Chronicles of America 

Everyday Needs And Diversions

There was no want of food in colonial households and little scarcity or threatened famine in the land of our forefathers. Though the Southern and West Indian colonists paid but little attention to the raising of the more important food staples, they were able to obtain an adequate supply through channels of distribution which remained almost unchanged throughout the colonial period. The provisions of New England and the flour, beef, pork, and peas of New York and Pennsylvania were carried wherever they were wanted and satisfied the demands of those who were otherwise absorbed in the cultivation of tobacco, rice, indigo, and sugar. The greatest difficulty lay in the preservation of perishable foods, for the colonists had as yet no adequate means of keeping fresh their meats and provisions. In the outlying districts, where supplies were irregular, many a family lived on smoked, salted, and pickled foods and during the winter were entirely without the fresh meats and green vegetables which were available in the summer and autumn seasons.'

This need was partly satisfied by the plentiful supply of venison obtained from the forests, for the colonists were great hunters. Fowling pieces, powderflasks. shot bags, worms, and ramrods were a part of every country householder's equipment. Though deer and wild birds were less plentiful in the eighteenth than in the seventeenth century, their number was still large; and wild turkeys, geese, pigeons, hares, and squirrels were always to be found. Fish abounded in the rivers ; lobsters were obtainable off the shores in considerable numbers; clams were always plentiful ; and oysters were eaten not only along the seacoast from Maine to Georgia but even in the back country as far as the Shenandoah, whither they were sent packed in old

Just when and where ice first began to be housed for summer use it is difficult to discover but the following extract from a manuscript journal of Epaphrus Hoyt, who journeyed from Deerfield to Philadelphia and back in 1790, is suggestive. Writing on the 6th of August, he said: "After we got through Hell Gate we drunk a bowl of Punch made with Ice which Mr. Yates a passenger had took on board at N. York. This was very curious to see Ice at this season of the year —which is kept (as Mr. Yates informed us) through the summer in houses built on purpose." barrels and flour casks "lest the waggoners get foul of 'em." Turtles caught in the neighborhood or sent from the West Indies were frequently served up on the tables of the richer families in all the colonies. Even buffalo steaks were eaten, for John Rowe records a dinner in 1768 at which venison, buffalo steaks, perch, trout, and salmon were placed before the guests.

Nearly all the meats, vegetables, and fruits familiar to housekeepers of today were known to the colonial dames. In the better houses, beef, mutton, lamb, pork, ham, bacon, and smoked and dried fish were eaten, as well as sausages, cheese, and butter, which were usually homemade in New England, though in the Middle Colonies and the South cheese was frequently imported from Rhode Island. It is related that once when Beekman of New York could not sell some Rhode Island cheese that "was loosing in weight and spoiling with maggots," he proposed to have it hawked about the town by a cartman. As for vegetables, the New Englander was familiar with cabbages, radishes, lettuce, turnips, green corn carrots, parsnips, spinach, onions, beets, parsley savory, mustard, peppergrass, celery, cauliflower, squashes, pumpkins, beans, peas, and asparagus; but only the more prosperous householders pretended to cultivate even a majority of these in their gardens. In the rural districts, only cabbages, beans, pumpkins, and other vegetables of the coarser varieties were grown. Potatoes were not introduced until after the advent of the Scotch-Irish in 1720, and they did not for some time become a common vegetable. Dr. McSparran of Rhode Island made a record in his diary in 1743 that potatoes were being dug, and Birket speaks of them as being "plentifully produced" by the year 1750. Tomatoes were hardly yet deemed edible, and only an occasional mention of cucumbers can be found. In the South sweet potatoes early became popular, and watermelons and muskmelons were raised in large quantities, though they were grown in the North also to some extent. Every Southern plantation, notably in Virginia, had its vegetable and flower garden, and familiar items in the lists of articles ordered from England are the seeds and roots which the planter wanted.

Fruit was abundant everywhere. Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, damsons, plums, quinces, cherries, and crab apples were all raised in the orchards, North and South, while oranges, probably small and very sour, were grown in South Carolina and on Governor Grant's plantation in East Florida. English and Italian gardeners were employed by certain of the wealthier planters and often exhibited superior skill in matters of grafting and propagating plants and shrubs.' At first grafts were obtained from England and the Continent, but as early as 1735 Paul Amatis started his "Georgian Nursery" in South Carolina, and later William Prince established in the North a large fruit nursery at Flushing, Long Island, where he said that he had fifteen thousand trees fit to remove, "all innoculated and grafted from bearing trees." (Grafting was practiced in New England at an early date. The Reverend Joseph Green of Salem says in his diary, that on April 17, 1701, he grafted 59 " cyons " on 24 trees. Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. VIII, p. 220.)  Christian Leman began a similar nursery at Germantown, Pennsylvania. Of the smaller fruits, strawberries, blackberries, and gooseberries were cultivated and highly prized; wild strawberries and huckleberries were as well known as they are now; and grapes were found in enormous quantities in a wild state, though efforts to grow vineyards for the purpose of making wine were never very successful.

In preparing vegetables and fruits for preserving, both for the winter's supply at home and the Southern and West India markets, the New England housewives proved themselves eminently resourceful and skillful. They pickled Indian corn and other vegetables, nuts, and oysters; they dried apples or else made them into sauce and butter; and they preserved fruits not in cans or sealed jars but in huge crocks covered with paper and so sealed that the fruit would keep for a long time without fermenting.


In the grounds of the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. Photograph copyright, 1912, by Baldwin Coolidge.

For spices and condiments, however, all the colonists had to depend on outside sources. Capers, English walnuts, anchovies, nutmegs, pepper, mace, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, olives, salad oil, almonds, raisins, and dried currants were commonly ordered from England; lemons, which in 1763 were declared to have become "almost a necessity for the health and comfort of the inhabitants of North America," were obtained from the Mediterranean and the West Indies; coffee, tea (hyson, bohea, Congo, and green), and "cocoa nuts" came from England usually, though much of the spice, tea, and cocoa was smuggled in from Amsterdam or the foreign West Indies. From the latter came also sweetmeats, tamarinds, preserved ginger, citrons, and limes, which were often brought by the sea captains as presents from West India merchants, to whom hams, turkeys, geese, and the like were sent in return. Spices and coffee were ground at home, and "cocoa nuts" were made into chocolate, either at home or at a neighboring mill. Beverley ordered a stone and roller for preparing chocolate on his plantation, and in New England there were several chocolate mills, where the beans were crushed either for the housewife at her request or for sale.

Cocoa Nuts

The eighteenth-century name for the cocoa bean from which chocolate is made.

In the country households of the North nearly everything for the table was obtained from the farm, and only salt, sugar, and spices were bought. Even sugar was a luxury; maple sugar, honey, and brown muscovado sugar were sometimes used, but the common sweetening was molasses, though this was rejected in the South for table use. The food, though ample in quantity, was lacking in variety and was heavier and less appetizing than in the cities. The commonest dishes were pork, smoked salmon, red herring, cod, mackerel, Indian meal in many forms, vegetables (including the familiar " succotash "), pies, and puddings. But in the Northern cities the variety was greater and equaled that of the South. Philadelphia had scores of families whose elaborate tables seemed a sinful waste to John Adams, who has recorded in his diary the luxury of the Quaker households. In Massachusetts the extravagance of hospitality was none the less marked. Henry Vassall's expense book mentions oysters, herrings, mackerel, salmon, sausages, cheese, almonds, biscuit, ducks, chickens, turkeys, fowls, quails, teals, pigeons, beef, calf's head, rabbit, lamb, veal, venison, and quantities of vegetables and fruit, as well as honey, chocolate, and lemons.

In Virginia breakfast, at least, was a less elaborate meal than in New England. Harrower tells us that at Belvidera it consisted of tea, coffee, or chocolate, warm bread, butter, and cold meat. Eddis mentions a Maryland breakfast "of tea, coffee, and the usual accompaniments, ham, dried venison, beef, and other relishing articles." Dinner, which was always served at noon, consisted at Belvidera of " smoack'd bacon or what we call pork ham . . . either warm or cold; when warm we have also either warm roast pigg, lamb, ducks, or chicken, green pease or anything else they fancy." As these colonists also had "plenty of roast and boyled and good strong beer, " it is perhaps not to be wondered at that they "but seldom eat any supper." Fithian speaks of a "winter plan" at

Nomini Hall, with coffee " just at evening" and

supper between eight and nine o'clock. Quincy gives an account of his entertainment at Charleston which is full of interest. "Table decent but not inelegant; provisions indifferent, but well dressed; good wines and festivity." And again on other occasions, "a prodigious fine pudding made of what they call rice flour. Nicknacks brought on table after removal of meats, " "a most genteel supper, " "a solid plentiful good table." What most im-

pressed him were the superior quality of the wines, the frequent exchange of toasts, and the presence of musicians. Adam Gordon said of Charleston that the poultry and pork were excellent, the beef and mutton middling, and the fish very rare and expensive. "All the poor, " he added, "and many of the rich eat rice for bread and give it even a preference; they use it in their cakes, called Journey Cakes, and boiled, or else boiled Indian corn, which they call Hominy. "

It is a well-known fact that the colonists were heavy drinkers and that they consumed liquors of every variety in enormous quantities on all important occasions — baptisms, weddings, funerals, barn raisings, church raisings, house raisings, ship launchings, ordinations, perambulations, or "beating the bounds," at meetings of commissions and committees, and in taverns, clubs, and private houses. In New England a new officer was expected on training day "to wet his commission bountifully. " Among the New England farmers beer, cider, cider brandy, and rum were the ordinary beverages. Cider, however, gradually supplanted beer, and the thrifty farmer sometimes laid in for the winter a supply of from ten to thirty barrels. A keg or puncheon of rum would usually lie alongside the barrels of cider in the cellar. There it would be left to ripen with age, with the assistance of about five dozen apples, peeled and cut in pieces, which were added to improve the flavor. Beer was brewed at home by the wives or in breweries in some of the towns; even Charleston experimented in brewing with malt from Philadelphia. Ale and small beer in bottles were imported from England; and spruce beer was used as a drink and sometimes at sea as a remedy against scurvy. Rum was distilled in all the leading New England towns, notably at Boston and Newport. Not only was it drunk at home and served out as a regular allowance to artisans and workmen, but it was also used in trade with the Indians, in dealings with the fishermen off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, in exchange with the Southern Colonies for grain and naval stores, and in the purchase of slaves in Africa. Rum from the West Indies was always more highly prized than that of New England and brought a higher price in the market. Though in all the colonies rum was a common drink and arrack was consumed also to some extent on Southern tables, the colonists in the North were more addicted to both these drinks than were the Southerners, and the colonists in New England more than those in New York and Pennsylvania, where beer drinking predominated among the Dutch and the Germans. On Southern plantations the large number of distilleries which existed and the presence of stillhouses, copper stills, and sweat worms indicate a wider activity than merely the distilling of rum from molasses. Quantities of apple and peach brandy, cherry fling, and cherry rum were made in Virginia and South Carolina, and we know that on one occasion Van Cortlandt of New York squared a single Virginia account by accepting six hundred gallons of peach brandy instead of cash. To a certain extent fruit brandies were made in the North also, but the famous applejack of New Jersey does not appear to have been introduced until just before the Revolution. It has been truly said that fruit growing in America "had its beginning and for almost two hundred years its whole sustenance in the demand for strong drink."

In 1763 the merchants of Boston estimated that Massachusetts produced yearly 15,000 hogsheads or 1,500,000 gallons of rum, distributed as follows: 9000 hogsheads for home consumption and the whale, cod, and mackerel fisheries; 3000 for the Southern Colonies; 1700 for Africa; and 1300 for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. These figures upset some time-honored calculations as to the amount of rum used in the slave trade.

Of imported wines those most frequently in demand were madeira, claret, Canary vidonia, burgundy and other French wines, port, and brandy. A sort of homemade claret was prepared from wild grapes by the Huguenots at Manakintown, but it always remained an experiment. Claret was a table drink in New England, but Gerard Beekman wrote in 1753 that it was in no demand in New York and that French wines were not in favor. Though it was imported in considerable quantities, brandy never became a popular colonial drink, and in Charleston, when the price was high, it was used chiefly for medicinal purposes. In the same city, Canary vidonia was considered much inferior to madeira and was not usually liked because it was too sweet. Birket, however, said that it was a common drink among people of fortune in New England, though it was harsh in taste and inclined to look thick. As a rule the colonists did not like sweet wines, and for this reason the aromatic malmsey never pleased the colonial palate. Quincy, who found the Charleston wines "by odds the richest" he had ever tasted, thought them superior to those served by John Hancock of Boston and Henry Vassall of Cambridge. His account of the customary protracted toasting and drinking at Charleston tables reminds one of the story Hamilton is said to have related of Washington. "Gen'l H. told us, " says London in his diary, "that Gen'l Washington notwithstanding his perfect regularity and love of decorum could bear to drink more wine than most people. He loved to make a procrastinated dinner — made it a rule to drink a glass of wine with every one at table and yet always drank 3-4 or more glasses of wine after dinner, according to his company and every night took a pint of cream and toasted crust for supper."

An excellent idea of the customary drinks of these colonial times can be gained from a list issued in 1744 by the county court of Chowan, North Carolina, mentioning madeira, Canary vidonia, Carolina cider, Northern cider, strong malt beer of American make, flip with half a pint of rum in it, porter from Great Britain, punch with loaf sugar, lime juice, and half a pint of rum, British ale or beer bottled and wired in Great Britain. Flip was made in different ways, but a common variety was a mixture of rum, pumpkin beer, and brown sugar, into which a red-hot poker had been plunged. For lighter drinks there were lemonade, citron water, distillations of anise seed, oranges, cloves, treacle, ratafia, peppermint, and angelica, and other homemade cordials and liqueurs.

Taverns, usually poor in appearance and service, were to be found everywhere from Maine to Georgia, in the towns, on the traveled roads, and at the ferry landings. They not only offered accommodations for man and beast but frequently served also for council and assembly meetings, social gatherings, merchants' associations, preaching, the acting of plays; and their balconies proved convenient for the making of public speeches and announcements. The taverns, which also provided resorts where it was possible for "gentlemen to enjoy their bowl and bottle with satisfaction, " were the scenes of a vast amount of hard drinking and quarreling. It was, for instance, in a corner parlor of Hatheway's tavern in Charleston in 1770, that De Lancey was mortally wounded by Hadley in a duel fought with pistols in the dark. Men met at the taverns in clubs to play billiards and cards, to drink, and to gamble, and the following record shows the sort of score that they ran up: "Punch and game of billiards; one pack of cards; to flip at whick [whist]; to punch at ombre; ditto at all fours; to liquor at billiards all night; to sangaree and wine; to sack, punch, and beer; club to brandy punch; to two sangarees at billiards; to punch at cards, club afterwards." Many of the taverns had skittle alleys and shuffleboards, but neither these games nor billiards and bowling were confined to public resorts. Billiard tables were to be found in private houses, and bowling was often played in alleys specially built for the purpose; and we are told that Councilman Carter had a bowling green near Nomini Hall.

Card playing was a common diversion. Packs of cards must have come in with the first Virginia and Maryland settlers, for card tables are known to have been in use on Kent Island as early as 1658. The number of packs of cards imported was prodigious: one ship from London brought to the Cape Fear Colony toward the end of this period 144 packs, another 576, and another 888; a Boston invoice shows 1584 packs ; a single Pennsylvania importation was valued at forty-four pounds sterling. We know that cards were distributed and sold in stores from Portsmouth and Albany to Charleston and as far back as the Shenandoah Valley, where Daniel Morgan, later a major general under Washington, spent his hilarious youth, drinking rum, playing cards, and running up gambling debts. From these facts we can appreciate what Peter du Bois meant when he wrote of his days at Wilmington: "I live very much retired for want of a social set, who will drink claret and smoke tobacco till four in the morning; the gentlemen of this town might be so if they pleased, but an intollerable itch for gaming prevails in all companies. This I conceive is the bane of society and therefore I shun the devotees to cards and pass my hours chiefly at home with my pipe and some agreeable author." Henry Laurens, a merchant, mentions the case of a young man in his countinghouse, who had given his note to a card sharper and was with difficulty rescued from "the gaping pickpockets" who had "followed him like a shadow." Gaming for high stakes was a well-known failing of the Vassall family, and because of his love for reckless play Henry undoubtedly hastened his bankruptcy. But this vice was not confined to the quality, for negroes and street boys, from Salem to Charleston, gambled in the streets at "pawpaw" and dice; and " huzzlecap " or pitching pennies was so common as to call forth protests and grand jury presentments in an effort to abate what was justly deemed a public nuisance.

The use of tobacco was general in every class of society and in every locality. Even women of the lower classes smoked, for there is a reference to one who had a fit, dropped a " coal " from her pipe, and was burned to death. For smoking and chewing, tobacco was either cut and dried or else was made up into "pigtails," as the small twisted ropes or braids were called, though "paper tobacco," put up in paper packages, was coming into favor. Tobacco was smoked only in pipes, either the fine long glazed pipes of clay imported from England and commonly called " churchwardens, " or in Indian pipes of red pipestone, often beautifully carved. Probably the Dutch and Germans continued to use in America their old-country porcelain pipes with pendulous stems, and it is more than likely that wooden and cob pipes were in fashion in the rural districts. Cigars were not known in America until after 1800. Though in early advertisements snuff was recommended as medicinal, the taking of snuff came to be as much a matter of social custom as of pleasure : to the rich merchant and planter the snuffbox was an article of decoration and its proper use a matter of etiquette. Snuff was usually imported in canisters and bladders and occasionally in bottles; but there were snuff factories in Philadelphia and New York, and the father of Gilbert Stuart was a snuff maker in Rhode Island.

In addition to the diversion to be obtained from drinking, smoking, and gambling, which may be called the representative colonial vices, there were plenty of amusements and sports which absorbed the attention of the colonists, North and South. The woods and waters offered endless opportunity in summer for fishing and in winter for such time-honored pursuits as hunting, fowling, trapping, and fishing through the ice. John Rowe of Boston was a famous and untiring fisherman; thousands of other enthusiasts played the part of colonial Isaak Waltons; and there was a fishing club on the Schuylkill as early as 1732. Fishing rods, lines, sinkers, and hooks were commonly imported from England. The woods were full of such big game as elk, moose, black bears, deer, lynxes, pumas or panthers (sometimes called "tigers"), gray wolves, and wildcats; and there was an abundance of such smaller animals as foxes, beavers, martens or fishers, otters, weasels, minks, raccoons, and muskrats or "musquashes," as they are still called in rural New England. These animals were killed without regard for the future of the species. Sometimes the settlers even resorted to the wasteful and unsportsmanlike method of burning the forests, so that the larger animals began to disappear from the Eastern regions. Buffaloes, for instance, were formerly found in North Carolina as far east as Craven County, but in the upcountry of South Carolina it was said that three or four men with dogs could kill twenty of these animals in a day. In this same State the last elk had been killed as early as 1781. Nor was the case otherwise with the smaller game and fowl. Wooden decoys and camouflaged boats aided in the destruction of the ducks; caged pigeons were used to attract the wilder members of the species, which were shot in large numbers, particularly in New England; and so unlicensed had the destruction of the heath hen become in New York that in 1708 the province determined to protect its game by providing for a closed season. Thus early did the movement for conservation begin in America. The sport of hunting led to the improvement of firearms and to the introduction of the English custom of fox-hunting. Guns, which had formerly been clumsy and unreliable, were now perfected to such a degree that we find references to a gun which would repeat six times, a chambered gun, a double-barreled gun, and a "neat birding piece, mounted with brass. " Rifles, which were common, were used for target practice as well as for hunting. Rifle matches were arranged in Virginia on muster days, and in Connecticut shooting at a mark for a money prize was a favorite diversion on training days. Both the Virginians and the New Yorkers were skillful fox-hunters and very fond of riding to hounds, for which they imported their foxes from England.

In the South the two leading sports were horse racing and cockfighting, though the former was an absorbing passion in all the colonies. Cockfighting — so well illustrated in Hogarth's famous engraving, which may well have been on many a colonial wall after 1760 — was a sport which had been brought to America from England and which had lost none of its brutality in the transfer. From Annapolis to Charleston the local rivalry was intense. We read, for example, that a main of cocks was fought between the gentlemen of Gloucester and those of James River, in which twenty pairs were matched and fought for five guineas the battle and fifty guineas the odd. When Gloucester won, James River challenged again and this time came out ahead, and so the contest went on. Matches were frequently advertised in the Annapolis, Williamsburg, and Charleston papers, stating in each case so many cocks, so many battles, so much each and so much the odd, in guineas, pounds, and pistoles. Champion cocks, like horses, were known by name and were pitted against all corners. Quincy saw five battles on his way from Williamsburg to Port Royal, and mentions having met in Maryland two persons " of the middling rank in life," who had spent three successive days in cockfighting and "as many nights in riot and debauchery. "

Horse racing was even more engrossing than cockfighting. What is perhaps the earliest recorded race took place in York County, Virginia, in 1674, when a tailor and a physician had a brush with their horses, in consequence of which the tailor was fined by the county court, because "it was contrary to law for a labourer to make a race, being a sport only for gentlemen." Racing in Virginia was thus enjoyed as an occasional pastime at a very early date, though it did not become a regular practice until after 1730, when the first blooded stallion was imported. Apparently the earliest race outside of Virginia occurred in East New Jersey in 1694, when Sam Jennings was charged with being drunk when riding a horse race with J. Slocum. It may be noted in passing that horse racing, gambling, and possessing a billiard table were forbidden by law in Connecticut and that all such pursuits were discouraged, though not forbidden, in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.'

Races were run on greens at Newmarket in New Hampshire, at Hempstead, Flatland Plains, and around Beaver Pond on Long Island, on John Vanderbilt's field on Staten Island, at Paulus Hook (now Jersey City), at Morristown and Perth Amboy in New Jersey, at Center Course near Philadelphia, and at Lancaster in the same colony, at the race course near Annapolis, at Alexandria, Fredericksburg, and many other places in Virginia. Races were also run on dozens of "race paths" in North and South Carolina, where large plantations had their own courses, as well as on such public tracks as the Round Course at Monck's Corner, York Course at the Old Quarter House, and Thomas Butler's Race Ground on Charleston Neck. Horses were raced in Connecticut, but privately rather than publicly. Hempstead in his Diary (pp. 148, 156, 579, 601) mentions three races and one race horse.

The number of blooded stallions and mares in the colonies before the Revolution must have been very large. Massachusetts was the home of many blooded horses, Rhode Island was famous for its Narragansett pacers, and even Connecticut had stallions obtained from England for breeding purposes. Virginia alone, beginning her importation with Bully Rock in 1730, has record of fifty stallions and thirty mares bred from stock introduced from England, and the services of breeding horses were frequently advertised. The horses used for racing were, of course, runners and pacers, as the trotting horse had not yet been introduced, and the time which they made is recorded as low as two minutes. The fast colts of Governor Sharpe of Maryland were well known, and Governor Ogle had a famous imported horse named Spark. The Narragansett pacers, as they were called, were the most distinctive colonial breed, and horsemen from the Southern Colonies visited Rhode Island, purchased stock, and advertised the merits of their animals in the newspapers. Some of the colonial horse breeders preferred to buy their stock in England, and it is interesting to note, as an indication of the value of horses in those days, that Charles Carroll contemplated buying a stallion for one hundred pounds sterling and brood mares for fifty pounds each. It is perhaps equally interesting to know that he was dissuaded from his purchase by an inveterate colonial distrust of the ways of the mother country.

Horse races were of all kinds — for scrubs and thoroughbreds, three- or four-year-olds, colts, and fillies; the heats were generally the best two out of three; and the distance was from one to five miles, with entrance fees and double at the post, and prizes in the form of purses, silver punch bowls, pint pots and tankards, saddles, bridles, boots, jockey caps, and the like. There were such prizes, too, as the Jockey Club Plate, the Town Purse, and the Free Mason's Plate. There was a Jockey Club in Virginia before the Revolution, but that in Maryland was not organized until 1783. The crowds were large, the side betting was heavy, and pickpockets were always on hand. The jockeys, black or white, who rode the horses were sometimes thrown and seriously injured or killed. On at least one course a "ladies' gallery," or grand stand, was erected, and there were doubtless others elsewhere. So great was the popularity of these races that the Quaker Peckover had to wait until a Virginia race was over before he could hold a meeting.

It was at the colonial fairs that horse racing was one of the most conspicuous incidents. These fairs were held in all the colonies outside of New England, and even there they were occasionally held, except in Connecticut, where, as the unveracious Samuel Peters says, dancing, fishing, hunting, skating, and sleighing on the ice were the only amusements allowed. Though the fairs were in most cases ordained by law, they were sometimes purely private undertakings, as that held at Rye, New Hampshire, which was promoted by an innkeeper, or that at Williamsburg, in 1739, which found its support in a fund raised by a group of gentlemen.

The object of the fair was to bring people together, to encourage trade, and "to provide a general commerce or traffic among persons that want to buy or sell either the product or manufacture of the country or any other sorts of goods or merchandize. " In some colonies the fairs, which usually lasted for three days, were held but once a year in the autumn but in others twice a year, in May and in September or October. On these occasions horses, oxen, cows, sheep, hogs, and sundry sorts of goods were exposed for sale. The people indulged in such varieties of sport as a slow horse race with a silver watch to the hindmost, a foot race at Williamsburg from the college to the capitol, a race for women, on Long Island, with a Holland smock and a chintz gown for prizes, a race by men in bags, and an obstacle race for boys. There were cudgeling bouts, bear baiting, gouging, a notoriously cruel sport, and catching a goose at full speed or a pig with a greased tail. There were also such other amusing entertainments as grinning contests by half a dozen men or women for a roll of tobacco or a plum pudding, and whistling contests for a guinea, in which the participants were to whistle selected tunes as clearly as possible without laughing. The people enjoyed puppet shows, ropewalking, and fortune telling; and the ubiquitous medicine hawker sold his wares from a stage "and by his harangues, the odd tricks of his Merry Andrew, and the surprising feats of his little boy" always attracted a crowd. The fairs were also utilized in Virginia as an occasion for paying debts, trading horses, buying land, and obtaining bills of exchange.

Prominent among more aristocratic colonial diversions were the balls and assemblies given in private and public houses, where dancing was the order of the evening. Dancing, though not strictly forbidden in New England, was not encouraged, particularly if it were promiscuous or mixed. Yet so frequent were the occasions for dancing that many dancing schools were conducted in the larger towns. One of the most noted was that of Charles Pelham in Boston, where in 1754 lessons were given three afternoons a week. State balls, governor's assemblies, and private gatherings were marked by lavish display, formal etiquette, and prolonged dancing, drinking, and card playing. The quality, who arrived in coaches, wore their most resplendent costumes, went through the steps of the stately minuet, and also joined in the jigs, reels, marches, country dances, and hornpipes which were all in vogue at that time.

Music, which was a popular colonial accomplishment, was taught as an important subject in a number of schools, and many a daughter was kept at her scales until she cried from sheer exhaustion. In the South the colonists were familiar with such musical instruments as the spinnet, harpsichord, pianoforte, viol, violin, violoncello, guitar, German flute, French horn, and jew's-harp. Thomas Jefferson was "vastly pleased" with Jenny Taliaferro's playing on the spinnet and singing. Benjamin Carter, son of Councilman Carter of Nomini Hall, had a guitar, a harpsichord, a pianoforte, a harmonica, a violin, a German flute, and an organ. He also had a good ear for music and, as Fithian tells us, was indefatigable in practice. Captain Goelet went to a " consort " in Boston, where the performers, playing on four small violins, one bass violin, a German flute, and an " indifrent small organ," did "as well as could be expected." Josiah Quincy attended a meeting of the St. Cecilia Society in Charleston in a "large inelegant building," where the performers were all at one end of the hall, and the music, he thought, " was good, " the playing on the bass viols and French horns being " grand, " but that on the harpsichord "badly done," though the performance of a recently arrived French violinist was incomparable." "The capital defect of this concert," he said, "was want of an organ. "

Interest in the drama in these early days was much less general than the love of music, owing to the rare opportunities which the people had for seeing plays. While there may have been private performances given by amateurs in the seventeenth century, the earliest of which we have any record were those given before Governor Spotswood in Williamsburg, probably in the theater erected in 1716, that in the "playhouse" in New York before 1733, and that in the court room in Charleston in 1735. Taverns, court rooms, and warehouses were used for much of the early acting, and the first theaters in Williamsburg, New York, Charleston, Philadelphia, and Annapolis, were crude affairs, rough unadorned buildings very much like warehouses or tobacco barns in appearance. There were no professional companies until 1750, when Murray, Kean, Lewis Hallam, and David Douglas began the history of the theater in America and aroused a great deal of interest in plays and play-going from New York to Savannah. Nearly all the plays, both tragedies and comedies, of these days were of English origin. Some of these early dramas were The Recruiting Officer, The Orphan, The Spanish Friar or the Double Discovery, The Jealous Wife, Theodosius or the Mourning Bride, The Distressed Mother, Love in a Village, The Provoked Husband, The School for Lovers, and a few of Shakespeare's plays, such as The Tempest, King Lear, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet. Though earlier plays had been written in America but not acted, there was performed at Philadelphia in 1767 the first American tragedy, The Prince of Parthia, by Thomas Godfrey, son of the William Godfrey, with whom Franklin boarded for a time, and who shares with Hadley the honor of inventing the quadrant. Though there was no theater in New England until later, in 1732, the New England Weekly Journal of Boston, in defiance of Puritan prejudice, printed in its columns a play, The London Merchant. Though the Quaker opposition was not overcome until 1754 in Philadelphia, when Hallam went there with his company, the first permanent theater in America, the Southwark, was built in that city in 1766, and it was there a year later that Godfrey's tragedy was performed.

During the twenty years preceding the Revolution, theatergoing was a constant diversion among the better class in the Middle and Southern Colonies, and Mrs. Manigault of Charleston tells us in her diary that she went five times in one week. Colonel Jones wrote from Williamsburg in 1736: "You may tell Betty Pratt [his stepdaughter] there has been but two plays acted since she went, which is Cato by the young gentlemen of the college, as they call themselves, and the Busybody by the company on Wednesday night last and I believe there will be another to-night. They have been at a great loss for a fine lady, who I think is called Dorinda, but that difficulty is overcome by finding her, which was to be the greatest secret and as such 'tis said to be Miss Anderson that came to town with Mrs. Carter." William Allason, writing from Falmouth, Virginia, in 1771, said: "The best sett of players that ever performed in America are to open the theater in Fredericksburg on Tuesday next and continue for some weeks." Quincy saw Hallam in The Padlock and The Gamester in New York in 1773 and thought him indifferent in tragedy but better in comedy, while some of his company "acted superlatively."

Occasional amusements of a less formal or permanent nature existed in great variety. Itinerant performers passed up and down the colonies. Dugee, an artist on the slack wire, began his exhibitions in 1732 at Van Dernberg's Garden in New York. Mrs. Eleanor Harvey made quite a sensation as a fortune teller shortly before the Revolution. Exhibitions of dwarfs, electrical devices and displays, musical clocks, and Punch and Judy shows were common in most of the cities and larger towns. Waxworks were also very popular; and of these the most famous were those of Mrs. Wright, with the figures of Whitefield and John Dickinson, and groups illustrating the Return of the Prodigal Son. The beginnings of a menagerie and circus may be seen in the exhibition of a lion in the Jerseys, New York, and Connecticut in 1729, the horses that did tricks and the dogs that rode sitting up in the saddle, and the " shows " that occasionally came to New England towns. On important occasions fireworks, rockets, wheels, and candles were set off. Michel gives an entertaining account of a display at Williamsburg in 1702, at which a number of mishaps occurred. The show began with a "reversed rocket, which was to pass along a string to an arbor where prominent ladies were seated, but it got stuck half-way and exploded. Two stars [wheels] were to revolve through the fireworks, but they succeeded no better than with the rockets. In short, nothing was successful, the rockets also refused to fly up, but fell down archlike, so that it was not worth while seeing. Most of the people, however, had never seen such things and praised them highly. "


Showing four-poster bed with curtains and valance, and truckle to be pulled out from beneath the larger bed. In the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.


The calendar days of St. Andrew, St. Patrick, St. David, and St. George were celebrated in the South with drinking and speechmaking, and St. Tammany Day was observed in Philadelphia with music and feasting. Christmas week was a period of merrymaking not only in the South but also among the Anglicans in the North, where a Christmas service was always held in King's Chapel in Boston. In both sections of the country the occasion was marked by presents to members of the family and to friends and by " boxes " (a term familiar to the Southerners and still in use in England) to the servants and tradesmen. It was customary to observe Gunpowder Day, the 5th of November, in Northern cities, where it was called Pope Day and was celebrated by boys and young men, who carried about in procession effigies of the Pope, the devil, and any one else who was for the moment in popular disfavor. The day, however, was accompanied by so much rowdiness and disturbance of the peace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that its continuance was forbidden in 1768 by order of the Assembly. Thanksgiving Day, that time-honored New England institution which originated with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621, had become in the eighteenth century an annual November observance, proclaimed by the Governor. During this holiday no labor could be performed; the people gathered at church and feasted at their homes, surrounded by their kin from far and near, engaging occasionally in harmless enjoyment, but without hilarity or unseemly indulgence.

In the North especially, quoits, football, ball and bat (not baseball, which was a nineteenth-century introduction), stoolball (the forerunner of cricket, with the wicket originally a stool), cricket, and wicket were common sports. Bowling, billiards, and shuffleboard have already been mentioned. For younger people there were plenty of marbles and alleys, tag, tops, and other games so admirably described by Mrs. Earle in her Child Life in Colonial Days, to whose lists may be added pitching pennies, " Button, Button," and "Break the Pope's Neck. " Little children had their toys and dolls, often imported in large quantities from England, and dolls of colonial make in Indian costumes. One of these, clad in a dress with a flap or belly clout, stockings, moccasins, and shells for the neck, and with cap of wampum, an Indian basket, and a bow and arrows, William Byrd, 3d, sent as a present to England.

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