Origins of Slavery in Virginia
Slavery in Virginia was a trend that spread throughout the state. Many factors made slavery possible in Virginia. Some key factors that lead to the development of slavery was the supply of labor, the cost of labor, the life span of colonist, the fear of lower class rebellion, the legal structure, and racism.
The supply of labor in Virginia before the 1660’s was mostly done my indentured servants. Indentured servants were males usually under 25, single, and lacked land in England and came to America for a new beginning. Indentured servant’s contracts usually lasted three to five years and occasionally seven in some cases. Many indentured servants were treated poorly and often abused. These indentured servants would often write back to their home in England tell of their horrific treatment that was bestowed upon them. A shortage of indentured servants was also brought about by the Plague of 1665 which devastated the English population along with London Fire the following year which created a new need for workers of all kinds to rebuild the capital. For these many reasons, the supply of indentured servants fell while the demand for labor rose.
Another factor that lead to the development of slavery was the cost of an African slave compared to an indentured servant. A landowner had to buy an indentured servant every few years to take the place of another indentured servant due to their contract expiring. A slave, on the other hand, was bought and could provide many years of service because they could not be freed after a few short years of service. In fact, many slaves had children that were born into slavery which was free labor for the landlord. For many planters it only made sense, economically, to buy slaves.
The life expectancy in the area around Virginia increased due to sturdier dwellings and more stable living conditions. This further motivated planters to move away from a wor...