Essay - Indentured Servants in 1901, Karl Frederick Geiser Wrote the Book...


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Indentured Servants

In 1901, Karl Frederick Geiser wrote the book Redemptioners and Indentured Servants of Pennsylvania, to "in the hope of throwing some new light upon an important phase of our Colonial history ***** which comparatively little has been written." One hundred years later, Geiser could easily publish his book again, since most people in the United States do not know about servitude during early America except for the African slaves. Terms such as redemptioners, embarkation, debarkation, ***** even indentured servants are ***** detailed *****ten, yet this w*****—for good or bad—a maj***** aspect of ***** history.

When the Colonists came to ***** New World and saw that the land would yield profitable returns, they tried a number of different w*****ys to entice immigrants, particularly the poor and laboring class, to make the long and expensive trip to America. However, ***** burden was too great for most individuals. In the mid 1500s, the owners ***** the large l***** companies recognized that in order to increase the number of workers ***** had to offer free transportation. The English government quickly agreed, ***** they would have fewer unemployed individuals who "threatened to become criminals" (Geiser, 1901, p. 5). This answered one of the *****or economic *****roblems of ***** times.

Historians identify two methods ***** acquiring trans-Atlantic passage through servitude--"indenture" and "redemption." Today, the term "indenture" is used as a generic form ***** describes both these terms. These two ***** differ depending on whether the immigrant be***** a contr*****cted servant at *****, for indenture, or at debarkation, for *****. The *****er individuals, or ***** *****s, signed contracts pre-voyage and, once arriving in America, were called "servants... whose times ***** to be disposed of by the capta*****..." ***** latter *****, because they did not sign a contract until they arrived in America, ***** often called "passengers" or "freights" who were "will*****g ***** serve a reasonable time for their passage (freight) money." Once ***** *****ed the servant, ***** redemptioners were *****n also called "servants." Although they went by the same name, it is ***** to distinguish between the two ways of ***** signing, which affected ***** incidence of contracting risk between shipper and servant and the flexibility of contracting between ***** and American master (xxx).

***** derivation of the term "*****d" is believed to have come from the Middle-Engl*****h word "endenture," a ***** **********, from Anglo-Norman, from endenter, to indent (from ***** matching notches on multiple copies of the documents); The contract the intended ***** signed was copied twice on the same paper. The paper was then torn in half with the worker ***** ***** captain each receiving a copy. ***** ragged edge ***** the page would *****ly fit exactly together with the other half of similarly ripped paper (Webster Dictionary,). That ***** proof that the two pieces of paper ***** parts of the original contract. In this way, ***** ***** ***** not alter any of the original terms, such as the ***** of years ***** servitude or the freedom due.

This was believed to be

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