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[351] town required that each cask should be examined by a committee, and, if well made, then marked with a double M. Coopering now became an extensive and profitable branch of business. It was begun, before the Revolution, by the agency of Mr. Benjamin Hall. Charles Henley, of Boston, was his foreman, and superintended it till 1802. Andrew Blanchard, Joseph Pierce, and James Kidder were apprentices in Mr. Hall's establishment.

Mr. Benjamin Hall was among the first and the most active of the Medford merchants. He not only carried on the distilling business, but had a large store for wholesale barter. It was not uncommon for him to receive a hundred barrels of pearl-ashes per day, and five hundred tierces of flax-seed per year. He also carried on the “beef business,” having seven hundred head of cattle slaughtered each year. Mr. Ebenezer Hall had an equal number slaughtered; and they made all their tallow into candles. The drovers were glad to take their pay in sugar, molasses, iron, tea, rum, &c.

How different this from the course of trade in England, where a man was forbidden by law to carry on two mechanic trades or different pursuits! A tanner could not be a shoe-maker. These monopolies and legal restrictions had no place in New England; and their absence was a prime cause of our great prosperity. It made every free man a free trader. The British Parliament tried to put on the handcuffs of restriction; but the colonists would not wear them. Gallatin says, “No cause has contributed more to the prosperity of this country than the absence of those systems of internal restriction and monopoly which continue to disfigure other countries.”

Mr. Jonathan Porter opened a store of English goods previous to the Revolution, and gradually enlarged his business till he sold all the heavier articles of inland commerce. There are those now living who remember when from twenty to thirty “country pungs” were gathered about the doors of these Medford traders, discharging and taking in their loads. These pungs were drawn by two horses each, and started as far north as Montpelier, Vt., and Lancaster, N. H. With three large distilleries in full action, and many sloops and schooners navigating the river, Medford became one of the most active and thriving towns in the Commonwealth. Distillation was then esteemed by most persons not only lawful and right, but a highly respectable business. With rapid

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