Page:Transportation and colonization.djvu/24

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10

TRANSPORTATION

knight-marshal would deliver to them" for that purpose. The practice of transportation to the American colonies, which was thus irregularly introduced into Great Britain, continued during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries until the commencement of the war of American independence. At first, if we may credit the testimony of a contemporary historian, "the convicts who were thus transported were very acceptable to the colonists," to whom they were generally indented for a certain period, at a certain fixed rate per head, by ship-masters, who carried them over from England on speculation; the colonists considering that "their labour would be more beneficial in an infant settlement, than their vices could be pernicious."

Great inconveniences, however, were at length found to arise from the great number of "dissolute persons," who were thus from time to time turned loose upon the American colonies; where, it would seem, they were subjected to no other restraint than that which was implied in the right to their services for a certain limited period, which their respective masters had purchased from their importers. Besides, in proportion as the importation of negro slaves into the American colonies (which was then promoted to the very utmost by the British government) was increased