Images de page

very reliable. On special occasions, such as raising the framework of a barn, house, school, or meetinghouse, all the neighbors turned out and helped, satisfied with the rum, cider, and eatables furnished for refreshment. Necessary household service was supplied either by some woman of the locality who came in as a favor and on terms of equality with the rest of the family, or by a young girl bound out as a servant, with the consent of her! father or mother, until she was of age.

Skilled labor was not often called for, except in the towns or for shipbuilding, as the farmers were their own shoemakers, coopers, carpenters, tanners, and ironworkers, and even at times their own surveyors, architects, lawyers, doctors, and surgeons. Nearly every one was a jack at 1 many trades, for just as the minister physicked and bled as well as preached, so the farmer could onl occasion run a store, build a house, make a boat, and fashion his own farming utensils.' His house

Joshua Hempstead of New London, for example, was not only a farmer but at one time or another, from 1711 to 1758, a housebuilder, carpenter, and cabinetmaker, shipwright, cobbler, maker of coffins, and engraver of tombstones; a town official holding the offices of selectman, treasurer, assessor, and surveyor of highways; a colony official, serving as deputy sheriff and coroner, many times deputy to the General Court, justice of the peace, and so performing frequent marriages, and judge of probate. He was also clerk of the ecclesiastical

was a manufactory as well as a residence, and his barn a workshop as well as a place for hay and livestock. Of course as the eighteenth century wore on and men of the Huguenot type, with their love for beauty and good craftsmanship, came into the country, and as social life became more elaborate and luxurious, industrial activities were organized to meet the growing demands of a prosperous population. Artisans became more skilled and individual, and a few of them attained sufficient importance to occupy places of some dignity in the community and to produce works of such merit as to win repute in the history of arts and crafts in America. But these cases are exceptional; labor as a rule was not highly specialized, and the artisan usually added to his income in other ways. We find among the trades farriers, blacksmiths, whitesmiths, joiners, cabinetmakers, tailors, shipwrights, millwrights, gunsmiths, silversmiths, jewelers, watch and clock makers, and wig and peruke makers. For such highly skilled industries as snuff making, sugar refining, and glass blowing labor was imported

society, lieutenant and later captain of the train band, and surveyor of lands. He did a great deal of legal business, drawing deeds, leases, wills, and other similar documents, and was general handy man for his community.



from England, but not on any large scale until just before the Revolution, when agreements not to import English merchandise stimulated domestic manufacture.

Throughout the colonies the people as a whole 1 depended not on hired labor but on bound labor -the indentured servant, the apprentice, the convict, and the slave — and everywhere these forms of labor appear in varying degrees.

The covenanted or indentured servant was one 1 who engaged himself for a certain number of years in order to work off a debt. In itself such bondservice involved no special disgrace, any more than did going to prison for debt seriously discredit many of the fairly distinguished men who at one time or another were residents of the old Fleet Prison in London or those men of less repute who for the same reason found themselves in colonial jails. The reader must dismiss the notion that the position of an indentured servant necessarily involved degradation or that the term “sold” used in that connection referred to anything else than the selling of the time during which the individual was bound. It was not uncommon for one

The writer has seen a manuscript diary of a German servant who came to America by way of Rotterdam, in which the words



imprisoned for debt in the colonies to advertise his services to any one who would buy him out; and sometimes this form of service was used to pay a gambling debt.

But the most frequent form of indenture was that which bound the emigrant from England or the Continent to the captain of the ship on which he sailed. The captain paid the passage of the emigrant, furnished him with all necessary clothes, meat, drink, and lodging during the voyage, and then sold his time and labor on the ship's arrival in port. People went to the colonies in this way by the thousands and were to be found in every colony including the West Indies, although Georgia seems to have had on the whole very few. They were of all nationalities, but Germans, Swiss, English, Scotch, Irish, and Welsh predominated, with an occasional Frenchman. Probably the largest number were Germans, for the majority of those who came over were extremely poor and had to sell their time and that of their children to pay for their passage. Such methods continued for many years even after the Revolution. “sell” and “sold,” though used merely in the sense of binding to service, have been carefully erased by an outraged and uninformed descendant and the seemingly less invidious terms “ hire ” and "hired " inserted in their place.

German servants were shipped from Rotterdam, and British from Gravesend and other ports. To prevent enticing or kidnapping, all servants were registered before sailing and sometimes, as at Bristol, where the mayor and aldermen interfered, the ship was searched before sailing, the passengers were ordered ashore, and all who wished were released. When the vessel reached its American destination, word was spread or an advertisement was inserted in the newspapers saying that the indentures of a certain number of servants, men, women, and children, were available, and then the bargaining went on either aboard the ship or on shore at some convenient point to which the servants were taken. Such selling of indentures took place at all ports of entry from Boston to Charleston and gave rise to a brutal class of men popularly known as “soul drivers,” who "made it their business to go on board all ships who have in either servants or convicts and buy sometimes the whole and sometimes a parcel of them as they can agree, and then they drive them through the country like a parcel of sheep, until they can sell them to advantage.":

The men thus disposed of for four to seven years ranged from sixteen to forty years of age

Harrower's “Diary,” American Historical Review, vol. vi, p. 77.

« PrécédentContinuer »