To Indent Oneself: Ownership, Contracts, and Consent in Antebellum Illinois

Allison Mileo Gorsuch

in The Legal Understanding of Slavery

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199660469
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745508 | DOI:
To Indent Oneself: Ownership, Contracts, and Consent in Antebellum Illinois

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This chapter analyzes a certain practice in the Illinois Territory during the early 19th century where hundreds of people of African descent signed agreement contracts that bound them to a system similar to slavery. The discussion tries to distinguish slavery as a legal institution and as an exercise of powers connected to ownership. It considers legal documents in order to show the lives of these indentured servants, as well as the powers of ownership that were attached to the agreement contract. This chapter observes that while these contracts continued to highlight the voluntary nature of the master-servant agreement, these still remained to be a long-term tool of unpaid and forced labour.

Keywords: agreement contracts; illinois territory; legal institution; ownership powers; indentured servants; voluntary; master-servant agreement

Chapter.  9167 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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