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Indentured Servants

Commentator Thea Marshall pays tribute to those very first dreamers of the great American dream - the indentured servants of the early colonies. They came filled with hope for a better life. Scraps of letters written hundreds of years ago tell how (for some) those dreams turned to bitter nightmares.An indentured servant was a laborer under contract to an employer for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for their transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities. Unlike slaves, an indentured servant was required to work only for a limited term specified in a signed contract.Historians estimate that over half of all (white) emigrants that arrived in the English colonies of North America during the 17th and 18th centuries may have been indentured servants.