After years of violence and turbulence between the colonial masters Britain and local communities, the dust began to settle. With economic and structural disruption, new units began to form with class and prestige becoming the standards for stratification. The wealthy and prestigious groups owned the means of production. They owned properties and had more disposable income to fetch goods from other regions such as Britain fashion, English furniture, and Chinese glassware and linens. The bourgeois went for imported products as local products were considered inferior quality-wise (“244215139_7_Revolution_3992271526766419.Pptx”). The working class in the community opted for local products. The levels of education and arts determined the industry of practice for the inhabitants. Mostly, the locals occupied craft and handy jobs.
France, Portugal, and Spain rivalled Britain in the race for colonies. The colonial states held it that for development, there was the need for colonial resources to spur economic development. Britain introduced the mercantilist policy that demanded colonies to supply raw materials for the mother country for manufacturing in Europe. The colonial states provided the market for manufactured goods. Britain had very few natural resources, and therefore, they pursued colonies for economic development. During this period, colonies experienced massive violation of human rights perpetuated by imperial European powers over their colonies in Africa, America, and Asia (“Chapter 2: Beginnings Of English America, 1607-1660 | Give Me Liberty! An American History | Eric Foner: W. W. Norton Studyspace”) Mercantilism introduced restrictions on trade stunting growth in colonial states.
Majority of the colonist occupied the lower class. The available opportunities included working as public servants in the locality. Opportunities in the coastal lines involved sea activities. Employees worked as dockworkers, merchant seamen, and fishermen (“244215139_8_Constituting_A_Democracy_2633153518961185.Pptx”). Other opportunities were considered dangerous professions including piracy and impressments. Artisans were among the skilled laborers and occupied the middle class in the society. They were also known as leather apron men and specialized in certain areas serving as blacksmiths, gunsmiths, sailmakers, wainwrights, and silversmiths. The middle class and the upper class had access to resources and participated in trade and commerce.
After the strife, locals returned home to impoverished conditions. Most people returned to find their families gone and farms occupied by others. The extreme conditions deprived plantations labor force leading to the rise of indentured servants to replace the former slaves. With the poverty levels and instability, debt increased. Indentured servants turned to the masters to settle accrued debts. Indentured servants came into America through the Jamestown settlement in 1607 by Virginia Company. Early settlers had vast lands but lacked labor force. With the policy in place to protect British occupants, the Virginia Company introduced indentured servitude to attract labor for their farms.
The strife in Europe and overseas hurt the economy and stability in Europe. The Virginia invention came after thirty years of continued strife. Majority of the skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled immigrants moved to America as indentured servants. Under indentured servitude, workers spent between four to seven years of labor in return for passage, freedom, boarding, and lodging. Often, the conditions were dilapidated and harsh but did not qualify to a form of slavery. Indentured servants had some rights reserved and protection by the institutions. Nevertheless, they survived hostilities and brutality in their service.
The conditions for servants were severe and harsh. The servants who survived the ordeal and concluded their contracts received freedom packages and were well off than free immigrants. Punishment meted on wrongdoers including runaways and pregnant women servants were harsher than for non-servants. Masters could extend servants’ contracts as a form of punishment for law violation (“The American Revolution- American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources – Library Of Congress”) The rewards for the contract included land, corn, arms, clothes, and livestock. Some servants acquired significant wealth from employees and rose to the colonial elite class. To other servants, freedom was the ultimate gift after surviving the treacherous voyage and life in servitude
Slave laws did not exist until the Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619. The first Blacks received equal treatment and freedom like the Whites. Shortly after Africans’ arrival in the region, slave laws were introduced, and all privileges and freedoms for the Blacks were lost. The growing economies increased the demand for labor, as well as the price of indenture servants. Freed servants became landowners (“Indentured Servants In Colonial Virginia”). Reduced labor resources saw the landowners turn to slave labor causing the migration from indentured servitude to institutionalizing racial slavery.
Around 1660, Britain introduced the Navigation acts as one of the policies to protect British merchants. The laws intended to make America dependent on the European manufactured good. The Navigation Act restricted sales of certain commodities including tobacco, sugar, indigo, fur, and iron to British traders only. Britain adopted the triangular trade between the mother nation and colonies and foreign market (“Chapter 2: Beginnings Of English America, 1607-1660 | Give Me Liberty! An American History | Eric Foner: W. W. Norton Studyspace”). The triangular trade saw the acquisition of slaves from Africa to work in plantations in America for production of raw materials for industries in Europe. Demands for cotton and rum among imperialists in Africa stimulated the slave trade. Slaves were traded for sugar and molasses in America and the West Indies.
“244215139_7_Revolution_3992271526766419.Pptx”. Google Docs, 2018, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TqrIfD8nIVIEbpgSdrZl-nhbBYlCslMM/view. Accessed 11 May 2018.
“244215139_8_Constituting_A_Democracy_2633153518961185.Pptx”. Google Docs, 2018, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jJsxLFx3jghtuWjPobzCW3y62M9VcwoX/view. Accessed 11 May 2018.
“The American Revolution- American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources – Library Of Congress”. Loc.Gov, 2018, http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/amrev/. Accessed 11 May 2018.
“Chapter 2: Beginnings Of English America, 1607-1660 | Give Me Liberty! An American History | Eric Foner: W. W. Norton Studyspace”. Wwnorton.Com, 2018, http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/give-me-liberty3-brief/ch/02/outline.aspx. Accessed 11 May 2018.
“Indentured Servants In Colonial Virginia”. Encyclopediavirginia.Org, 2018, https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Indentured_Servants_in_Colonial_Virginia. Accessed 11 May 2018.