Business Life In Early New England

Business Life in
Early New England

Rev. Anson Titus
originally published in 1888, New England Magazine

The settlers of New England were of the best stock of Old England. They not only had large ideas of religious education and culture, but were artisans of no mean repute. They had not the appliances of to-day, but they had skill; and this skill, sharpened by necessity, gave to the Yankee the reputation that he could make anything, and make the tools to make it with. The names that these pioneers bore testify their handiwork: Smith, Carpenter, Miller, Mason, Chandler, Clark (clerk or clergyman), Baker, Currier, Brewer, Fuller, and Farmer.

The early New-Englanders were chivalrous men. Born in the temperate zone, they knew of the changes from heat to cold. They were able to endure. They breathed the best air. With hardy muscle and the acceptance of sublime truths, how could they but be strong in perilous and adventuresome times? Put them anywhere, and they would accomplish things for their welfare and improvement. They had come to the wild shores of a new continent, to gain a larger liberty in religious thought; but, thus coming, they were not ignorant concerning their temporal welfare. Their business insight was apace with their religious fervor. Before the Pilgrim and the Puritan came to these regions, it was widely known that the forests yielded fur, and the sea great supplies of fish, and that the income from these sources was not meagre. The fishery business, before the period of actual settlement, was a flourishing trade. We ought not to think of the fathers and mothers of New England as lamblike and gritless, viewing every thing they thought and did in a high spiritual sense. They were business men, with sharp, keen eyes to the dollar side of a trade. Religious desire impelled them, but it alone would not have driven them to face a distant wilderness, with loss of estate and devastation of property full in view. A characteristic of the hardy race which came hither was sound common sense. The many settlers who came to New England previous to 1642 came with a noble purpose, but they were not blind to every other consideration.

The colonists, in erecting their houses and laying out their lands, looked well to the conveniences of stream and harbor. They located upon the clearings and the trails of the Indian. It is a mere fancy, that a "trail"

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