White Servitude in Colonial South Carolina

By Warren B. Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
The Servant Out of His Time

IT IS SCARCELY FAIR TO THIS DISCUSSION to drop the white servant as soon as he is "out of his time." His importance lay not only in the service rendered while under indenture or serving his time for payment of his passage, but even more in the contribution he would make as a future citizen. It is necessary therefore to follow him beyond his servant days.

There were two places for the servant to go when "out of his time." He might remain in Charles Town or move to the back country. Charles Town, perhaps of all colonial cities, was constituted of regularly graded social strata of somewhat equal proportions. It claimed the most exclusive aristocracy attended by a great entourage of Negro slaves. Between these two extremes many gradations existed. There were the importing merchants of wealth and position, small shop-keepers and tradesmen, artisans both free and indentured, and, as time went on, hired employees more nearly approaching the status of present day labor. Within this stratified society there was, however, mobility.

The white servant in Charles Town, when "out of his time," might simply hang out his own shingle. Abraham Daphne, carpenter, gave public notice that "being now acquitted and discharged from all engagements with Humphrey Sommers," he was ready "to undertake any work in his business, at reasonable prices. . . . He may be spoke with at Mr. John Ballantine's at White Point, or Mr. Goltier's in King Street."1 This sort of graduation from service into independent business had been going on for some time, as the Gazette showed an increasing number of such cards. There were announcements of bricklayers, carpenters, coopers, goldsmiths, gunsmiths and blacksmiths, joiners, sailmakers, staymakers, shoemakers, tailors, tinners, watchmakers and clockmakers.

By mid-century there began to appear "situation-wanted" and "help-wanted" cards. "A young man lately arrived from England

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