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Colonial America (1492-1765)
Indentured Servants



Indentured Servants
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.39

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    recruiters, servitude, steerage, undertaking, countryside, provided, indenture, gamble, slavery, offering, presented, ordinary, better, traveled, tobacco, arrival
     content words:    New World, Virginia Company, Chesapeake Bay


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Indentured Servants
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     Some of these young men worked at low paying jobs in the city of London. Some wanted to work in English seaport towns but couldn't find jobs. Others were sons of farm families from the English countryside. Some had been convicted of a crime. Some owed money. Who were these men?
 
2     They were young Englishmen who wanted a better life and were willing to gamble to get their chance. They would become the indentured servants in the New World.
 
3     Passage by ship to America was a long and expensive undertaking. Many ordinary people would never have been able to save up enough money. So, when young men in English towns heard the message being spread by recruiters from the Virginia Company, they stopped to listen. So did some young women. The Virginia Company was offering to pay their passage to America. It also offered free room and board upon arrival in America. It even offered " freedom dues" to help new immigrants get started on their own once their indenture was completed.
 
4     To take advantage of the offer, the young men and women had to offer their labor in return. Some agreed to work for 4 to 7 years, some even longer. Often, they signed a contract, called an indenture, that specified how long they would have to work for their master once they arrived in America.
 
5     Their passage across the Atlantic was often grim. They traveled in steerage, below deck. Many survived on dry biscuits and water during the 8 to 12 week passage.

Paragraphs 6 to 13:
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