Evolution of 17th Century Virginia

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The Evolution of 17th Century Virginia As Colonial Virginia entered into the 17th century, it was a land marked with opportunity to make a new and also, most importantly, profitable life in the New World. (Cutter Lecture) When the century began, however, it was not the citizens as a whole hoping to make a profit from this new land but rather a small group of greedy landowners profiting off of the work of their indentured servants. (CL) Sure the indentured servants were given a chance to fulfill their contract and one day become free to pursue their own dreams, but the likelihood of this in the beginning was next to none due to harsh living conditions. (CL) According to Richard Frethorne in 1623, "nor is there nothing to be gotten here but sickness and death. ("Experiences of an Indentured Servant," The Way We Lived, 36) However, with improvements in conditions for the servants throughout the years the number fulfilling their servitude increased. (CL) It is at this juncture in history when conflict arose as to what do with the labor system in the future of the European colonies. (CL) While there are somewhat varying viewpoints as to why this shift happened the result is one that all people are familiar with, slavery. With this backdrop in place it will be obvious as to what life was like in the 17th century European colonies and what happened to shift society into a completely new era by the late 17th century and thereafter. Stepping into the 17th century in Virginia, it was likely to find a widely dispersed society of predominantly white men. (CL) In control were rich men who had brought with them indentured servants who had signed a contract before leaving England to work for six or seven years; after this time they c... ... middle of paper ... ...letely ostracized. (66) In a more precise rendition, John Butler states that, "the result was a spiritual and cultural holocaust that shattered the breadth of traditional African culture and religion." (66) What resulted was a banding together of Africans from various nations to form a new culture of their own, independent of the white culture. (66) Eventually what was created was a situation where there were an increasing number of rebellions and runaways because of the African organization and increasing punishments and restrictions on slaves. (67) It was a vicious cycle where one act both caused a reaction and was an effect of that reaction. This led to a society where there was constant fear, paranoia, hatred, and anger on both sides. In a situation such as this it was inevitable that it would eventually lead to a disaster of epic proportions, the Civil War.
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