Indentured Servants In America

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Indentured servitude last until the 1670’s when tobacco planters began the switch to slave labor. Indentured servants were poor immigrants who signed contracts known as indentures, in which they committed to four to seven years of labor in North America in exchange for transportation from England, as well as food and shelter after they arrived in the colony (Roak, et. al, 56). Debates persist about the general characteristics of early indentured servants, but they were certainly primarily poor young English men in search of new opportunities for wealth and advancement that were unavailable to them at home. Some of the male indentured servants were highly skilled laborers, holding such jobs as bricklayer, joiner, plasterer, cook, clerk, gardener,…show more content…
The English colonists in North America sent so much tobacco to European markets that it became an affordable indulgence used often by many people (Roak, et. al, 56). The need for tobacco in Europe caused an “endless” need for labor which attracted droves of English indentured servants to work in the tobacco fields (Roak, et. al, 56). The indentured servant system created a society of planters, servants and ex-servants, along with gender imbalance. Although they differed in wealth, landholding, access to labor, and religion, they shared a dedication to growing tobacco (Roak, et. al, 56). Declining mortality encouraged the formation of the planter elite by them living longer. The wealthiest planter also began to buy slaves (Roak, et. al, 65). By the 1670s there was a divide among the people, rich on one side and poor on the other. Before the 1670s all free men could vote, after only head of house who were land owners could vote keeping political power in safe hands. Bacon’s rebellion promoted reforms that stabilized relations between elite planters and their lesser neighbors and paved the way for a social hierarchy that muted differences of landholding and wealth and amplified racial differences (Roak, et. al, 64). By the 1660s, office holders profited enough to buy slaves to replace their indentured servant laborers. They owned about 70% of all colony’s
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