Celia, A Slave Chapter 3-4 Summary & Analysis

Melton A. McLaurin

Celia, A Slave

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Celia, A Slave Chapter 3-4 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 3 Summary: Inquisition 

Chapter Three, “Inquisition,” describes the search for Robert Newsom, which began on the morning of Sunday, June 24, when his daughters missed him at breakfast.  Soon, they asked for help from the neighbors, in particular William Powell, a neighboring slaveowner who McLaurin surmises would have been especially interested in finding out what happened to Newsom, given the similarity of their circumstances.  The Newsom sons also joined the search, and George was brought in for questioning, since the family was aware of his relationship with Celia.  George denied knowing anything about Newsom’s whereabouts but implicated Celia by suggesting that the last place Newsom walked was the path between his house and hers.  The search party then confronted Celia, with Powell taking the lead in her questioning.  She steadfastly denied knowing where Newsom was, but after repeated questioning and pressure from Powell, she admitted only that Newsom came to her window and that she hit him and he went away.  After still further questioning, she said she would tell Powell what happened to Newsom if he sent Newsom’s sons out of the room.  She then admitted to Powell that she accidentally killed Newsom by hitting him on the head with a stick and, upon realizing he was dead, burned his body in her fireplace.

The search party then found evidence of Newsom in the ashes that Celia had his grandson remove from her fireplace, including his belt buckle and buttons from his clothes.  They also found pieces of bone.  All of these things were taken by Virginia Waynescot for safekeeping in her room.  The next day, Monday, June 25, an inquest jury of six men was sent to interview the family, Powell, and Celia to determine whether she should be arrested.  They decided that there was cause for her to be arrested and charged.  She was then transported to jail to await her October trial.

Chapter Three also provides an overview of the media response to Celia’s arrest, noting that the Fulton Telegraph published an inaccurate, sensationalist account that pandered to existing fears about slave revolt and violence, while the…

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