European Colonization of North America

Start Free Trial

Student Question

Did Great Britain send prisoners to the US Colonies pre-1776?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Yes, Great Britain did send prisoners to the American colonies leading up to the year 1776. It is important to note that this also occurred in Australia. It is believed, but not confirmed, that more than 50,000 prisoners were sent to the American colonies. To investigate the cause of this, you should research what a "penal colony" is. Essentially, these prisoners became free labor for Great Britain to begin building the American colonies. Chain gangs became the staple of construction across the country.

One specific example of Great Britain sending prisoners to the colonies is the state of Georgia. Georgia was established as a colony to serve as a place for the indebted and those in bankruptcy. The purpose of Georgia was to become a penal colony for these prisoners. Ultimately, it became a refuge for the persecuted, but the charter itself was meant to be a place for Great Britain to banish prisoners.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial