Edmund S. Morgan's The Labor Problem At Jamestown

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Proverbs 12:11, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Most people realize that the early settlers in America endured many tribulations such as food shortages, fights with Indians, quarrels among leaders, and more. What most people do not realize is that many of these early settlers squandered their time, wasted their energy, and were generally lazy and idle. This was a huge problem for early Americans because in order to survive, it was vital that they work. Why were these early Americans not motivated to work? Edmund S. Morgan, in his article The Labor Problem at Jamestown, 1607-18, suggests that there indeed was a labor problem at Jamestown. In his article, he discusses several issues that contributed to the colonist’s lack of motivation. Morgan makes a convincing case as he discusses …show more content…

His thesis suggests that the colonist’s low expectation of work, knowledge of work, attitude of nobility, poor health, attitude of military operation, high expectation of the country, and the fact that these colonists were simply the wrong type of people for the frontier all contributed to the labor problem. Morgan’s article is convincing because all the points he makes are backed up with evidence and examples. Morgan probably did not see this labor problem as an exceptional part of America’s history. He also concludes his argument by mentioning that once the colonists gave up on the Indians, they soon went to African slaves. Morgan most likely did not perceive early America as exceptional because of this. As Proverbs 12 states, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Morgan clearly demonstrated that because the colonists lacked motivation, knowledge, humility, good health, and useful trades, Jamestown, as well as many other colonies, clearly had a lacked a hard working

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