American Economy

New Hampshire grew quickly. By 1763, its population had reached roughly 30,000, and, in 1761, it boasted 61 towns. A rapid expansion between 1760 and 1775 generated another eighty-six new townships. This growth stemmed primarily from new populations, including a large number of Scots-Irish settlers. In addition, the Privy Council’s decision to fix the boundary between New Hampshire and Massachusetts in 1740 increased the colony by 3,500 square miles.

The economy boasted three sectors. Maritime vocations bolstered much of the economy, and an abundance of fish spurred the growth of fisheries. Trade, too, was an important ingredient in the colonial economy. Furs and fish were traded, but New Hampshire’s primary trade came from its involvement in slavery; large purchases of sugar produced by slaves in the West Indies were distilled into rum and exported to Europe. Shipbuilding also flourished in New Hampshire. In addition to the building of the ships, a variety of industries associated with ships developed, including the manufacture of rope walks and sails, and commerce in imported goods.

Lumber was also important to the economy. Raw lumber for building was exported in significant amounts. Maple sugar became a popular export as colonists learned how to produce it from the abundant trees. New Hampshire also became the leading producer of ships’ masts, due to the availability of large timber from which to create the massive center beams. As a result, the state eventually acquired a near monopoly on ships’ masts for all of New England. Finally, a small business and professional class, including some printers and lawyers, also contributed to the economy.

American Economy Photo Gallery

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