A textbook introduction to one of the most important areas of early American history.
Kenneth Morgan shows how the institutions of indentured servitude and black slavery interacted in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He covers all aspects of the two labour systems, including their impact on the economy, on racial attitudes, social structures and on regional variations within the colonies. Throughout overriding themes emerge: the labour market in North America, the significance of racial distinctions, supply and demand factors in transatlantic migration and labour, and resistance to bondage.
This is an ideal introduction to an area that is crucial for understanding not just Colonial American society but also the later development of the United States.
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By combining attention to slavery with the discussion of servitude … it provides a useful comparative demonstration of the range of unfree statuses in early America. Morgan's focus on the colonial and early national periods is welcome, and draws on the recent outpouring of scholarship that has given the study of American slavery a much-needed chronological dimension.
Morgan provides an admirable and even-handed synthesis of what has become …an exploding field… Particularly impressive throughout are Morgan's clear overviews of each individual topic and his judicious introduction of various historiographic debates… Morgan bravely takes on every historiographic debate, but he does so with such facility that students will be easily engaged in the broader issues, and it is especially refreshing to see Morgan himself weigh in on some of these topics… [his] lucid presentation of complicated and contested topics makes this a distinctive contribution… a lengthy and substantive bibliographic essay, which will be of use not only to Morgan's student audience, anchors the book.