Indentured Servants and African Slaves



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Indentured Servants and African Slaves

 

The plantation economy depended on a steady supply of cheap labor. In the days before African slaves were brought over, many plantation owners advertised for people willing to sell their labor in exchange for a free ride across the Atlantic.



Many more came to the colonies as indentured servants, either by free will or force. The government often shipped its petty criminals off to the New World as indentured servants. Some desperate parents even sold their own children into indentured servitude!

This system attracted many poor people desperate to leave England but who could not afford to pay for their passage. So, they would sell themselves into temporary slavery or servitude for a period of usually 5-7 years. A contract was drawn up where you agreed to work for Person X in exchange for a place to stay, food, a guarantee of freedom, a little money, and tools at the end of your contract.



 

Indentured servitude also had a darker side. The demand for labor was so great that some unethical men would often kidnap children or orphans and sell them into Indentured Servitude. Other stories told of plantation owners that tried to cheat their servants at the ends of their contracts. Still, the demand for cheap labor could not be satisfied as more and more land was converted into plantations.

The solution, of course, was across the Atlantic Ocean in Africa. In 1619, a Dutch ship dropped off a cargo of Africans (along with the English women). The Africans were traded as indentured servants in return for food. The women were traded for 120 pounds of tobacco each. From that point on, the number of indentured servants began to decline as the number of slaves rose. Free African labor was the solution to Virginia's problems.



 

For starters, Africans were thousands of miles from home in a strange land and were often too frightened to run away, like some indentured servants were doing.

Second, separating people based on race seemed a logical way to keep track of slaves. It didn't take long for slave laws to start appearing in the books.

1. Slaves became the permanent property of their masters.



2. The children of slaves would also be slaves.

3. It was illegal to educate a slave.

4. Runaway slaves could be punished (but not killed) as the master saw fit.

 

By 1700, slavery became the backbone of the southern plantation economy, which could set the colonies on different paths that would eventually lead to the American Civil War in 1860.



Notes- take notes Notes- You will need to use the following outline and take notes from each paragraph on your own.
Indentured Servants and Slaves

  1. Cheap Labor

1.

2.

Etc

  1. Indentured…

1.

2.

Etc

  1. The Deal

1.

2.

Etc

  1. The Bad Side

1.

2.

Etc

  1. Slaves from Africa

1.

2.

Etc

  1. Rules of Slavery

1.

2.

Etc


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