Compare and contrast the lives of slaves and indentured servants.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In many ways, the lives of indentured servants and slaves were very similar to one another.  The indentured servants, of course, had more hope for the future, but slaves could in some cases actually have better conditions in the present.

Indentured servants and slaves were treated in broadly similar ways.  They were both brought to the New World in horrible conditions with many dying along the way.  They were both subject to physical punishment from their masters.  They both worked for no pay and with no control over their working lives.

However, indentured servants had a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.  They would, after a given term, become free.  This was surely a great comfort to them as they had to deal with the bad conditions of their daily lives.  On the other hand, slaves were worth more to their masters than indentured servants.  Slaves could sometimes expect better treatment because their masters had more money tied up in them.  Indentured servants, especially those reaching the end of their terms, were of little value to the masters and did not need to be treated as carefully so as to protect their master's investment.

Overall, then, there were many similarities between the lives of these two classes of unfree labor.

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kekechanari's profile pic

kekechanari | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Also to add ; Indentured servants came on contract which was voluntary for 5 years, were paid, they were given land or money and return passage or you could reindenture yourself. Also they were white and mostly men.

However, slaves had  forced labour which was involuntary, and were not paid. They were kidnapped and sold in to slavery.Also they were black, and consider to be chattel-property unlike the european indentured servants.

indentured servants were treated as christians but slaves were treated as pagans .

in conclusion, the the european indentured worked on a contract and were freed after to go and prosper, but slaves were enslaved for life, bringing in their offspring in those harsh conditions.