Early colonial history in American begins with the settlement of the English in Virginia. Life was tough for the early Virginia colonists due to high death rates. This, in turn, led to labor shortages in the colony. Many Englishmen who wished to come to Virginia, and later other colonies, could not afford the cost of their passage to America. They often became indentured servants, signing a contract to work from 3 – 7 years for those who had paid their passage to the colonies (Stuckey and Salvucci 2000, 65). “Membership in this group was not demeaning; after all, servitude was a temporary status” (Divine 2002, 86). Once their indenture contract had been fulfilled they were released from servitude, free to start a life and business of their own in the colony. Most indentured servants came to America willingly and with some hope for a future of their own making.
The institution of slavery began to evolve in Colonial Virginia. The first Africans brought by the Dutch in 1619 were not all enslaved. Some probably had the status of indentured servants, as indentured servitude was the form of non-free labor most often used by the English of this period (Botsch 1994, 10). Over a period of fifty years or more, the Africans in Virginia slowly lost this status and move from temporary servitude to servitude for life; slavery (Botsch 1994, 10). Prejudice and greed may have contributed to the creation of slavery in the early colonies. Greed appears to be the foremost reason, because of the desire for cheap labor to clear land for tobacco in Virginia, and rice in South Carolina. Freeing servants who worked for an agreed time was expensive, so whites tried to find ways to keep Africans as servants for life. For the first several decades, slave prices were high, but as they dropped many farmers and planters preferred slaves over indentured servants who were set free at the end of their contract (Stuckey and Salvucci 2000, 65). Slaves could be purchased once and were “owned” for their entire life. By the late 1600’s, the English wrote enslavement into law. As the colonial period progressed, the ownership of slaves determined the amount of social prestige and influence one would have among whites. The large planters were the dominant class and non-slaveholders were of lower social rank (Divine 2002, 415).
Most slaves brought to the English colonies were from the west coast of Africa. They were often men and women taken captive during wars among various peoples, or tribes, in Africa (Divine 2002, 16). They did not come willingly and often had no hope for the future in a strange land. Even those born in America, as children of slaves, had little hope for a free life. Many slaves were brought to South Carolina because of their skill as rice workers. In the 1700’s rice was the most important crop in South Carolina. This Carolina Gold made the white planters wealthy. The institution of slavery was important to early planters because of the Africans’ knowledge of growing rice, their resistance to the deadly diseases of malaria and yellow fever carried by mosquitoes in the low-lying rice fields, and their ability to tolerate the heat and hard work better than the Europeans.
Today, our society recognizes that slavery is illegal, immoral and horrific. However, during colonial times slaves were valuable property and often the main tools of production for a booming economy in various regions of Colonial America (Divine 2002, 418).
1993 Ap U.S. History Dbq Essay
775 WordsJan 27th, 20124 Pages
Despite the common English backgrounds, societies in the New England and Chesapeake regions of Colonial America had split off into two incredibly different cultures: A very religiously focused New England and the more economic-oriented Chesapeake. Because these regions were settled for different purposes, the development of these societies led to the distinctions between them. One of the major causes for emigration from England to North America was religious persecution. Religious tolerance in Britain for other Christian sects besides the Anglican church was virtually nonexistent, resulting in many members of other sects to seek religious haven in the colonies. The vast majority of immigrants coming to New England were followers of…show more content…
Contrary to the pilgrims of New England, those who settled in the Chesapeake area colonized the region for more economic purposes. Many people who settled in the Chesapeake were down-on-their-luck English citizens living in swamps and slums hoping to stake it out in the New World, because it couldn’t be much worse than the conditions they faced back in England. Most received their tickets to America through indentured servitude, paying for their trip with a few years of free labor for a wealthy master. Document C is a roster of indentured servants bound for Virginia who are all set to work for the same master. Indentured servitude had long lasting effects on the colonies, the most impactful being Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 (Document H). This uprising was caused former indentured servants who had no land or property of their own once their work contracts expired. Because the land westward was populated by Natives and therefore almost impossible to acquire, the dissenters focused against the rich and powerful members of the colonies. The successful uprising led to reforms such as work regulations explained in Document E, as well a shift away from indentured servitude and towards slavery of blacks. Other settlers besides indentured servants were aspiring traders and gold-hunters mentioned in Document F. While traders had little success early on and treasure hunters definitely didn’t find their fields of