Investments glossary

Indentured Servitude

Indentured servitude refers to a contract between two individuals, in which one person worked not for money but in exchange for the price of passage to America. Indentured servitude—popular in the United States in the 1600s—was essentially a kind of barter system. For example, someone who sought a new life in America, but who could not afford the expensive steamship fare from another country, would contract with a wealthy U.S. landowner to perform a type of work for a fixed period in exchange for the price of the boat ticket.

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