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Reports & Essays: History - American History

"AND""OR"

Slavery in America in the late 17th century, was the direct
result of a labor shortage in the English colonies. Colonists continually tried to allure laborers to the colony and chiefly relied on Indentured Servitude. The headright system was a method of getting cheap laborers as well as increasing the population of the colony by giving the indentured servant independence after a certain number of years of service. When this method did not suffice and laborers were still scarce, the colonists turned to a different labor force, African slaves. The decreasing population combined with a need for a labor force, led colonists to believe that buying African slaves was the most efficient way to acquire a labor force. Before the 1680's, Indentured Servitude was the primary source of labor in the newly developed colonies. After the 1680's, the population of Indentured Servants decreased because they were either running away from their temporary masters to find a job and gain their independence or they where unable to survive the harsh living conditions and died. This created a serious void in the labor market for the colonists. In the 1600's, when tobacco was introduced by John Rolfe, many colonists began to grow it. The soil was perfect for this crop and tobacco became the main source of income for most of the colonists. The economic prosperity of the colonies was primarily dependent on the amount of tobacco produced. The growing of tobacco, needed a large amount of land, with a large stable work force. The increased demand for a large, stable work force combined with the availability of African slaves, led to the use of slavery in the colonies. To the planter, slavery was the ideal form of labor. Tobacco was the major crop of the 17th century in the English colonies. Tobacco is a plant that exhausts nutrients from the soil and requires the rotation of crops, in order to replenish the soil. The planter needed to educate his workers on certain agricultural techniques and a permanent work force, such as slaves, would only require to be educated once. This would be more expedient and cost effective for the planter. The African slaves also had other characteristics that enticed colonists to use them as a labor force. The African slaves were immune to malaria, a disease which was quite prevalent. The slaves also had essential agricultural skills as many had been subsistence farmers in Africa. Slavery was an opportune labor force. The decline in population of indentured servants exacerbated the situation, and as time progressed, slavery became more and more imminent. Morality among this work force was not taken into consideration, because settlers were only viewing slavery from an economic view, rather than a humanitarian point of view.

 



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