American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

By Edmund S. Morgan | Go to book overview

15
TOWARD SLAVERY

IT could be argued that Virginia had relieved one of England's social problems by importing it. Virginians of the late seventeenth century seemed to be plagued by the same kind of restless, roistering rogues who had wandered through Elizabethan England. England had kept them down by the workhouse, by the gallows, by whipping them back to the parish they came from, by sending them off on military expeditions—and by shipping them to Virginia. Richard Hakluyt had hoped that the New World would save them from the gallows. It had, and although Virginians were not all happy about it, throughout the century they kept crying for more. They wanted men. They could not get enough of them. The problem was not, as in England, to find work for them but simply to keep them working for their betters.

As we have seen, Virginians had coped with the problem in several ways: by creating an artificial scarcity of land, which drove freemen back into servitude; by extending terms of service; by inflicting severe penalties for killing the hogs that offered easy food without work. They had also through rents and taxes and fees skimmed off as much as they dared of the small man's small profits for the benefit of burgesses, councillors, and collectors. But the burdens imposed on Virginia's workers placed the colony continually on the brink of rebellion.

Elsewhere the world was trying less dangerous ways to maximize labor and the returns from labor. One way, which had a large future, grew out of the ideas that we associate with Max Weber's term, "the Protestant Ethic." Whether the origin of those ideas lay in any particular religion or not, where they prevailed they excited

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American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • American Slavery American Freedom - The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Book I - The Promised Land *
  • 1 - Dreams of Liberation 3
  • 2 - The Lost Colony 25
  • 3 - Idle Indian and Lazy Englishman 44
  • 4 - The Jamestown Fiasco 71
  • 5 - The Persistent Vision 92
  • 6 - Boom 108
  • Book II - A New Deal *
  • 7 - Settling Down 133
  • 8 - Living with Death 158
  • 9 - The Trouble with Tobacco 180
  • 10 - A Golden Fleecing 196
  • Book III - The Volatile Society *
  • 11 - The Losers 215
  • 12 - Discontent 235
  • 13 - Rebellion 250
  • 14 - Status Quo 271
  • Book IV - Slavery and Freedom *
  • 15 - Toward Slavery 295
  • 16 - Toward Racism 316
  • 17 - Toward Populism 338
  • 18 - Toward the Republic 363
  • Footnote Abbreviations 389
  • Appendix - Population Growth in Seventeenth-Century Virginia 395
  • A Note on the Sources 433
  • Index 443
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