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History: Indentured Servant and New England Colonies

Wessell Webling like many who wanted to leave England in search of the better promised life in the colonies could not afford the oversea voyage. In exchange for the cost of the trip Webling became the indentured servant to Edward Bennett. Webling was to provide 3 years of servitude, and Bennett was to provide him with ample and substantial food and drink, proper shelter and good clothes to wear. During Webling’s period of indenture he among many helped in the expanding of the English settlement, clearing new land for landowners.

Through this time Webling was taught many valuable skills to prepare him for his life as a landowner after his term was completed. When three years was up, Bennett was to provide Webling with 50 acres of land in the Virginia colonies and all the necessary clothes needed. For this, Webling was to pay Bennett 50 shillings a year thereafter. In the Virginia colonies there was a lot of land to be colonized but not enough people to do so.

The plan was to have the wealthier colonists provide the funds for the trip, and in return the person would be indentured for a period of 3 to 7 years. During their serve periods they were taught how to become successful landowners. When their terms were complete they were given all the tools and thing they needed to provide for themselves and their families and to do the same for the next person. Landowners gave their indentured servants such generous rewards because they knew that population growth was essential and migration was the best way to accomplish this goal.

The author used this source to explain the differences between the Chesapeake region and the New England colonies. He showed that when people migrated to the New World in family units mostly settled in the New England colonies and the Chesapeake colonies were young indenture servants who had to work to pay back to cost of the passage. He also used the source to illustrate the reason the population growth was declining in the Chesapeake colonies, people were too old after their terms of indenture to start families.

The Author is correct in how he uses the source as a personal first hand account of the type contracts that were used to ensure that the people who migrated fulfilled their full terms of indenture and after they did so they would receive the tools the needed to become successful farmers. It was a good example of how the two colonies were vastly different because of the lack of a family structure in the Chesapeake colonies. Wessell Webling: His Indenture (1622) Alycia M. Haynes History 231-08 Professor Tate 19 February 2009

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