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Indentured Servitude

Paula Petrik, Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University


Not only were indentured servants overworked and unappreciated, but they also apparently lacked the basic necessities. When servants believed, rightly or wrongly, that they were being misused, they attempted redress by “liberating” their master's or mistress’s goods. Taken from the court records of Virginia, the following confession an indentured servant and a letter from John Freehorne details crimes against a master by his servants and, along the way, suggests something of the social order in seventeenth-century Virginia. Likewise, the letter gives a more personal account of the lives that indentured servants led.

Updated | April 2004