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Indentured Servants

Essay by   •  March 12, 2011  •  Essay  •  408 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,398 Views

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There are many questionable ways that slavery has come about in the United States. The most logical answer is that the idea of owning a person originated from that of indentured servitude. Indentured servants were people of a lower economic class who worked for a given amount of time for a person of a higher economic background for their freedom, land and supplies. Slavery is the same concept except people are not working for a given amount of time for freedom, land, and supplies. Slaves were working for the rest of their lives because they were property of another person.

Indentured servants were made up mostly of young white men who traded their time in prison or their poverty for time working as a servant for a person who had made an agreement to give them something else in return such as money, food, shelter or freedom. Indentured servants faced hard labor and when the time they had agreed upon working for was up they did not see much of an improvement in their life. Also many indentured servants did not survive while working for the person with whom they made an agreement. When the number of indentured servants started to decrease, English colonists began to turn to the African slave trade to meet their labor needs. English colonists also enslaved Native Americans to do the work that they needed to be done.

During the 1600s and 1700s, colonists enslaved hundreds of thousands of Africans. English colonists had enslaved Native Americans but many resisted learning the English ways and many were able to escape because they knew the land better than the English colonists. As the indentured servant population fell many English colonists turned to African slaves because it provided many benefits such as the slaves would have more difficulty running away because they are new to the land therefore the English colonists know the land better and slaves were property for life and not for a couple of years. Also many colonists saw the Africans as inferior because of their dark skin and believed that the Africans owed the English colonists a life of servitude.

The shift from indentured servants to slavery may have taken a couple of years but it was an easy shift. It is one of the logical ways to the start of slavery in the U.S. but it was also the start to what would become one of the most controversial times in American history.



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