Trades and Craftsmen
In the early days of the Middle and New England Colonies, people were self supporting (everything they needed they made, grew, or hunted). They built their own homes, made their own furniture, clothing, and tools, plowed and planted the land, and hunted and fished for food. As towns and cities grew, so did the need for skilled craftsmen. If you could master a trade you could always make a living in the colonies. Many of these master tradesmen later became wealthy merchants, business owners, and in some cases, the political leaders of the young country.
The colonists came from many countries in Europe and brought their particular skills and crafts with them. The Dutch were expert brick and tile makers, the Swedish were expert lumbermen, the French Huguenots and Germans were known for their weaving, barrel making, gun smithing and leather working.
In the Southern Colonies, towns and cities were slower to develop because of the vastness of the land and the lack of roads. Plantations (large farms) became little cities within themselves. The plantation had its own labor force, grew its own food, educated its own children, cared for its own sick, and did its own trading with England.
Even in the southern colonies, however, as the population increased and more people lived in towns and cities, the need for specific trades and craftsmen grew. The following is a list of the most popular trades of the seventeenth and eighteenth century:
Choose one of these trades, research it, and be ready to play WHAT'S MY LINE with the class.
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