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Virginia Trade Company, Servants, and Slaves

by: Mary Jo Davison Gould

Virginia Trade Company, Servants, and Slaves HIS 315K

Marketplace > University of Texas at Austin > HIS 315K > Virginia Trade Company Servants and Slaves
Mary Jo Davison Gould
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Notes Taken on September 9th. Class went over the Virginia trade company, indentured servants and slaves. Class really touched on the hows and whys about indentured servants and slaves.
Robert olwell
Class Notes
USHistory, history, UNited states history 1492-1865, indenturedservants, slaves, virginiatradecompany, universityoftexas




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mary Jo Davison Gould on Thursday September 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIS 315K at University of Texas at Austin taught by Robert olwell in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 27 views.


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Date Created: 09/08/16
The Virginia Company of London 1603- Merchants take over Joint stock companies Merchant Adventurers, Muscovy Company, etc. Virginia Company of London Charted in 1606 Monopoly on trade with Virginia (British America) Jamestown (James fort) Est. 1607 st th When James 1 (6 of Scotland) becomes King people become more interested Virginia (Tsenacommacah) Was portrayed that a lot of people (the natives) were already living there to convince people to invest money in James Fort. They wanted them to think that James Fort (was built for trade) would be worth the money because there were plenty of natives to trade with. John Smith Conquest and Tribute John Smith puts up a huge cross, the natives were angry because it signifies ‘owning’ the land. Smith tries to explain to the natives. Smith wanted relations with the natives for trade. Pocahontas – marries rolke, gets to meet the king, portrayed as a princess, marriage was used to portray unity between the English and the natives 1618 New plan for profit Shareholder’s revolt in London English settlers grow tobacco – Rolke was taught by the natives how to grow tobacco, her perfects it and makes a stronger plant. 50 acres ‘head rights’ for each settler- each settler gets 50 acres Larger ‘hundreds’ to groups of investors Company creates the House of Burgesses Assembly of Property-holders ( First Legislature in colonial America 3600 people go to Virginia between 1619 and 1622 (x3 total amount in previous 12 years) New settlements (particular plantations) spread out along Virginia’s river – English settlers are now everywhere in Virginia. They are burning forests for their tobacco plants and natives are upset. Sandys Plan has no need or place for natives (unless they are laborers) Natives are alarmed at the land clearing and the number of settlers moving in Powhatan (native leader that traded with the English) dies, succeeded by Opechancanough (who was hostile to the English) and plans to attack English settlements March 22, 1622 Natives attack settlements with no warning th 350 (1/4 ) Killed, many plantations destroyed Virginia Co. goes bankrupt; Virginia becomes a Royal Colony- the first – in 1624 End of the idea of natives as colonial subjects (Spanish Model) The Tobacco Boom- An early modern drug trade “Sot-weed” rapidly caught on in Europe (Colombian Exchange) despite some efforts to discourage it. “Some people thought that it was barbaric and that civilized people do not do it) 1622 – tobacco was 3 shillings per pound. Single worker could grow 700 pounds per year = 105 pounds ( 10x what a laborer earned for a years work in England) King James was against tobacco, but was convinced to keep it legal because of how much money it brought in and circulated Tobacco there was an open door to tax it because the people had no idea how much it should cost. So the taxes off of it were helping the government get more money which helped convince them to allow the flow of tobacco. The early American (economic) Revolution More tobacco = more money In England lad was scarce and costly and labor was plentiful and cheap. Workers would fight each other to be able to have a job. They were easy to find and easy to please. In America, land was free (once natives were removed) but labor (workers) were scarce and expensive. Everyone who arrived in America was given their own land (50 acres) and that caused there to be no one who wanted to work for anyone because they had their own land to work on. Most did not even want to work on their own land and tried to find workers. Economics 101 (law of supply and demand) Higher wages to attract workers Throughout the colonial era, workman’s wages were much higher in America than in Europe – “Best Poor Man’s Country Problems: Poor workers can’t afford the 6 pounds for passage to the colonies (less than half the annual income of an English labor) Upon arrival, ‘free’ workers would go into business for themselves (planting tobacco) rather than work for others. Early Modern Family Values Family labor (household mode of production) Family members do not have to be paid wages and they cannot quit. The Family consisted of wives, minor children, and orphans There were a lot of orphans because of their parents dying on the voyage Orphans were sold for the highest price off to the settlers because they used them as ‘slave workers’ However, in the end family labor does not meet the demand. Indentured Servitude Adaptation of craft apprenticeship (bound for a term of years to learn a craft) Servants to early Virginia signed on for 7 years to learn: “the art and mystery of common labor” From a master’s perspective, the indenture (contract) stopped them from quitting What was in it for the servants? ‘Freedom dues’ (if they lived) – Clothes, tools, land Problem with this in America, is that the servants were usually young boys but that did not work for the tobacco growers. So older men would join these 7 years of being indentured servants People readily signed up for this because of the problems in England. The poor wanted money, land, food, and clothing. Although they’d serve 7 years, but they received food and clothes and if they survived they got land of their own. The servant trade, 1607-1775 350K indentured servants in all. Majority of all immigrants before 1700 Majority of European immigrants to 1775 Majority were young, single, and male Servant Treatment (Rights and wrongs) Contract, Custom, and Law Corporal punishment – allowed in the same way you could beat your wife/child Runaway Servants – it is seen as a theft from the master. ‘robbing of time’. Punishment is usually additional time to servitude. Murder of a servant – illegal. Sex and the servant – if a woman became pregnant more time would be added to her sentence, unless the master is the father then the contract is terminated. (most times the master ended up marrying the pregnant woman because it was a ‘easy way to get a wife’) If they do not know who the father was they would go to the woman when she is in labor and but her hand on a bible and have her swear the fathers name. A servant society 1625-1675 Temporary, transient world Lack of outhouses – they were too much to build so the people went outside “Virginia Fences” – fences were just pieces of wood layed down because it was too much work to put them into the ground. When the tobacco ruined the ground, the farm was just moved to a different place on the land because they did not feel like putting manure on the ground to re add nutrients. When they moved they burned the houses so they could retrieve the nails so they could build a new house. World of a rough equality – or at lest mobility Many masters had once been servants themselves Some ex-servants served on the Maryland Colony COncil Africans in early Virginia 1619-1650 Rolfe’s diary – 1619 20 Africans sold to the English by the dutch First African arrived as slaves but were treated as servants – indentured servitude were all they really knew what to do with them because England got rid of slavery a long time ago. No legal or cultural precedent for slaves in 17 century England The case of Anthony and Mary Johnson African couple that earned their freedom and became masters as themselves. Their children lived on and owned plantations themselves. Family records disappeared during 1660s. From servants to slaves Demographic Factors: Lower mortality in Virginia. Made buying a slave more attractive than buying a servant Economic Factors: Price (supply) of slaves fell, price of servants increased Slaves were for life, servants were for 7 years Slaves were the better price for your money Slavery was driven based upon economics. Economics caused slavery and latter cultural factors gave them ‘reason’ Cultural Factors: As Africans became more numerous it became easier (and necessary_) to treat them differently than slaves Poor people in Virginia and in England situation had become better. Therefore, their need to be servants decreased. Slaves (especially children and women) were brought to Virginia by the Dutch because no one else had a use for them, but plucking tobacco was easy for women and children to do. It did not matter in Virginia if the slaves were strong or not. Forging Slavery’s Legal Chains 1639-1660 – a tendency toward degradation and distinction (arms, tithes, and runaways) (Englishmen needed arms to protect themselves against their slaves) 1662 – Children of Slave Women to be slaves (no patrimony) 1667- Slaves not freed by Baptism (race trumps religion) (spiritual condition has nothing to do with your earthly condition) 1669- Master killing his slaves is not murder as ‘no man would destroy his own estate’ They were afraid of their slaves and used force and ‘protected’ themselves from them. They knew they were stronger and they did not know much about their culture or what they were capable of. Their sense of fear aided in slavery. Started to turn away for religion as reason and more toward race.


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