In the 18th century, the development of Britain’s mainland colonies depended on the effective usage of forced labor necessary for the progress of plantations in the southern colonies and non-plantation territories of New England. Different types of the forced labor were the characteristic features of the societies in colonies.
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Thus, Europeans were traditionally used as indentured servants, Indians were rarely used in any forced labor, and Africans became slaves. The differences in colonists’ using people in various kinds of labor were predominately based on the factor of race and on the economic systems of the definite region.
Planters were inclined to find the ways to gain more benefits and develop their plantations with the help of using cheap labor. From this point, the shift from using indentured servants to using African-American slaves in different colonies was reasonable because of providing a lot of advantages for planters, and the shift also depended on the aspects of the economic progress in colonies.
It is possible to determine several slave systems which were used in colonies. Thus, colonies of Chesapeake and New England developed according to different approaches to using indentured servants and slavery. The economy of Chesapeake depended on growing tobacco at large plantations and farms where the labor of slaves used actively. The development of slavery at the territory changed the social hierarchy and replaced the category of indentured servants.
Slaves in Chesapeake also influenced the progress of the Great Awakening, and they were successfully exposed to white culture. Farms in New England were smaller than in Chesapeake, and it was unnecessary to use the labor of a number of slaves (Foner). That is why the difference between the ‘white’ and ‘black’ population of these territories was significant. However, northern and southern slave owners worked out the developed laws in relation to their slaves.
Paying attention to the slow development of plantations and farms in definite colonies, it is possible to state that the usage of indentured servants was rather advantageous at the first stages of the colonies’ economic progress. The labor of indentured servants was rather cheap, and they could serve for a long periods of time. These factors satisfied planters, but the necessity to freed servants one day and provide the opportunities for their life created the threat for the system’s further development.
The fact that indentured servants were free in their attempts to organize rebellions and oppositions made planters and farmers begin to use chattel slavery as the effective way to control laborers and gain more advantages from their work. Now, planters could not pay for slaves’ labor, enlarging their properties. Moreover, the first Africans in the colonies were indentured servants, and this status could make them be equal to ‘white’ indentured servants.
Thus, the reasons for the shift were the economic advantages of using the constant labor of Africans without providing them the status equal to ‘white’ servants and with accentuating the race differences. In this case, the use of African slaves was more advantageous than the use of Indians who provoked a lot of conflicts at the base of territory and freedom questions.
If the use of indentured servants made masters pay for the work and focus on the servants’ needs with references to the definite laws, the progress of chattel slavery depended only on the laws which were advantageous for planters. All the laws were worked out to restrict African slaves and increase the authority of ‘white’ masters.
Providing these laws, masters tried to deprive slaves of any rights and prevent rebellions. Thus, in South Carolina slaves were forced according to the laws fixed in special masters’ books and the free-black population suffered from the racial discrimination and a lot of social and economic restrictions, including the higher taxes.
Slavery was the developed business where the interests of American planters and African traders met. Western Africa participated in slave trade actively because of the opportunity to receive the access to such goods as guns and textiles which influenced the process significantly, creating more conditions for economies’ decline and forcing slavery. Moreover, African rulers had the opportunity to set taxes to gain more benefits from foreign merchants and traders.
However, such an African territory as Benin did not participate in slave trade, preventing such negative effects of slave trade as the impact on the social progress and on the economies (Foner). In spite of the fact Africans could not realize all the aspects of slavery development in the Western Hemisphere, they could see all the negative effects of slave trade for their own societies many of which were destroyed by slave traders.
It is important to determine several stages in the progress of slavery in Britain’s colonies where the period of indentured servitude and the shift to chattel slavery are the most significant ones. Moreover, the elements of slavery were various in different colonies, for instance in Chesapeake and New England. Slavery influenced not only the economies and social structures of colonies but also the African societies which developed with references to slave trade.
Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: An American History. USA: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004. Print.