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The Differences Between Indentured Servants and Slaves

In: Historical Events

Submitted By Jabrehia
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The Differences between Indentured Servants and Slaves
Jabrehia Smith
May 15, 2014
Professor Frank Bird

Introduction Prior to the Civil War, slaves and indentured servants were human chattel that were sold and considered personal property. One system consisted of laws to protect certain rights for laborers, while another system provided no protection from the law to protect laborer’s rights because they were simply considered a piece of property. This brief essay explains the differences between an indentured servant and a slave. In addition, readers will learn when and why masters began to choose slaves over indentured servants.
Indentured Servants
In 1607, the Virginia Company of London landed and settled in Jamestown. Early settlers realized they had an abundant amount of land to care for; however, there was no one to tend to the land. The Virginia Company developed a system known as the indentured servitude that would attract workers needed for cheap labor and a decade later, the first indentured servants arrived in America ("History Detectives Special Investigations", 2011).
The indentured servitude system benefited both the masters and the servants. Masters were awarded 50 acres of land for every laborer brought across the Atlantic as well as the services of the laborers and servants worked under what was typically a five to seven years contract in exchange for freedom dues, lodging, room, board, and passage ("U.S. History Pre- Columbian to the New Millennium", 2014). Servants that lived to complete their contract may have also received land, clothes, money, food, and a gun. Although, the life of an indentured servant was harsh and it came with restrictions, unlike slavery, there were laws to protect some of their rights. Up until 1641 in Massachusetts and 1661 in Virginia, black servants were given the same…...

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