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THE CONSEQUENCES OF CRUELTY THE ESCALATION OF SERVANT AND SLAVE ABUSE, 1750-1780

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Author(s): Michael V. Kennedy

Journal: Essays in Economic & Business History
ISSN 0896-226X

Volume: 22;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2004;
Original page

ABSTRACT
As the need for reliable labor sources increased in British North America during the 18th century, there was a rise in the numbers of servants and slaves imported. In the Mid-Atlantic region, dependence on various types of bound labor was characteristic of commercial and industrial expansion. The two major wars of the 18” century, however, the Seven Years War and the War for American Independence, created unusual opportunities for both servants and slaves to seek their freedom through flight. The common reaction by masters after the mid-1750s was to increase their controls over bound workers and impose more severe punishments for any misdemeanors, particularly attempts to run away. The results were a radical change in the treatment of indentured servants, and the promotion of the very reaction that masters were trying to prevent—increased flight.
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