Evidence from probate inventories in St. Mary's County, Maryland, suggests that the transition from servants to slaves in colonial British America was not the sole mechanism by which the Chesapeake transformed into a fully developed slave society. Rather, this transition was only the first step in a century-long process by which slavery gradually took root, until, by the eve of the Revolution, the Chesapeake finally bore the imprint of slavery in every avenue of its activity.

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