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Colonial America

Colonialism -> Mercantilism -> dominant in Europe -> 16th-18th Century > idea was to promote governmental regulations and accumulate
resources to build a nations power at the expense of rival nations.
Characteristics: high tariffs, limiting imports (via tariffs) and maximizing
exports, monopolizing markets, limiting wages, building of overseas colonies,
extraction of resources, limiting colonial trade with other countries.

First two and half centuries rural society 90% lived in countryside
Included a number of bustling seaport cities Boston (north) to
Charleston (south) day laborers and craftsmen.
Northern Colonies more urban - industries diversified - small
industries besides farming included things such as fur trading,
blacksmithing, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of products such as
rum, molasses and textiles from raw materials from the Southern United
States
Middle Colonies frontier region for many years but developed into
agriculture wheat and grain crops. Also became center for slave trade.
Southern Colonies agriculture food and cash crops (tobacco, rice,
cotton)

People self-employed independent farmers, artisans or


host of urban retail trades and professions.
As the colonies and industries grew the demand for labor
increased. Despite the demand, there was a scarcity in the
labor market.

It became difficult to keep wage earners on the job


constantly moving on to frontier communities where pay was
higher or else they were taking up land and becoming
independent farmers.
17th Century -18th century three types of labor began to
form
Indentured
Slave
Free

Indentured
Initially slavery was not the dominants system of labor for the
colonies. It was indentured Servitude.
Essentially a loan with labor as security.
50-66% of white immigrants came to the colonies under these
contracts.
Three sources of indentured servitude:
Men, women and children whose articles of servitude were
signed before leaving the Old World.
The redeptioners so called free-willers- who agreed to
reimburse their passage money by selling their labor after coming
to the colonies.
Convicts criminals convicted of capital crime in England could
be transported in lieu of a death sentence.

Characteristics
Contract lasted 2-7 years.
Children who were indentured were expected to serve until they
turned 21.
Some workers were convicts or vagabonds sentenced to service for
up to 14 years by the English courts.

Conditions
Masters were expected to feed, clothe and house servants.
The reality, however, could be quite different.

Indentured servants were treated the same as slave labor.


Female servants were the victims of sexual exploitation.
2 out of 5 of indentured servants died before completing their term.
Living and working conditions were horrible, and servants who tried to
escape could have their term of service extended.

Once servants completed his contract, s/he was freed they were
given land, tools, seed, and animals. However, they did not receive
voting rights. Some became farmers or artisans, other became
discontented rural class of poor whites or became casual labor in
port cities.

Characteristics
Contract lasted 2-7 years.
Children who were indentured were expected to serve until they
turned 21.
Some workers were convicts or vagabonds sentenced to service for
up to 14 years by the English courts.

Conditions
Masters were expected to feed, clothe and house servants.
The reality, however, could be quite different.

Indentured servants were treated the same as slave labor.


Female servants were the victims of sexual exploitation.
2 out of 5 of indentured servants died before completing their term.
Living and working conditions were horrible, and servants who tried to
escape could have their term of service extended.

Once servants completed his contract, s/he was freed they were
given land, tools, seed, and animals. However, they did not receive
voting rights. Some became farmers or artisans, other became
discontented rural class of poor whites or became casual labor in
port cities.

Slavery
Slavery was introduced by the Spanish into the West Indies after
Columbus came to the Americas - relied heavily on the use of
Native Americans for slave labor.
Native Americans were highly likely to catch European diseases.
Familiarity with terrain allowed them to escape easier.
Political allies could form resistance to enslavement.

Spanish and Portuguese expanded African slavery into Central and


South American after enslaved Indians began dying off.
1619 The first recorded introduction of African slaves into the
colonies was in the settlement of Jamestown (20 slaves were
purchased)

New England merchants gained access to slave trade in the early 1700s
via the triangle trade.
1. Rum was brought to Africa, exchanged for slaves
2. Ships crossed the Middle Passage, slave trades in the West Indies.
3. Sugar brought to New England. Slave brought to work on
Plantations, mines, etc.

Since the economies of New


England and the Middle
Colonies were based on small
farms, slavery was far less
important.
Given that the slave
population was smaller in the
North than the south, laws
were less harsh than in the
South.
Although slaves did represent
a sizable percentage of urban
laborers, particularly in New
York and Philadelphia.
Chesapeake Bay colonies
(Maryland, Virginia) large
tobacco plantations; center of
the domestic slave trade.
Carolinas and Georgia large
rice and cotton plantations.

Slave population and percentage of total population,


in the thirteen colonies, 1770

By 1800 10 to 15 million blacks had been transported as slaves to the


Americas.
It is estimated that Africa lost 50 million humans at the hands of slave traders
and plantation owners of modern Western Europe and Americas.
Slave Revolts
Slaves resorted to revolts in the 13 colonies and later in the southern U.S.
250 insurrections have been documented; between 1780 and 1864.
91 African-Americans were convicted of insurrection in Virginia alone.
First revolt in what became the United States took place in 1526 at a Spanish
settlement near the mouth of the Pee Dee River in South Carolina.
Slave Revolts would lead plantation owners to develop a series of slave
laws/codes which restricted the movement of the slaves.

Slaves were not taught to read or write


Restricted to the plantation
Slaves could not congregate after dark
Slaves could not possess any type of firearm
A larger slave population than white in some states
Slave owners wanted to keep their slaves ignorant of the outside world because
learning about life beyond the plantation could lead to more slave revolts and
wanting to escape

By 1800 10 to 15 million blacks had been transported as slaves to the


Americas.
It is estimated that Africa lost 50 million humans at the hands of slave traders
and plantation owners of modern Western Europe and Americas.
Slave Revolts
Slaves resorted to revolts in the 13 colonies and later in the southern U.S.
250 insurrections have been documented; between 1780 and 1864.
91 African-Americans were convicted of insurrection in Virginia alone.
First revolt in what became the United States took place in 1526 at a Spanish
settlement near the mouth of the Pee Dee River in South Carolina.
Slave Revolts would lead plantation owners to develop a series of slave
laws/codes which restricted the movement of the slaves.

Slaves were not taught to read or write


Restricted to the plantation
Slaves could not congregate after dark
Slaves could not possess any type of firearm
A larger slave population than white in some states
Slave owners wanted to keep their slaves ignorant of the outside world because
learning about life beyond the plantation could lead to more slave revolts and
wanting to escape

Free Labor
Made up of immigrant artisans and mechanics who were able to pay
their own passage to the new world or of bound servants who have
served their time as indentured servitude.
Free labor carpenters, masons, shipwrights, sail-makers, tanners,
weaver, shoemakers, tailors, smiths, coopers (barrel makers), glazers
(glass makers) and printers.
Skilled crafts first applied their craft independently but as centers of
populations grew, master workmen set up small retail shops and
employed journeymen and apprentices who worked for wages.
Close to the 18th century journeymen began to form local trade
societies early formations of the first unions.
Labor/Class Laws
Because of high demand for labor wages were high, Tudor Industrial
Code were brought over from England. Behind these codes was the
idea low wages ensured continued productivity and decreased the
likelihood of immoral conduct.

Principles of code included:


Compulsory labor for all able-bodied persons;
To protect the workingmen and to check unemployment, it
restrained wrongful dismissal of employees.
It provided for the fixing of maximum wages by justice of the peace
according to the plenty or scarcity of the times
It declared illegal any combination of workmen to secure higher
wages (i.e., unions)
It provided that no workman was to depart before the end of his
agrees term, and then he was required to produce letters
testimonial to show that he was free to hire himself out.
To assure an adequate supply of skilled workmen and good quality
in the manufactured product it set a term of apprenticeship of
seven years; 18th century amendments to the code further
attempted to maintain the skilled labor supply by restricting the
emigration of artisans.
Every American colonies made some attempts to apply the
principles of the Tudor Industrial Code.

All colonies adopted the principle of compulsory labor. (early laws


punished idleness by whipping or fees)
1630 General Court of Massachusetts wage ceiling of two shillings
a day for carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, sawyers, thatchers and other
artisans; eighteen pence for all day laborers. Also created a provisions
that all workmen shall worke the whole day, alloweing convenient
tyme for food and rest. (sic).
1647 Rhode Island Labor Code Any artificer or laborer who agreed
to finish any specific task should not part from the same. Until it is
finished. Penalty was payment of five pounds
1661 Maryland law declared that all servants hired for wages
were liable to be taken up as runaways if found ten miles away from
home without permission from their master and provided a penalty of
ten days service for every day of absence.
Laws also defined a workday as ten hours a day.

Morality Laws
The court further declared that anyone who gave wine or strong
liquor to any workingman, except in the case of emergency,
would be fined twenty shillings for each offense.

Sumptuary Laws - Banned people of lower class form dressing in


garbs of gentlemen
1634 - General Court of Massachusetts banned the poor from
wearing clothing that would dishonor God and was
altogether unsuitable to their poverty
wearing gold or silver laces or buttons
Woolen or silk or linen with any lace on it
points at their knees new fashions from the old world
Wear great boots
Women silk or tiffany scarfs
Law became was no longer enforced by the 18th Century

Workers, Politics and Revolution


Workers lacked basic political rights right to vote was restricted to
property owners
The protest over the lack of basic rights combined with the
opposition of English-rule led many workers to sympathetic towards
the independence cause.
Small tradesmen, artisans and mechanics played an important role in
promoting the revolutionary cause and were more radical in their
demands and support of colonial liberties than merchants who were
usually more willing to compromise.
The Popular Party in Boston (led by Sam Adams) was largely made up of
warfinger (wharf operators), shipwrights, bricklayers, weavers and
tanners who were equally opposed to rule by the British or colonial
aristocrats.
The Sons of Liberty (Tea Party - 1773) and later the local Committees of
Correspondence (secret colonial government) often found its most
radical elements recruited from workers employed at the docks and
shipyards.
Boston Massacre grew directly out of a dispute between rope
workers and British soldiers. Crispus Attucks Runaway slave and ship
worker first killed in the American Revolution.

After the Revolution


New government reflected more of the conservative rather than
radical views espoused by the workers.
Whittled away the democratic gains made during the struggle for
independence
Emphasized property interests rather than individual liberty
However with lure of foreign commerce, many were blinded by the
potential of new work and employment
James Madison often spoke about his concerns regarding the leveling
spirit and was concerned about the need to protect from coalition of
the oppressed.
Thomas Jefferson didnt believe that artisans, mechanics and
workers without property could ever develop republican virtues that
were essential to a free society. He was also opposed to the
development of manufactures in the US because he was concerned
about the influence of urban workers.
The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure
government as so sores do to the strength of the human body
- Thomas Jefferson