The cultivation of cash crops was very essential for the economy in the South during the American colonial times. Many Europeans settlers arrived to the New World and invested in plenty of land but not enough labor to take care of it. In cases like this, plant owners would turn to indentured servitude where its incentive benefitted both the master and the servant: the master needed labor and the servants were willing to work for their freedom. In addition, it would boost the working population and the economy in the South since there was a high agricultural demand. Indentured servitude was actually introduced by the Virginia Company where black or white servants agreed to work for a certain amount of years in exchange for a passage to the New World and housing, something that only the wealthy could afford. Once the indentured servants fulfilled the requirements of the contract, they were given a "freedom due" in which they would receive a piece of land, supplies, and freedom. If the servants somehow broke the contract, they were punished by having their term extended. At the time, the Thirty Years' War was draining Europe economically, resulting in high rates of poor and unemployed citizens. The idea of moving into the "New World" and given a chance to start fresh gave the Europeans hope for a better future. Fortunately, marketable tobacco was introduced and the demand for labor increased drastically. So how did indentured servitude slowly transition to racially-based slavery? The labor-intensive cash crop, tobacco, was increasing the cost of indentured servants and plant owners were constantly looking for cheaper ways to make more money. .
The gradual introduction of slavery began when the Virginia Company brought the first 20 African slaves to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 for the production of tobacco. At this point, the African slaves were still indentured servants and were able to gain their freedom.