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By Melton A. McLaurin

Celia was once a normal slave--until she struck again at her abusive grasp and have become the defendant in a landmark trial that threatened to undermine the very foundations of the South's "Peculiar Institution."

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Extra resources for Celia, A Slave

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In the argumentative walk or disputatious lounge—fresh thought on fresh thought—in mirth and refutation—in ridicule and laughter—one enjoys the free play of the mind, which is rarely found outside a college. Gower Street and the dreary chain of squares from Euston to Bloomsbury were for us the scenes of discussions as eager and as abstract as ever took place in the sedate cloisters of Oxford or Cambridge. Hutton well remembers a spirited argument as to whether the so-­called logical principle of identity (A is A) was entitled to rank as a ‘law of thought’ or was only a postulate of language.

He was in favour of a natural aristocracy, as he called it. State power should be directed by the highest minds in every generation. There is much to be said for this opinion, but my own view was that the highest intellects should rather be engaged in communicating new truth to mankind, or labouring to illustrate known truth and to instruct the mass of the population in old and valuable knowledge. This is a far higher way of influencing the happiness of the world than the application of physical force to protect men’s lives and property.

My reading centred on philosophy, poetry and theology, together with the more sharply defined science of my classes. At home, there was much discussion of my future. While my father thought a legal training desirable, my mother, concerned for my health and thinking me unsuited to the strains of academic study, wanted me to forgo the life of a mawkish scholar and return to Langport and turn my attention to commerce and the practical details of daily life. All paths were open to good sense, she wrote to me at the time, but she urged me to fully appreciate my father’s cleverness in business: ‘If he were to die now, which God forbid!

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