Just prior to the Revolutionary War, there was a strong influx of Scottish emigrants. The adverse living conditions of the Highlanders, as a result of being mistreated by Scotish lairds and English Kings, led them to abandon their country in search of greener "verdures" (pastures). The new American colonies were rich in virgin, fertile lands filled with wildlife, old growth forests, and possessed a seemingly endless supply of acreage, which could not be filled fast enough. When you have oppressed people and offer them freedom and all the raw materials needed for survival, and lay no oppression upon them, they can do what all living things want to do, and that is to prosper with good health and happiness.
The Scottish Highlanders were good people with good intentions. They were intelligent and understood that generosity and good will toward others reaps great rewards for everyone. When we read the Highlanders' description of America and their pleas to their countrymen to join them in the American provinces, there is no mistake that these are the same people who strongly influenced the Declaration of Independence from England, and then the United States Constitution.
I have translated a booklet written in 1773 by one Scottish Highlander from old English to modern English and made it availabe here on Miranet. It is a must-read for any serious genealogist or historian seeking to understand what life was like just before the Revolutionary War.
In this booklet we gain a very clear view of what life was like in the province of North Carolina in the final days of British rule. We learn what it was that brought Europeans to America, and we gain insight into the different perception of our ancestors toward issues such as slavery.
In 1773, slavery was not a word commonly used. Instead, we hear how people were bonded by contracts and how they willingly sold themselves for a period of time, and how they received their payment at the end of their servitude. And for all the complaining by the Highlanders for being treated unfairly by their Scotish and English overlords, they spoke with ease about the lifelong bondage of "negroes" as though it was not a matter for dispute. It was actually believed that negroes wanted to be slaves, and that their existence was barely human, and that they were more inclined to be seen as animals. The Scotish Highlanders, who were looking to escape tyranny, talked about the humane treatment of the negroes. In the book linked above, and in other historical accounts of North Carolina, we learn that early "negroes" were given a few acres of land to live on, and that they had their own small house or hut to live in; they were allowed to raise a small garden, to raise their own pigs and other animals; and their work schedule was to perform the master's work until about 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, after which, they would receive the rest of the day to tend to their own affairs. But this a highly romanticized version of the truth, and leaves out that the churches pushed for laws that made it a crime to treat negroes with such generosity. The laws pushed by the churches actually fined the slave owners for allowing their slaves to raise their own animals and food, and then the fines were paid half to the informant, and the other half to the church. The penalties imposed on slaves were of the most cruel nature imaginable, and those penalties far surpassed the definition of cruel and unusual punishment. Granted, these extreme punishments occurred under British rule, and were likely part of the reason why cruel and unusual punishments were banned by the United States Constitution's subsequent Bill of Rights. But it was the free-labor addiction of the settlers of the time that enabled the settlers to prosper and succeed, and thus their selfishness slowed progress toward totally eradicating slavery as a legal practice in the United States.