Slavery in Early America

Why the 3rd and 4th Reich
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Slavery in Early America
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 Slavery in America,  the untold story...


At the time of the American Revolution, half of the population had ancestors who had been poor English, Irish or Scotts forced into slavery...Kidnapped off the streets, herded into ships and sold at auction alongside Blacks from Africa

It was politely called "indentured servitude"... But the reality was very grim for most of them...

I most strongly suggest the book “Captain Blood”. It is the story of a shipload of Englishmen who were transportated to Jamaica in the Caribbean sea to be sold as slaves in the 17th century. Unlike most poor wretches suffering that fate, Peter Blood and some of his friends captured a Spanish ship intent on pillaging Port Royal, Jamaica, and left Jamaica to go a-pirateing... After many adventures, The story ends well as eventually Peter Blood was made the Royal Governor of Jamaica who got the girl of his dreams and lived happily ever after... Hollywood made an Errol Flynn movie about him ...


They Were White and They Were Slaves: The Untold History of the Enslavement of Whites in Early America

They Were White and They Were Slaves is a thoroughly researched challenge to the conventional historiography of colonial and industrial labor, a stunning journey into a hidden epoch, the slave trade of Whites, hundreds of thousands of whom were kidnapped, chained, whipped and worked to death in the American colonies and during the Industrial Revolution. This is a chronicle that has never been fully told, part of a vital heritage that has until now comprised the dustiest shelf in the darkest corner of suppressed history.

"""Thomas Burton recorded in his Parliament Diary 1656-1659 vol. 4 pp. 253-274 a debate in the English Parliament focusing on the selling of British whites into slavery in the New World.  The debate refers to whites as slaves ‘whose enslavement threatened the liberties of all Englishmen.’

The British government had realized as early as the 1640’s how beneficial white slave labor was to the profiting colonial plantations.  Slavery was instituted as early as 1627 in the British West Indies.  The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series of 1701 records 25000 slaves in Barbados in which 21700 were white slaves."""

Indentured Servitude

The development of the tobacco economy in the Chesapeake colonies led the Virginia Company to develop a labor system to meet their particular needs. Large numbers of workers were needed to clear new tobacco fields and others were required to tend and harvest the crop. Fortuitously, the American labor shortage existed at the same time that widespread unemployment gripped England.

A worker seeking a new start in America signed an indenture agreement,* which stipulated that he was borrowing money for his transportation and would repay the lender by performing labor for a set period. Skilled laborers were often indentured for four or five years, while unskilled workers often had to remain under the master’s control for seven or more years.

In addition to receiving passage to America, the servant would be provided with food, shelter, and clothing. Perhaps as many as 300,000 workers migrated under the terms of these agreements. Most were males, generally in their late teens and early twenties, but thousands of women also entered into these agreements and often worked off their debts as domestic servants.

Treatment of indentured servants differed greatly from one master to another. In some areas, slaves were treated more humanely because they were regarded as lifetime investments, while the servant would be gone in a few years. The length of servitude could legally be lengthened in cases of bad behavior, especially for those workers who ran away or became pregnant.

Servants fared better than slaves in other respects; they had access to the courts and were entitled to own land. Masters retained their right to prohibit their servants from marrying and had the authority to sell them to other masters at any time.

At the end of the service period, many workers were provided with their “freedom dues” — often consisting of new clothes, farm tools and seed; on rare occasions the worker would receive a small plot of land.

One variant of this labor system was the use of "enforced servitude." Vagrants, war prisoners, and minor criminals were shipped to America by English authorities, then sold into bondage.There were success stories of people who had started as indentured servants and later became prominent citizens, but the number was probably very small. The lingering dark side to the practice was of those who completed their service, but could not afford to buy land and were unable to find employment. The result was hundreds of rootless men in many frontier areas. This fueled movements of social unrest, including Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia, in 1676.

During the 1670s, the flood of servants coming to America slowed. Economic conditions in England had improved and fewer people were willing to take the risk of starting from scratch in a faraway land. The plantation owners in the Chesapeake region, still badly in need of workers, turned increasingly to slavery to keep their operations functioning.

*The word indenture referred to marks or indentations made on the contract between master and servant. When the document was drawn, two copies were made. As a lasting means of authentication, one copy was placed over the other and the edges of the pages were defaced or marked. The servants of this era were often uneducated and could be cheated by unscrupulous masters, who could forge new contracts with terms more favorable to themselves.

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From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States by Priscilla Murolo.
Management's perpetual dream of cheap labor explains the invention of slavery, though few may couch it in those terms. Drawing such connections with i...

Indentured Servitude

John Frethorne's Letter to His Parents (1623)

LOVING AND KIND FATHER AND MOTHER: My most humble duty remembered to you, hoping in god of your good health, as I myself am at the making hereof. This is to let you understand that I you child am in a most heavy case by reason of the country, [which] is such that it causeth much sic kness, [such] as the scurvy and the bloody flux and diverse other diseases, which maketh the body very poor and weak. And when we are sick there is nothing to comfort us; for since I came out of the ship I never ate anything but peas, and loblollie (that is, water gruel). As for deer or venison I never saw any since I came into this land. There is indeed some fowl, but we are not allowed to go and get it, but must work hard both early and late for a mess of water gruel and a mouthful of bread and beef. A mouthful of bread for a penny loaf must serve for four men which is most pitiful. [You would be grieved] if you did know as much as I [do], when people cry out day and night ­ Oh! That they were in England without their limbs--and would not care to lose any limb to be in England again, yea, though they beg from door to door. For we live in fear of the enemy every hour, yet we have had a combat with them and we took two alive and made slaves of them. But it was by policy, for we are in great danger; for our plantation is very weak by reason of the death and sickness of our company. For we came but twenty for the merchants, and they are half dead just; and we look every hour when two more should go. Yet there came some four other men yet to live with us, of which there is but one alive; and our Lieutenant is dead, and [also] his father and his brother. And there was some five or six of the last year's twenty, of which there is but three left, so that we are fain to get other men to plant with us; and yet we are but 32 to fight against 3000 if they should come. And the nighest help that we have is ten mile of us, and when the rogues overcame this place [the] last [time] they slew 80 persons. How then shall we do, for we lie even in their teeth? They may e asily take us, but [for the fact] that God is merciful and can save with few as well as with many, as he showed to Gilead. And like Gilead's soldiers, if they lapped water, we drink water which is but weak.

And I have nothing to comfort me, nor is there nothing to be gotten here but sickness and death, except [in the event] that one had money to lay out in some things for profit. But I have nothing at all--no, not a shirt to my back but two rags (2), nor clothes but one poor suit, nor but one pair of shoes, but one pair of stockings, but one cap, [and] but two bands [collars]. My cloak is stolen by one of my fellows, and to his dying hour [he] would not tell me what he did with it; but some of my fel lows saw him have butter and beef out of a ship, which my cloak, I doubt [not], paid for. So that I have not a penny, nor a penny worth, to help me too either spice or sugar or strong waters, without the which one cannot live here. For as strong beer in E ngland doth fatten and strengthen them, so water here doth wash and weaken these here [and] only keeps [their] life and soul together. But I am not half [of] a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victuals; for I do protest unto y ou that I have eaten more in [one] day at home than I have allowed me here for a week. You have given more than my day's allowance to a beggar at the door; and if Mr. Jackson had not relieved me, I should be in a poor case. But he like a father and she li ke a loving mother doth still help me.

For when we go to Jamestown (that is 10 miles of us) there lie all the ships that come to land, and there they must deliver their goods. And when we went up to town [we would go], as it may be, on Monday at noon, and come there by night, [and] then load the next day by noon, and go home in the afternoon, and unload, and then away again in the night, and [we would] be up about midnight. Then if it rained or blowed never so hard, we must lie in the boat on the water and have nothing but a little brea d. For when we go into the boat we[would] have a loaf allowed to two men, and it is all [we would get] if we stayed there two days, which is hard; and [we] must lie all that while in the boat. But that Goodman Jackson pitied me and made me a cabin to lie in always when I [would] come up, and he would give me some poor jacks [fish] [to take] home with me, which comforted me more than peas or water gruel. Oh, they be very godly folks, and love me very well, and will do anything for me. And he much marvelle d that you would send me a servant to the Company; he saith I had been better knocked on the head. And indeed so I find it now, to my great grief and misery; and [I] saith that if you love me you will redeem me suddenly, for which I do entreat and beg. And if you cannot get the merchants to redeem me for some little money, then for God's sake get a gathering or entreat some good folks to lay out some little sum of money in meal and cheese and butter and beef. Any eating meat will yield great profit. Oil a nd vinegar is very good; but, father, there is great loss in leaking. But for God's sake send beef and cheese and butter, or the more of one sort and none of another. But if you send cheese, it must be very old cheese; and at the cheesemonger's you may buy very good cheese for twopence farthing or halfpenny, that will be liked very well. But if you send cheese, you must have a care how you pack it in barrels; and you must put cooper's chips between every cheese, or else the heat of the hold will rot them. And look whatsoever you send me—be in never so much—look, what[ever] I make of it, I will deal truly with you. I will send it over and beg the profit to redeem me; and if I die before it come, I have entreated Goodman Jackson to send you the worth of it, who hath promised he will. If you send, you must direct your letters to Goodman Jackson, at Jamestown, a gunsmith. (You must set down his freight, because there be more of his name there.) Good father, do not forget me, but have mercy and pity my miserable case. I know if you did but see me, you would weep to see me; for I have but one suit. (But [though] it is a strange one, it is very well guarded.) Wherefore, for God's sake, pity me. I pray you to remember my love to all my friends and kindred. I hope all my brothers and sisters are in good health, and as for my part I have set down my resolution that certainly will be; that is, that the answer of this letter will be life or death to me. Therefore, good father, send as soon as you can; and if you send me any thing let this be the mark.



SOURCE: Richard Frethorne, letter to his father and mother, March 20, April 2 & 3, 1623, in Susan Kingsbury, ed., The Records of the Virginia Company of London (Washington, D.C.: Government printing Office, 1935), 4: 58-62.

Indentured Servants In The U.S.

Indentured servants first arrived in America in the decade following the settlement of Jamestown by the Virginia Company in 1607.

The idea of indentured servitude was born of a need for cheap labor. The earliest settlers soon realized that they had lots of land to care for, but no one to care for it. With passage to the Colonies expensive for all but the wealthy, the Virginia Company developed the system of indentured servitude to attract workers. Indentured servants became vital to the colonial economy.

The timing of the Virginia colony was ideal. The Thirty Year's War had left Europe's economy depressed, and many skilled and unskilled laborers were without work. A new life in the New World offered a glimmer of hope; this explains how one-half to two-thirds of the immigrants who came to the American colonies arrived as indentured servants.

Servants typically worked four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn't slavery. There were laws that protected some of their rights.

But their life was not an easy one, and the punishments meted out to people who wronged were harsher than those for non-servants. An indentured servant's contract could be extended as punishment for breaking a law, such as running away, or in the case of female servants, becoming pregnant.

For those that survived the work and received their freedom package, many historians argue that they were better off than those new immigrants who came freely to the country. Their contract may have included at least 25 acres of land, a year's worth of corn, arms, a cow and new clothes. Some servants did rise to become part of the colonial elite, but for the majority of indentured servants that survived the treacherous journey by sea and the harsh conditions of life in the New World, satisfaction was a modest life as a freeman in a burgeoning colonial economy.

In 1619 the first black Africans came to Virginia. With no slave laws in place, they were initially treated as indentured servants, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites. However, slave laws were soon passed – in Massachusetts in 1641 and Virginia in 1661 –and any small freedoms that might have existed for blacks were taken away.As demands for labor grew, so did the cost of indentured servants. Many landowners also felt threatened by newly freed servants demand for land. The colonial elite realized the problems of indentured servitude. Landowners turned to African slaves as a more profitable and ever-renewable source of labor and the shift from indentured servants to racial slavery had begun.

After the revolution, the general population, revolted by the dreadful way most indentured servants were treated, Outlawed White Slavery ...

A famous history professor stated that history was not a science but a continuing investigation into the past; a person’s conclusion is based on their own bias.  This story will offer evidence that the Alba, Scots, Irish and Pics have been the longest race held in slavery.  The reader will be responsible for their own bias pertaining to White Slavery.

Alexander Stewart was herded off the Gildart in July of 1747, bound with chains.  Stewart was pushed onto the auction block in Wecomica, St Mary’s County, Maryland.  Doctor Stewart and his brother William were attending the auction, aware of Alexander being on that slave ship coming from Liverpool England.  Doctor Stewart and William were residents of Annapolis and brothers to David of Ballachalun in Montieth, Scotland.  The two brothers paid nine pound six shillings sterling to Mr. Benedict Callvert of Annapolis for the purchase of Alexander.  He was a slave.  Alexander tells of the other 88 Scots sold into slavery that day in “THE LYON IN MOURNING” pages 242-243.

Jeremiah Howell was a lifetime-indentured servant by his uncle in Lewis County, Virginia in the early 1700’s.  His son, Jeremiah, won his freedom by fighting in the Revolution.  There were hundreds of thousands of Scots sold into slavery during Colonial America.  White slavery to the American Colonies occurred as early as 1630 in Scotland.

According to the Egerton manuscript, British Museum, the enactment of 1652: it may be lawful for two or more  justices of the peace within any county, citty or towne, corporate belonging to the commonwealth to from tyme to tyme by warrant cause to be apprehended, seized on and detained all and every person or persons that shall be found begging and vagrant.. in any towne, parish or place to be conveyed into the Port of London, or unto any other port from where

such person or persons may be shipped into a forraign collonie or plantation.

The judges of Edinburgh Scotland during the years 1662-1665 ordered the enslavement and shipment to the colonies a large number of rogues and others who made life unpleasant for the British upper class.  (Register for the Privy Council of Scotland, third series, vol. 1, p 181, vol. 2, p 101).

The above accounting sounds horrific but slavery was what the Scots have survived for a thousand years.  The early ancestors of the Scots, Alba and Pics were enslaved as early as the first century BC.  Varro, a Roman philosopher stated in his agricultural manuscripts that white slaves were only things with a voice or instrumenti vocali.  Julius Caesar enslaves as many as one million whites from Gaul.  (William D Phillips, Jr.  SLAVERY FROM ROMAN TIMES TO EARLY TRANSATLANTIC TRADE, p. 18).

Pope Gregory in the sixth century first witnessed blonde hair, blue eyed boys awaiting sale in a Roman slave market.  The Romans enslaved thousands of white inhabitants of Great Britain, who were also known as Angles.  Pope Gregory was very interested in the looks of these boys therefore asking their origin.  He was told they were Angles from Briton.  Gregory stated, “Non Angli, sed Angeli.”  (Not Angles but Angels).

The eighth to the eleventh centuries proved to be very profitable for Rouen France.  Rouen was the transfer point of Irish and Flemish slaves to the Arabian nations.  The early centuries AD the Scottish were known as Irish. William Phillips on page 63 states that the major component of slave trade in the eleventh century were the Vikings.  They spirited many ‘Irish’ to Spain, Scandinavia and Russia.  Legends have it; some ‘Irish’ may have been taken as far as Constantinople.

Ruth Mazo Karras wrote in her book, “SLAVERY AND SOCIETY IN MEDEIVEL SCANDINAVIA” pg. 49; Norwegian Vikings made slave raids not only against the Irish and Scots (who were often called Irish in Norse sources) but also against Norse settlers in Ireland or Scottish Isles or even in Norway itself…slave trading was a major commercial activity of the Viking Age.  The children of the White slaves in Iceland were routinely murdered en masse. (Karras pg 52)

According to these resources as well as many more, the Scots-Irish have been enslaved longer than any other race in the world’s history.  Most governments do not teach White Slavery in their World History classes. Children of modern times are only taught about the African slave trade.  The Scots do not need to be taught because they are very aware of the atrocities upon an enslaved race.  Most importantly, we have survived to become one to the largest races on Earth!!!

White Slavery in America

The topic of this story is a sensitive one yet one of great importance.  White slavery in America was real. There are many documents that verify the bondage, kidnapping and transporting of Brits to the Colonies as slaves.  The importance of this story will help those who cannot find a ship passenger list on their ancestor.  This story may not pertain to all who came to America that are not listed on ship passenger lists.

The Journal of Negro History #52 pp.251-273 states, “The sources of racial thought in Colonial America pertaining to slave trade worked both directions with white merchandise as well as black.”

Thomas Burton recorded in his Parliament Diary 1656-1659 vol. 4 pp. 253-274 a debate in the English Parliament focusing on the selling of British whites into slavery in the New World.  The debate refers to whites as slaves ‘whose enslavement threatened the liberties of all Englishmen.’

The British government had realized as early as the 1640’s how beneficial white slave labor was to the profiting colonial plantations.  Slavery was instituted as early as 1627 in the British West Indies.  The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series of 1701 records 25000 slaves in Barbados in which 21700 were white slaves.

George Downing wrote a letter to the honorable John Winthrop Colonial Governor of Massachusetts in 1645, “planters who want to make a fortune in the West Indies must procure white slave labor out of England if they wanted to succeed.”  Lewis Cecil Gray’s History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860 vol.1 pp 316, 318 records Sir George Sandys’ 1618 plan for Virginia, referring to bound whites assigned to the treasurer’s office. “To belong to said office forever.  The service of whites bound to Berkeley Hundred was deemed perpetual.”

The Quoke Walker case in Massachusetts 1773 ruled that; slavery contrary to the state Constitution was applied equally to Blacks and Whites in Massachusetts.

Statutes at Large of Virginia, vol. 1 pp. 174, 198, 200, 243 & 306 did not discriminate Negroes in bondage from Whites in Bondage.

Marcellus Rivers and Oxenbridge Foyle, England’s Slaves 1659 consists of a statement smuggled out of the New World and published in London referring to whites in bondage who did not think of themselves as indentured servants but as “England’s Slaves” and “England’s merchandise.”

Colonial Office, Public Records Office, London 1667, no. 170 records that “even Blacks referred to the White forced laborers in the colonies as “white slaves.”  Pages 343 through 346 of Historical Sketch of the Persecutions Suffered by the Catholics of Ireland by; Patrick F. Moran refers to the transportation of the Irish to the colonies as the “slave-trade.”

Ulrich B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South explain that white enslavement was crucial to the development of the Negro slave system.  The system set up for the white slaves governed, organized and controlled the system for the black slaves.  Black slaves were “late comers fitted into a system already developed.”  Pp 25-26.  John Pory declared in 1619, “white slaves are our principle wealth.”

The above quotations from various authors are just the tip of the iceberg on the white slave trade of the Americas.  People from the British Isles were kidnapped, put in chains and crammed into ships that transported hundreds of them at a time.  Their destination was Virginia Boston, New York, Barbados and the West Indies.  The white slaves were treated the same or worse than the black slave.  The white slave did not fetch a good price at the auction blocks.  Bridenbaugh wrote in his accounting on page 118, having paid a bigger price for the Negro, the planters treated the black better than they did their “Christian” white servant.  Even the Negroes recognized this and did not hesitate to show their contempt for those white men who, they could see, were worse off than themselves.

Governments have allowed this part of American and British history to be swallowed up.  The contemptible black slavery has taken a grip on people associated with American History.  Yet, no one will tell of these accountings that are well established on to the middle 1800’s. 

Slavery is not something to be proud of but it is a fact that happened to every country, kingdom and empire that has been on this earth.  Each of us needs to search our hearts and find the answer to stop racial hatred.  One place to begin; realize that the black race was not the only race in the last 400 years that was in bondage.

White Slavery in America
A Brief History

by Daniel Deville

One thing that is largely overlooked in the history of America is the fact that there were white European slaves. They were in no small numbers either: Close to [1]"two-thirds of the original American colonist came here, not of there own free will, but kidnapped, shanghaied, impressed, duped, beguiled, and yes, in chains...We tend to gloss over it... We'd prefer to forget the whole sorry chapter..." (Elaine Kendall, 1985)

Yes it is true, there was white slavery--even here in America. This was not only in the country's infancy, but lasted until the end of the Civil War when all slaves were freed.

Who were these white slaves? Most were peasants from the British Isles. The nobility of England thought it would be a great way to clean up the streets, to send all the poverty stricken and homeless out of the country. These families were told to choose one of their children to give up or one would be chosen for them.

Besides the state taking a child, there were midnight raiders who would kidnap small children and stack them into ships so much that three-fourths would die from starvation or illness before they reached America.

This was no loss for profit for the raiders as when they got to America they still had plenty of child slaves to sell. It didn't cost the raiders anything anyway, as these children were stolen from their parents.

If these children were not bought at the docks through auctions then they were brought further inland to be sold. If by then a child was not bought it was cheaper to kill the child than to feed it as it was now worthless.

Children often worked in factories 16 hours a day, working through the night with little to no food. There they worked the machines or were part of an assembly line. The conditions these children had to endure were inhumanly cruel.

In 1830, Rev. Richard Oastler, a Methodist minister protested the conditions in these factories and mills where young children labored for long hours, often falling asleep while still standing due to lack of rest and pure exhaustion. The slave masters would beat the children when they fell asleep. Oastler attacked the hypocrisy of the clergymen and politcians who condemned with great fervor the enslavement of blacks while [2]"thousands of our fellow creatures...are at this very a state of slavery more horrid than are the victims of that hellish system...".(Ceci1 Driver, pp36-55; Inglis, p260)

In factories during the Industrial Revolution the labor force consisted primarily of white children stolen from the British Isles. [3]"Here then was a ready source of labor — and a very welcome one. Mill-owners began to appear in London, visiting parish officers, and making the necessary arrangements. What happened to these children was nobody's concern. A Parish in London, having gotten rid of a batch of unwanted pauper chidren, was unlikely to interest itself in their subsequent fate...".(Inglis, pp75-76,81) These children were sold to factory-owners and brought to America as slaves.

Other jobs still ensured for these children. They were often forced to chimney sweeps. A child of age 4-6 was the right size to fit into a chimney. They would often have to crawl up the chute with' the fire still lit and with burning ashes filling the small hole. These children often died while stuck in these chutes. These children were white.

The Virginia Company arranged a deal with the City of London to have 100 poor white children "out of the swarms that swarme [sic] in the place" sent to Virginia in 1619 for sale to the wealthy planters of the colony to be used as slave labor. The Privy Council of London authorized the Virginia Co. to "imprison, punish and dispose of any of those children upon any disorder by them committed, as cause shall require."

Whites kidnapped in Britain could be exchanged directly for produce from American farmers.

In November 1670, Captain Henry Brayne was ordered to sail from Carolina with a consignment of timber for sale to the West Indies. From there he sailed to London and traded a load of sugar, purchased with the timber profits, for nearly 300 white slaves that were to be sold in Carolina.

[4] In 1657. Richard Ligon wrote in his book, A True and Exact History, of a white female slave who was traded for a pig by her master. Mr. Ligon was an eye witness to this. Both the pig and the woman were placed on a scale to measure their weight; a common practice for the sale of livestock.

Few today know about white slavery. These few hold the belief that white slavery was only an "indentured servitude," meaning that such "servants" were working off a debt, usually for apprenticeship or for their voyage here. This did happen but as the exception and not the rule.

There were some indentured servants to be fair, though these were in small numbers, and still occurred even after slavery was outlawed. Most of these white slaves, as said above, were kidnapped and sent to America to be slaves for life.

[5]According to the Parliamentary Diary, in 1659 the English debated the practice of selling British whites into slavery in the New World. In the debate the Whites were referred to not as "indentured servants" but as "slaves" whose "enslavement" threatened the liberties of all Englishmen. (Thomas Burton, vol.4, pp253-274)

To be fair, some whites, as well as blacks, were indentured. When their debt was worked off they were set free.

[6]"...[F]ree negro boys bound out as apprentices were sometimes given the benefit of an educational clause in the indenture. Two such cases occur in the Princess Anne County Records; one in 1719, 'to learn the trade of tanner, the master to teach him to read'; and the other in 1727, 'to learn the trade of gunsmith, the master to teach him to read the Bible distinctly." (Jernegan, p162)

It is often looked at that Blacks were the only slaves and, when considered at all, that whites were only indentured, working off voluntary debts. This is certainly not true as blacks often had better treatment than whites.

[7]Foster R Dulles writes in Labor in America: a History, whether convicts, children 'spirited' from the countryside, or political prisoners, "white slaves experienced discomforts and sufferings on their voyage across the Atlantic that paralleled the cruel hardships undergone by negro slaves on the notorious Middle Passage."

[8]Dr. Revilo P. Oliver, of the University of Illinois, had this to say of the treatment of white slaves: "...[E]specially after the colonization of the New World, hard labor was often performed by persons who were "indentured servants'...Many were not actually indentured, but kidnapped from the British Isles by thugs and sold to slave dealers. One shocking fact you will learn... is that the whites commonly fared worse than black slaves."

There are far too many accounts of white slaves being treated as bad if not worse than black slaves to list here, as space does not allow in this article; infact, there are more than enough accounts to fill an entire Encyclopedia.

[9]"Fugitive slave" laws were enacted against runaway white slaves. William Henning in his 13 volume Statue at Large of Virginia records punishment for runaway whites was " to be branded in the cheek with the letter 'R'." They would also cut one or both ears off.

The current image of blacks as predominately the ones who bore scars of the whip is in error.[10] On September 20, 1776 the Continental Congress authorized the whipping of unruly American enlisted men with up to 100 lashes at a time. There is a case on record of rank and file white American troops receiving up to 250 whip lashes. This can be found in Walter J. Eraser, Jr.'s Reflections of Democracy in Revolutionary South Carolina, in the Southern Common People.

There were even slave revolts among white slaves. One of the biggest was led by Nathaniel Bacon in Virginia in 1676 when a small army of white slaves and fugitive white slaves joined Bacon against the House of Burgesses and the Governor. They burned down the city of Jamestown, plundered the plantations and expelled the Governor, William Berkely. By January 1677 all these men had been captured or killed after fighting all winter, half of which they had no leader. Bacon died on October 26, 1676 during the height of the insurrection. He died of an illness.

Other white slave rebellions include the rising of 1634 which took 800 troops to put down.

[11] Richard Ligon was an eyewitness to a proclamation in 1649, "An Act for an Annual Day of Thanksgiving for our deliverance from the Last Insurrection of Servants." He had this to say about it: "Their sufferings being grown to a great height, and their daily complainings to one another...being spread throughout the island; at the last,some amongst them, whose spirits were not able to endure such slavery, resolved to break through it, or die in the act; and so conspired with some others... so that a day was appointed to fall upon their masters and cut all their throats..." (Ligon, p45)

Forty Irish slaves in 1735 ran a vessel aground off Nova Scotia and executed the entire ship's company.

[12] The British colonial government was not adverse to calling unlikely "police" to suppress white slave revolts: Blacks. Blacks were admitted to the colonial militia responsible for policing white slaves. The aristocratic planters felt the need to "arm part of their blackmen" to assist in suppressing white slave revolts. (Beckles, p17)

In 1710 Thomas Nairne reported that Blacks continued to be members of militias organized by local governments in the Carolinas to police white slaves.

[13] In 1715 a reward was offered in Maryland to American Indians to capture runaway white slaves and return them to their masters. This can be found in Maxcy's Laws of Maryland, vol. one.

When attempts were made to abolish white slavery and stop the flow of both kidnapped and convict labor, the measures were generally struck down, as when in 1748 Virginia's Burgesses upheld the Act of 1705--which legitimized white slavery.

In the book Andrew Johnson, A Biography we learn that President Andrew Johnson, vice-president to Lincoln, was sold into indentured servitude at age 10. His term of servitude was to last until he was 21 years of age. He was sent to work in the Selby Tailor shop in Raleigh, North Carolina. There he often worked more than 12 hours a day. After enduring six years, of this he escaped and made his way to Tennessee, where he went into business fpr himself. (Trefousse, p21)

It is the way of our European blood to push on with grit and determination—to overcome adversity. Thus, you've have heard no crying for reparations — no blubbering about oppression. We have forged on--but let us not forget,--for he who forgets history is doomed to repeat it...


[1] Kendall, Elaine, Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1985.
[2] Driver, Cecil, Tory Radical: The Life of Richard Oastler
[3] Inglis Brian, Poverty and the Industrial Revolution.
[4] Ligon, Richard, A true and Exact History of the Island of Barbados.
[5] Burton, Thomas, Parliamentary Diary: 1656-59.
[6] Jernegan, Marcus W., Laboring and Dependent Classes in America, 1607-178-3.
[7] Dulles, Foster Rhea, Labor in America, A History.
[8] Oliver, Revilo P., University of Illinois.
[9] Henning, William, (editor) Statues at Large; Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of hte Legislature in the Year 1619.
[10] Fraser, Walter J. Jr., "Reflections of 'Democracy' in Revolutionary South Carolina? Th'e Composition of Military Organizations and the Attitudes and Relationships of the Officers and Men, 1775-1780," in The Southern Common People.
[11] Ligon, Richard, A true and Exact History of the Island of Barbados.
[12] Beckles, Hilary McD., White Servitude and Black Slavery in Barbados, 1627-1715.
[13] Maxcy's Laws of Maryland.
[14] Trefousse, Hans L., Andrew Jounson: A Biography.

Selected Bibliography

Berlin, Ira, Slaves Without Masters: The free Negro in the Antebellum South.
Beckles, Hilary McD., "Plantation Production and White Proto-Slavery," The Americas, vol. 41, 1985
Cobden, John C., The White Slaves of England.
Emmer, P.C., Colonialism and Migration: Indentured Labor Before and After Slavery.
Galenson, David W. , White Servitude in Colonial America.
Genovese, Eugene D. , "Rather Be a Nigger Than a Poor White Man: Slave Perceptions of Southern Yeomen and Poor Whites," in Toward a New View of America.
Herrick, Cheesman A., White Servitude in Pennsylvania.
Johnson, Robert C., "The Transportation of Vagrant Children from London to Virginia," in Early Stuart Studies.
Nardinelli, Clark, Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution. Taylor, William, The White Slave's Complaint.