Melton McLaurin's book Celia, A Slave is the account of the trial, conviction, and execution of a female slave for the murder of her master in 1855. The author uses evidence compiled through studying documents from Callaway County, Missouri and the surrounding area during the middle of the Nineteenth Century. Although much of what we can determine about this event is merely speculation, we are able to guess the motives that contribute to the way in which many of the events unfold. Because of the details of the trial, many of the people involved probably faced several difficult decisions that led to the outcome of the trial. During the 1850s the United States was involved in a heated debate over the issue of slavery. Many of the residents of Missouri and nearby Kansas were fighting for or against the institution of slavery. The outcome of this trial was important because it could have a tremendous affect upon the way the legal system in Missouri viewed the rights of slaves, and the ways in which they would be forced to interpret the laws of the State in regard to how they where to apply to slaves. The first of the main characters we are introduced to is Celia's master, Robert Newsom. Mr. Newsom was a wealthy landowner in Callaway County. In 1850, after the death of his wife, Robert Newsom purchased a fourteen year old slave girl from nearby Audrain County. The purpose, as far as McLaurin can tell for her purchase was as a replacement for Robert Newsom's wife. From the time that Newsom first acquires Celia, he begins to rape her on a regular basis. Although it was generally accepted as being morally wrong for a slave master to sexually abuse a slave, Robert Newsom seems to view her as his property, to do with as he pleased rather than as a human being. So the first of many ethical decisions is made, as Robert Newsom begins an unauthorized sexual relationship with his slave which lasts five years until his death in the summer of 1855.