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IndenturedservitudeincolonialAmerica&gradualshifttowardslavery

AsAmericaseconomicprospectsincreasedduringthe18thcentury,workerswerein
highdemandfortheplantationsandindustriesthatweresteadilygrowinginsizeandnumber.
Indenturedservantsprovidedareliableandcheapsourceoflaboronplantationsandin
businesses.TheindenturedservitudesystemintheU.S.usuallysawalaborerfromacrossthe
Atlantic,thepassageofthelaborerbeingpaidforbyhisorhermaster.Acontractdetailingthe
numberofyearstheservantwastobeindenturedwasdrawnup,andtheservantwasexpectedto
workforthisnumberofyears(usuallyfiveorseven)beforebeingreleasedfromtheirservitude
bythemaster,oftenreceivingsomesmallcompensationatthatpoint.
IndenturedservitudewasasystemthatonlyworkedaslongasAmericasindustries
remainedrelativelysmall.Therapidincreaseinaneedforlaborisreflectedbythefactthat
slaverylargelyreplacedindenturedservitude.Slaveryexistedatthesametimeasindentured
servitudeinAmerica,infact,thetwohadmuchincommon,specificallythetreatmentof
servantsandslavesaspropertyinsteadofpeople,butslaverybecamemorecommonandmore
systematizedthanindenturedservitudebecauseitprovidedamoreconsistent,lasting,andfree
laborforce.

Slavery&indenturedservitudeinMassachusetts/endofslaveryin1783
SlaveryandindenturedservitudewerecommonlypracticedincolonialMassachusetts.
ThefirstmentionoftheslavetradeinMassachusettswasmadein1638inJohnWinthrops
journal,inregardstoashipreturningfromtheWestIndies.In1644,Bostonmerchantsstarted
participatingdirectlyinslavetradefromAfrica.Asslaverybecamemorewidespread,slaves
wereoftensoldontoplantationsintheSouth,orsoldtofamiliesandsmallerbusinessesinthethe
North.
Asearlyas1701,slavesinMassachusettssawsuccessinsuingfortheirfreedom.This
wasoftenbasedonacontractualagreementwiththeslaveowner,andinsomecases,slavessued
onthebasisofanaturalrighttofreedom.Despitetheselegalefforts,slaverywasawidespread
institutioninMassachusettsforthemajorityofthe18thcentury.Inthecourtcaseof
Brom&Bett
v.JohnAshley,Esq.,
TheodoreSedgwickrepresentedtwoformerslavesseekingfreedom,and
thecaseledtotheconclusionthatslaverywasindirectconflictwiththenewlyratified
MassachusettsConstitution.Thiscase,inadditiontotheformerslaveQuockWalkerscourtcase
forfreedom,ledtoslaveryslegalendinMassachusettsin1783.Still,slaveryoftenappearedin
theformofindenturedservitude,whichwasstillpracticedinMassachusettswellintothe19th
century.

Dunmoresproclamation&implicationsforVirginiaslaves/slaveowners(likeJefferson)
JohnMurray,orthefourthearlofDunmore,wastheroyalgovernorofVirginiaduring
theAmericanRevolution.TherehadbeensignificantconflictbetweenVirginiasrevolutionary
leaders(suchasPatrickHenryandThomasJefferson)andLordDunmorewhenheissueda

proclamationonNovember7th,1775offeringforthoseenslavedmeninVirginiatoleavetheir
mastersandjointheBritisharmy,therebygainingtheirfreedom.InresponsetoDunmores
proclamation,manymen,women,andchildrenranawayfromtheirmasterstojointheroyalist
cause.Still,moreslavesdiedintheprocessofrunningawaytojoinLordDunmorethanthere
wereslaveswhosucceededingainingtheirfreedomfightingfortheBritish.Mostofthosewho
didjoinDunmorediedofdiseaseinthemilitarycamps.IfslaveownersinVirginiahad
previouslyfearedslaverebellions,LordDunmoresproclamationtrulyinstilledthefearofslave
insurrectionintheslaveownersofVirginia,amongthem,ThomasJefferson.Thisproclamation
alsoaidedinturningmanywhiteslaveowningmenagainsttheBritishroyalistcausebecauseit
promptedtheirslaves,whomtheyregardedasproperty,torunawaytryingtojoinDunmores
EthiopianRegiment.