-Edmund S. Morgan
THE ROAD TO SLAVERY
In the book, American Slavery American Freedom, Edmund S. Morgan believes and supports the idea that slaves were brought about by a long process and that slaves were not needed or profitable during early colonization. He writes about the process colonists took to finally bring slavery to America. Indentured servants were originally the workers of the early colonies.
Slavery originally started in America by the deportation of restless roistering rogues from England to Virginia. Morgan writes, England kept them down by the workhouse, by the gallows, by whipping them back to the parish they came from, by sending them off on military expeditions and by shipping them to Virginia. When these men were sent over to America they had to work and received little pay. Edmund explains that the Virginians found out a way to cheat the workers. They created an artificial scarcity of land, which meant that the workers who were in servitude waiting to be freemen had no where to live so they went back into servitude. They also took off as much as they could off the workers profits through rents, taxes, and fees for the benefits of the burgesses, councilors and collectors. But by doing this, Morgan believes, put colonies at constant risk of rebellion. As the years went on workers began to get pushed more and more to make profits for who ever it is they have been serving, and Virginia moved closer to slavery than ever.
Servitude in Virginia s tabacco fields approached closer to slavery than anything known at the time in England. Men served longer, were subject to more rigorous punishment, and were traded about as commodities already in the 1620 s.
England had never dealt with slavery before than, but was moving so close towards it that it was inevitable that it would happen.
Ounce slavery was established there were many advantages in keeping labor, but to transform a freeman into a slave was risky. In the book Morgan carefully explains that bringing men to slavery would have to proceed in stages, each carefully calculated to stop short of provoking a rebellion. When the freemen were enslaved in would eventually end the flow of potential slaves from England and Europe due to the fact that England was in fear of rebellion. Virginians could only buy men who were already enslaved, and popularity of slaves increased when colonists began buying slaves instead of servants. So black slaves imported from Africa would soon become the most popular slaves.
Many people now wonder why the Virginians waited so long to start using slaves. Morgan answers this and describes why exactly they were waiting until almost the 1640 s to start using slaves. When the colonists first settled the mortality rate for immigrants was high, so it made more sense for person to buy an indentured servant for a couple of years than a slave a lifetime especially since slaves were twice as expensive. Also, leading up to 1640 when the Dutch, whom also colonized Barbados had more African American slaves in Barbados than Virginia, Virginia used white servants. Edmund explains the reason why white servants went to the mainland instead of Barbados before 1640. Up until the 1640 s when the principle crop in Barbados was, as in Virginia, tabacco, the labor force was mainly composed, as in Virginia, white servants. But a shift from tobacco to cotton and then to sugar in the early 1640 s made the islands less attractive than the mainland for servants who crossed the ocean voluntarily. This is because sugar planters had to work much harder and strenuous than tobacco planters. So because of this Africans were needed to work the island since no white servants wanted to work it. In may also be included that land for a servant was easier to come by on the mainland than in Barbados.
Finally as life expectancy rose among colonists, it became a better buy to have a slave instead of a servant after the 1660 s. Between the years 1700 and 1750 Virginia had imported 45,000 black slaves. Morgan insists that there is no real way to tell how many slaves had been imported, From stray bits of evidence we do know that Virginians were getting slaves from other sources than the company and what prices they were willing to pay for them. With slavery in effect Virginians could get a maximum productivity out of their slaves. Owners found it profitable to use their slaves every waking second and they were not afraid of rebellion from their slaves because they lived without hope. The only problem that owners faced was that slaves had no reason to work hard. The solution to that problem as found in the book says, Virginians had to face the fact that masters of slaves must inflict pain at a higher level than masters of servants. Slaves could not be to work for fear of losing their liberty, so they had to be made to fear for their lives.
For hundreds of years African American slaves were raised with no hope and they lived with the fear of death every day of their lives. The settlers originally used indentured servants until slaves became more profitable to own.