Indentured servants history

Due to restricted access to resources, land lossand changes to the environment caused by European settlement, many Native Americans, especially coastal groups, could no longer practice traditional subsistence activities and therefore became increasingly dependent on European trade goods—cloth, tools, guns, alcohol, and increasingly, food.

Indentured servants history

Bound laborers came in a variety of forms and their experience changed significantly over the time period, both in type of labor performed and in opportunities for advancement. The term "indentured servant" applied to the largest and broadest group of European immigrants who sold their labor for a period of years in exchange for passage to the New World.

Indentured servants first appeared in the Chesapeake colonies, but they also were present in the middle colonies and the Lower South. The term "redemptioner" applies to eighteenth-century immigrants, usually from Germany and Switzerland but also from England and Ireland, who traveled to the colonies in family groups and sold their labor upon arrival to repay the cost of passage.

This group was most common in Pennsylvania. A third group, transported convicts, became more prevalent after the Transportation Act of permitted the banishment of convicted felons. They usually went to Virginia and Maryland, were of English, Scottish, or Irish descent, and were the least popular form of bound laborer in the colonies.

Colonists complained about the questionable character of convict servants and were thus more reluctant to purchase their services. Reflecting the colonies' British heritage, as did the impulse to enter into an apprenticelike or servant relationship in one's teens and early twenties, servants negotiated contracts, owned property, sued their owners for abuse, and testified in court while in service.

Servant contracts varied in length. For adults, who were sometimes able to negotiate their contract Indentured servants history upon their skill level, periods of service usually lasted from four to seven years.

For minors, indenture lasted until they reached adulthood. In reality, this meant that most servants did not achieve their freedom until they were in their early to mid-twenties. Until they were free, servants could not marry without the consent of their master.

This restriction had long-term consequences on colonial population growth. At the end of their indenture, servants received their freedom and "freedom dues," which consisted at various times and different locations of land, clothing, corn, tobacco, a musket, blankets, or tools—or some combination of these.

Estimated to have made up 75 percent of the seventeenth-century migrants, servants were critical both to population growth and to successful tobacco cultivation in the Upper South. They continued to arrive in significant numbers during the eighteenth century, especially in the middle colonies.

Most seventeenth-century servants were drawn from the mass of the increasingly mobile English population unable to find work because of enclosure, economic instability, and overpopulation. Eighteenth-century bound migrants came from more diverse backgrounds and for a variety of reasons.

With many of the previous century's challenges in England resolved by the eighteenth century, English servant migration waned.


Scottish Covenanters and Jacobites from the and uprisings were deported to American plantations as an expediency. Irish from Ulster traveled out of Belfast as indentured servants and redemptioners.

Restrictions on Irish trade, the rack-renting of absentee landlords, and anti-Catholic fervor made survival in Ireland difficult and many saw emigration as an appealing alternative. Famine in the late s gave particular impetus to emigration. Germans from the Rhineland and Palatinate, having survived decades of war, found themselves persecuted for their Protestant practices as the eighteenth century unfolded.

The British government also sent thirty-two-hundred Germans to New York inhoping to provide a labor force to produce naval stores. Convict laborers were also more common in the later period. An estimated two-thirds of British felons were transported between andwith estimated total numbers varying from twenty thousand to fifty thousand.

There was a particularly intensive period of migration between the end of the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution — Most worked as agricultural laborers during the seventeenth century, learning the skills they hoped would one day enable them to establish their own farms.

Although seventeenth-century bound laborers faced grueling conditions and high mortality rates, their opportunities for advancement and economic independence were reasonable.

By the end of the early eighteenth century, however, reduced availability of land, a more complex economy combining agriculture, nascent industries, urban commercial ventures, and a more diverse and plentiful supply of labor changed the nature of servitude and the opportunities for freed servants.

While some servants still engaged in agricultural work, the shift to slave labor meant that they increasingly worked as skilled laborers and in supervisory positions on farms or plantations. Indentured servants appeared with much greater frequency in craft shops and as workers for merchants and retailers either in their businesses or as domestic workers.

Galenson noted a rise in the eighteenth century in the percentage of servants who had skills. An estimated 60 percent of registered servants during the period from to described themselves as skilled, and that proportion jumped to 85 percent in the s.Our society descended from colonial Virginia's sinister caste system, in which race, class, labor and slavery were inextricably linked.

Indentured servants history

Indentured Servants in Colonial Virginia. With a long history in England, indentured servitude became, during most of the seventeenth century, the primary means by which Virginia planters filled their nearly inexhaustible need for labor.

At first, the Virginia. Indentured Servants and Company Towns Essay Sample. Indentured servants Historically, indentured servants were a product of the indentured labor system in England which provided much needed short-term labor at a time when England was suffering from acute agricultural labor shortage.

This practice later became a primary source of labor for the colonies during the early days. Recent Examples on the Web: Noun. Of course, the same trust indenture that expressly forbids moving the Merion wall ensembles and the foundation’s desire to do so, announced in , led to one of the epic legal battles in American art history.

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marks th anniversary of the arrival of the Indian indentured workers and the birth of this community in South Africa. Durban is home to the largest Indian population in South Africa. Reba McEntire Discovers Ancestors Were Indentured Servants + More on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’.

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