Indentured Servitude to Slavery

Indentured Servitude to Slavery
Indentured Servitude
a. Indentured servants: migrants who, in exchange for transatlantic passage, bound
themselves to a colonial employer for a term of service, typically between four and
seven years. Their migration addressed the chronic labor shortage in the colonies and
facilitated settlement.
b. Headright system: employed in the tobacco colonies to encourage the importation of
indentured servants, the system allowed an individual to acquire fifty acres of land if
he paid for a laborer’s passage to the colony.
c. Indentured contract:
i. 5-7 years
ii. promised “freedom dues” (land)
iii. forbidden to marry
iv. 1610-1614: only 1 in 10 outlived their indentured contracts
First Africans arrived in Jamestown in 1619
a. Their status was not clear (perhaps slaves, perhaps indentured servant)
b. Slavery not that important until the end of the 17th century
Colonial Slavery
a. As the number of slaves increased, white colonists reacted to put down perceived
racial threat
i. slavery transformed from economic to economic and racial institution
ii. early 1600s – differences between slave and servant were unclear
b. By the mid-1680s, black slaves outnumbered white indentured servants
c. Beginning in 1662 – “Slave Codes”
i. made blacks and their children property or chattel for life of white masters
ii. in some colonies, it was a crime to teach a slave to read and write
iii. conversion to Christianity did not qualify the slave for freedom
Frustrated Freemen
a. Late 1600s – mostly single young men who were frustrated by their broken hopes of
acquiring land, as well as by their failure to find single women to marry
b. 1670- Virginia Assembly disenfranchised (took away right to vote) most landless men
c. William Berkeley – governor of Virginia who found the landless men to be a nuisance
on society and crushed the rebels
d. Nathaniel Bacon – 29 year old planter who lead the frustrated frontiersmen who had
been forced off their land
Bacon’s Rebellion (1676)
a. Uprising of Virginia backcountry farmers and indentured servants led by planter
Nathaniel Bacon; initially a response to Governor William Berkeley’s refusal to
protect backcountry settlers from Indian attacks, the rebellion eventually grew into a
broader conflict between impoverished settlers and the planter elite.
b. Events leading up to Bacon’s Rebellion
i. Bacon led 1,000 Virginians in a rebellion against Governor Berkeley
ii. rebels resented Berkeley’s close relations with the Indians
iii. Berkeley monopolized the fur trade with the Indians in the area
iv. Berkeley refused to retaliate for Indian attacks on frontier settlements
c. Bacon’s Rebellion
i. rebels attacked Indians, whether they were friendly or not
ii. Governor Berkeley was driven from Jamestown
iii. rebels burned the capital
iv. Bacon suddenly died from a fever
v. Berkeley brutally crushed the rebellion and hanged 20 rebels
d. Results of Bacon’s Rebellion
i. it exposed resentments between inland frontiersmen and landless former
servants against the gentry on coastal plantations
1. socio-economic class differences and clashes between rural and urban
communities would continue throughout American history
ii. planter elites searched for laborers less likely to rebel – BLACK SLAVES!!!!
The Atlantic Slave Trade
a. Middle Passage – transatlantic voyage slaves endured between Africa and the
colonies. Mortality rates were notoriously high. The long and hazardous “middle”
segment of a journey that began with a forced march to the African coast and ended
with a trek into the American interior.
i. 11 million African men, women and children were put on ships to the New
ii. 2 million perished mid-voyage
iii. 400,000 enslaved Africans came ashore in North America, the rest went to
Latin America & the Caribbean
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