Before the rise of slavery in colonial America, most labor was preformed by
Indentured servants. Becoming a servant was an easy way for people to get to the New
World, and provided much needed labor. With the weak law system established in the
colonies, masters could easily exploit the servants in order to keep them in place. At first
there were many people, either willingly, or forced, to give up there freedom in order to
make it to America. The indentured servant system finally came to an end with the
transportation of black slaves into America.
he indentured servant system developed through a need for food during the harsh
winters, and for the huge sums of money that could be made through harvesting tobacco
crops.During the early years in the colonies, little food was available and starvation was
to the point of cannibalism. The settlers needed to produce more corn crops then they
could on their own. The answer: hired labor workers. With an increased labor supply,
more food was produced, helping calm the hunger situation in the colonies. With the
food problem out of the way, settlers could focus on profits now. One of the easiest and
most successful ways of making money was to grow tobacco. Right from the start
colonists realized the potential of tobacco farms in America. Having indentured servants
maximized profits gained from the tobacco crops.
The System was simple therefore easy to maintain. Being an indentured servant
meant having being shipped to America, where you have to work for a certain amount of
time before being let go, and given land, food, and other necessities. For many people,
this would be the only way for them to make it to the New World, thus many people were
willing to become a servant. According to Gutman in “The Labor Problem”, “during the
seventeenth century, 75 to 85 percent of the estimated 130,000 people who journeyed
from england to the Chesapeake came as indentured servants” (Gutman 50). Certain
people, against their will, would also be forced to become an indentured servant. One of
the possible punishments for a vagabond or criminal would be to be shipped to America
to work. This idea was much approved of by the English crown, but frowned upon by the
colonials, because they didn't want people who had broken the law before, to be given a
second chance, working for them. Another source of servants came from children.
English Authorities would send orphans to work in tobacco fields, until they aged 21, in
which time they would be released. Finding the labor supply for indentured servants was
not a hard task.
The elite used there status to maintain the system and keep the servants from turning on their masters. The good...