Compare and contrast indentured servitude with black slavery. Why did Chesapeake colonists make the switch?
After the colonies started to thrive with the new crop exports, there was a very high demand for field workers to cultivate those crops. There were two ways that the colonists met this demand: the use of indentured servants and the use of black slaves. Indentured servants were, by definition, “persons who agreed to serve a master for a set number of years in exchange for the cost of transport to America.” Our textbook also goes on to add that “indentured servitude was the dominant for of labor in the Chesapeake colonies before slavery.” The use of slaves started after 1700 when the supply of indentured servants began to diminish.
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While you start working for one person, you could end up working for a lot more after being traded or sold to another master. This early mentality of buying and selling humans makes it clear how the society could accept slavery. While some people wanted to make the trip to the new world, many of the people that landed on the shores did not. After the number of new indentured servants started to shrink, Africans were taken as slaves to cultivate the crops. Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, this human commerce transferred over 11 million blacks to the Americas. The decision to bring African slaves to the colonies was economic and benefitted their economy greatly. The settlers of the colonies all started to associate blacks in Africa with evil itself and argued that the Bible condones slavery and that, if the slaves converted to Christianity, they would have benefitted from their loss of freedom. The first Africans arrived to the colonies as cargo from a stolen Spanish ship in 1619. Several Africans were made slaves for life, but many were only slaves for a set period or actually purchased their own freedom. By the end of the seventeenth century, the legal status of Virginia’s black population was no longer in doubt; they were slaves for life, and so were their children. As the black population grew, lawmakers