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With the sequential ban of slavery worldwide, the quest to find new sources of labor became increasingly important to strong economies previously based on slave labor. Many such economies turned to the application and exploitation of indentured servants to help to reduce labor necessities in the Caribbean especially. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the brutal working and living conditions rivaled those of the previous slave labor conditions, a fundamental shift in the primary origin of the indentured servants and the effects that the ban on slavery had on the increasing number of indentured servants.

Indentured servants during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had a similarly poor set of working and living conditions to that of the preceding slave labor living and working conditions. Herman Merivale describes in Document 1 that indentured servants are not “voluntary immigrants” nor “slaves seized by violence” but rather that they have been recruited for service similar to “military service”. As a British undersecretary, Merivale obviously tries to explain that indentured servitude is better than slavery; even hints at it being honorable as he equates it to military service. He does not tell of the harsh conditions of servitude but rather that the people choose to become indentured servants. The pictures illustrated in Document 5 illustrate, first, the poor living conditions of indentured servants and then the extreme amount of labor required from individual servants. However, the fact that both pictures are taken to illustrate the poor conditions of indentured servitude and white superiority illustrates that perhaps not all places of indentured servitude are of these poor conditions. Document 7 and Document 8 are polar opposites as Document 1 is an illustration of a British indentured service agreement which, of course, will make servitude more appealing to possible servants while Document 8 tells the real account of a servant in South Africa. Although document 8 might also have embellished the truth to make his argument of harsh treatment and conditions seem more cruel and unjust. Document 1 tells of what the British supposedly promise to the welfare of indentured servants but document 8, though biased, tells of a first person account of those rights being violated and exploited. The working of many areas of indentured servitude are made to seem tolerable and preferable by colonizing nations but are not always followed through with and do not make people as happy has it seems.

The ban and significant reduction of legal areas of slavery leads to the exponential increases in the number of indentured servants as their labor gradually replaces slave labor in plantations especially in the Caribbean. Document 2 is a South African document that claims that the decrease of slave labor has caused a significant increase in markets to be done and will need no “fewer than 60,000 laborers” to be required in South Africa. This editorial makes it seem that indentured servants are a necessity and the increasing labor needs are a justification for indentures servitude labor.

It is because of this need for labor created by the abolition of slavery that cause the number of indentured servants to sky-rocket during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Document 6 illustrates that the beginning to 1876, the amount of slaves 49,300 in Mauritius is replaced by nearly 56,000 indentured servants. This shows the direct correlation between the decrease in slaves yielding an increase in servants. However, because of the fact this is a British Government table, the numbers quite possibly skewed to favor the British in the number of indentured servants and former slaves. As Document 3 illustrates, the primary focus of African slave labor was to the Caribbean. Doc. 3 shows that most of the servants next to the same region showing that the decrease in slaves was just displaced in the region by the increase in servants. But, the fact that no specific number of indentured servants is given by the document shows that there may be bias as to the amount of servants going from all parts of the world.

Another key aspect of the indentured servant migration to consider is that as slavery shifted from indentured servitude, the principle origin of labor shifts from Africa to India and Southeast Asia. As Document 3 shows two main places of servant migration is from Malaysia and India to the Americas and the Caribbean. The table in document 4 illustrates the main migration points of India, China and Japan to mainly the Caribbean and South America. Notice the discrepancy between documents 3 and 4 because document 3 has Malaysia as a key source of servitude labor while document 4 does not even mention it as a place of regard. Finally, document 9 shows the concentration of Asian Indians in various places of the indentured servitude. The percentages show to be quite high, as high as 71%, which is probably embellished to show the involvement of Asian Indians in the indentured servitude migrations. However, the fact that it is a compilation of “various official government records” adds to its credibility as it is not a single government’s statistics. But it is seen that over the nineteenth and 20th centuries labor pools shifted from primarily Africa to primarily East, South and Southeast Asia.

Additional documents that could be helpful were letters of Asian governments regards towards the increase of indentured servants taken from their countries. Also, a diary entry or personal writing of an indentured servant in the Caribbean would be helpful to know the view of indentured servants and labor conditions. So as slavery decreased, indentured servitude increased because of a need for labor which caused a different source of the labor force and a dramatic increase in the number of indentured servants while the same conditions and treatment of servants were used as in the preceding years of slavery.

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