Gov. Ralph Northam’s staff is pointing to a PBS article as well as other news reports to defend his statement on Sunday that “[w]e are now at the 400-year anniversary — just 90 miles from here in 1619, the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shore.”

King fired back with, “Also known as slavery”:

From Northam’s staff, via the Washington Post’s Fenit Nirappil:

From PBS:

Indentured Servants In The U.S.

Indentured servants first arrived in America in the decade following the settlement of Jamestown by the Virginia Company in 1607.

The idea of indentured servitude was born of a need for cheap labor. The earliest settlers soon realized that they had lots of land to care for, but no one to care for it. With passage to the Colonies expensive for all but the wealthy, the Virginia Company developed the system of indentured servitude to attract workers. Indentured servants became vital to the colonial economy.

The timing of the Virginia colony was ideal. The Thirty Year’s War had left Europe’s economy depressed, and many skilled and unskilled laborers were without work. A new life in the New World offered a glimmer of hope; this explains how one-half to two-thirds of the immigrants who came to the American colonies arrived as indentured servants.

Servants typically worked four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn’t slavery. There were laws that protected some of their rights. But their life was not an easy one, and the punishments meted out to people who wronged were harsher than those for non-servants. An indentured servant’s contract could be extended as punishment for breaking a law, such as running away, or in the case of female servants, becoming pregnant.

Northam had other defenders as well, including Kurt Eichenwald…

. . . The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb. . .

. . . Matthew Rosenberg, NYT . . .

But we will note that there is some disagreement with this defense:

If you’re interested, this is a long thread on where historians are on the subject (it’s too long to post here):

Thread starts here:



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