Margaret Garner: Killed Her Child Trying to Prevent a Life-Time Spent in Bondage

1 Posted by - October 29, 2018 - Injustices, LATEST POSTS, SLAVERY

The story of and her family is what inspired author Toni Morrison to write her book Beloved. Margaret Garner was born into on June 4, 1834 on Maplewood plantation in Boone County, Kentucky. She worked the majority of her life as a house slave, and on many occasions traveled with her master to free territory in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Margaret married Robert Garner in 1849, and had four children by 1856. During this time, the Underground Railroad was at its height, numerous of slaves had been moved to freedom in Canada. The Garners decided that they wanted to be free as well. On January 27, 1856 the Garners set out to reach their first destination stop to freedom, Joseph Kite’s house in Cincinnati. They made it safe to Kite’s home, but on Monday morning while awaiting a person to lead them to their next stop, their master, A.K Gaines, and federal marshals stormed Kite’s home. The men had warrants for the arrest of the Garners.

Margaret was determined that she nor her children were going back into slavery. When the marshals found Margaret who had been hiding in a backroom with her children, she had slit her two-year-old daughter’s throat with a butcher’s knife. Her daughter died, and the other children were on the floor wounded, but still alive. Margaret and Robert Garner were taken into custody and were put on trial. The trial was known as the longest fugitive slave trial in history.

Lawyers and abolitionist John Jolliffe, argued that Margaret’s trips to free territory in Cincinnati entitled her and her children freedom. Although, Jolliffe put up a good argument, the judge denied the Garner’s freedom and returned them to their master. Jolliffe came up with the idea to have Margaret tried for murder of her two-year-old daughter. He thought if he could get another trial for Margaret it could be a new chance at freedom for her. But, the judge figured out what Jolliffe was trying to do. He split the Garners up and shipped them to different plantations. A warrant was never served on Margaret for the death of her daughter. Margaret died in 1858 from a typhoid epidemic.

 

source:

http://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Margaret_Garner

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