The early Puritan economy was primarily agricultural, although some manufacturing was done by the farmers, who produced most of the goods and tools they needed. In the second half of the 17th century a class of merchants gradually developed, supported by the steady growth of Massachusetts shipping. Good harbors and the long coastline, together with abundant timber and fish, fostered the shipbuilding industry.
During the wars with France, Massachusetts enjoyed a period of general prosperity. Great Britain, preoccupied with the French, was again unable to exercise its authority. Massachusetts merchants engaged in a highly profitable but illegal trade with the French West Indies and with other foreign ports. A triangular trade developed, in which Massachusetts merchants brought in sugar and molasses from the West Indies, converted it into rum, sent the rum to Africa in exchange for slaves, and sold the slaves to West Indian sugar plantations. In addition to the prosperity from sea commerce, the colony developed manufacturing industries, such as ironworks, brickyards, stone quarries, leather tanneries, and distilleries. Town life spread into central and western Massachusetts. Boston grew steadily and by the 1770s was one of America’s few large cities. "Massachusetts" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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