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Slavery In North America Essay

1179 words - 5 pages


From the 16th century to the 18th century, the most common types of labour in the new colonies were indentured servitude and slavery. An indentured servant was a worker who was under contract for a certain period of time, around 3 to seven years. They also got food, clothing and lodging. Slaves on the other hand were not under contract and mostly forced into labour by their "owners", from the time of their capture they are considered owned and were deprived of compensation and freedom.

Servants and slaves were treated differently somewhat, only in some cases that the indentured servants were abused as we can see from a letter from Elizabeth Sprigs to her father, in which she says " toiling almost Day and Night, and very often in the Horses drudgery, with only this comfort that you Bitch you do not halfe enough, and then tied up and whipp'd to that Degree that you'd not serve an Animal, scarce anything but Indian Corn and Salt to eat and that even begrudged nay many Negroes are better used, almost naked no shoes nor stockings to wear...". This shows to a certain degree how badly some of the servants were treated. People became indentured servants in different ways, some of them volunteered in hope of getting their own piece of land one day, some ran away from home like teenagers for example, or some of them became servants as a way of paying a debt or as a prisoner.

The main colonies that required these types of labour were Virginia, Chesapeake and Maryland. This is where most of the English indentured servants migrated to. Because of increasing

economic activity in those places, more workers were needed and also the benefits seemed satisfactory at the time to some of the servants. In Virginia land and clothing were given to servants whose contracts were up. But this lasted up until 1626 because these servants could have their own land and have servants of their own, which was not wanted by the government of the colony, so this benefit was taken away and instead they were paid in shillings and different items. They were in high demand in the Virginia and Maryland areas, and they were more productive to engage. In the table found in the Morgan excerpt the number of emigrants decreased from the 1650s to the 1680s, this could have been due to better job opportunities in England or higher wages. In Virginia opportunities for freed servants were getting slim after 1660. Many of them started to die off or disappear, which could have also led to less and less servants in those colonies. The laws on the servants got stricter than but not as strict as slavery laws at the time and also the plantation owners got greedy in not wanting to pay the servants anymore and instead sought slave work which was free more or less.

Slaves were first introduced in 1619 but there were only about 20 people, but around 1662 to 1670s more than 50,000 slaves were shipped to the colonies. From table 2.1 in the...

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