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Difference Between Slaves and Indentured Servants

Slaves vs Indentured Servants

The difference between slaves and indentured servants has been blurred because of the changes that happened across various points in time. And so their respective characteristics or roles may appear different when you look at them from different historical perspectives.

Generally speaking, though, slaves appear to be more pitiful than indentured servants. One of the reasons for this is because they are not given freedom even after many years of toil and hard work. They are, therefore, slaves for as long as they live. As such, they literally become the property of their master and have no rights.

Indentured servants differ because they can be granted freedom after a specified period of time. There is an agreed-upon term of labor wherein the servant will serve someone as remuneration for getting to foreign lands (i.e. like the U.S.) or other similar terms. The servant’s services can be in exchange for food, lodging, clothing, transportation, and other amenities during the indentured years. Most of these individuals are young (below 21 years old) and work on farms doing the majority of the manual work. Others were asked to serve at homes doing some domestic services. All of these jobs will not be paid anything nonetheless.

Once the obligation has been completed, the agreement will then be terminated, and the servant can once again have the chance for a more liberal life. Some servants will even receive a monetary incentive known as “freedom dues” upon the completion of their service. Thereafter they are now regarded as free members of the society. In this connection, they are already entitled with the right to own real estate or properties. They can also find themselves a noteworthy job and even cast a vote. However, there are some instances wherein their services are extended by their masters because of an infraction to the agreement such as when they have violated some of the set rules and regulations. As a result, the normal indentured years of four to six years can be extended to as long as seven years or more.

Historically speaking, before the American Civil War, both indentured servants and slaves were regarded as the property of the master or the owner. However, laws that were enacted (post Civil War era) to protect the servants’ rights removed the stigma that servants are their master’s personal property.

Like all other types of property, slaves can be sold, exchanged, bargained for, and even be included as one of the assets in a will. By contrast, it is only the contract of the indentured servant (but not the actual servant), which can be bought or bargained for by an interested third party. It is only after the closing of this deal when the right to the servant’s labor services changes hands.

Summary:

1.Slaves are treated as the personal assets of their master unlike servants.
2.Being a slave is like a state for your life. A servant is more of a business arrangement.
3.Slaves are enslaved for eternity while servants have the chance to become free members of society upon completion of their services.
4.Slaves are never remunerated for their services while servants are working in exchange for a previously agreed upon amenity, free accommodation, or passage to another country. Some are also given “freedom dues” after their term as servants.
5.Servants work under their master for a specified period of time.


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