George Alsop’s memoir of his service as an indentured servant in the colony of Maryland provides an insightful look into the lives of indentured servants in Maryland during the middle of the 17th Century. Throughout this period of colonial America the British were notorious in their use of propaganda to attract young British men into indentured servitude as the use of slaves was not yet perpetual, and would not be until 1670. Alsop depicts an idealistic view of indenture servitude in Maryland during his own time of service, which may have been the case, however this view can be contested by Nathaniel Bacon and Richard Frethorne who both experienced a rather lackluster servitude in comparison to Alsop.
Throughout the extract from his memoir, Alsop is consistently positive about indentured servitude and does not openly criticises the system that the British used for workers before the influx of African slaves to the colonies. Alsop found his two years in Maryland were not “so slavish”1 suggesting that the conditions which indentured servants such as Richard Frethorne had faced during the beginning of the 17th Century had considerably improved. The increase of slaves to the colonies may explain the reasons for Alsop experiencing a successful period in Maryland as by this time Maryland had introduced slave codes stripping all blacks of their rights and creating a larger divide between indenture servant and slave than Frethorne would have experienced in 1623. However, the events that happened during the 43 years that separated both Frethorne and Alsop’s tenure as indentured servants is more likely to be the primary reason for the quality of life improving. Alsop served in Maryland during a period of piece following the civil war in England that saw Oliver Cromwell take command of the British Empire in a period that proved to be
Bibliography: Alsop, George. ‘George Alsop, a Resident of Maryland, Argues That Servants in Maryland Profit from Life in the Colonies, 1666’ Major Problems In American History Volume I: To 1877 (Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012) 38 – 39 Frethorne, Richard. ‘Indentured Servant Richard Frethorne Laments His Condition in Virginia, 1623’ Major Problems In American History Volume I: To 1877 (Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012) 36 – 37 Waterhouse, Edward. ‘Edward Waterhouse, a British Official, Recounts an Indian Attack on Early Virginia Settlement, 1622’ Major Problems In American History Volume I: To 1877 (Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012) 36