Indentured servitude and slavery

7 July 2016

Indentured servants and the slavery system played a massive part in the rise of colonial economy during the 17th century. The colonists needed desperate help with labor because there was work that had to be done in lands. This need was satisfied with indentured servants and African slaves. The difference between these two was that they were treated differently. Indentured servants were white English people who need jobs; they were under a contract for several years in return for their transportation, food, home, and other necessities.

They were used because slaves were too expansive and Indians died very quickly. After a certain event, master turned to slaves. Both helped the colonial economy burst. They put the American colonists in a better economic situation. Indentured servants began in the 17th century. This is when English wanted to start coming to America for a better life. Since many people wanted to come to America, the solution was indentured servitude.

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This meant a European’s trip to America was covered in return for the English to become servants.

The servants did much work in land, especially in the south. The south was known for their tobacco plantations. They helped to make tobacco a major crop. This seemed like a nice way for English poor to make a living but that often was not the case. Only about 40% of indentured servants lived the complete their contract. Masters used indentured servants because slaves were not affordable and Indians died too quickly to be a reliable source for labor. Then Bacon’s Rebellion happened.

Bacon’s Rebellion was an uprising in 1676 against the rule of Governor William Berkeley. This rebellion was led by Nathaniel Bacon, 29 year old planter. The rebellion consisted of frontiersmen in search for land. Because of this lordly planters were now in search of laborers who weren’t going to cause trouble to help in the labors. After Bacon’s Rebellion, indentured servants became a less desirable option. Indentured servants were seen as too difficult to control. This is when the slaves began to replace the indentured servants.

At this point, the slave trade had already opened up. When the slaves began to be shipped to North America, the death toll was 20%. The slaves that actually reached North America they were originally captured by African costal tribes. Slaves in Chesapeake had it a bit easier than those in the deepest south. Since slaves were skilled they helped build the country with their labor. Slaves in the south proved to be more manageable than indentured servants. As demand for slaves increased, Americans increased trade with the West Indies.

The economic situation resulted significantly from slavery. The slaves were already skilled and were manageable therefore they replaced the indentured servants. Both of these options to help with labor boosted the economy in the colonies. Indentured servants were first used because slaves were too expensive and Indians died too quickly. However after Bacons Rebellion, indentured servants became too difficult to indentured servants became too difficult to handle, master turned to slaves. With the slaves being skilled, the American colonies prospered economically.

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