An Unthinking Decision: Slavery in the English Colonies


Slavery in America was not a carefully plotted scheme by the English colonists.Rather, it was gradually introduced in the colonies over time as labor resources dried up. Wealthy people didn't get rich on their own.They were dependant upon the labor of others to acquire their riches.
In the early 17th century labor came in the form of indentured servitude.This made travel to America possible for poor people from England.Their journey to the colonies would be paid for by the master who, in return, would get several years of service from the servant.The terms of service lasted up to seven years.However, many indentured servants didn't make it to the end of their term.
According to English law, servants were protected from cruel and unjust treatment.England had no way of enforcing the laws across the ocean; therefore it was controlled by those who were to benefit from the labor.This made for harsh conditions, such as long working days and severe beatings. (Making a Nation)An indentured servant, Richard Frethorne, from England wrote home to his parents saying, "[We] drink water which is but Weak, and I have nothing to Comfort me, nor there is nothing to be gotten here but sickness, and death…" (Major Problems pg. 38)
Indentured servitude paved the way for slavery.Life expectancy at the beginning of the 17th century wasn't very long compared to today.Therefore, it was much more profitable for a plantation owner to purchase an indenture for a servant for a term of seven years than it would be to pay for a lifetime slave.However, as the century progressed, life expectancy grew, lower class white colonists gained more freedom, and slave labor became common in plantation societies.
America entered the market for slave trade in its later stage.The world had been engaged in active slave trade for almost two hundred years by the time the colonists began to participate.England really…

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