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A Birth-Chart for the USA
by Dane Rudhyar, 1974


Table of Contents

The Roots of the American Nation
- 5

African blacks were not the only human beings to experience a form of slavery in the American Colonies. There was another category of slavery for white people which differed only in that it was temporary:
One step above these slaves were the convicts and bondservants, or men and women in a state of temporary involuntary servitude. These people were either political offenders or felon convicts. Those guilty of political offenses as the Scots taken in the battle of 1650, the prisoners captured at the battle of Worcester in i651, Monmouth's men, 1685, the Scots concerned in the uprising of 1687, the Jacobins of 1716, the Scots who went out in 1745 were, of course, of this class of offenders.
      The felons formed the great source of supply. One historian of Maryland declares that up to the Revolution twenty thousand came to that colony and half of them after 1759. Another authority asserts that between 1715 and 1775 ten thousand felons were exported from the Old Bailey Prison in London.
      . . . The indentured servant and redemptioner did not cease to come when the colonies became the United States. Speaking generally, the indentured servants were men, women and even children who, unable to pay their passage, signed a contract called an indenture before leaving the Old World. This indenture bound the owner or master of the ship to transport them to America, and bound the emigrant after arrival in America to serve the owner, or their assigns, for a certain number of years. On reaching port the owner or master, whose servants they then became, sold them for their passage to the highest bidder, or for what he could get . . . If a purchaser was not forthcoming they were frequently sold to speculators who drove them, chained together, through the country, from farm to farm, in search of a purchaser. The contract signed, the newcomer became in the eyes of the law a slave, and in both the civil and criminal code was classed with Negro slaves and Indians. None could marry without the consent of the master or mistress, under penalty of an addition of one year's service to the time set forth in the indenture. They were worked hard, were dressed in cast-off clothes of their owners, and might be flogged as often as the owner thought necessary. Father, mother and children could be sold to different buyers.
      It also became the fashion to place paupers up at public auction in Boston and other New England towns and sell them, to the lowest bidder for their support. The courts (around 1684) and for many years after, frequently sentenced freemen to be sold into servitude for a period of years in order to liquidate fines or other debts . . . Fugitive slave laws as applied to these (white) slaves were a part of the legislation in all colonies.(2)
These conditions in the Colonies and even during part of the 18th century were not different from those found in England. Profits made from the slave trade, and later (in England) from the cotton mills, were enormous. The greed generated by the possibilities of profit implied in the Industrial Revolution was appalling as appalling as the greed for gold which led the Spanish conquistadors to torture, enslave and kill millions of inhabitants in the West Indies, and Central and South America. This was the legacy of the Old World to the New. To all the city poor, the heavily indebted small farmers, and the once indentured immigrant's, the words of the Declaration of Independence must have been welcomed as a ray of hope and a tremendous incentive to action.

2. From History of the People of the United States by John McMaster (quoted by James O'Neal in The Workers in American History, p. 46ff ). In the Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates (T. Y. Crowen, New York, 19964), P. 28, it is said that in 1670 the Virginia legislature passed a law prohibiting the importation of convicts as indentured servants. Sustained for a time in the English Parliament, this act was finally repealed in 1717 by an act authorizing the transportation of convicts to America. The practice of settling Colonies by convicts or ex-prisoners has been universal. It provided the colonies with an aggressive type of men. Many great families of today in countries which were once European colonies have ancestors who had broken the laws of the mother country.  Return

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1974 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
All Rights Reserved.

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