THE ORIGINS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY AND INDENTURED SERVITUDE
Indentured Servant- A person under contract (indenture) to work for another person for a definite period of time (usually 7 years), usually without pay but in exchange for free passage to a new country.
The first Africans arrived in the Virginia colony in 1619 as indentured servants. Until the 1650's Virginia law did not recognize slavery. After that, Virginia laws instituting slavery gradually were enacted, and by 1700 a full-blown slave code had evolved that spread to all the colonies.
But Africans were not the only indentured servants.
In fact, almost HALF of all European colonists arrived as indentured workers. Some were kidnapped and brought agains their will. Others were convicts who were transported in chains. Some were debtors released from Debtor's prisons in England in exchange for indenture and passage to the Colonies. But, most agreed to come voluntarily and to work for several years to pay off their ship passage.