“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

A Land in Need of Labor


A Land in Need of Labor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), August 30, 2019
1. A Land in Need of Labor Marker
Inscription.  Most immigrants to early Maryland came as indentured servants. In return for the cost of their voyage, men and women promised to work for four or more years for the person buying their contract or indenture. After completing their promised term, they were free to marry and to work on their own. "Freedom dues" included a new suit of clothes, an axe, a hoe, three barrels of corn, and the right to acquire 50 acres of land. Many former servants succeeded in establishing themselves as planters, often with their own indentured servants.

When the English economy improved after 1660, fewer people were willing to come to America as indentured servants. The tobacco economy in Maryland and Virginia required large numbers of unskilled laborers, so tobacco planters turned to slavery to supply their labor needs.

Enslaved Africans were brought to Maryland in rapidly increasing numbers after 1680. By the early 1700s, life-long slavery replaced indentures as the main form of agricultural labor in the Chesapeake. The tragedy of race-based slavery shaped the subsequent history of the region.

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of enslaved African-American women burning a field near Fredericksburg, Virginia, while the overseer watches them. This scene was common throughout the Chesapeake region during the 1700s and into the mid-1800s.

The use of enslaved laborers instead of indentured servants increased dramatically in less than 50 years. These graphics represent that change as it occurred in four southern Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Prince George's, and St. Mary's.

By 1790, there were nearly 7,000 enslaved Africans or African Americans in St. Mary's County, Maryland. Little is known about them as persons. This advertisement provides one of the few descriptions we have. Harry escaped from the plantation of John Mackall, located in St. Mary's City.

"to binde himselfe a servant there for five yeares, he shall be entertained (if he come within the limited time to the place appointed) upon these termes; that is to say, he shall be found sufficient meate and drink, and clothing, during the said terme; and at the end of the said terme, he shall have 50. Acres of good land..."
A Redmon...of Maryland, 1634

Lord Baltimore realized the need for indentured servants as he planned for his colony in Maryland. This form was included in A Relation of the Lord Baltimore's Plantation in Maryland,"
A Land in Need of Labor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), August 30, 2019
2. A Land in Need of Labor Marker
A direction for choice of servants," 1635.

Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansColonial EraSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1660.
Location. 38° 11.021′ N, 76° 25.808′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5) 0.2 miles east of Old State House Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16721 Point Lookout Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Why Is This Barn Here? (a few steps from this marker); Fear of War, People of Peace (within shouting distance of this marker); "...a hopeful Colony" (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The "Priests' House" (about 500 feet away); Shock Troops of the Counter-Reformation (about 500 feet away); "…buried…in a most solemn manner" (about 500 feet away); Project Lead Coffins (about 500 feet away); Putting Together the Pieces (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Additional keywords. Indentured servitude
Credits. This page was last revised on September 2, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 118 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 12, 2024