DBQ: Colonial Labor in America: who did all the work?
The English colonists in North America faced many daunting tasks. They needed to fell timber, establish farms, and build settlements. The amount of work required was overwhelming. What did that work?
Use your knowledge of the era and the documents to answer the questions and then the essential question below.
“This Indenture, Made the Fourth Day of August in the Twenty-ninth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second King of Great Britain, &, And in the Year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty five Between William Buckland of Buford Carpenter & Joinier of the One Part, and Thomson Mason of London, Esq. of the other Part,
Witnesseth, That the said William Buckland…shall and will, as a faithful Covenant Servant, well and truly serve the said Thomson Mason his Executors and assigns in the Plantation of Virginia beyond the Seas, for the Space of Four Years, next ensuing his Arrival in the said Plantation in the Employment of a Carpenter and Joinier…
And the said Thomson Mason…shall and will at his…proper Costs and Charges, with what convenient Speed [he] may, carry and convey, or cause to be carried and conveyed over unto the said Plantation, the said Wm Buckland and from henceforth, and during the said Voyage, and also during the said Term, shall and will at the like Costs and Charges, provide for and allow the said Wm Buckland all necessary Meat, Drink, Washing, Lodging, fit and convenient for Wm as Covenant Servants in such Cases are usually provided for and allowed and pay and allow William Buckland Wages on Salary at the Rate of Twenty Pounds Sterling per Annum Payable Quarterly.”
-Indenture Contract of William Buckland, 1755
“Ran away from the Subscriber, living near James-Town, last Sunday was Fort-night, a Negros Man, named Harry, who formerly belonged to Col. Grymes, of Richmond County: He is about 5 Feet 7 Inches high, thin visag’d has small Eyes, and a very large Beard; is about 35 Years old; and plays upon the Fiddle. He had a dark-colour’d cloth Coat, double breasted, 2 cotton Jackets, dy’d of a dark Colour, a Pair of Buckskin Breeches, flourish’d at the Knees, and a blue Great Coat. It is suppos’d he is goe to Richmond County, where he has a Wife. Whoever apprehends him, so that he be brought to me near James-Town, shall have a Pistole [gold coin] Reward, besides what the Law allows. William Newgent. N.B. As he ran away without any Cause, I desire he may be punish’d by Whipping, as the Law directs.”
-advertisement in the Virginia Gazette
March 20 to March 27, 1746
“And as for the general sort that shall go to be planters, be they [very] poor, so they be honest,…the place will make them rich: all kinds of [workers] we must first employ, are carpenters, shipwrights, masons, sawyers, brick makers, bricklayers, plowmen, sowers, planters, fishermen, coopers, smiths,…tailors, turners, and such like, to make and fit all necessaries, for comfort and use of the Colony, and for such as are of no trades (if they be industrious) they shall have their employment enough, for there is a world of means to set many thousands to work, partly in such things as I mentioned before, and many other profitable works, for no man must lie idle there…”
-Virginia Company pamphlet recruiting
Jamestown settlers, 1609
1. Where do you think Document A was probably writte?
2. In Document B, the advertiser states that Harry ran away without any cause. Yet the advertisement hints at a likely cause. What is it?
3. What reasonable conclusions about Jamestown in 1611 might you draw from Document C?
4. Writing Task: Based on Documents A, B, and C, and on what you have learned, write a letter from the point of view of an indentured servant in Jamestown. Use the information from the documents and the chapter to give your family or friends an impression of what life as an indentured servant in Jamestown might have been like