Essay about Slavery by Another Name

1282 WordsMar 25, 20116 Pages
Throughout the book, The Origins of Slavery, the author, Betty Woods, depicts how religion and race along with social, economic, and political factors were the key factors in determining the exact timing that the colonist’s labor bases of indentured Europeans would change to involuntary West African servitude. These religion and racial differences along with the economic demand for more labor played the key roles in the formation of slavery in the English colonies. When the Europeans first arrived to the Americas in the late sixteenth century, at the colony of Roanoke, the thought of chattel slavery had neither a clear law nor economic practice with the English. However by the end of that following century, the demand for slaves in the…show more content…
Other Europeans, Native Americans and West Africans were the groups thought to be most suitable for the economic demand of labor. Many of the early views of West Africans were received through the bible until written accounts of encounters with these people were made. These written accounts of the encounters of West Africans led to the idea West Africans could be brought over and sold in the Americas to work in chattel slavery. This in turn made them the ultimate choice for the labor force of the English. However the famous sale of twenty Africans to the colonists at Jamestown in 1619 by Dutch slave traders did not equate to the introduction of chattel slavery just yet. Many early African slaves were treated similarly to indentured servants brought in from England. They could work the land for a set number of years then after their term was up be freed and given a piece of land. Indentured servitude was not hereditary but their contract could be sold, bartered, given away or gambled away. These contracts gave away the servant’s labor but it did not give away the servant’s person. Despite this African presence, slavery was slow to arrive in Virginia because the mortality rate for indentured servants was so high during the first decades of the Virginia colony. Indentured servitude remained the primary source of labor in Virginia through the 1680s, until economic considerations made slaves the cheaper alternative. In many ways the enslavement of West Africans by the

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