The Slavery Of The Virginia Company

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In British colonial America, indentured servitude was borne from the Virginia Company out of a need for cheaper labor, and was gradually replaced by African slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries for the same reason. The growth of slavery in America was not a result of racism or intent, but of economic opportunism. Both were exploited for profit to the maximum of the free planters ability, which in the slave’s case, was much more, because there were little to no laws protecting them, and sometimes even laws targeted against them. Indentured servitude in British America was borne from experiments by the Virginia Company, out of the need for cheap labor and in order to increase labor mobility from England to the colonies. It became a central institution in the economy and society of many parts of British America. The most prevalent problem for early settlers and investors of the Virginia Company was amassing an able labor force. The notion of transplanting the popular English concept of "servants in husbandry" occurred to members of the Virginia Company when the results of their initial efforts to recruit a sustained flow of adult workers to their colony proved disappointing. However, the cost of passage to the new world from England was high relative to the wages of the English workers, and as a result very few could pay for the voyage themselves. The Company 's solution was to pay for the passage themselves, as a loan, and have the migrants under contract to repay this debt out of their net earnings in America. Under the first scheme, first appearing in 1609, Company funds were used to pay transportation costs and the migrants were to work directly for the Company in Virginia. The men were treated very poorly, conditions were... ... middle of paper ... ...rity of literature on the transition assumes. In any case, after white servitude had coexisted alongside black slavery for some decades, slavery eventually proved more economical and presented fewer problems for the landowners. Black slavery began in the English mainland without much questioning, because the colonies were part of the developing Atlantic colonial economic system whose purpose was to produce staples for the European market and that relied on the labor that best fit its needs. When the number of white servants dropped, another cheap, abundant supply of workers was there. They were inexpensive in comparison and could be depended on to work in the fields, like the white servants who they replaced. Once the institution of black slavery was established, demand took over and pulled slave ships across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa.
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