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28 Slavery

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28. SLAVERY. When the English colo nies were first established in America, chattel slavery of white people had nearly died out in Christian Europe, although serfdom to the owner of the estate to which one was attached still prevailed in Russia, Germany and many other parts of Europe. In England the only rec ognized chattels were the rare negroes or Asi atics owned as a matter of pride by a few wealthy men. In the New World, however, the English colonists adopted the Spanish habit of enslaving such of the native Indians as they could possess themselves of ; but the tribesmen were sullen, insubordinate and short lived. The slavery of that race was never of any economic importance, though as late as 1692 an Indian woman, Tituba, was one of the Salem witcheS.

Part of the white population in all the Eng lish colonies was in a condition not far dif ferent from serfdom, until some time after the American Revolution. This was the dis tinct class of so-called "indented' or "inden tured" white servants, both men and women, who served their masters for a term of years, sometimes for life, and were almost com pletely subject to his will. One element of this class was convicts. The early planters begged for ((offenders condemned to die out of com mon gaols.' By 1650 grew up a regular prac tice of "transporting' some criminals instead of hanging them, and it is estimated that first and last 50,000 convicts came over. For in stance,. a Scotchman was sold as a slave for life to America for the heinous offense of burning the Bible,• and in 1736 Mr. Henry Justice of the Middle Temple stole books and in consequence was transported to America, "there to remain seven years, and to be put to death if he returned, etc.," and one Sarah Wilson servant to a maid-of-honor to the queen, was landed in Maryland, put up for sale and pur chased. Another fruitful source of indented servants was the political prisoners. After the battle of Worcester, in 1650, about 1,000 Scotch men were ordered sent to the colonies. In

1716 a lot of Jacobites were sent over.

By far the larger and more important class of white serfs was that of the gredemptioners,° who agreed with some shipmaster to carry them over and in America to sell their services for a term of years to any purchaser for a sum sufficient to pay their passage money. Thus, in 1774, John Harrower, whose diary has been preserved, "was obliged to engage to go to Virginia for four years as a schoolmaster for bed, hoard, washing and five pounds during the whole time.° He was duly sold to a Vir ginia gentleman, and lived a respectable and honest life. Many such servants on expiration of their time set up for themselves and founded families. White servants frequently ran away from their masters and were advertised, pur sued, arrested, whipped and branded exactly like slaves.

By far the most important phase of Ameri can servitude was the slavery of the African negroes; it was directly related to the cen turies of war between the Mohammedans and the Christians in Europe, which engendered a deep-seated belief that Christianity forbade the slavery of Christians, but allowed the enslave ment of infidels. In 1517 Las Casas, a benevo lent Spanish divine, suggested that negroes be imported into the West Indies from Africa, to save the remnants of the unhappy Indians. The African slave trade at once sprang up in the Spanish and Portuguese possessions; and by 1670 the English adventurers, especially Sir John Hawkins, began to engage in this profitable business. The first English conti nental colony to buy negro slaves was Virginia, where, in 1619, a Dutch ship of war sold some in exchange for provisions; but it was in the English West Indies, especially the sugar-grow ing islands of Barbadoes, Tobago and Jamaica, that slavery first found a profitable field. To these islands were sent most of the white con vict slaves, and the continent received for its supply of negro slaves only those already seasoned in the West Indies.

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