The first Europeans settled in North America began to buy Africans in order to provide farm labor. Such individuals or plantation owners treated them as servants. However, the enactment of different slave laws resulted in a new era of institutionalized and legalized slavery in this region. Such policies also required that children of enslaved persons maintained similar statuses. These changes resulted in a farm economy that required cheap labor (Wilentz, 2018). This means that such plantations could not survive without the presence of slaves or sources of adequate labor.
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Each colonial region in British North America was practicing slavery by the year 1700. The majority of the colonies required that Africans and war captives provide free labor to their masters. Most of the slaves were purchased during auctions or from traders. Indentured servitude was common whereby young individuals provided labor in return for clothes and occupation in specific colonies, such as Virginia. The Province of New Hampshire, the Province of Massachusetts Bat, and the Connecticut Colony relied on free labor and enslavement (Wilentz, 2018). This was also the same case for Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. Domestic servitude, child labor, and bonded labor were practiced in every British North American colony.
There are significant differences between indentured servants and slaves. Firstly, slaves are individuals who are required to provide free services and labor indefinitely while the contract for indentured servants has a time limit. Secondly, indentured servants eventually become free citizens (Wilentz, 2018). Thirdly, slaves receive inhumane treatment while masters support their indentured servants. These two practices of slavery remained common in different colonies in British North America.
Wilentz, S. (2018). No property in man: Slavery and antislavery at the nation’s founding. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.