Role Of Indentured Servants During The 1700s

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The role of an indentured servant in the 1700s was not a glamorous one. They came to the New World knowing that, for a time, they would be slaves for someone they did not know and the risk of disease and death was high, but the opportunity that laid ahead of them after their time of servitude was worth everything to these settlers of the New World. They came to America for the same reasons as all of the other settlers. Religious freedom, land, wealth, and a new start were motives for both settlers and indentured servants but the one thing separating most settlers from the indentured servants was that they could afford their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Indentured servants couldn’t buy their ticket to the New World, but that didn’t stop them from becoming an essential part of the settlement of America. The indentured servants that came to North America during the 1700s made up nearly two-thirds of English settlers that came to the New World (Foner 53). They traveled mostly from Great Britain and Germany, but emigrated from all over Europe. No matter where they came from, they had lived in poverty. The only reasonable option for the poor to get to America would be through indentured servitude. Most indentured servants were sent to the southern colonies to work on plantations. Employers in the northern colonies weren’t in great need of servants except for some to do housework. Settlers in the New World could pay for the voyage for the poor but they would have to repay the settler by being their servant for about five years but could range from two to seven years of work. After those two to seven years, the servants were free to claim their own land and start a new life in America. They received “freedom dues” already discussed i... ... middle of paper ... ...tled by the wealthy and the indentured servants were often pushed westward to mountainous, dangerous land, with soil unsuitable for farming. The freedom dues that the indentured servants received at the end of their servitude usually wasn’t enough to allow them to successfully maintain their own land. The dreams that many indentured servants came to the New World to fulfill were sadly brought to reality as many of them lived in poverty. Indentured servants came across the Atlantic Ocean to a place they knew nearly nothing about. They knew they could die very quickly from sickness or malnutrition, and they knew their first years there will be spent as a slave. They also knew this New World was a place of plenty of land, opportunity, and a new start for them and their family. All they knew was that they had an opportunity and that was worth it for these bold settlers.

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