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African Slaves And Indentured Servants Essay

1096 words - 4 pages

Despite being held at the bottom of the social pyramid for throughout colonial times, the labor of the colonies would prove to be far from useless. While vast, open land was turned into numerous plantations in the colonies by rich planters, the plantations could not purely be run by their owners, creating a great need for labor. This lack of labor would eventually be solved through the use of African slaves, but after the first shipment of slaves to Jamestown in 1619, few were purchased due to high prices for an extended amount of time. The planters, however, would be able to fulfill their need for labor through English indentured servants. Through the use of indentured servants, basically free labor was provided to land owners, while when freed, the servants would receive “freedom dues” which would help them become relevant parts of societies. Some of these freed indentured servants would then hire their own servants, creating a cycle of servants in the colonial economy. Later, indentured servants would give way to African slaves as the most efficient form of labor, a change that would revolutionize the colonies. While the use of indentured servants helped stimulate the colonial economy throughout the 1600s through labor and addition of new landowners, African slaves would be the thriving labor force in the economy in the 1700s, up to and through the American Revolution.
Early in the colonial era, the best option for labor was through the employment of indentured servants. These servants would mostly come from England, coming either by force, to escape conviction, or by choice. Those who came by choice hoped that once they served their term of servitude, the “freedom dues” which they received from their master would be enough to allow them to prosper on their own in the colonial economy. In some times and places, these dues included a piece of land. This allowed the freed servants to be self sufficient, and in some cases, these servants would even hire their own indentured servants. However, when these dues were not sufficient and did not include land, some servants had no choice other than continue in servitude. As such, the “freedom dues” would directly affect the colonial economy, determining whether or not there would be additional land owners. The indentured servants would also prove to help the already existing landowners to gain more land. The head right system, implemented in southern colonies such as Virginia and Maryland, gave a landowner or planter 50 acres of land for each servant he paid for to come with him to live in that colony. Here, the indentured servants helped the economy by allowing landowners to expand their territory, and produce more goods/crops. While at work, the servants also had a major and direct effect on the economy. From the early 1600s to the early 1700s, indentured servants comprised the majority of labor on the plantations and farms of the colonies. Without the use of indentured servants,...

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