American Settlement. Was the situation for indentured servants in Chesapeake characterized more by change or continuity?

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BSGE                                                                                Zakir Hussain

11-2                                                                                10/18/11

Indentured Servants In the Chesapeake


All throughout history people migrated to many different places for reasons such as religious tolerance, political freedom, and/or economic opportunity.  Many English citizens decided that they could improve their lives by migrating to the Americas.  The reason for mass migration from England to America started with the Colombian Exchange.  The Colombian Exchange, which occurred due to the Europeans exploring North and South America, led the English citizens to a wide variety of new and wondrous food.  Within one and a half centuries the general public of England got bigger since the English people continued to chow down on food being sent from the Columbian Exchange.  With all these extra people growing in England, the necessities of life such as food, water, and shelter dwindles.  High inflation “coupled with a fall in real wages as the number of workers increased” caused an economic decline (Norton 41).  Poverty was now common amongst landless manual workers as well as those who possessed very little property.  Property-owners gradually pushed tenants off the property by raising the rent as well “combining small holdings into large units” (Norton 41).  Inflation, surplus amount of people flooding into England, and large amounts of landless laborers who had no homes, created huge calamities by the 17th century. The dichotomy among the wealthy and the poor started with profits being made by the growing of sheep.  When the landlords understood that they made more capital when wool was sold, they kicked people off their lands to make room for the sheep’s.  All these homeless commoners were sent off to the Americas in very petite ships in which a numerous amount of them passed away before they even reached the Americas.  Although various amounts of people left to better their lives in the Americas, the problems from the past as well as new ones continued to ensue for the new indentured servants. Their lives in the Americas became simply a continuity of what they had endured in England.  

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Back in the 1600’s, the more land you amassed the greater the power you have in America.  With all that land somebody had to clear, cultivate, and harvest all that terrain but it wasn’t going to be the owners of the property.  That’s when farmers realized that they have a win-win situation on their hands due to the headright system.  The headright system was a legal grant of land to settlers.  If a person paid for their trip to Virginia then they would automatically get 50 acres of land (Jordan 23).  If a farmer imported workers known as indentured servants, ...

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