History 6, Fri-10:30
March 3, 2014
Richard Frethorne Describes Indentured Servitude in Virginia
In some European countries including England some of the poor and many laborers were brought to the English colonies by way of ships to work on the farms within these colonies. Because of such an immense amounts of Tobacco crops being planted on these farms, a great deal of blood and sweat was needed for the cultivation of these crops. These poor workers were enticed by the idea of a new and better life in America. By the hiring of Indentured servants, the planters would have a greater chance of gaining economic success. Once the indenture (contract) was up the servants would also possibly receive "freedom dues" which appeared to be a 'win, win' on both sides. Unfortunately, this was seldom the case.
The year is 1623 and Richard Frethorne has written a letter about his life as an indentured servant just three months after arriving to the colony.
As we can see from the author's narrative, Virginia of 1623 was a different place from England. It was the first permanent English settlement in the new world (Jamestown). This land of marsh like consistency and vast forests contained some hostile Native Americans, (pirates, and rogues who could and did attack at any time). Subsequently these Indians resisted slavery; they protected their homeland and way of life.
The tone of the author is one of humility and despair. Being from England he has never imagined the lifestyle of the indentured servant, which is literally a life just a step above a slave. The difference being that a slave was considered personal property as was an indentured servant however, an indentured servant was only a servant for a specified time and a slave was slave for life.