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Let's go then to the Library of Congress:
Before the Civil War, slaves and indentured servants were considered personal property, and they or their descendants could be sold or inherited like any other personalty. Like other property, human chattel was governed largely by laws of individual states. Generally, these laws concerning indentured servants and slaves did not differentiate between the sexes. Some, however, addressed only women. Regardless of their country of origin, many early immigrants were indentured servants, people who sold their labor in exchange for passage to the New World and housing on their arrival. Initially, most laws passed concerned indentured servants, but around the middle of the seventeenth century, colonial laws began to reflect differences between indentured servants and slaves. More important, the laws began to differentiate between races: the association of "servitude for natural life" with people of African descent became common. Re Negro John Punch (1640) was one of the early cases that made a racial distinction among indentured servants.
The page emphasizes the racist distinction between black and white servants.

Also, under a marketista narrative, "people who sold their labor in exchange for passage to the New World and housing on their arrival" is just a form of 'labour market', isn't it? In a discussion with my sister a few months ago, she emphasised that modern understanding is that human rights cannot be renounced, that is, indentured servitude contracts in which one agrees to become someone else's slave in exchange for some good or service would be unenforceable. But I'm sure one can find libertarian theorists who would argue that they should be.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 17th, 2007 at 07:01:32 PM EST
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