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Comparison of American Slavery and Russian Serfdom

            Unfree labor systems were in existence throughout the New World and Russia during the period 1450-1750. These systems are establishments that force laborers to work in a factory or on land, without proper compensation and without recognition as a human being deserving the same rights afforded to others. The main purpose of these coercive labor units were to accelerate agricultural production while maintaining efficiency. Changes in the acceptability of these labor systems came about due to the emancipation and abolition movements during the 1750-1914 historical period. The morality expressed by Europeans and the rising costs of the systems forced changes in the labor organizations, however some continuities in the acceptance of these systems remain during present times. .
             Serfdom was a condition in Russia during 1450-1750 in which a tenant farmer was bound to a hereditary plot of land and to the will of his landlord. Serfs differed from slaves in that slaves could be bought and sold without reference to land, whereas serfs only changed lords when the land they worked changed hands. Serfs generally were given more rights than slaves, as is seen through their ability to own a small amount of land and to be bound to land where they were living prior to being enserfed, instead of being transported long distances like slaves. Russia serfs were considered as having a higher status than slaves, regardless of their position of being one of the lowest classes in Russian society. The system of labor underwent rapid expansion that modeled the increasing power of Russia, its perception of labor shortages, its need for tax revenue, and its military work force requirements. During the early 1800's, Russian civil servants, such as Aleksandr Radishchev, began to recognize the social injustice that occurred throughout Russia and criticized serfdom, autocracy, and censorship in order to incite reform and emancipation.

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