Slavery and Abolition, 1831-1841

By Albert Bushnell Hart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
SLAVERY AS AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM

( 1607-1860)

THAT slavery should exist in the United States was an anomaly, for the law of England when the colonies were planted recognized neither chattel slavery nor villeinage. Yet forced labor was not unknown in England: the apprentice must serve his seven years, and take such floggings as his master saw fit; the hired servant must carry out his contract for his term of service; the convicts, often including political offenders, were slaves of the state and sometimes sold to private owners over-seas. The colonists claimed these rights over some of their white fellows, and, in addition, had a large class of "redemptioners," who agreed that their services should be sold for a brief term of years to pay their passage-money, and of "indented" or "indentured" servants brought by their masters under legal obligation to serve for a term of years and subject to the same penalties of branding, whipping, and mutilation as negro slaves.1 These forms of servitude,

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1
Butler, in Am. Hist. Rev., II., 12-32; Hart, Contemporariers II., § 107; "Diary of John Harrower," in Am. Hist. Rev., VI., 65- 107.

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