SOURCE: Peter Kalm, Travels Into North America (London, 1770), in Pinkerton, Voyages and Travels, XIII, pp. 499-502; reprinted in Ernest Ludlow Bogart and Charles 'Manfred Thompson (eds.), Readings in the Economic History of the United States (New York: Longmans, Crecii and Co., 1927), pp. 84-87.
The servants which are made use of in the English colonies are either free persons, or slaves, and the former are again of two different sorts.
First, Those who are quite free serve by the year; they are not only allowed to leave their service at the expiration of their year, but may leave it at any time when they do not agree with their masters. However, in that case they are in danger of losing their wages, which are very considerable. A man-servant-who has some abilities, gets between sixteen and twenty pounds in Pennsylvania currency, but those in the country do not get so much. A servantmaid gets eight or ten pounds a year- these servants have their food besides their wages, but must buy their own clothes, and what they get of these, they must thank their master's goodness for.
Second, The second kind of free servants consist of such persons as annually come from Germany, England, and other countries, in order to settle here. These new comers are very numerous every year: there are old and young ones, and of both sexes; some of them have fled from oppression, under which they supposed themselves to have laboured. Others have been driven from their country by persecution on account of religion; but most of them are poor, and have not money enough to pay their passage, which is between six and eight pounds sterling for each person; therefore they agree with the captain that they will suffer themselves to be sold for a few years, on their arrival. In that case the person who buys them, pays the freight for them; but frequently very old people come over, who cannot pay their passage, they therefore sell their children, so that they serve both for themselves and for their parents: there are likewise some who pay part of their passage, and they are sold only for a short time. From these circumstances, it appears, that the price of the poor foreigners who come over to North America is not equal, and that some of them serve longer than others: when their time is expired, they get a new suit of clothes from their master, and some other things: he is likewise obliged to feed and clothe them during the years of their servitude. Many of the Germans who come hither, bring money enough with them to pay their passage, but rather suffer themselves to be sold, with a view, that during tbeit servitude they may get some knowledge of the language and quality of the country, and the like, that they may the better be able to consider what they shall do when they have got their liberty. Such servants are taken preferable to all others, because they are not so dear; for to buy a negroe or black slave requires too much money at once; and men or maids who get yearly wages, are likewise too dear; but this kind of servants may be got for half the money, and even for less; for they commonly pay fourteen pounds, Pennsylvania currency, for a person who is to serve four years, and so on in proportion. Their wages therefore are not above three pounds Pensylvania currency, per annum. This kind of servants, the English call servings. When a person has bought such a servant for a certain number of years and has an intention to sell him again, he is at liberty to do so; but he is obliged, at the expiration of the term of servitude, to provide the usual suit of cloaths for the servant, unless be has made that part of the bargain with the purchaser. The English and Irish commonly sell themselves for four years, but the Germans frequently agree with the captain before they set out, to pay him a certain sum of money, for a certain number of persons; as soon as they arrive in America, they go about and try,to get a man who will pay the passage for them: in return they give according to the circumstances, one or several of their children, to serve a certain number of years: at last they make their bargain with the highest bidder.Third, The negroes or blacks make the third kind. They are in a manner slaves; for when a negro is once bought, he is the pur chaser's servant as long as he lives, unless he gives him to another, or makes him free. However, it is not in the power of the master to kill his negro for a fault, but be must leave it to the magistrates to proceed according to the laws. Formerly the negroes were brought over from Africa, and bought by almost every one who could afford it. The quakers alone scrupled to have slaves; but they are no longer so nice, and they have as many negroes as other people. However, many people cannot conquer the idea of its being contrary to the laws of Christianity to keep slaves. There are likewise several free negroes in town, who have been lucky enough to get a very zealous quaker for their master, who gave them their liberty, after they had faithfully served him for some time. . . . At present they seldom bring over any negroes to the English plied considerably. . . . The negroes were formerly brought from Africa, as I mentioned before, but now this seldom happens, for they are bought in the West Indies, or American Islands, whither they were originally brought from their own country: for it has been found that on transporting the negroes from Africa, immediately into these northern countries, they have not such a good state of health, as when they gradually change places, and are first carried from Africa to the West Indies, and from thence to North America. . . .
The price of negroes differs according to their age, health, and abilities. A full-grown negro, costs from forty pounds and upwards to a hundred, of Pennsylvania currency. A negro boy or girl of two or three years old, can hardly be got for less than eight or fourteen pounds in Pennsylvania currency.