Summer Reading B2G1 Free

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Lists | July 29, 2015

    Edward Carey: IMG 10 Best Books by Writer-Illustrators

    As a child who loved books I was fascinated by the illustrations just as much as the text. The same is true for me today, and I'm happy to be among... Continue »
    1. $11.89 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

      Foulsham (Iremonger Series #2)

      Edward Carey 9781468309546

Qualifying orders ship free.
New Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
25 Remote Warehouse Law- Civil Liberties and Human Rights

Celia, a Slave


Celia, a Slave Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Illuminating the moral dilemmas that lie at the heart of a slaveholding society, this book tells the story of a young slave who was sexually exploited by her master and ultimately executed for his murder.

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.

Book News Annotation:

A factual account of the short, dramatic life of a young slave woman who was purchased at age 14 by a Missouri farmer, sexually abused by him over a period of five years, and executed for his murder in 1855. McLaurin (U. of North Carolina, Wilmington) uses Celia's story to illuminate the moral dilemmas that lay at the heart of a slaveholding society.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


Avon has compiled a varied list of books that focus on issues and concerns for women everywhere — from notable fiction to detailed healthcare guides.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 137-143) and index.

About the Author

Melton A. McLaurin is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is the author of Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South for which he received the Lillian Smith Award, and Celia, a Slave (both Georgia).

Product Details

McLaurin, Melton A.
University of Georgia Press
McLaurin, Melton A.
Athens :
Civil Procedure
Sociology - General
Trials (Murder)
Southern states
Moral conditions
Southern States Moral conditions.
Trials (Murder) -- Missouri -- Callaway County.
United States - State & Local - General
Slavery -- Southern States.
United States - 19th Century
Law-Civil Liberties and Human Rights
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
9 x 5 x 0.7 in 0.73 lb

Other books you might like

  1. Maria W. Stewart, Americas First... Used Trade Paper $6.95
  2. The Other Brahmins: Boston's Black... New Hardcover $53.50
  3. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism
    Used Trade Paper $9.00
  4. The Confessions of Nat Turner: And... Used Trade Paper $5.50
  5. Strange Career of Jim Crow 3RD... Used Trade Paper $4.50
  6. Our Kind of People: Inside America's... Used Trade Paper $6.95

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » African American Studies » Slavery and Reconstruction
History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » Law » Civil Liberties and Human Rights

Celia, a Slave New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$26.95 In Stock
Product details 160 pages University of Georgia Press - English 9780820313528 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Avon has compiled a varied list of books that focus on issues and concerns for women everywhere — from notable fiction to detailed healthcare guides.
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at