Slaves, Convicts and Free Settlers
I agree that slaves, convicts, and free settlers differed greatly, although there are still some similarities about their lives. The comparison of freedom was very different with slaves, convicts and free settlers, while travel by boat was not very different, except for wealthy free settlers who paid for high-class travel. Experiences after the travel on boat also differed.
Life for a slave was extremely terrible. African slaves were unwillingly captured, and transported by ship to America, from Africa, to work.
Africans that were captured were separated from their families and friends, but the Europeans and Americans did not care. Africans were unable to fight back as the capturers were armed. While the Africans were transported towards America by ship, travelling conditions for them were very unpleasant. Slaves were tightly packed with each other and had no privacy. They had no control over the food that they ate. They were normally given beans, rice and corn. They had very limited supplies of water, and diseases were common.
This experience was extremely unhygienic. Slaves hated it so much that they attempted to kill themselves. Some of them refused food, and some gathered to rebel against the crew, trying to get past the guards and jump into the ocean, drowning themselves. Approximately a quarter of slaves died during each journey. After reaching America, slaves were auctioned. Crowds of people would appear for auctions. The Africans were examined, and then sold to the highest bidder. They were forced to work, and those who did not work hard enough were physically punished.
Thousands of slaves were worked, starved, or beaten to death. Africans were obviously treated unfairly. While on ships, the experience of a slave was similar to those of a convict, but the working periods on land highly differed. Compared to a free settler, slaves had a very unpleasant life.
Convicts were people who committed crimes and were punished. Many poor people had to steal as a living, since lots of them had lost their jobs. People were heavily punished if they were found guilty for very little crimes. Things like pickpocketing and petty theft would get you hanged to death, or locked up for many years. Crowds of people surrounding public hanging areas was normal, even parents brought their young kids there. Since there were so many poor people, places where people were hanged quickly became overloaded. Prisons also became overloaded. The government then came up to the idea of turning old naval ships into cramped, stinking, rat infested prisons on water. They were called ‘Hulks’. However, this only stalled the situation; the ships also eventually became overloaded. The government then sent convicts to Britain’s American colonies, but they also became overwhelmed with convicts. They then planned to send convicts to New South Wales. Conditions on ships for a convict was similar to a slave’s. They were cramped, unhealthy, and ate peas, bread, salted beef or pork, oatmeal, butter and cheese. Illnesses were easily passed on. Stormy weather was especially harsh for convicts because they constantly leaned into others and were only able to stabilize themselves with the bars above them. On the first fleet of convicts, about 30 people died, meaning that slaves had a worse environment. After arriving on land, they were forced to work very hard. The hot and dry land made it especially hard for the convicts. Convicts who did not work hard enough were sent to punishment areas where they had to work out of their exhaustion. Further punishments were done with beatings and floggings, which were achieved with things like whips, lashes and cat o’ nine tails. Convicts that had served their sentence became free settlers or travelled back home. While travelling by ship, convicts had a better experience compared to slaves. Slaves needed to work for their entire lives while convicts only needed to work until their sentence was completed. Free settlers were not forced to work at all.
Free settlers were people who travelled to another country to start a new life. A majority of them were wealthy, and they usually travelled to Australia to look for a job and start a new life. While travelling across seas, free settlers who paid for the minimum fee had an experience that was close to a convict’s, but the environment was cleaner and they had hammocks to sleep on. Rich people who paid for a high-class experience had their own private cabins with soft beds and pillows, well-prepared food, and servants. After reaching shore, the rich people often bought large amounts of land and convicts to work for them. Free settlers often became farmers, but some became doctors. Living conditions for free settlers was still harsh, even for the rich. They needed to wait for the right time to harvest the crops. Some supply ships came to New South Wales to deliver food. During droughts and floods, farmers had a difficult time because they needed to protect their crops. As years passed, food supply increased and life became easier. The life of a free settler was definitely better than a slave’s or a convict’s since they had freedom and weren’t unwillingly forced to work.
To conclude, convicts, slaves and free settlers differed, but there were a few concepts of their lives that were similar. They all travelled to a different country by boat, and travel was very unpleasant for them all, besides rich free settlers. Convicts and slaves were forced to work very hard, and were beaten if they did not.