Slavery vs. Indentured Servitude - Free Paper Sample

Published: 2023-11-24
Slavery vs. Indentured Servitude - Free Paper Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Slavery America
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 595 words
5 min read


Colonization in British North American led to the widespread plantation of tobacco in the regions. However, the main problem with the practice was that maintain Tobacco leaves was labor-intensive and tiresome (Hodges, 2016). Hence, plantation owners began turning to indentured servitude. Indentured laborers were a suitable option for many plantation owners as they were profits and wealth. In no time, slavery became a widespread practice for these individuals (Roberts, 2016). This essay discusses the origin of slavery, how slaves were treated differently in each colonial region of British North America, and the primary differences between indentured servants and slaves.

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How and Why Slavery Developed in the American Colonies

Slave trade in the American colonies began as indentured servitude. For actual slavery started in the eighteenth century, African Americans used to work as indentured servants on Tobacco plantations in the British American colonies. Roberts (2016) explains that the first batch of African Americans in North America landed in the region as indentured servants in 1619 at Jamestown. Back then, African Americans were awarded a contract of five to seven years to work as indentured servants is Tobacco plantation in exchange to free passages, accommodation, clothing, and food. Nevertheless, the situation gradually changed, and Virginia became the first British American colony to initiate slavery legitimately (Roberts, 2016). Soon afterward, Carolinas and Maryland followed the trend, and slavery became widespread in the British Northern American colonies due to their economic benefits.

How Each Colonial Region of the British Northern American Practiced Slavery Differently

The northern and southern colonies of British America treated slavery differently. In the Northern territories, slaves were used for economic reasons, while in the southern colonies, slavery was primarily used for agricultural purposes (Hodges, 2016). Due to these benefits, Carolinas embrace slavery to the point that they passed the Barbados laws that allowed them to sell salves like committed. Nonetheless, the creators of the British Northern American colonies did not intend for slavery to occur. For instance, in 1962, Rhode Island implemented a law that banned slavery in the region and that all slaves in the area were to be freed within ten years (Hodges, 2016). In another incident, Puritan courts ruled that two captured African slaves be returned to their native land. Besides, Quakers in Philadelphia also began abolishing slavery and rejected it ultimately.

Difference Between Indentured Servants and Slaves

Indentured servants and slaves were distinct in many ways. To begin, the former were service persons who earned their freedom after working for a given period. The working conditions were also better compared to those of their counterpart (Hodges, 2016). Slaves, on the other hand, worked in a pitiful environment. They were the owner's property, and their condition lasted for a lifetime or for an unspecified amount of time.


In summary, slavery began as indentured servitude after Africans were brought into the British American territory to work in the plantations in exchange for food, clothing, and a free pass. The northern colonies of British America treated slaves differently from their southern counterparts. In the north, slaves were employed for their economic benefits. Nonetheless, in the southern territories, these individuals were hired for agricultural reasons. The critical difference between indentured servants and slaves is that the former worked for a specific time to acquire passage into British America, food, and clothing, while the latter worked in deplorable working conditions, was a property of the owner, and the slavery lasted a lifetime.


Hodges, G. R. (2016). Slavery and freedom among early American workers. Routledge.

Roberts, J. (2016). Race and the Origins of Plantation Slavery. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History.

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