Massachusetts Economy

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The Massachusetts economy developed around agriculture and maritime trade. In addition, shipbuilding and its associated trades served as a mainstay of its economy. Much of the land was split into family farms that produced crops such as corn and wheat. Agricultural surpluses were shipped primarily to the West Indian colonies of Barbados and St. Kitts. In exchange, Massachusetts imported sugar, tobacco, salt, indigo, cloth, and household goods. Large amounts of the sugar imported to the colony were converted into rum; by 1750, Massachusetts boasted more than sixty distilleries and exported over 2 million gallons of rum. As families grew and towns expanded, it became harder to obtain land. By the eighteenth century, there was little room for Massachusetts to grow, given its French and Native American neighbors. This lack of opportunity for growth frustrated later generations and further fed the rebellion against England.

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