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Slavery vs. Indentured Servitude

Settler of the British America had a rough and slow start when compared to the settlers of Spain and France. However, the British had a much better success rate because they first focus was on one thing and one thing only: survival. Once survival was ensured, the settlers then began thinking about getting rich.

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Most of which did so by having huge farms and plantations that required extreme amounts of manual labor. As a colonial employer, there were two options for labor: indentured servants and slaves.

Although both had their pros and cons, one would eventually sweep the nation and be used almost universally. The first type of labor that was used in the British Americas was indentured servitude. An indentured servant became one by agreeing with an employer to take them to New World in exchange for 5-7 years of labor. The benefit for a colonial employer were that they were cheap, especially compared to its future counterpart; that was pretty much the only real big benefit of having an indentured slave. However, the disadvantages were quite numerous.

For example, they were European, so they had to be treated with respect and decency. Moreover, he had to feed them, clothe them, and give them shelter. Also, after they served out their contract, they were let to go free with 50 acres of land that the employer had to provide, which cause for further financial losses. Furthermore, the employer also had to keep in mind that anywhere from 25-40% of the indentured servants didn’t finish off their contract because they died. Form their arrival to Virginia in 1619, the slaves labor was used to a better extent.

The colonial employer saw that the benefits of having a slave included the fact that he owned them for life. Furthermore, a colonial employer was allowed to sleep with the women, if he wanted to, so he got a “big benefit” from having slaves. Moreover, any of the slave women that got pregnant produced more slaves, which was a very big financial benefit to the colonial employer. Another benefit was also that they worked much harder than the indentured servants because the employer was able to scare them into submission. Although the benefits are numerous, there were also some disadvantages for having slaves.

For example, they cost more to begin with than the indentured servant, and also required to be fed, clothes, and sheltered. Also, they would, every once in a while, try to revolt against the colonial employer by starting a fire and burning down the crops. From a colonial employer’s stand point, it is quite obvious that the African slave was a much better deal than the indentured servant. Slaves, although cost more, came with a lot more perks that the indentured servants could not provide. As a result, slavery swept the nation and became the leading method for labor up until 1865, which was the end of the Civil War.