Land of the Brave

Indentured Servants

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

Definition of Indenture
Definition of Indenture: An indenture was a legal, written contract binding one party into the service of another for a specified term.

Indentured Servants Summary
The system of Indenture and Indentured servants was introduced in Colonial America to meet the growing demand for cheap, plentiful labor in the colonies.

Indentured servants were contracted to work for a fixed period of time usually from five to seven years in exchange for transportation and the prospects of a job and a new life in the American colonies.

Indentured Servants - Work & No Wage
The Indentured servants were provided with basic necessities such as food, clothing and lodging during their term of Indenture but they were not paid any wages. Unlike slaves, the Indentured servants from Europe could look forward to a release from bondage. The first Indentured servants in Colonial America were introduced by the Virginia Company in 1619. For additional facts and info refer to Colonial Society.

Indentured Servants
The Indentured Servants were considered the personal property of their masters. Voluntary indentured servants were often trained in a craft or skill, similar to an apprentice system. The people who travelled to America under this system often endured highly unsettled lives - indenture contracts could be bought and sold or exchanged for goods. In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ended slavery and involuntary servitude.

Facts on Indentured Servants
Discover interesting  facts and information about Indentured Servants via this fast source of information. The Indentured Servants fact files provides fast access to interesting facts and stats about this infamous labor system used in Colonial America.

Fact 1: The first Indentured servants in Colonial America were introduced by the Virginia Company in 1619

Fact 2: There were three classes of Indentured servants:
Willing Migrants who wanted to start a life in the colonies and agreed to sign contracts
Unwilling Migrants who needed to escape religious persecution or were forced to go for other reasons
Convicts, Vagabonds, Rogues and Undesirables - these types of Indentured servants chose America, rather than prison

Fact 3: A staggering 80% of of the total British and continental emigration to America prior to the American Revolutionary War were Indentured Servants

Fact 4: Upon completion of an Indenture contract, the servant would receive "freedom dues," that included items such as land, money, a gun, clothes or food.

Fact 5: A woman who became pregnant as an Indentured servants often had years tacked on to the end of her service time

Fact 6: The idea of indentured servitude was born of a need for cheap labor

Fact 7: Punishments for Indentured Servants were harsher than those for non-servants

Fact 8: Before slave laws were passed black Africans were initially treated as indentured servants, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites.

Fact 9: Indentured servants had few rights, they could not vote, they were not allowed to marry or to leave their houses and travel without permission

Fact 10: They were not allowed to buy or sell anything

Fact 11: Many indentured servants were put to work in the tobacco fields of Virginia and Maryland - hard work and no pay, but unlike slaves, they were eventually free

Fact 12: Some were bought and sold when they arrived in the colonies, much in the same manner as slaves.

Fact 13: An advertisement in the Virginia Gazette read, "Just arrived at Leedstown, the Ship Justitia, with about one Hundred Healthy Servants, Men Women and Boys." 

Fact 14: Some poor people in England sometimes sold themselves into indenture just to survive

Fact 15: Poor English were offered a trip to North America, along with four to seven years of unpaid work for their masters in exchange for the journey

Fact 16: The system of indentured servitude was the answer to clearing the streets of the many beggars and homeless in England.

Fact 17: indentured servants and slaves had joined in Bacon's Rebellion.

Fact 18: The failure of the indentured servitude system helped develop the need and use of slaves

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