From Servants to Slaves
From Servants to Slaves
In present time, racism and inequality are still one of the largest and sensitive issues in society. From racial disparities in police shootings to wage inequalities in the workforce, these topics are common news headlines. In their article “The Liverpool Emigrant Servant Trade and the Transition to Slave Labor in the Chesapeake, 1697 – 1707: Market Adjustments to War”, Farley Grubb and Tony Stitt believe that the shift from European immigrant servants labor to African slave labor led to this current issue through the separation of South from the North, the ensuing military and political conflicts, and the South’s reintegration. They support the hypothesis that states a decline in servant supply is responsible for the transition from servants to slaves and explain the reason behind servant supply decline by analyzing the Liverpool servant market.
Although the currently accepted hypothesis for the servant slave transition is a decline in servant supply, Grubb and Stitt report that the explanation behind this is still a mystery. They offer that the King William III and Queen Anne wars produced the decline in servant supply, mainly because the timing of the wars with the turning points of the servant slave ratio are notable (p. 380). They provide evidence taken from an analysis of the Liverpool servant market, which is the only surviving emigrant servant register from this period, that makes four points. First, most servants embarking at Liverpool were bound for Chesapeake. Second, Queen Anne’s war provided alternate employment opportunities for servants, thus changing the age and gender of servants. Third, wartime declines in servant supplies dominated declines in servant demand. And fourth, the recruiting and shipping market structure was altered.
Grubb and Stitt performed several estimations in determining the colonial destination of Liverpool emigrant servants. First, based off the information on the registry, almost half of all emigrants between 1690 – 1710 were bound for Chesapeake. Second, as around 40% of the servants were headed to unknown destinations, they inferred these based on agent shipping patterns and concluded that 57% went to Chesapeake. Finally, they assumed that all female servants with unrecorded destinations were going to mainland colonies and assumed male servants with the same agent as a female servant were also going to mainland colonies, which estimated 90% of emigrant servants going to mainland (p. 385). These estimations suggested that most Liverpool servants went to the mainland, especially Chesapeake.
While comparing the register with the dates of the wars, Gr...