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Indentured servitude was a method of increasing the number of colonists, especially in the British colonies. Convict labour only provided so many people, and since the journey across the Atlantic was dangerous, other means of encouraging settlement were necessary. Contract-labourers became an important a group of people and so numerous that they were mentioned in the United States Constitution:
"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons".

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 06:48:35 PM EST
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