People are raised to harbor a natural thirst for power and control and develop a strong sense to protect that authority and preserve their ways of life. With these internal motives and desires, southerners of the newly-formed United States of America were comfortable with the power established within the patriarch and unwillingly to surrender their newfound independence, freedom, and supremacy after breaking ties with Great Britain and signing the Declaration of Independence. Although declaring that all men were created equal and were endowed with unalienable rights, including “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” racism flourished among the antebellum south, and slavery became a part of the white American Dream. As illustrated through Melton A. McLaurin’s biography, Celia, A Slave, “slavery was an institution fundamental to the existence of southern society, a permanent part of the southern way of life” (18.) Through Celia’s eyes, one is enabled a unique view of the hidden secrets and conflicts of slavery that empowered white males and conserved the power of the master.
An ordinary slave, Celia was purchased in 1850 at the age of fourteen by Robert Newsom, a successful, sixty-year old farmer living within Callaway County, Missouri. Although instructed to cook and help his daughters with the daily household operations, Celia’s primary purpose was not to lighten the housework, however. Having been a widower for nearly a year, Newsom required a sexual partner and had deliberately purchased Celia in order to fill that role, just as one of every five female slaves was expected to. For the next five years, Celia would endure continuous sexual exploitation and abuse and even give birth to two of Newsom’s children. While pregnant with a third child, however, Celia’s ordinary slave life would no longer remain common and unnoticed, but enter history through dramatic trials within court.