Farmers, Fishermen, and Distillers: Essex County’s Place in the History of Rum

Jordan Smith

Derby Wharf, by Phillip Little

More than 200 years before the Samuel Adams brewery put Massachusetts at the forefront of America’s beer revolution, the colony was one of the leading producers of another alcohol: rum. Historian John McCusker estimates that in 1770 there were 51 rum distilleries operating in Massachusetts, collectively distilling over two million gallons of the spirit per year. Indeed, when Samuel Adams and his cronies began to plan their resistance to the Tea Act in 1773, they purportedly shared a bowl of rum punch—not beer. Read more

The Fernald and Petigrew Shipyard Papers

Exploring a Piece of Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Shipbuilding Industry’s History

Fernald and Petigrew business card

Fernald and Petigrew business card, MH 3, box 12, folder 5

By the mid-nineteenth century, shifting needs within the shipping industry—the need to get to port faster not only to deliver fresher cargo, but also to be able to set higher prices (the first one to port received the highest prices for their cargo)—meant that there was a growing demand for larger and faster ships. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the shipbuilding industry thrived during this time, with a number of firms specializing in the new faster, larger vessels.[1] Read more