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A Bondage So Horrible - Essay Example

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The chains of slavery echo loudly through our nation's hallowed halls of history. Well-intentioned leaders nod their head in shallow empathy or cast a downward guilty glance at the mention of its name. …
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A Bondage So Horrible
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Download file to see previous pages Yet, when the truth revealed is so horrendous that it is unspeakable, memories beg forgetfulness to spare the pain and agony from being repeated even in verse. Such is the tale of Margaret Garner. Ms. Garner's experience is a story of the depth of despair that was suffered by a mother as she watched her children falling prey to another generation of slavery.The year was 1856 and the issue of slavery had demanded that sides be taken. Abolitionists in the North had sympathized with the goal of emancipation and had established the Underground Railroad. Southern states had traditional and economic concerns to keep slavery alive. Free states in the North welcomed freed slaves, while the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 demanded their return to the rightful owners. Margaret Garner faced this turmoil as she, her husband, and family made the decision to go north and escape slavery via the Underground Railroad.The plan began modestly. The January weather had been cold and had frozen the Ohio River to a solid mass of ice. The Garner family and about a dozen other slaves from Boone County Kentucky had set out on a Sunday night by sled and by daybreak had reached the Ohio River just south of Covington, Kentucky. Here the party split ways, left the horses and sled, and made their way by foot into the Free State of Ohio. The six members of the Garner family and another family of three set out to find the home of a freed slave named Kite. Traveling through the busy morning activities and inquiring about the Kite residence apparently garnered the party undue attention.
The party had come under the watch of bounty hunters and shortly after arriving at the Kite residence, the house was surrounded. The men tried to break their way into the house of the holed up slaves but were blocked from entering. The slave party was armed and continued to resist. Margaret's husband, Robert, shot a deputy as he tried to crawl through a broken window (The slave tragedy in Cincinnati, February 2, 1856). Margaret Garner, seeing the chance of freedom fade, grabbed a butcher knife and with one slash slit the throat of her favorite daughter. She attempted to kill the remaining three, as well as herself, rather than see them returned to slavery. She was overtaken, overpowered and all were taken to jail. Margaret Garner was charged with the murder of her young daughter.
If this had been the whole story, history would show its distaste for the crime and it may have been forgotten. If this had been the end of the tragedy, there might have been only token attempts at sympathy for the deranged Garner woman. But this haunting tale had yet to be unraveled. The world was soon to see that the death of the child was but one small piece in a story of how bleak life as a slave could be. The little girl's death might have been the best and only hope Margaret Garner had.
Margaret Garner had been the product of a rape committed by a slave master on her mother. The Cincinnati Gazette of January 1856 described Ms. Garner as, "a mulatto, showing from one-fourth to one-third white blood" (as cited in Pierson, 2003, p. 136). That her mother had been the victim of rape, and her the product of a violent rape, was not enough torment for her though. She too had become a victim of these same hideous crimes perpetrated by her owner. Her children also showed evidence of the horrible acts and the Gazette also stated that the murdered child, "was almost white-and was a little girl of rare beauty" (as cited in Pierson, 2003, p. 136).
Margaret Garner was a young woman of about 21 years old when these tragic events took place. Her oldest child was by now six years old, which ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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