became involved with a slave named George and resolved at his insistence to end the relationship with her master. When Newsom refused, Celia one night struck him fatally with a club and disposed of his body in her fireplace.
Her act quickly discovered, Celia was brought to trial. She received a surprisingly vigorous defense from her court-appointed attorneys, who built their case on a state law allowing women the use of deadly force to defend their honor. Nevertheless, the court upheld the tenets of a white social order that wielded almost total control over the lives of slaves. Celia was found guilty and hanged.
Melton A. McLaurin uses Celia's story to reveal the tensions that strained the fabric of antebellum southern society. Celia's case demonstrates how one master's abuse of power over a single slave forced whites to make moral decisions about the nature of slavery. McLaurin focuses sharply on the role of gender, exploring the degree to which female slaves were sexually exploited, the conditions that often prevented white women from stopping such abuse, and the inability of male slaves to defend slave women. Setting the case in the context of the 1850s slavery debates, he also probes the manner in which the legal system was used to justify slavery. By granting slaves certain statutory rights (which were usually rendered meaningless by the customary prerogatives of masters), southerners could argue that they observed moral restraint in the operations of their peculiar institution.
An important addition to our understanding of the pre-Civil War era, Celia, A Slave is also an intensely compelling narrative of one woman pushed beyond the limits of her endurance by a system that denied her humanity at the most basic level.
Nativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory
Often called Lee's greatest triumph, the battle of Chancellorsville decimated the Union Eleventh Corps, composed of large numbers of German-speaking volunteers. Poorly deployed, the unit was routed by StonewallJackson and became the scapegoat for the Northern defeat, blamed by many on the flightof German immigrant troops. The impact on America's large German community was devastating. But there is much more to the story than that. Drawing for the first time on German-language newspapers, soldiers' letters, memoirs, and regimental records, Christian Keller reconstructs the battle and its aftermath from the German-American perspective, military and civilian. He offers a fascinating window into a misunderstood past, one where the German soldiers' valor has been either minimized or dismissed as cowardly. He critically analyzes the performance of the German regiments and documents the impact of nativism on Anglo-American and German-American reactions-and on German self-perceptions as patriots and Americans. For German-Americans, the ghost of Chancellorsville lingered long, and Keller traces its effects not only on ethnic identity, but also on the dynamics of inclusion andassimilation in American life.
A Legal History Documentary Reader
Edited collection of primary sources from America’s transformative Civil War and Reconstruction period that document the profound legal changes that took place during the Civil War era but also highlight how law, society, and politics inextricably mixed and set American legal development on particular paths that were not predetermined.
The Collected Writings of Catharine Brown, 1818-1823
Catharine Brown (1800–1823) became Brainerd Mission School’s first Cherokee convert to Christianity, a missionary teacher, and the first Native American woman whose own writings saw extensive publication in her lifetime. After her death from tuberculosis at age twenty-three, the missionary organization that had educated and later employed Brown commissioned a posthumous biography, Memoir of Catharine Brown, which enjoyed widespread contemporary popularity and praise.
In the following decade, her writings, along with those of other educated Cherokees, became highly politicized and were used in debates about the removal of the Cherokees and other tribes to Indian Territory. Although she was once viewed by literary critics as a docile and dominated victim of missionaries who represented the tragic fate of Indians who abandoned their identities, Brown is now being reconsidered as a figure of enduring Cherokee revitalization, survival, adaptability, and leadership.
In Cherokee Sister Theresa Strouth Gaul collects all of Brown’s writings, consisting of letters and a diary, some appearing in print for the first time, as well as Brown’s biography and a drama and poems about her. This edition of Brown’s collected works and related materials firmly establishes her place in early nineteenth-century culture and her influence on American perceptions of Native Americans.
The Story of the Apache Warrior Who Captured Herman Lehmann
A hybrid work that straddles popular history and serious scholarship, “1893 Chicago” focuses in some depth on important people, places, events, and developments that made 1893 one of Chicago’s greatest years. In addition to the famous Columbian Exposition that took place that year, there were also a surprising number of impressive developments in art, architecture, literature, sports, education, business, political reform, sanitation engineering, medicine, and more. In a sense, 1893 was the year in which Chicago transitioned from being simply a busy Midwestern city to a world metropo
The 90th Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War
This thoroughly documented, comprehensive regimental history describes the battles and movements of Chicago’s Irish Catholic Volunteer Regiment in the Western campaigns of the Civil War from the regiment’s 1862 formation through its discharge in June 1865.
Collection of 8 essays about leadership, morale, and historical commemoration of the 1863 Campaign for Chickamauga. The campaign resulted in the war’s only major Confederate victory west of the Appalachians, on September 19-20 at the battle of Chickamauga, but the victory failed to achieve the truly decisive results that many high-ranking Confederates had expected.
Contesting the Memory of the Civil War in the South, 1865-1914
Exploring the history of Civil War commemorations from both sides of the color line, William Blair places the development of memorial holidays, Emancipation Day celebrations, and other remembrances in the context of Reconstruction politics and race relations in the South. His grassroots examination of these civic rituals demonstrates that the politics of commemoration remained far more contentious than has been previously acknowledged. Commemorations by ex-Confederates were intended at first to maintain a separate identity from the U.S. government, Blair argues, not as a vehicle for promoting sectional healing. The burial grounds of fallen heroes, known as Cities of the Dead, often became contested ground, especially for Confederate women who were opposed to Reconstruction. And until the turn of the century, African Americans used freedom celebrations to lobby for greater political power and tried to create a national holiday to recognize emancipation.Blair's analysis shows that some festive occasions that we celebrate even today have a divisive and sometimes violent past as various groups with conflicting political agendas attempted to define the meaning of the Civil War.Blair examines Civil War commemorations in postbellum Virginia, focusing on the sharply different remembrances and celebrations that developed among whites and blacks. Blair places these commemorations in the context of Reconstruction politics and race relations across the South and the nation. He argues that black commemorations, despite their vibrancy in the years immediately after the war, were pushed aside over time by holidays and memorials that catered to the political and racial needs of whites as whites moved to consolidate their primacy in the post-Reconstruction era.Blair examines Civil War commemorations of blacks and whites and shows how arguments over how the war would be remembered and memorialized were part of a larger competition over how society would be structured and power exercised.Exploring the history of Civil War commemorations from both sides of the color line, William Blair places the development of memorial holidays, Emancipation Day celebrations, and other remembrances in the context of Reconstruction politics and race relations in the South. His grassroots examination of these civic rituals demonstrates that the politics of commemoration remained far more contentious than has been previously acknowledged. Commemorations by ex-Confederates were intended at first to maintain a separate identity from the U.S. government, Blair argues, not as a vehicle for promoting sectional healing. The burial grounds of fallen heroes, known as Cities of the Dead, often became contested ground, especially for Confederate women who were opposed to Reconstruction. And until the turn of the century, African Americans used freedom celebrations to lobby for greater political power and tried to create a national holiday to recognize emancipation.Blair's analysis shows that some festive occasions that we celebrate even today have a divisive and sometimes violent past as various groups with conflicting political agendas attempted to define the meaning of the Civil War.