Feature Indentured Servants

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Indentured Servants

More from Wes on indentured servants.

Without indentured servants, the nation today known for freedom would not have been built.

In the colonial era, over half the European immigrants to America were indentured servants.

Most were impoverished young European men eager to make a new life in the new world.

So they traded passage across the Atlantic for several years of hard labor.

Servants were not the same thing as slaves, of course, but the resemblance was more than passing.

Like slaves, servants served at the pleasure of their masters.

They had no say over the conditions of their servitude and could be sold to other masters.

They had fewer rights than freed men, and wealthy landowners often treated them as second-class citizens.

Unlike slaves, of course, servants signed a contract and were willingly bound to their masters.

But the fact remains that without servants and slaves, the infrastructure of the free and democratic nation would not have been created.

From the plantations of the south to the shipyards of the north, servants were instrumental in building America.

By the early 19th century, cheaper transatlantic fares and the idea that only Africans should be servile led to the end of indentured servitude in America