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Indentured Servitude: Why Sell Yourself into Bondage?. Lesson 5. Visual 5.1 Background on Indentured Servants. Contracts Indentured servants' contracts bound them to perform work for an employer in North America. These contracts had the force of law, and they were enforced.

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Visual 5 1 background on indentured servants
Visual 5.1 Background on Indentured Servants

Contracts

  • Indentured servants' contracts bound them to perform work for an employer in North America.

  • These contracts had the force of law, and they were enforced.

  • Contracts typically called for three-to-seven years of service. The average period of service was four years.

  • Early in the colonial period, women were offered somewhat shorter contracts than men.

  • Contracts for harder work, such as growing tobacco­, were often for shorter terms than contracts for easier work, such as performing household duties.


Visual 5 1 background on indentured servants1
Visual 5.1 Background on Indentured Servants

  • How the System Worked

    • Ordinarily a person would sign with a ship owner or a recruiting agent in England.

    • As soon as the servant was delivered alive to an American port, the contract would be sold to a planter or merchant.


Visual 5 2 why would free people sell themselves into bondage
Visual 5.2 Why Would Free People Sell Themselves into Bondage?

Why Would Free People Sell Themselves into Bondage?

  • Many workers in colonial North America were indentured servants.

  • The work they performed was often difficult—clearing land, planting tobacco, performing household services.

  • The contracts signed by indentured servants had the force of law.

    • Terms of service could be increased, for example, if a worker violated the indenture by trying to run away.

    • Servants could even be sold to other owners.

  • Why would people sell themselves into bondage?


Activity 5 2 indentured servitude in north america

Patrick McHugh Bondage?

Costs?

Benefits?

William Heaton

Costs?

Benefits?

Mary Morgan

Costs?

Benefits?

Tom Holyfield

Costs?

Benefits?

Christian Mueller

Costs?

Benefits?

Activity 5.2 Indentured Servitude in North America


Would you sell your labor
Would You Sell Your Labor? Bondage?

  • Would you agree to perform two years of community service in exchange for a significant reduction in college tuition?

  • Costs?

  • Benefits?


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