Harry S. Truman was born in the small town of Lamar, Missouri, on May 8, In , Harry's parents, John and Martha, moved the family which included Harry's brother Vivian and sister Mary Jane to Independence, Missouri, a county-seat town of just 6, people. The town, in which wagon trains picked up the Oregon and Sante Fe trails, was a gateway to America's western frontier. Most residents of Independence had migrated from the states of the Upper South, however, bringing with them many southern cultural and social mores.
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Born on a distant plantation that she barely remembers, Sethe is the child of an African-born slave woman whose name she never knew. As a young teenager she was brought to Sweet Home, where she took a man named Halle Suggs for her husband. She had four children, pregnant with the fourth when she fled Sweet Home on foot and alone. When schoolteacher, the brutal master at Sweet Home, tracked her down, Sethe attempted to kill her children rather than see them returned to slavery.