Indentured Servants and Slaves

By: Rachel LeSuer


Have you ever wondered what it would've been like to be an indentured servant or slave? Well, in this article, I can tell you all about it! First, I'll tell you some fun facts about indentured servants. Next, you'll learn about what slaves did. Finally, I'll interest you in how slaves lived. To conclude, I hope you find these topics something worth learning about!

Indentured Servants

To begin with, I'll be telling you about indentured servants. Indentured servants worked without wages for a period of time. They did this in return for a person who paid for their passage to America. Most indentured servants worked from 4-7 years. Some girls and boys worked until they were 21 years old. Many of the indentured servants were men between the ages of 15 and 25, looking for a job and a better life. In the Southern colony Maryland, if the indentured servant completed all of his or her years of service, he or she was given 50 acres of land, a suit of clothes, an ax, two hoes, and three barrels of corn. This only happened if his or her master was generous. Towards the end, indentured servants were replaced with captured slaves from Africa. To end, I hope this helpful little paragraph has satisfied your hunger for knowledge about indentured servants.

What Slaves Did

Now I'm going to teach you about what slaves did. Most slaves worked as fieldhands and household slaves, but many others worked as craftsmen such as blacksmiths, bricklayers, cabinetmakers, or carpenters. Plantation owners made extra money by selling things the craft houses made. All plantations had a cash crop. A cash crop was a plant the plantations grew to make money. The most common cash crops were tobacco, rice, and indigo. A type of slaves called farmhands or fieldhands outnumbered any other type of slave because they worked on the cash crop, what kept the plantation going. Not all slaves worked on plantations. Slaves had jobs in Southern cities or towns as well. They worked as dockworkers, lumberjacks, office workers, or riverboat pilots. No matter what kind of slave, they all worked 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week. To close, I hope you have learned everything you wanted in this passage.

How Slaves Lived

Last but not least, we have arrived to how slaves lived. Laws in the European colonies of Latin America stated that slaves get to marry, seek relief from a cruel owner, even buy their freedom. These slaves had a more secure family life. Sadly, these laws were rarely reinforced. A reason these laws should have been reinforced is that some owners relied on punishments such as lashings, short rations, and threats to sell members of the slaves family. Speaking of treatment, it was a known fact that farmhand slaves were not treated as well as household slaves. Moving on, slaves could not marry because they did not have the right to make contracts. Slaves didn't even have the right to name their child, the slave owners did it. While we're on the subject of families, you should probably know that they often separated. If families lived on different plantations they only saw each other on Sundays, and only if the master allowed it. If the slave family lived on the same plantation, they only saw each other 1 or 2 hours out of 24. Assuming you haven't died of boredom yet, I hope you've enjoyed learning about how slaves lived.


In conclusion, I have taught you all I know about indentured servants and slaves. All about indentured servants servants? Check! Everything possible about what slaves did? Check! Everything there is to know about how slaves lived? Check! As you can see, there is nothing left to learn about indentured servants or slaves. I hope you enjoyed this article, and thanks for reading!


1. acres- measures of land area in the U.S. and Britain that equals 4,940 square yards (about 4,047 square meters)

2. hoes- garden tools that have a flat blade on a long handle.

3. plantations- large areas of land especially in a hot part of the world where crops are grown

4. rations- particular amounts of food that is given to one person or animal for one day

5. right- speaking, acting, or judging in a way that agrees with the facts or truth



*Hakim, Joy. Making 13 Colonies.

*Kalman, Bobbie. A Slave Family. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2003.


*Davis, David. "Slavery." World Book Student. 2016: n.p. World Book Web. 26 Feb 2016.

*Maier, Pauline. "Indentured Servants." World Book Student. 2016: n.p. World Book Web. 7 Mar 2016.

All About the Author

Rachel is 11 years old and lives in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Her favorite food is Chicken Cord on Bleu. Rachel's best friends are Rylee Reichard and Abby Walker.