Plantation 1. Thousands of acres of farming land. 2. Owned and run by an Elite Planter. 3. Worked by Unfree Labor—Indentured Servants (17 th C) and Slaves (18 th C). 4. Producing a cash crop for export on the world market.
Wessell Webling, His Indenture (1622)... Know yee that I Wessell Webling sonne of Nicolas Webling of London Brewer for & in consideration that I have bene furnished & sett out & am to bee transported unto Virginia, at the costs & charges of Edward Bennett of London, marchant & his associates, & for & in consideration that they have promised & covenanted to maintain me with sufficient meat drinke & apparell doe by these presents bind myself an apprentise unto ye said Edward Bennett for the full terme of three yeares to begin the first [fic. feast] of St Michaell the Archangell next after the date of these presents. And I doe promise & bind myself to doe & perform all the said terme of my aprentishippe true & faythfull service in all such labours & busines as the said Edward Bennett or his assignes shall imploy me in, & to bee tractable & obedient as a good servant ought to bee in all such things as shalbe comaunded me by the said Edward Bennett or his Assignes in Virginia, & at the end of the said terme of three yeares the said Edward Bennett do promise to give unto the said apprentice and house & 50 acres of land in Virginia to hold to me my heires & assignes for ever, according to the custome of land there holden, & alsoe shall give to the said apprentice necessary & good apparell, & the sayd apprentice shall inhabitt & dwell uppon the said land, &... In witnes whereof the Partyes aforesaid to these present Indentures have sett their hands & seales, the 25th of September 1622. Signett Ed. Bennett Ext Willm Claybourne
First Africans in Virginia, 1619 As late as 1650, very small numbers. 1650 500 Africans in Virginia 3% of total population
Why? The Switch from Indentured Servants to Slaves, 1680-1700: One of American History’s most important topics to
Theory #1: Life Expectancy and Economic Costs 1650(5 Year Life Expectancy for Virginia Newcomer) Indentured Servant Contract5 Years500 pounds Slave Life1000 pounds (+ children) Which makes more economic sense? What will 5 years of labor cost with each system? How do slave children effect this? 1680(20 Year Life Expectancy for Virginia Newcomer) Indentured Servant Contract5 Years500 pounds Slave Life1000 pounds (+ children) Which makes more economic sense? What will 20 years of labor cost with each system? How many Indentured Servants will you have to employ and at what cost to equal one slave in this era? How do slave children effect this?
Theory #2: Lack of Available Servants in England Theory #3: The Establishment, in 1672, of the British Royal Africa Company Royal Africa Company Crest
Theory #4: Bacon’s Rebellion & the “Unthinking Decision” Source: Edmund S. Morgan. American Slavery, American Freedom. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975.
Geography and Economics of Colonial Virginia’s Yeoman Farmers
The Unthinking Decision: Switch from Indentured Servitude to Slavery 1670 (Before Bacon’s Rebellion) Virginia’s Population: 33,000 White (94%) 2,000 African (6%) 1700 (After Bacon’s Rebellion) Virginia’s Population41,143 White (72%) 16,000 African (28%)
A New Alliance of Race: Colonial Gentry, Middling Yeoman, and Poor Whites come together to contain Africans
Virginia’s 1705 Slave Code In 1705, the Virginia General Assembly removed any lingering uncertainty about this terrible transformation; it made a declaration that would seal the fate of African Americans for generations to come... "All servants imported and brought into the Country... who were not Christians in their native Country... shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion... shall be held to be real estate. If any slave resist his master... correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction... the master shall be free of all punishment... as if such accident never happened." The code, which would also serve as a model for other colonies, went even further. The law imposed harsh physical punishments. It stated that slaves needed written permission to leave their plantation, that slaves found guilty of murder or rape would be hanged, that for robbing or any other major offence, the slave would receive sixty lashes and be placed in stocks, where his or her ears would be cut off, and that for minor offences, such as associating with whites, slaves would be whipped, branded, or maimed.