Slavery in the Early Colonies

Satisfactory Essays
Slavery has been in colonial America since as early as 1619. The reason for bringing slaves over to America was for profit. Tobacco was a crop that took lots of work to harvest, and with the use of slave labor the harvesters were able to have the land cultivated.

Even though slaves cost two and a half times more then indentured servants, they were worth more because their slavery was for life (Norton 79). Indentured servants completed their labor term in three to four years. In the early American colonies slave labor for tobacco was not really needed, because the colonies were supplied with English laborers. (Norton 72).

In the early colonies of America before 1650, people of African descent varied in their stature. As time passed slavery started to take hold on the American colonies, and in 1670 tobacco growing really started to take over and became a big export of the colonies. Slavery didn’t exist in the laws until the 1660s. (The Way we lived 58). In 1670 the House of Burgess stated “all slaves not being christened imported into the colony by shipping shall be slaves for life,” similar servants that “shall come by land” would serve for a term of three to four years. (Norton 72).

The ruling in the House of Burgess was a landmark decision because it was one of the first times that it was put on paper that people were able to own another person for a term of life. The first blacks who were brought to Virginia in 1619 were forcibly removed from West Africa. (The way we live 58). In 1682 Virginia decided to alter a little of what the House of Burgess had said to define who could be a slave. Declaring very bluntly that “Negros, moors, mallatoes, and Indians arriving “by sea or land,” could be held as slaves for their lifespan. (Norton 72)

Europeans viewed Africans as humans but perceived them as different, disagreeable, and dispensable which made them ideal candidates for slavery (The Way We Lived 62). As the 17th century rolled around, slavery was well established in the colonies as the economic powerhouse in the Chesapeake Bay and South Carolina. Between 1492-1770 more Africans then Europeans came to the Americas, and the majority of those Africans were slaves (Norton 73). Between 1700 and 1709 only 1,500 indentured servants from England, Scotland, and Europe would arrive, while over 9,000 imported Africans would arrive (The Way We Lived 60).