Indentured Servitude and Slavery in Colonial America

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Indentured servitude and the slavery system both played a major role in the development of colonial economy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Prior to the French and Indian war, the American colonies mostly ruled themselves and were in a relatively good economic situation. Despite their successfulness with political issues, the colonists desperately needed help with labor as there was so much work that needed to be done to the land. The need for labor was fulfilled in two ways; indentured servants and African slaves. While the to groups were treated differently and received different levels of respect, both worked the land and ultimately helped the colonists economy to boom. The slavery system and indentured servants helped to put the American colonies in a better economic situation in the years leading up to the American revolution.

Indentured servitude began in the seventeenth century when many Europeans wanted to start a life in the colonies. In many European nations the colonies were heavily advertised and families were encouraged to move to America. The problem with the Colonies’ new popularity was the expenses: most families could not afford the trip over to America, and if they could, most would not have enough money to then purchase land and support their family. Still, many people still wanted to come to America, the solution to the financial problem was indentured servitude. A European’s trip to America would be paid for if they would then be a servant for a certain number of years (usually between four and fourteen). After they served their term, an indentured servant would be given clothes, land, and some money. These servants did much needed work, especially in tobacco fields in the south; they helped to make tobacco a major cash crop in the south which was good for both the Colonies and Britain. The system also allowed for many to become individually rich, middlemen or agents would buy and sign a large group of...
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