Business Life In Early New England

was a hit-and-miss path through the woods. It was a regular and well-beaten way, as firmly established as are the main thoroughfares for us; in fact, the turnpikes of a century ago, and many of the main ways to-day, are along the lines of the Indian trails. Study the maps of Eastern Massachusetts, note the turnpikes of the fathers connecting the towns in the several parts, and at once it will be seen that the instinct of the Indian laid them out. Further, it will be noted that very many of the later-day surveys for railroads and canals have been almost upon the lines of these early trails. The surveyor's skill has followed close upon the savage instinct.

The colonists occupied the clearings at convenient points. The natives raised a grain which greatly surprised the English in its harvests. Indian corn was a new grain. The clearings were purchased for a trifle, and, the whites once in possession, the Indian retired. Many a jeer is aimed, by those knowing of the fresher virgin soil of the New West, at the soil of New England, no note being taken of the fact that from these fields have been gathered two hundred and fifty harvests. No wonder that the East cannot compete with the West. The hills and valleys of New England were rich and fertile. They abundantly satisfied the settlers' needs and wants; and not alone this, but they also supplied, in full many a year, demands from other countries.

Every man had his farm, but also his trade. The farm in summer, and the trade in winter, made New England industrious and thrifty. The small reservoirs and streams turned many a wheel. The various trades were carried on with greater skill and profit than we are apt to think. All through our colonies were carpenters, tanners, hatters, shopkeepers, fullers, shipbuilders, mariners, "butchers and bakers and candlestick-makers." These trades were well patronized. New England has ever been famous for its intelligent labor, and her products have been in demand from the first. The Yankee has always had a reputation as a man of ingenuity. He can make his knife, and with his knife his inventions, and can build his ships to carry his manufactures into the harbors of all the world.

The exports of the various colonies from the outset were great. So great were they, that the attention of Parliament was ever upon them, in the fear that our prosperity would be of benefit to other countries more than to the mother-land. Such was the prosperity of the American Colonies through many a year, that Parliament prohibited their trade with other nations except through English agents. Parliament taxed our exports for the support of the colonial governments, and in many ways provokingly tampered with the industries of New England; and yet for nearly a hundred and fifty years she bore it patiently, such was her reverence and love for the motherland. When, however, it came to pass that taxes were assessed to meet expenses and fulfil appropriations for the government in England, that was too much. It was the last straw. New England was tenfold able in her

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This page was last updated on 09 Feb 2006