Richard Frethorne was an English indentured servant who was sold into slavery in the early 1600s. He wrote a letter describing his experience, which provides a rare and personal account of what life was like for a slave in that time period.
Frethorne’s letter paints a picture of a harsh and brutal life, filled with hunger, cold, and hard work. He writes of being forced to work from sunrise to sunset with no food or rest, and of being beaten if he slows down. He describes feeling like he is “rotting alive” and begs his parents to help him escape.
Frethorne’s letter is a heartbreaking reminder of the human cost of slavery. It gives us a small glimpse into the lives of the millions of people who were forced into bondage, and a reminder of the importance of fighting for freedom.
An indentured servant named Richard Frethorne wrote a letter to his parents beginning on March 20, 1623 and ending April 3, 1623, in which he describes his time as an indentured laborer. Richard Frethorne was a young Englishman who, like many other impoverished 17th century Englishmen, was attempting to make ends meet back in England.
In order to survive and make a better life for himself, Richard Frethorne decided to go to the colonies in America where he would be able to work and have a chance at a better future. However, upon his arrival in the colony of Virginia in March 1623, Richard Frethorne quickly realized that the reality of life as an indentured servant was far different from what he had expected.
Richard Frethorne wrote about how he was only given two loaves of bread a week to eat and was forced to work long hours in the hot sun. He also described how he was often sick and had no one to take care of him. Richard Frethorne’s letter is a rare first-hand account of what life was like for an indentured servant in the early days of the American colonies. While his experience was certainly difficult, it was not unusual for servants at that time.
Richard Frethorne’s letter provides a valuable glimpse into the lives of those who were some of the first to come to America in search of a better life. It is a reminder that while life in the colonies could be hard, it was sometimes necessary for people to take risks in order to improve their circumstances.
In order to obtain a better existence, Frethorne set out for the United States as an indentured servant. Merchants in England took advantage of these desperate individuals and coerced them into working as indentured servants in the New World. Frethorne was one of the impoverished people who agreed to serve as an indentured laborer without realizing that everything he was promised would not be kept.
When Frethorne arrived to the America’s, he was immediately put to work on a plantation. He was promised that he would be given food and shelter in exchange for his labor, but instead he was given very little food and was forced to sleep outside in the cold. He soon began to realize that he had been lied to and that he was now a slave.
The conditions that Frethorne endured were horrific. He was constantly hungry and cold, and was often beaten by his owners. He begged to be allowed to return to England, but his requests were always denied.
Although life as a slave was incredibly difficult, Frethorne did have some moments of happiness. He formed friendships with some of the other slaves, and they would often help each other through the tough times.
Eventually, Frethorne was able to escape from his plantation and return to England. He wrote about his experiences in order to warn others of the dangers of becoming an indentured servant. His story is a powerful reminder of the cruelty of slavery and the importance of freedom.
Frethorne left for England in 1623, and Jamestown, Virginia was his destination. Frethorne’s life before slavery is obscure; there is no record of his lifespan. But we can deduce that he had two parents (mother and father), as well as siblings (both female and male). According to the letter he wrote back to his parents, Frethorne depicts the difficulties faced by indentured servants in early 17th century Virginia.
He mentions how little food he receives, the hard labor he endures, and how sick he constantly is. Frethorne’s letter begins with him discussing how he arrived in Virginia. He states that, “The passage being very long, and we having nothing but water to drink (save a little now and then) which was scant enough, I became so weak as you can imagine.”(1). This statement displays the inhumane conditions individuals had to go through during their voyage to America. Not only were they cramped in the ship with minimal space to move around, but they were also given hardly any food or water.
Furthermore, Frethorne goes on to say that once he finally arrived in Virginia he was, “immediately sold for three years.”(1). This reveals that even though he had a predetermined location, he still did not have any control over his life once he stepped off the ship. In essence, he was now property of another Englishman and would have to work for him until his contract was up.
The rest of Frethorne’s letter focuses on describing the terrible conditions he endures as an indentured servant. He writes about how little food he is given, saying that “Our allowance is generally one pound of bread a day amongst four men, which we are forced to eat in the night because we dare not be found by our master eating it in the daytime; and if we did, it should go hard but we should be whipped for it.”(1).
Frethorne also claims that, “The bread is made of Indian corn which is very unwholesome, and our drink is water.”(1) Not only was the food they were given hardly enough to survive on, but it was also unhealthy. The lack of proper nutrition leads to servants constantly being ill, as Frethorne notes later in his letter.
He says, “We are so weak and sickly that we cannot perform half so much work as an ordinary man can; and yet we are forced to work with those that are strong and healthy or else we shall be beaten.”(1) In addition to the grueling work, servants were also beaten if they did not complete their tasks. Frethorne’s first-hand account of indentured servitude provides insight into the horrible conditions that these individuals had to endure.
Although Richard Frethorne’s experience as an indentured servant was short-lived, it gives us a glimpse into the life of these individuals in early 17th century America. The conditions that he describes are inhumane and reveal the harsh reality of slavery during this time period.