Why did Jamestown and other colonies accept slavery in a "region with the most vibrant democracy"?

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your question is confusing two different points on the colonial Virginia timeline. The 1607 colony at Jamestown was neither democratic nor committed to liberty. While it is true that the English settlers did bring the seeds of the European Enlightenment, Jamestown was founded as a joint stock company and as such was primarily interested in economics, not political freedom. With regard to the part of your question 'region with the most vibrant democracy and commitment to liberty' I can only conclude that you are referring to the Virginia of the 1770s. While it is true that during this period notable leaders arise from the Virginia colony professing democratic ideals and liberty. However, we must remember most of these Virginia men were slaveowners. Having said that, the root of your question 'why the colonies accepted slavery' is an interesting one. many historians agree with an argument proposed by historian Edmund S. Morgan. He suggested that the popularity of indentured servitude, where by individuals would exchange between 4 and 7 years of their labor to others for passage to the colonies led to the transition of forced labor because ultimately slaves surpassed the decreasing supply of indentured servants. Since the plantation system in the southern colonies required a large workforce and there were continuous labor shortages, the south accepted slavery as necessary to its survival.

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