The colonists enslaved Africans because they needed a workforce to help on the plantations. They originally used indentured servants as a work force, but they still had rights and could rebel and overthrow the settlers. Plus, they only had to work for 5-7 years, and when their working term was over, their masters had to give them food and shelter. After Bacon’s Rebellion, which destroyed some of Jamestown, they decided to turn to slavery. They would have enslaved Native Americans, but the Natives outnumbered the settlers. By a lot.