University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Indentured servitude was considered a fine replacement for slavery, rising as slavery fell out of favor in many of the European countries. However, despite the rules that were out in place, they were often changed and didn’t follow the what could be considered the lowest form of humanity. Indentured servitude was used instead of slavery, but in the end, it was almost the same affliction. David Northup’s Doc 4 compares directly with Doc 3, 6, and 9. They show almost just the sheer amount of indentured servants that were shipped for the purpose of hard labor. All three documents are purely data and can be considered un-bias, trustworthy sources. In Doc 3 it is hugely visible that a massive amount of servants are sent to the Caribbean such as Trinidad and plantations in Suriname from India, a British colony. Doc 4 backs up this information as well as provide a huge number of455,000 people bent sent from India to the ‘Spice Islands’, Mauritius. Doc 6 shows that many of these indentured servants were previous slaves, or Asian Indians, whom the British considered below their station. Doc 9 also shows this huge number of indentured servants in Mauritius, showing that 71% of the population was Asian Indian, as well as the population of Trinidad being 33% Asian Indian.
This information may not seem prevalent, but when compared to the stark contrast of Doc 7 and Doc 8. Doc 7 is an official document from the British Guiana Indenture Agreement from 1895. The document itself is a sign-up sheet that the servant would sign to agree to conditions that he trusted were to be followed until the end of his term, which lasted 5 years. This agreement states that work is every day except Sundays and Holidays and work will be 7 hours in the field or 10 in the buildings. However in Doc 8 an indentured servant complains about the conditions of his work. He works from 5:30 to 8:30, which is 15 hours total, and must work on Sundays till 2:00, which is 8 hours and 30 minutes. This amount of work is double the promised 7 hours, and even more than the normal hours on a day in which they weren’t to work at all. This was a gross abuse of rights and scholars even knew it, but people still didn’t see them as ‘people’ but workers. Doc 1 and 2 shows this. At first it was drafted just as the necessity of importation of foreign labor, but grew into a huge problem.
The natives couldn’t keep up with the work and more and more immigrants were needed to keep up a study supply of sugar. However, it wasn’t as what one could call, nice, as it sounded. They were machines. Indentured servant were not voluntary immigrants, but they weren’t slaves. They were raised, with pain, much like recruits for military service. Indentured servitude was indeed not a slavery of people, but it was the outcome of slavery and led to something very similar. People were worked to the bone and foreigners were pulled in to tiny islands just to maintain a steady flow of sugar and other rich resources. I believe Doc 5 was completely unnecessary and would have preferred another document with another account of mistreatment, or a change of time graph of indentured servants, or a change over time graph of slaves to indentured servants.