Image: Cumberland Landing, Va. Group of "contrabands" at
Foller's house. Library of Congress. 1862 May 14. LC-B811- 383
may wish to view our Digital
Story about Slavery and Indentured Servitude by
Michael Ray as an introduction to this section.
of New England, half of all immigrants arrived in various forms
of unfreedom: as indentured servants, apprentices, tenants,
or slaves. George Washington's namesake--a member of the Virginia
House of Burgesses named George Erskine, who served as Washington's
mother's legal guardian--had been kidnapped as a boy in Wales
and sold as a servant in Virginia. Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
in Philadelphia in 1774 on a vessel carrying 122 indentured
a third of eighteenth-century Germans came as "redemptioners,"
who sold themselves or their children for a term of years in return
for transportation to the American colonies. By 1750, when Gottlieb
Mittelberger, a schoolteacher from the Duchy of Wurttenberg left
his wife and children to travel to America, recruitment and transportation
of German settlers was controlled by Dutch shippers, who charged
the emigrants by the day. Upon arrival in Philadelphia, the emigrants
were kept on shipboard until someone agreed to pay the costs of
their transportation. To obtain payment, many redemptioners agreed
to serve a three or more years term of service and bound out their
children until the age of 21.
this eXploration, you will analyze primary sources in order to
understand life in colonial slavery and indentured servitude.