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Want To Write Essay on Indentured Servants Vs Slavery?


A Brief Introduction

The economy of any nation is dependent upon the labour it promotes into its agriculture, business and the manpower. The system of slavery began in the early Mesopotamia, in around 36000 BC when the landowners used to possess high numbers of slaves. Slavery is different from indentured servitude in many aspects although the basic servitude concept remains the same. Slavery was practised by the Egyptian Kings, Chinese kings and later in the colonisation period of the Americans. American landowners and businessmen began acquiring and keeping slaves, especially from the colonies where they invaded, including African individuals enslaved to their bidding (Graham, 2019). The colonisation in the seventeenth and eighteenth century required huge amounts of manpower for the lands to be made habitable and for the economy to flourish, considering every colonial invaders aimed to conquer the land. The natives of the area resorted to earning money or receiving work to do once the colonial invaders established in areas like Africa, India and America. The slaves were mostly the native individuals who had no freedom and worked under their master. They were generally mistreated and had to do their master’s bidding. The prisoners of war were also enslaved and were degraded to the level of slaves. The slaves were paid minimum to no wage and were only provided food, shelter and clothing by their masters. The system of slavery began after the establishment of the system of indentured servitude (Hopkins et al., 2017). The history of slavery being so ancient paved the way for another kind of servitude, called the indentured servitude. The colonisation of the Americans and the British in various areas of the world led to the practice of keeping slaves. The slaves were forced to work as menial labour or in any type of work that their masters asked them to (McKee, 2021). The slaves had no freedom and even their marriages had to be approved by their masters. Slaves had no free will and could be loaned or sold by their master to others. The slave generation serving one household would continue to do so for subsequent generations, until and unless the master set them free. The colonisers used to offer trading goods to those who would enslave natives for them which led to increased kidnapping in the newly colonised areas (O’Keefe, 2021).

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Slavery differed from the system of indentured servitude as the servants in this case possessed free will. They entered into a contract with their employer specifying the nature of the service they would be performing, the duration of their service and the dues owed by the employees after the termination of the servitude. The indentured servants however could be loaned or sold to others like slaves. The indentured servants were required by the employers to perform a specific kind of service which was clearly defined in their contract. Their relationship was considered as legal in the eyes of the law. When colonisation began in the late seventeenth century, the natives acquired work from the colonisers. The European immigrants also worked for American colonisers in this manner for passage through to America (Wareing, 2019). Many were exiting their native countries in the hopes of establishing a new and better life to the America and thousands of Europeans migrated to the America for this purpose. The colonists required cheap labour which they obtained in the form of indentured servitude. The indentured servants were mostly cooks, gardeners, field workers or housekeepers. Some learnt a new skill which they later turned into their profession once their term of servitude ended like carpentry or blacksmith (O’Keefe, 2021).

The Indentured Servants

The indentured servants differed from the slaves in the terms of their employment as they are granted freedom after their term of contract ended while the slaves were not freed and were considered as a life investment. The slaves as well as the indentured servants aided the economy of the colonisation period to grow and thus established themselves as an important part of the system. The indentured services were later banned in most of the countries where it was practised, especially in the USA, after the establishment of the 13th Amendment. The indentured servitude was legal as it was a binding contract or arrangement between two individuals where one person would pay the debt of the other in the form of service. In the eighteenth century, European migrants entered into these contracts with the American settlers in payment of their passage to America (Shaw, 2018). The indentured servitude paved the employment opportunity for those who were incapable of owning or maintaining land themselves and hence worked on others lands or households till a specific period of time which usually extended upto five to ten years.


Indentured servants however were similar to the slavery system as they could be sold or loaned by their employers. Slaves usually aimed at working well for their masters to ensure the employment or servitude of their future generations. The indentured servants were also allowed to marry after gaining permission from their employers. The indentured servants’ term of employment could be extended by their debtors if they deemed their service to be unsatisfactory and if they became pregnant. The major difference between indentured servitude and the slavery was the free will of entering into the service of another (Cherry et al., 2020). Slaves were forced to work in the households of their masters while indentured servants entered the terms of service of their own free will. In both services, the master or debtor had to provide food, clothing and shelter for the servants or slaves. The minimum wage that was sometimes paid to the slaves or the servants differed in terms of their skills. In some areas however, instead of maltreatment, slaves received better treatment in the hopes of them and their future generations serving the same house for years to come whereas the indentured servants would only be employed for a specific period of time and hence received no special treatment from their debtors. The practice of slavery being older than indentured servitude presents the primary differences between the two although some similarities existed between them (Heider et al., 2021).

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