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During the 17th and 18th centuries countless numbers of immigrantsmostly from Europe sold themselves into bondage in exchange for passage toAmerica When in America they were called indentured servants and would workfor the person who brought them over for a predetermined amount of time inorder to pay for their passage The amount of time a servant was bound for wasstated in the contract that they all had to sign and was usually from four to sevenyears depending on the age sex and skill of the servant It has been estimatedthat nearly half of the white settlers in colonial America arrived there asindentured servants Frazier p26 In the southern plantations where mostfamilies had at least two servants performing manual labor indentured servantsactually outnumbered the black slaves Indentured servants played a huge role inallowing many of the American colonies to prosper and grow Brenner p47 Indentured servitude allowed for both the farmers in America and the immigrantsthat sold themselves to the farmers to benefit in their own ways Treatment of servants in America varied depending upon the landlordThose who were unfortunate enough to have a cruel landlord were often treated asif they were slaves and had to endure many hardships during the time they wereobligated to serve Those who were lucky enough to have a fair and just landlordhad a much easier time While in servitude they would be able to learn farmingskills and if allowed to apprentice under the landlord at their other businesses such as law printing or medicine When their time was up they would have thechance to start their own businesses or someday their own farms However evenif an indentured servant did have a cruel landlord they would eventually be freeand would have the chance to lead a successful life while slaves
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