Indentured Servitude in Colonial America Essay

Indentured Servitude in Colonial America Essay

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Indentured Servitude in Colonial America
During American colonization, the economy of the south became predominantly dependent on the tobacco plant. As the south continued to develop, they shifted their focus to cotton. Indentured servants as well as African slaves were used for these labor-intensive crops because their labor was decent and cheap (Shi and Tindall 39). Young British men were promised a life of freedom in America if they agreed to an exchange between a free voyage and labor for a fixed number of years. Many willing, able-bodied, and young men signed up with the hopes of establishing a bright future for themselves in America. Unbeknownst to them, indentured servitude was not as easy as it was made out to be. Many servants endured far worse experiences than they had ever imagined. The physical and emotional conditions they faced were horrible, their masters overworked them, and many had to do unprofessional work instead of work that enabled them to use their own personal skills. Young British men felt that because they faced such horrible circumstances, the exchange between a free voyage to America in exchange for servitude was not a proper trade.
One struggle that indentured servants faced was adjusting to the unfamiliar physical conditions they met upon arriving in America. William Moraley, an indentured servant in Burlington, wrote a memoir about his many experiences throughout his servitude. One thing he remembered was the way civil leaders ignored his complaints against his master regarding the contract he signed in England. Moraley recalled, “The condition of bought servants is very hard, notwithstanding their indentures were made in England, wherein it is expressly stipulated, that they shall have, at thei...


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... Tindall 100). Although slaves were initially treated as indentured servants, Americans believed Africans were racially inferior and imposed lifelong servitude on them (Shi and Tindall 75). Both institutions faced horrible circumstances that can never be justified, but without both of these crucial groups, the American economy would not have developed into the powerful economy it is today.
Works Cited
Mayer, Holly A and Shi, David E. "An Indentured Servant’s Letter Home." For The
Record: A Documentary History of America. ed. Jon Durbin. New York: Norton,
2013. 22-24. Print.
Mayer, Holly A and Shi, David E. "Memoirs of an Indentured Servant." For The Record:
A Documentary History of America. ed. Jon Durbin. New York: Norton, 2013. 71-
80. Print.
Shi, David Emory and Tindall, George Brown. America: a Narrative History 1.9 (2013):
39, 75, 100. Print.

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