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 throw*****g 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, and even indentured servants are not detailed often, yet this w*****—for good or bad—a maj***** aspect of Colonial history.

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

Historians identify two methods of 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 immigr*****nt became a contr*****cted servant at embarkation, for *****, or at debarkation, for *****. The former *****, or ***** immigrants, signed contracts pre-voyage and, once arriving in America, were called "servants... whose ***** ***** 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 "willing to serve a reasonable time for their passage (freight) money." Once they *****ed the servant, *****se redemptioners were then 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 ***** contracting between servant and American master (xxx).

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

This was believed to be

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