Indentured Servitude

Why would free Germans sail to North America to become indentured servants and Redemptioners?
By Robert A. Selig

During the 18th century, between roughly 1717 and 1776, more than half of the European immigrants to the British colonies in North America (be they English, German or of any other European background) arrived in the New World either as indentured servants or as Redemptioners. The number of ports of entry was limited to a few cities along America’s eastern seashore: Charleston in the south, New York City in the Middle Colonies, or Boston in New England. German immigrants settled in many colonies from Georgia to Nova Scotia but beginning with the arrival of the founders of Germantown just north of Philadelphia in 1683, the City of Brotherly Love developed into the preferred port of entry for German-speaking immigrants. The vast majority, about 58,000, arrived before the middle of the century, and close to 36,000 of those between the end of the Austrian War of Succession in 1748 and 1754. By 1760 German speakers accounted for 50 to 60% of the population of Pennsylvania and in the colonies were second in number only to the English.

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