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LABOR SYSTEMS in NORTH AMERICA
Transcript of LABOR SYSTEMS in NORTH AMERICA
During a time of social crisis, people looked to the New World for a better financial status. The false appeal of a new life actually delivered a bound labor system, and as the colonies grew larger and demanded more work, labor systems became more varied, and our research shows that these included waged labor, indentured servitude, apprenticeship, and slavery.
Because of the attraction of abundance of land, the Tobacco colonies in Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay attracted migrants, despite poor working conditions. White society grew quickly and resembled much of England with the wealthy on top, a group of farmers and former indentured servants, and a mass of poor laborers on the bottom. In South Carolina however, wealth was highly concentrated and elites believed that actual work was reserved for common folk and slaves. Slave treatment was also very different. Tobacco colonies had laws for whipping or extending years of service which kept slaves from uprising. However, in South Carolina, most men were a part of the militia elite, which prevented an uprising.
Virginia & Maryland
The "Tobacco Colony
By 1624, more than 200,000 pounds were being grown - grows to 15 million pounds in 40 years - then doubles again by the 1680s.
Demanded high amounts of physical labor - labor conditions of work was harsh and there were high death rates. Runaway slaves were rampant so laws were mandated for whippings or extension of service.
"Slave Society" - Society changed from being a colony that had slaves to a slave society, a society that could not economically flourish without slaves.
Types of Labor Systems
Carolinas were first settled by English in 1670.
Economy grew slowly until they discovered rice.
Rice becomes their staple crop and leads to them becoming the most elite and wealthiest.
There was a legal code that allowed slaveowners "absolute power and authority"
Aristocracy is developed and South Carolina planters enjoyed fine things like travel, luxury items, fine wines, imported materials, and etc.
Extreme amount of labor required to grow rice - slavery is the center of socio-economics in South Carolina.
Has small percentage of wealthy but "armies" of slaves that made the colony a mainland epicenter to slavery.
The contract states that William Buckland, age 22, will serve Thomas Mason in a plantation in Virginia for four years, in return for being granted shelter and food, etc.
Indentured servants arrived in America in the 17th century. Indentured servants are different from free people because they voluntarily gave up their freedom for an extended period of time in exchange for a ticket to America.
The apprentice system has its roots in ancient times, and was at first a simple agreement between a child (or his parents) and an experienced workman for the purpose of teaching the child a trade in return for his labor.
Nearly half of the people who came to the New World were contracted laborers and these included apprentices. According to a petition that was written by leaders of Virginia to the parent Virginia Company of London from January 13, 1620, orphaned children that came as apprentices earned some (very little) money and were educated in a specific trade or profession.
Ballagh, James Curtis.
White Servitude in the Colony of Virginia: A Study of
the System of Indentured Labor in the American Colonies.
Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1895.
Brock, R. A. et al, "Abstract of the Proceedings of the Virginia Company of
London, 1619-1624, etc., etc.," vol. 1 (1889): 39-42.
Give Me Liberty! An American History: Seagull Third Edition.
New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.
Indenture Contract of William Buckland.
1755. Database on-line. Virtual
Jamestown. http://www.virtualjamestown.or/wbind1.html. Accessed 10 September 2014.
Slavery in America: A Reader & Guide.
Athens, GA: The
University of Georgia Press, 2005.
1609. Database on-line. University of Glasglow. http://
special.lib.gla.ac.uk/images/exhibitions/Americana/El.3.5(l)_tpwf.jpg. Accessed 5 September 2014.
*PRIMARY SOURCES IN RED TYPE
During the time of Indentured Servants a new and cheaper type of labor was introduced which was slavery. In 1619, the first African was brought to the Jamestown, Virginia by the Dutch. Between 1680 and 1700, slave labor began to grow and "replace" indentured servitude. This is greatly accelerated by the Bacon's Rebellion in 1676.
During the late 16th century, a social crisis began to occur. Between 1550 and 1600, the population in England went from 3-4 million people. Imagine living in a world where half the population lived at or below the poverty line. The New World, which were the colonies in America like New Amsterdam, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, offered a promise of Utopia, where men could gain financial reward. Between the early years of the 1600s and 1700, more than half a million people left England. Although most did not first settle in America, before 1660, labor intensive colonies like Virginia and Maryland recieved about 21,000 emigrants.
Indentured Servitude cntd.
Indentured servants were not much different from African slaves as far as rights were concerned. They had little. They could be bought and sold. They could not marry without the permission of the people they were contracted under (which were more or less, their "owners"). They were often subjects to physical forms of punishment and verbal abuse. However, different from slavery, there was a hope of release.
"Freedom Dues" - were earned payments and allowed people to become free people of the society.
There was hope of release, but a few people made it to their contracted time. Illness and a high death rate was rampant among servants due to poor travel on ships and climate differences. Even if they did make it, often times, the Freedom Dues were so little that they could not buy land.
Pictured are slaves and female indentured servants working with the tobacco after it's been harvested.
With the growing of the colonies, a new social scale began to develop - extremes of the wealthy in such colonies like South Carolina and the opposite, a poverty line in some places New England and Middle Colonies. Few immigrants and little access to land and inheritance fueled the growth of the poverty line. By the mid-century, the number of wage laborers began to increase.
Waged Labor cntd.
Waged laborers were propertyless people who gained freedom but had little to no access to land. They were supposed to be inheritors, but had no inheritance, forcing them to move to other towns to try and use their skill for work. By the 1730's, in some places like Virginia's Shenandoah River valley, a recorded two-thirds of the population were the county's white men who owned no land. Most of the children were sent to work as apprentices and adults were used to labor in workhouses that produced goods for the community.
Bacon's Rebellion & Slavery
In essence, the rebellion was a conflict within the Virginia elite. Nathaniel Bacon called for the removal of Indians, a reduction of taxes, and wanted the poor to stop being "robbed" by the rich men of their society. As a result, it reduced the number of indentured servants but was a stepping stone and only one factor that led to the growth of slavery.
With the demand for labor rising, people began to rely on slavery, which was really..."free labor". Contracts for slaves did not expire and Africans weren't able to be assisted by the English common law, which meant that they were more advantageous to planters. In plantation colonies in the south, because of the excessive need for extreme amounts of labor, slave labor was favorable. It was economical for planters to buy a slave and keep them for life rather than purchase an indentured servant (who might rebel, seek English law for their rights, and will ultimately earn their freedom in just a few years).
Pamphlet from 1609 that promotes emigration to Virginia
With a social crisis on the rise, people looked to the New World for a better financial status. Colonies began to grow from mass numbers of people that were immigrating there, and with the development of labor intensive crops like tobacco and rice, labor systems began to change from indentured servitude to slavery. Ultimately, this created a small percentage of wealthy whites living amongst the common poverty line that worked for wages, and even lower than that, a massive army of African slaves.
Our primary sources included a pamphlet from 1609, an indenture contract, and a petition that was quoted in the presentation to the Virginia Company of London. We relied began our research using these documents because they illustrated what the labor system actually looked like during the colonization of America.
We relied heavily on the textbook "Give Me Liberty" to gain fundamental information about labor systems and furthermore, we relied on other books, particularly a book titled "White Servitude in the Colony of Virginia: A Study of Indentured Labor in American Colonies", to further our research about different labor systems that were available during the 17th century.