As Shameful As Black Slavery
The Irish in Colonial America were considered
"Niggers Turned Inside Out"
"Negro slavery was efficiently established in colonial America because Black slaves were governed, organized and controlled by the structures and organization that were first used to enslave and control Whites. Black slaves were 'late comers fitted into a system already developed.'"
(Michael Hoffman, They Were White and They Were Slaves and Ulrich B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, pp. 25, 26)
Irish Slave Facts
The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.
By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat (70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves at this time).
From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and over 300,000 were sold as slaves.
Ireland's population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade.
During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were forcibly taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. Another 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia while 30,000 Irish men were sold to the highest bidder.
In 1656, Oliver Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.
African slaves were very expensive (50 Sterling), had to be transported long distances and paid for not only in Africa but in the New World. Irish slaves were cheap (no more than 5 Sterling) and most often were either kidnapped from Ireland, prisoners or forcibly removed. They could be worked to death, whipped or branded without it being a crime. Many, many times they were beat to death and while the death of an Irish slave was a monetary setback, it was far cheaper than the death of an expensive African. Therefore, African slaves were treated much better in Colonial America.
The importation of Irish slaves continued well into the eighteenth century, long after the importation of African slaves became the norm. Records state that after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia.
Irish slavery didn't end until Britain decided to end slavery in 1839 and stopped transporting slaves.
The enactment of 1652 in the British Isles:
"it may be lawful for two or more justices of the peace within any county, citty or towne, corporate belonging to the commonwealth to from tyme to tyme by warrant cause to be apprehended, seized on and detained all and every person or persons that shall be found begging and vagrant.. in any towne, parish or place to be conveyed into the Port of London, or unto any other port from where such person or persons may be shipped into a forraign collonie or plantation."
The judges of Edinburgh Scotland during the years 1662-1665 ordered the enslavement and shipment to the colonies a large number of rogues and others who made life unpleasant for the British upper class. (Register for the Privy Council of Scotland, third series, vol. 1, p 181, vol. 2, p 101).
Historian Oscar Handlin writes that in colonial America, White "servants (slaves) could be bartered for profit, sold to the highest bidder for the unpaid debts of their masters, and otherwise transferred like movable goods or chattels...The condition of the first Negroes in the continental English colonies must be viewed within the perspective of these conceptions and realities of White Servitude."
(Michael A Hoffman, They Were White and They Were Slaves, p. 39)
This ship from London with people to sell will give credit to buy the "servants"
from the Virginia Gazette, March 28, 1771
Notice the advertisement, the ship, Roneta, just came from London with "a parcel of very likely Servant men and boys"
to be sold
The politically correct media and education system would have you believe that the evil White man enslaved the negro and only Whites have responsibility for slavery
They would also have you believe that
Only negroes were the victims of slavery
The facts are
Negroes enslaved Whites, Negroes and Indians
Indians enslaved Whites, Indians and Negroes
Whites enslaved Whites, Negroes and Indians
White slaves were owned by Negroes and Indians to such an extent in the South that the Virginia Assembly passed a law against the practice!
"It is enacted that noe negro or Indian though baptized and enjoyned their owne ffreedome shall be capable of any such purchase of christians..."
Christians meant Whites
Statutes of the Virginia Assembly, Vol. 2, pp. 280-81)
White Christians were sold on the auction block, in chains
White Christians had their teeth checked and their muscles probed, like cattle
White Christians were stripped naked for all the world to see
White Christian families were split apart
These horrific deeds did not just happen to Africans
These horrific deeds happened to White Christian slaves to satisfy the "need for labor" on the plantations and in the factories of the elite, White and black
It's estimated that in the colonial period of the United States, up to the Revolutionary war, at least half (some say two thirds) of all the Whites that entered Colonial America were slaves
Some say that the Blacks were slaves, the Whites were servants. Historical documents proves this to be false
In the original documents of the White merchants who transported negroes from Africa for the slave markets the Blacks were called servants
"...one notes that the Company of Royal Adventurers referred to their cargo as 'Negers,' 'Negro-servants,' 'servants...from Africa..."
(Handlin. p. 205)
This proves that slavery was not racist
Slavery was classist
Slavery was economic
In the 1600s slaves of both races were called servants
Elite Whites, and some blacks, would enslave whoever they could get, regardless of race
Notice this advertisement includes negro, Indian and a "fresh complexion servant" who has run away
Ad for an East Indian slave
They were equal opportunity slave owners in this country!
Every ad for runaway Negros say just that, "negro"
Mulattos are listed that way
What color is this runaway? Must be White!
Here's another ad for a runaway "servant", aka White Slave
This ad even tells the reader that the runaway is Irish
from the Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser, February 10, 1772
Oscar Handlin says that "Through the first three-quarters of the 17th century, the Negroes, even in the South, were not numerous...They came into a society in which a large part of the White population was to some degree unfree...The Negroes lack of freedom was not unusual. These Black newcomers, like so many others, were accepted, bought and held, as kinds of servants."
He goes on to say that the desire for cheap labor caused the elite merchants and land owners to enslave not only the negroes but their own White kindred as well
Blacks were much more expensive than Whites
Therefore, Whites were mistreated more often than blacks
During the Colonial period, Whites did the harder work, such as digging ditches, clearing land, and felling trees
The frontier demands for this kind of heavy manual labor was satisfied primarily by White slaves
As late as 1669 those who had large scale plantations were manning them with White slaves, not negroes
That's the way it was done in the mother country, Great Britain!
In 1670 the Governor of Virginia said that he had 2000 Negro and 6000 White slaves
Hundreds of thousands of Whites in colonial America were owned outright by their masters and died in slavery
Even the blacks knew this. If they were made to work too hard they accused their masters of
"treating them like the Irish"
Plantation slavery, the final stage of slavery in the United States, does not represent the entire history of slavery in this country
Indentured servants -- slaves -- working the plantations in South Carolina
This is historical fact
This is the Heritage of America
This is not taught in schools
Shame -- Shame -- Shame!
The Forgotten Slaves: Whites in Servitude in Early America and Industrial Britain
White children enslaved in a mine in 19th century England. The two on the left are virtually naked. Children of both sexes worked in this manner.
by Michael A. Hoffman II ©Copyright 1999. All Rights Reserved
Two years ago, Prime Minister Paul Keating of Australia refused to show "proper respect" to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during her state visit. In response, Terry Dicks, a Conservative member of the British Parliament said, "It's a country of ex-convicts, so we should not be surprised by the rudeness of their prime minister."
A slur such as this would be considered unthinkable if it were uttered against any other class or race of people except the descendants of White slavery. Dicks' remark is not only offensive, it is ignorant and false. Most of Australia's "convicts" were shipped into servitude for such "crimes" as stealing seven yards of lace, cutting trees on an aristocrat's estate or poaching sheep to feed a starving family.
The arrogant disregard for the holocaust visited upon the poor and working class Whites of Britain by the aristocracy continues in our time because the history of that epoch has been almost completely extirpated from our collective memory.
When White servitude is acknowledged as having existed in America, it is almost always termed as temporary "indentured servitude" or part of the convict trade, which, after the Revolution of 1776, centered on Australia instead of America. The "convicts" transported to America under the 1723 Waltham Act, perhaps numbered 100,000.
The indentured servants who served a tidy little period of 4 to 7 years polishing the master's silver and china and then taking their place in colonial high society, were a minuscule fraction of the great unsung hundreds of thousands of White slaves who were worked to death in this country from the early l7th century onward.
Up to one-half of all the arrivals in the American colonies were Whites slaves and they were America's first slaves. These Whites were slaves for life, long before Blacks ever were. This slavery was even hereditary. White children born to White slaves were enslaved too.
Whites were auctioned on the block with children sold and separated from their parents and wives sold and separated from their husbands. Free Black property owners strutted the streets of northern and southern American cities while White slaves were worked to death in the sugar mills of Barbados and Jamaica and the plantations of Virginia.
The Establishment has created the misnomer of "indentured servitude" to explain away and minimize the fact of White slavery. But bound Whites in early America called themselves slaves. Nine-tenths of the White slavery in America was conducted without indentures of any kind but according to the so-called "custom of the country," as it was known, which was lifetime slavery administered by the White slave merchants themselves.
In George Sandys laws for Virginia, Whites were enslaved "forever." The service of Whites bound to Berkeley's Hundred was deemed "perpetual." These accounts have been policed out of the much touted "standard reference works" such as Abbott Emerson Smith's laughable whitewash, Colonists in Bondage.
I challenge any researcher to study 17th century colonial America, sifting the documents, the jargon and the statutes on both sides of the Atlantic and one will discover that White slavery was a far more extensive operation than Black enslavement. It is when we come to the 18th century that one begins to encounter more "servitude" on the basis of a contract of indenture. But even in that period there was kidnapping of Anglo-Saxons into slavery as well as convict slavery.
In 1855, Frederic Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed New York's Central Park, was in Alabama on a pleasure trip and saw bales of cotton being thrown from a considerable height into a cargo ship's hold. The men tossing the bales somewhat recklessly into the hold were Negroes, the men in the hold were Irish.
Olmsted inquired about this to a shipworker. "Oh," said the worker, "the niggers are worth too much to be risked here; if the Paddies are knocked overboard or get their backs broke, nobody loses anything."
Before British slavers traveled to Africa's western coast to buy Black slaves from African chieftains, they sold their own White working class kindred ("the surplus poor" as they were known) from the streets and towns of England, into slavery. Tens of thousands of these White slaves were kidnapped children. In fact the very origin of the word kidnapped is kid-nabbed, the stealing of White children for enslavement.
According to the English Dictionary of the Underworld, under the heading kidnapper is the following definition: "A stealer of human beings, esp. of children; originally for exportation to the plantations of North America."
The center of the trade in child-slaves was in the port cities of Britain and Scotland:
"Press gangs in the hire of local merchants roamed the streets, seizing 'by force such boys as seemed proper subjects for the slave trade.' Children were driven in flocks through the town and confined for shipment in barns...So flagrant was the practice that people in the countryside about Aberdeen avoided bringing children into the city for fear they might be stolen; and so widespread was the collusion of merchants, shippers, suppliers and even magistrates that the man who exposed it was forced to recant and run out of town." (Van der Zee, Bound Over, p. 210).
White slaves transported to the colonies suffered a staggering loss of life in the 17th and 18th century. During the voyage to America it was customary to keep the White slaves below deck for the entire nine to twelve week journey. A White slave would be confined to a hole not more than sixteen feet long, chained with 50 other men to a board, with padlocked collars around their necks. The weeks of confinement below deck in the ship's stifling hold often resulted in outbreaks of contagious disease which would sweep through the "cargo" of White "freight" chained in the bowels of the ship.
Ships carrying White slaves to America often lost half their slaves to death. According to historian Sharon V. Salinger, "Scattered data reveal that the mortality for [White] servants at certain times equaled that for [Black] slaves in the 'middle passage,' and during other periods actually exceeded the death rate for [Black] slaves." Salinger reports a death rate of ten to twenty percent over the entire 18th century for Black slaves on board ships enroute to America compared with a death rate of 25% for White slaves enroute to America.
Foster R. Dulles writing in Labor in America: A History, states that whether convicts, children 'spirited' from the countryside or political prisoners, White slaves "experienced discomforts and sufferings on their voyage across the Atlantic that paralleled the cruel hardships undergone by negro slaves on the notorious Middle Passage."
Dulles says the Whites were "indiscriminately herded aboard the 'white guineamen,' often as many as 300 passengers on little vessels of not more than 200 tons burden--overcrowded, unsanitary...The mortality rate was sometimes as high as 50% and young children seldom survived the horrors of a voyage which might last anywhere from seven to twelve weeks."
Independent investigator A.B. Ellis in the Argosy writes concerning the transport of White slaves, "The human cargo, many of whom were still tormented by unhealed wounds, could not all lie down at once without lying on each other. They were never suffered to go on deck. The hatchway was constantly watched by sentinels armed with hangers and blunder busses. In the dungeons below all was darkness, stench, lamentation, disease and death."
Marcus Jernegan describes the greed of the shipmasters which led to horrendous loss of life for White slaves transported to America:
"The voyage over often repeated the horrors of the famous 'middle passage' of slavery fame. An average cargo was three hundred, but the shipmaster, for greater profit, would sometimes crowd as many as six hundred into a small vessel...The mortality under such circumstances was tremendous, sometimes more than half...Mittelberger (an eyewitness) says he saw thirty-two children thrown into the ocean during one voyage."
"The mercantile firms, as importers of (White) servants, were not too careful about their treatment, as the more important purpose of the transaction was to get ships over to South Carolina which could carry local produce back to Europe. Consequently the Irish--as well as others--suffered greatly...
"It was almost as if the British merchants had redirected their vessels from the African coast to the Irish coast, with the white servants coming over in much the same fashion as the African slaves." (Warren B. Smith, White Servitude in Colonial South Carolina).
A study of the middle passage of White slaves was included in a Parliamentary Petition of 1659. It reported that White slaves were locked below deck for two weeks while the slaveship was still in port. Once under way, they were "all the way locked up under decks...amongst horses." They were chained from their legs to their necks.
Those academics who insist that slavery is an exclusively Black racial condition forget or deliberately omit the fact that the word slave originally was a reference to Whites of East European origin - "Slavs."
Moreover, in the 18th century in Britain and America, the Industrial Revolution spawned the factory system whose first laborers were miserably oppressed White children as young as six years of age. They were locked in the factories for sixteen hours a day and mangled by the primitive machinery. Hands and arms were regularly ripped to pieces. Little girls often had their hair caught in the machinery and were scalped from their foreheads to the back of their necks.
White Children wounded and crippled in the factories were turned out without compensation of any kind and left to die of their injuries. Children late to work or who fell asleep were beaten with iron bars. Lest we imagine these horrors were limited to only the early years of the Industrial Revolution, eight and ten year old White children throughout America were hard at work in miserable factories and mines as late as 1920.
Because of the rank prostitution, stupidity and cowardice of America's teachers and educational system, White youth are taught that Black slaves, Mexican peons and Chinese coolies built this country while the vast majority of the Whites lorded it over them with a lash in one hand and a mint julep in the other.
The documentary record tells a very different story, however. When White Congressman David Wilmot authored the Wilmot Proviso to keep Black slaves out of the American West he did so, he said, to preserve that vast expanse of territory for "the sons of toil, my own race and color."
This is precisely what most White people in America were, "sons of toil," performing backbreaking labor such as few of us today can envision. They had no paternalistic welfare system; no Freedman's Bureau to coo sweet platitudes to them; no army of bleeding hearts to worry over their hardships. These Whites were the expendable frontline soldiers in the expansion of the American frontier. They won the country, felled the trees, cleared and planted the land.
The wealthy, educated White elite in America are the sick heirs of what Charles Dickens in Bleak House termed "telescopic philanthropy"--the concern for the condition of distant peoples while the plight of kindred in one's own backyard are ignored.
Today much of what we see on "Turner Television" and Pat Robertson's misnamed "Family Channel," are TV films depicting Blacks in chains, Blacks being whipped, Blacks oppressed. Nowhere can we find a cinematic chronicle of the Whites who were beaten and killed in White slavery. Four-fifths of the White slaves sent to Britain's sugar colonies in the West Indies did not survive their first year.
Soldiers in the American Revolution and sailors impressed into the American navy received upwards of two hundred whiplashes for minor infractions. But no TV show lifts the shirt of these White yeoman to reveal the scars on their backs.
The Establishment would rather weep over the poor persecuted Negroes, but leave the White working class "rednecks" and "crackers" (both of these terms of derision were first applied to White slaves), to live next door to the Blacks.
Little has changed since the early 1800s when the men of property and station of the English Parliament outlawed Black slavery throughout the Empire. While this Parliament was in session to enact this law, ragged five year old White orphan boys, beaten, starved and whipped, were being forced up the chimneys of the English parliament, to clean them. Sometimes the chimney masonry collapsed on these boys. Other times they suffocated to death inside their narrow smoke channels.
Long after Blacks were free throughout the British Empire, the British House of Lords refused to abolish chimney-sweeping by White children under the age of ten. The Lords contended that to do so would interfere with "property rights." The lives of the White children were not worth a farthing and were considered no subject for humanitarian concern.
The chronicle of White slavery in America comprises the dustiest shelf in the darkest corner of suppressed American history. Should the truth about that epoch ever emerge into the public consciousness of Americans, the whole basis for the swindle of "Affirmative action," "minority set-asides" and proposed "Reparations to African-Americans" will be swept away. The fact is, the White working people of this country owe no one. They are themselves the descendants, as Congressman Wilmot so aptly said, of "the sons of toil."
There will only be racial peace when knowledge of radical historical truths are widespread and both sides negotiate from positions of strength and not from fantasies of White working class guilt and the uniqueness of Black suffering.
Let it be said, in many cases Blacks in slavery had it better than poor Whites in the antebellum South. This is why there was such strong resistance to the Confederacy in the poverty-stricken areas of the mountain south, such as Winston County in Alabama and the Beech mountains of North Carolina. Those poor Whites could not imagine why any White laborer would want to die for the slave-owning plutocracy that more often than not, gave better care and attention to their Black servants than they did to the free white labor they scorned as "trash."
To this day, the White ruling class denigrates the White poor and patronizes Blacks.
If this seems admirable from the pathological viewpoint of Marxism or cosmopolitan liberalism, the Black and Third World "beneficiaries" of White ruling class "esteem" ought to consider what sort of "friends" they actually have.
The Bible declares that the man who does not take care of his own family is "worse than an infidel." This also applies to one's racial kindred. The man who neglects his own children to care for yours has true love for neither.
White, self-hating liberals and greed-head conservatives who claim to care for the "civil rights" of Black and Third World people, discard the working class of their own people on the garbage heap of history. When they are finished with their own they shall surely turn on others.
Those who care for their own kind first are not practicing "hate" but kindness, which is the very root of the word.
Michael A. Hoffman II is the author of "They Were White and They Were Slaves: The Untold History of the Enslavement of Whites in Early America and Industrial Britain"
PURCHASE THE BOOK AT THE LINK BELOW...LEARN THE TRUTH FOR YOURSELF
by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh
"High school American history classes present indentured servitude as a benignly paternalistic system whereby colonial immigrants spent a few years working off their passage and went on to better things. Not so, this impassioned history argues: the indentured servitude of whites was comparable in most respects to the slavery endured by blacks. Given the hideous mortality rates, the authors argue, indentured contracts often amounted to a life sentence at hard labor—some convicts asked to be hanged rather than be sent to Virginia....their exposé of unfree labor in the British colonies paints an arresting portrait of early America as gulag. 8 pages of photos."
”With information gleaned from contemporary letters, journals and court archives, White Cargo is packed with proof that the brutalities usually associated with black slavery were, for centuries, also inflicted on whites.”
”An eye-opening and heart-rending story.”
—The Times (London)
White Cargo is the forgotten story of the thousands of Britons who lived and died in bondage in Britain’s American colonies.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, more than 300,000 white people were shipped to America as slaves. Urchins were swept up from London’s streets to labor in the tobacco fields, where life expectancy was no more than two years. Brothels were raided to provide “breeders” for Virginia. Hopeful migrants were duped into signing as indentured servants, unaware they would become personal property who could be bought, sold, and even gambled away. Transported convicts were paraded for sale like livestock.
Drawing on letters crying for help, diaries, and court and government archives, Don Jordan and Michael Walsh demonstrate that the brutalities usually associated with black slavery alone were perpetrated on whites throughout British rule. The trade ended with American independence, but the British still tried to sell convicts in their former colonies, which prompted one of the most audacious plots in Anglo-American history.
This is a saga of exploration and cruelty spanning 170 years that has been submerged under the overwhelming memory of black slavery. White Cargo brings the brutal, uncomfortable story to the surface.
White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America
By Don Jordan, Michael Walsh
Published by NYU Press, 2008
ISBN 0814742963, 9780814742969
Purchase the book at any book seller
Know the truth for yourself
Contract signed by both parties
This assumes of course that the "indentured" servant could read and write
Most could not
Only a fraction of the White slaves brought to the colonies were actually true indentured servants
Most would become slaves for life
Indenture Servant contracts
Indenture form for six year old Evan Morgan dated 1823 in Delaware making him a "servant" for 14 years and 1 month - who signed for a six year old?
Now that you know the truth of White slavery
Let's look at what "historians" say about "indentured servants"
Indentured Servants' Experiences 1600-1700
BEFORE THE JOURNEY: "Many of the spirits [people who recruited indentured servants] haunted the London slums and those of Bristol and other seaports. It was not difficult to find hungry and thirsty victims who, over a dinner and much liquor, would sign anything before them. The spirit would then hustle his prey to his headquarters to be added to a waiting company of others, safely kept where they could not escape until a ship was ready for them. An easier way was to pick up a sleeping drunk from the gutter and put him aboard a vessel for America, where, with no indenture, he could be sold to his own disadvantage and with the American planter's gain. Children were valuable and could be enticed with candy to come along with a spirit. Sometimes they, and older people too, were seized by force."
THE JOURNEY: The ocean journey to America usually took eight to twelve weeks. Indentured servants were packed into the ships tightly, often being held in the hold without a chance to get fresh air. "Every two weeks at sea the [indentured servant] passengers received an allowance of bread. One man and his wife, having eaten their bread in eight days, staggered before the captain and begged him to throw them overboard, for they would otherwise starve before the next bread day. The captain laughed in their faces, while the ship's mate, even more of a brute, gave them a bag of sand and told them to eat that. The couple did die before the next ration of bread, but the captain charged the other passengers for the bread the two would have eaten if they had survived."
UPON ARRIVAL IN AMERICA: Some indentured servants had their contract of service worked out with waiting American colonists who would be their masters for four to seven years. Others, upon arrival, were bought and sold much in the same manner as slaves. An announcement in the Virginia Gazette read, "Just arrived at Leedstown, the Ship Justitia, with about one Hundred Healthy Servants, Men Women and Boys. . . . The Sale will commence on Tuesday the 2nd of April."
TREATMENT BY THEIR MASTERS: Indentured servants had few rights. They could not vote. Without the permission of their masters, they were not allowed to marry, to leave their houses or travel, nor buy or sell anything. Female indentured servants were often raped without legal recourse. Masters often whipped and beat their indentured servants. One man testified: "I have seen an Overseer beat a Servant with a cane about the head till the blood has followed, for a fault that is not worth the speaking of...."
WORK IN AMERICA: In the 1600s, most indentured servants were put to work in the tobacco fields of Virginia and Maryland. This was hard manual labor under the grueling hot summer sun, under which Europeans were not accustomed to working. Overseers were often cruel, beating the servants to make them work faster and harder.
AFTER CONTRACT WAS COMPLETED: Although many masters craftily figure out ways to extend an indentured servant's bondage (through accusing the servant of stealing, impregnating a female indenture servant, etc.), most indentured servants who survived the first four to seven years in America were freed. The master was required (depending upon the rules of the colony) to provide his former servant with the following: clothing, two hoes, three barrels of corn, and fifty acres of land.
Condition of Many Early Immigrants,
"Indenture" is a term from English Common Law which, in the 17th century, generally meant: "under contract". Indentured servants (or laborers under contract) were commonplace in Colonial Virginia during that period. Historians estimate that:
- About 70% of migrants from England who came between 1630-1660 were indentured servants;
- Most indentured servants were young, 15-25, and single;
- Males servants outnumbered female servants;
- Indentures were typically 4-7 years in duration;
- Trade in indentured servants peaked about 1620-1680, but lasted until the 1770s.
According to the Historians:
Indentured servants were often scorned in their time as beggars and riffraff. In reality they probably represented a broad spectrum of working people from English society. They included the desperately poor (the majority) and the middle class. Most of them were probably farmers or unskilled laborers during the early years.
Tobacco quickly became the principal source of cash in early Virginia and tobacco farming demanded a large and ever expanding work force, a workforce which could not be provided from within the colony. Ergo, English entrepreneurs were encouraged to recruit large numbers of laborers from England to the tobacco plantations. Men, women, and sometimes children signed a contract with a "master" to serve a term of 4 to 7 years. In exchange for their service, indentured servants received their passage paid from England, and food, clothing and shelter once they arrived in the colony.
When the contract had expired, the servant was paid "freedom dues" and allowed to leave the plantation. Freedom dues usually consisted of corn, tools and clothing.
During the time of his/her indenture, a servant was considered his master's personal property and the servant's contract could be bartered, inherited or assigned. While a servant, a person could not marry or have children. A master's permission was needed to leave the plantation, to perform work for someone else, or to receive money for personal use. An "unruly" servant was punished by whipping for improper behavior.
Labor was hard and living conditions were generally harsh for indentured servants. Many servants had difficulty adjusting to the climate and native diseases of southeast (Tidewater) Virginia, and many servants did not live to receive their freedom. Runaway servants, of which there were many, were punished by increasing their time of service if they were captured.
Conditions changed in Virginia, however, and, by 1700, recruitment of tobacco plantation labor from England was no longer as important due to the increasing availability of African slaves for the harsh plantation work. At that point, English artisans and skilled labor became important and the nature of the indentured servant trade from England changed. Later in the 1700s, England transported convicts, both men and women, to Virginia to be sold to plantation owners as another form of labor.
Indentured servants first arrived in America in the decade following the settlement of Jamestown by the Virginia Company in 1607.
The idea of indentured servitude was born of a need for cheap labor. The earliest settlers soon realized that they had lots of land to care for, but no one to care for it. With passage to the Colonies expensive for all but the wealthy, the Virginia Company developed the system of indentured servitude to attract workers. Indentured servants became vital to the colonial economy.
The timing of the Virginia colony was ideal. The Thirty Year's War had left Europe's economy depressed, and many skilled and unskilled laborers were without work. A new life in the New World offered a glimmer of hope; this explains how one-half to two-thirds of the immigrants who came to the American colonies arrived as indentured servants.
Servants typically worked four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn't slavery. There were laws that protected some of their rights. But their life was not an easy one, and the punishments meted out to people who wronged were harsher than those for non-servants. An indentured servant's contract could be extended as punishment for breaking a law, such as running away, or in the case of female servants, becoming pregnant.
For those that survived the work and received their freedom package, many historians argue that they were better off than those new immigrants who came freely to the country. Their contract may have included at least 25 acres of land, a year's worth of corn, arms, a cow and new clothes. Some servants did rise to become part of the colonial elite, but for the majority of indentured servants that survived the treacherous journey by sea and the harsh conditions of life in the New World, satisfaction was a modest life as a freeman in a burgeoning colonial economy.
In 1619 the first black Africans came to Virginia. With no slave laws in place, they were initially treated as indentured servants, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites. However, slave laws were soon passed – in Massachusetts in 1641 and Virginia in 1661 –and any small freedoms that might have existed for blacks were taken away.
As demands for labor grew, so did the cost of indentured servants. Many landowners also felt threatened by newly freed servants demand for land. The colonial elite realized the problems of indentured servitude. Landowners turned to African slaves as a more profitable and ever-renewable source of labor and the shift from indentured servants to racial slavery had begun
Did these poor people have a clue what they were getting into?
Of course not!
Glasgow Courant (Scotland), 4 September 1760
While White people are reminded over and over again about their guilt surrounding the slavery of millions of Africans, the slavery of millions of their own kind is quietly left in the dust bin of history
Shame on Historians!
Shame on Educators!
Shame on Politicians!
Shame -- Shame -- Shame!
Save Your Heritage!
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