History

Indentured servants in Colonial America

The concept of indentured servants arose out of the need of getting good and cheap labor for plantations. When America was discovered by Columbus, European settlers saw huge opportunities in the land. The institution of indentured servitude provided Europeans and the blacks with a means of livelihood and future scope. Their contract of servitude was usually for a limited period ranging from three to seven years to seven years after which they would get their freedom along with a small tract of land. During the period of servitude, the indentured servant was normally considered the property of the owner with limited rights and heavy load of work. They led a life of hardship with stringent punishment. Their daily routine was centered to the work and they had to work from the dawn till late at night and provided small portion of food. Most of the indentured servants had hard taskmasters with long working hours. They had little spare time for their own work. The plantation workers, after coming back from the plantation had to feed the cattle, cut the wood, prepare the supper and dinner for the next day etc. (Morgan, 2001). After their time was up, they would either go back to their own country or stay back and toil the land that was given to them. As the indentured servants were not paid any wages except for the food and the lodging, they had no saving and the land was the only means of livelihood for them. Some indentured servants like Anthony Johnson became successful farmers and traders after their contract expired. Johnson was granted land and he became a wealthy as tobacco farmer as well as one f the first black slave-traders (Foner, 1980).(words: 287)ReferencesFoner, Phillip S. 1980. History of Black Americans: From Africa to the Emergence of cotton kingdom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Morgan, K. 2008. Slavery and Servitude in Colonial North America. New York: New York University Press.

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