James L. Roark, et al., eds., The American Promise: A History of the United States, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002), 460.
In 1987 writer Toni Morrison published her award-winning Beloved. The novel had historical origins. In 1855, a slave family - Robert Garner, his twenty-two year old wife Margaret, their four children and his parents fled Kentucky. Archibald Gaines, Margaret's owner, tracked them to a cabin in Ohio. Thinking that all was lost and that her children would be returned to slavery, Margaret seized a butcher knife and cut the throat of her two-year-old daughter. She was turning on her other children when slave catchers burst in and captured her. Garner's child murder electrified the nation. Abolitionists claimed that the act revealed the horror of slavery and the tragic heroism of slave mothers. Defenders of slavery argued that the deed proved that slaves were savages.