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Rise And Fall Of The Indentured Servant System

969 words - 4 pages

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...

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