Slavery in the American Colonies


There was a very small demand for slaves in the first few years that slavery existed in the colonies. Many people had indentured servants [people who signed on to work for a specific amount of time] and felt that there was no need for slaves. Polly, a main character in Copper Sun, was an indentured servant; she had signed on to work for Mr. Derby for fourteen years. She would have had to work for Mr. Derby for fourteen years before she would have been set free; luckily, she managed to escape and save herself fourteen years of hard work. Slavery was growing slowly and by the 1690s there was a "virtual flood" of African Americans.

Slaves were sent to the colonies to do one thing: work. Majority of the slaves worked in fields. They would be out in the fields for hours harvesting cotton, tobacco, or rice. Some slaves were specialist in other areas. They worked as skilled carpenters, blacksmiths, and seamstresses. A couple slaves would work in the great house, the master's house, to cook, clean, and take care of the children. Men who worked as valets, drivers, had to look clean and put together. The slaves did many different things but they were all forced to work.

field2.jpg
This is a picture of slaves working in the fields. They were most likely harvesting rice, cotton, or tobacco.
Web. 11 Jan 2010. <http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/2002/Music/Images/JPEG/field2.JPG>.

Every colony had similar views on slavery for the first couple of years that slavery was around in the colonies. Many colonies enforced very strict laws restricting slaves. Some of these laws included; slave owners were allowed to use any punishment they desired, slaves were required to have passes to travel off the plantation, and slaves were prohibited to carry any weapon. Even though it seems like the north was against slavery, they were not. Every colony, even those in the north, legalized slavery and passed laws that strictly restricted their rights. It was not until later that people really started to fight against the idea of slavery.