Life of an Indentured Servant Life was not easy in my hometown as there was poverty and hunger everywhere. At a young age of 14, I have seen many difficult times as I saw my parents and siblings going without food for days. My name is Paul, a 14 years old English boy from Bristol, England. There were a bunch of traders who came in our town and offered us jobs in America. “Earning wages at all was difficult in England since job opportunities were shrinking” (The American Promise 65).
Reasons people would mistake indentured servants for slaves was because both were considered low in society, did not own many belongings, were not given much food or clothes, were shipped and both looked very similar in standards/appearance. Some see indentured servants as glorified butlers and people don’t realize that indentured servants had to go through a lot of the same trauma that slaves had to endure. Indentured servants and slaves had to be transported on ships. The voyage was often a horrible experience for all the passengers. On the ships the inmates had to sleep side by side each other with not much room to move.
Regardless of where their from, a lot of the early immigrants were indentured servant people who traded work for a chance to go the new world and a house when they arrived. At first, majority of the laws passed concerned indentured servants, but around 1650, colony laws started to mirror the difference between indentured servants and slaves. More importantly,
The life of a victorian servant was extremely hard. But, a lot of them considered themselves to be lucky because they had food to eat and a roof over their heads regardless of how much they got paid. They were all very desperate and in need of money but this went a pretty long way in sustaining them. Additionally, many began service at very young ages and were conditioned to accept this as the natural order of things. Servants were put into the lowest positions in large houses at very young ages, even kids as low as 8-10 years old.
What ultimately led to the shift from white servants to black slaves was a series of uprisings. As the tobacco boom and the shortage of labor continued, Virginian landowners pushed legislation that would indenture servants for longer periods of time, these provisions were met with backlash and as a result, the colonies saw an influx of indentured servant rebellions. The largest of these rebellions was Bacon’s rebellion; since many of the whites who came to America as indentured servants had aspirations to becoming landowners themselves after their contracts expired, by the landowners extending it and making it more difficult for them to exit their service, in a way, they felt they were being duped by false promises (Takaki 58). Nathaniel Bacon led this rebellion and resulted in whites and blacks to take arms and rise against landowners in what would be the largest uprising until the American Revolution (Takaki 60). One of the concerns raised as a result of this rebellion is that whites were legally able to obtain while blacks could not.
The lower class came here mostly to be indentured servants (hard labor workers who would serve two to seven years and then be freed with benefits) for the wealthy landowners. The ship in the scene arrived in the Chesapeake where the people inside established a town with an economy based on tobacco farming, which needed cheap labor to thrive. Due to the need of cheap labor, Africans were starting to be forcibly put on ships and shipped over to the Chesapeake to be indentured servants. Blacks and whites, in the beginning, were working as equals in the eyes of the society of that time. A black man could expect his freedom just as a white man could after serving his indentured periods.
Southern Slaves and Northern Laborers had many different experiences, even though they were both considered workers. Their compensation, working hours, working conditions, and consequences for breaking rules varied. In the end, the life of a Southern Slave was, mainly, harder than the life of a Northern Laborer. First off, Southern Slaves probably had better compensation than Northern Laborers. Although Northern Laborers were given wages by the factory owners for their work, they ultimately had to pay back the factory owners for their provisions.
The slavery in colonial America started around 1600 with indentured slaves, but after some time, people were often sold and bought unintentional. In 1619, the first African slaves arrived in Virginia and by 1820, almost four Africans for every European had crossed the Atlantic. In the late 1800‘s around 12.5 million slaves had been shipped from Africa, and 10.5 million had arrived in America. Prices of slaves varied a lot over time, and it was expensive to own a slave, but it was gainful. In order to make sure the effectiveness of slaves, most slave owners supplied only the bare minimum of food and shelter needed for the slaves to survive and then forced them to work twenty-four hours a day.
In 1619, America was first introduced to slavery when the first African slaves were brought to North America to aid and increase the production of lucrative crops such as tobacco. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, Slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies and was looked at as the main beneficiary to be successful in any production. African-American slaves helped build America’s economic foundations from the bottom up and was looked at as a new nation. In the early 17th century, European settlers in North America resulted to African slaves because they were cheaper and more hard-working. The African slaves were more productive than the servants the Europeans used, which were mostly poorer Europeans.
On plantations there were many different kind of slaves; they varied from privileged house slaves, skilled artisans and field hands. Another invention that gave slave owners a reason to use of slaves was the cotton gin. Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin in 1794. Before, the invention of the cotton gin, cotton seeds had to be removed from the cotton fiber by hand. This invention made cotton a much more profitable crop for farmers.