Indentured Servitude In Slavery In The 17th And 18th Century

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Most historians depict life in the New England colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries as harsh and dangerous. The living conditions of most proved to be meager and difficult as the Europeans arriving in the new colonies were either forced into a life of slavery or indentured servitude. There were also those looking to escape the clutches of their past lives and held the hopes of starting again in this foreign land. Whatever the case may have been, many however could not escape the hardships of work, and ultimately the grasp of indentured servitude. These hardships are very prevalent in the letter written by an indentured servant named Johanna Smith to her father, who by inference might have been located a great distance from her. As stated …show more content…
Without a doubt Johanna helps illustrate the indentured in way that highlights her and her fellow servants as property. Many of the owners whom held the contracts of the indentured servants, also held the assumptions that these servants were equivalent to that of property and should be treated as such. This caused many including Johanna to fear their situations, and this fear becomes very prevalent when she states, “I fear what will become of me, your daughter. I fear my present circumstances. I know so little of the country surrounding this place. I fear it as well” (Smith, Letter to Mr. Smith). In the entirety of this letter fear was used to underline her writing, as it was true for many others in her situation. This fear may have shaped her world significantly as it shaped and molded the lives of the countless before and after her but what ultimately conformed their life was the treatment by the masters. Many servants were treated harshly and ended their servitude with little to no gain. On the contrary, many servants upon completion of their contracts and left their masters with land and money in their possession. The landowners and nobles of this era believed that “The system turned servants into freemen, who then hoped to prosper on their …show more content…
However this would come at a great cost and in this case it amounted to the countless years lost by those who ended their servitude worst off than they had started. Not only was there great deal of lost time but also the presence of death in these communities also imposed great burdens as the death rate was increasingly higher than the birth rate prompting the need for many more to migrate and settle in Virginia. This became of great concern to the new settlers whom were to work as indentured servants (Murrin pgs. 59-60). This not only became very problematic for the servant but also hindered the increase of many colonies that were newly established. This concern goes hand in hand with the abovementioned fear that Johanna felt during her time as an indentured and allows for a deeper analysis of this era. The emotions she felt also aid our understanding as to what the general populace of servants must have felt as this letter is only a piece of the bigger picture. With the context of this letter one can assume that this period of indentured servitude was one that was greatly influenced by numerous external forces as well as countless internal emotions. These forces and emotions illustrated by Smith coincide with numerous other accounts of this era as stated in lecture by Professor David

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