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Showing posts from June, 2015

White Convict Servants in the American Colonies outnumbered African Slaves.

By the eighteenth century indentured servants outnumbered African slaves in the North American colonies. Unlike the situation endured by slaves, however, the state was an impermanent one for indentured servants. Initially an attempt to alleviate severe labor shortages in New World settlements, the system of indenture comprised not only willing English women, children, and men, but also convicts, religious separatists, and political prisoners. Indentured servants labored a set number of years (usually four to seven, though the period for convicts could be considerably longer), during which time they were considered the personal property of their masters. Couples were often prevented from marrying, and women from having children. If a woman did become pregnant and was unable to work, an equivalent amount of time was added to her period of servitude. Upon their release, indentured servants.  British Parliament passed the Transportation Act, under which England began sending its imprisone…