Indentured Servitude

  1. Indentured Servants
    1. More than half of colonists came as indentured servants
    2. Many indentured themselves to captain, who would sell them for four to seven years labor
    3. Children in teens were sold as indentured servants as well
    4. Many came as convicts
      1. served for 7 to 14 years, even life
      2. British thought they would be redeemed by this labor
      3. Few ever returned to England
      4. Mostly men - about 25% women
    5. Treated somewhat better than slaves
      1. Husbands, wives and children sold separately
      2. Beatings and whippings common
      3. Large numbers did not work full term
      4. Many escaped west - easier for them to leave than for slaves
      5. People had to carry passports to prove they were free
    6. Shipment
      1. packed in much like a slave ship
      2. mortality rate could be high
    7. After mid-1600s, only a few rose to prosperity after freedom
  2. Strong class divide develops
    1. A strong aristocracy develops in the colonies
      1. By 1700, 50 rich families dominated Virginia society
      2. In many colonies, much of the land was owned by small handful of people
      3. Boston as an example
        1. In 1687, only 1000 out of 5000 held land
        2. 50 (1% of the population) individuals had 25% of the wealth
        3. By 1770, that had climbed to 44%
    2. Growing numbers of poor in the colonies
      1. By late 1600s, only half of the freed servants held land after 10 years of freedom
      2. Most became tenant farmers
      3. From 1687 to 1770, the percentage of adult males in Boston without land went from 14% to 29%
      4. Poor houses became common in 1730s
      5. The "wandering poor," who drifted from community to community, became common
  3. Rebellions, Mutinies, Strikes and Riots
    1. Indentured servants sometimes rebelled or went on strike - punishments were severe
    2. In the cities bread riots were not unheard of
      1. Severe winter in Boston in 1713 led to food shortages
      2. Over 200 people attacked the ships of a merchant who was exporting grain to Caribbean where prices were higher
    3. People also rioted against impressments - one Boston crowd in 1730 forced governor to flee the city
    4. Crowds protested violently against landlords and merchants
    5. Taxes brought onto pay for wars brought their own protests
    6. The biggest colonial rebellion was Bacon's Rebellion - 1676, Virginia
      1. Began as a dispute over Indian policy
        1. Poor whites who had not gotten the large land grants near the coast had migrated West
        2. Had more conflict with Indians there than large planters on coast
        3. Guerilla war between settlers and Indians had broken out
        4. House of Burgesses declared war on Indians, but not on those who cooperated 
        5. Western settlers wanted war on all Indians, and resented taxes to pay for it.
      2. Difficult times in 1676
        1. Poverty was high
        2. Dry summer had ruined much of the food and tobacco crop
      3. Nathaniel Bacon
        1. Himself a wealthy landlord - 20 years old
        2. Organized armed militias to fight Indians, but outside of Burgesses control
        3. Governor William Berkeley had him arrested, but a crowd of 2000 forced him to set Bacon free
        4. Bacon immediately returned to unauthorized war against the Indians
      4. "Declaration of the People"
        1. Proclamation from Bacon - showed mixed resentment of rich and Indians
        2. Indicted government for unfair taxes
        3. Also for nepotism and cronyism
        4. Accused Berkeley and friends of monopolizing beaver fur trade
        5. Also accused governor of not protecting frontier settlements against Indians
        6. Scared aristocracy greatly because in some places White settlers teamed with Blacks against the government
      5. Rebellion did not last long
        1. Desertions on both sides
        2. Government acted swiftly to put it down
        3. Bacon died of disease
        4. 23 rebel leaders were hung
    7. Glorious Revolution triggers rebellions in the colonies
      1. The arrival of James II on the throne in England brought the prospect of a return to Catholic rule to England
      2. Parliament, to prevent this, conspired with William of Orange and his wife Mary (daughter of James II) to overthrow James II
      3. Reaction in New England
        1. James II had tried to unite New England under a single government - the Dominion of New England
        2. news of the fall of James led to an overthrow of royal authorities, and the creation of interim governments that waited for new royal governors
      4. Reaction in New York - Leisler's Rebellion - 1690-91
        1. A former Dutch officer in New York who stayed on after England seized it 1664 (German born, but worked for the Dutch)
        2. Seized power in New York when the Glorious Revolution in England ousted the King
        3. Strongly supported by the mostly Dutch lower and middle class, who felt sidelined by new English aristocracy
        4. Was later tried and hung when a governor for the new King William arrived