Migration, Labor, and Visions for Commonwealth in Virginia
This chapter explores the emergence of indentured servitude in Virginia in the late 1610s. It focuses upon the Virginia Company’s increasing efforts to transport vagrants and paupers, who were often children, to the colony to serve as bound laborers. The chapter traces the roots of this policy to the political and social theories about commonwealth in Jacobean England and to the institution of pauper apprenticeship. It also uncovers the practical way in which the transportation of children and vagrants was organized in London and the ways in which it met with resistance from both local leaders and those facing transportation. The chapter offers a newly detailed analysis of the foundations of the system of bound English labor that became so critical to the development of seventeenth-century American colonialism.
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