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Reply #42: They were not "slaves", but "servants" to use the terms of the time [View All]

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unc70 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-28-10 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #41
42. They were not "slaves", but "servants" to use the terms of the time
The group in Africans in Jamestown in 1619 were indentured/bonded for a fixed number of years, a common practice by ship captains for whites or blacks at that time. After their period of "service", they became "free" and had the rights same as if they were white. At least one of that original group is documented as being a landowner some years later in the colony.

BTW It is estimated that over half of the First Families of Virginia arrived in the colony under similar circumstances.

When discussing specific forms of bondage and servitude, I try to restrict the term "slave" to those conditions involving "bondage for life" and by the 1700's involving "bondage by birth" for childred with slave mothers. Those bonded for shorter periods, either for a fixed number of years or until a specific age, are considered "indentured" or "apprenticed".

At various times and places, there existed all sorts of hybrids or modified forms of bondage in the colonies and the states. An interesting variation starting around 1790-1800 is how many states in the North "magically" decreased the number of slaves in their states -- their laws were changed for those slaves currently in the state on a certain date whereby their later children would not be slaves for life, only "indentured or apprenticed at birth" until they reached a certain age (e.g. 28).

Without any slaves becoming "free", they were now reclassified as "indentured" and were no longer subject to the restrictions that were being placed on slaves. They were not counted on the slave enumeration; instead, as indentures, they were counted fully by the census for apportioning the US House. Slaves from other states or countries could still be brought into these states after the "abolishion" date typically taught in schools. For example, there were still a few slaves in NJ in 1865.
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