Struggle in the Chesapeake
Moving to the Chesapeake was a risk but many chose to live there because they felt they had no opportunities for advancement in England. They would soon find that the prospects of becoming a wealthy and respectable member of society in the Chesapeake were more trying than they had thought. There were some exceptions, such as William Kendall, who were able to prevail despite the hardships of the Chesapeake. Although there were ways to become successful in the Chesapeake, sometimes no matter how many advantages someone was given, the outcome was a disappointing failure. A powerful family could help with becoming prosperous; this is what possibly happened in the story of Jasper Orthwood, where having a powerful family might have helped him win his freedom.
Many people immigrated to the Chesapeake as indentured servants in hopes of a new life. It was a place they could have a chance to own land, advance their social status, and marry. Unfortunately, the likelihoods of actually doing so were slim. Most immigrants who ventured to the Chesapeake were poor and unskilled so they sold themselves into servitude to pay their way to the new land. They had not been told of the harsh living conditions and instability of the Chesapeake. “Many immigrants died within a year of arrival, victims of disease to which they lacked immunity. Between 40 and 60 percent of servants did not live to complete their service.” (Pagan, 15) This shows that owning land, moving up in society, or even starting a family were not easily attainable goals for immigrants moving to the Chesapeake.
There were a few, however, that were able to complete their indenture and move on to be successful and wealthy. William Kendall “began his career in Virginia as an indentured servant and ended it as speaker of the House of Burgesses, senior justice of the Northampton County Court, colonel in the militia, and one of the wealthiest men on the Eastern Shore.” (27) Kendall was able...
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