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HIS 405 US History week one discussion


The development of slavery in the American colonies can be attributed to a combination of economic factors and the availability of African labor. While slavery had long been established in Africa, its significance in the American colonies grew as the need for labor became essential for generating profits and sustaining the Atlantic economy (Keene, Cornell, & Donnell, 2011). Indentured servitude, on the other hand, emerged as a means to address the demand for inexpensive labor in the early colonies. With limited skills required and the high cost of travel to the New World, the system of indentured servants was established. In exchange for a free passage, room, and board, individuals agreed to work for approximately 4-7 years with the expectation of receiving land and other benefits upon completion of their term. Legal protections existed for indentured servants, ensuring certain rights and safeguards. In contrast, true slavery lacked legal safeguards, resulting in harsh treatment and the absence of rights. However, as the costs associated with indentured servants escalated, landowners and colonists turned to African slaves as a cheaper and more profitable labor source (2004).

HIS 405 US History week one discussion

Although both indentured servants and slaves faced arduous conditions, there were significant differences between them. Indentured servants had the possibility of attaining freedom and assets once they had fulfilled their contractual obligations and paid off their debts. They were bound by a contract and enjoyed some level of legal protection. In contrast, slaves were considered property, deprived of any autonomy or control over their lives (Keene et al., 2011). Their status as chattel meant they were subject to the whims and desires of their owners, without legal rights or the opportunity for liberation.

It is crucial to recognize that the conditions experienced by slaves varied depending on their specific roles and positions. While some slaves toiled in the fields and faced grueling labor, others served in households and had somewhat better living conditions (Boston, 2004). However, regardless of their circumstances, the fundamental distinction between slaves and indentured servants remained stark. The latter had the prospect of regaining their freedom and enjoying the fruits of their labor, while the former endured a life of perpetual bondage and exploitation.

HIS 405 US History week one discussion


In summary, the development of slavery in the American colonies arose from the increasing demand for labor and the economic imperatives of the Atlantic economy. The use of indentured servants initially served as a solution, but the high costs associated with this system led to the widespread adoption of African slaves as a more cost-effective and profitable labor force. The differences between slaves and indentured servants were significant, with the latter having the opportunity for eventual freedom and legal protections, while the former were considered property and subjected to a life of subjugation and oppression.


(2004). Indentured Servants in the U.S. []. In Oregon Public Broadcasting (Producer), History Detectives.: PBS. Boston, N. (2004). The Slave Experience: Living Conditions [PBS Thirteen/WNET]. In N.Boston (Producer), SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA. New York: Public Broadcasting Service. Keene, J. D., Cornell, S. T., & Donnell, E. T. (2011). Visions of America: A History of the United States (2nd ed.). [VitalSource]. Retrieved from


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