Tag Archives: British

An American First: Mr. Hare’s Porter

In the early 1770s as tensions ramped up between Colonial America & England the colonists throughout the New World increasingly turned away from buying British goods, whenever possible.

Robert Hare started brewing America’s first homemade Porter around 1773, and its success catapulted him to riches.

So popular was “Mr. Hare’s Porter” that George Washington would later have it shipped to him at the front lines of the Revolutionary War.

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Rumcoin

Rum was so intricately tied into Colonial New England culture that it served as currency alongside British sterling. In 1777 prosperous farmer John Langdorn donated 9,450 gallons (35,772 L) of Rum that funded a New Hampshire militia.

This militia he raised through bartering Rum went on to foil a British incursion from Canada that would have fatally divided the colonies.

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Britain’s War on America’s Rum

While the Revolutionary War officially began July 4, 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it commenced in effect early in 1775. Indeed, the first blood spilled in its gradual escalation fell from the chest of Rum distiller Joseph Whicher in February, 1775.

By the eve of the revolution, American-made Rum had become so interwoven with colonial culture that the people regularly used it as a form of currency. This is why British naval blockades—which prevented the import of supplies with which to make Rum—had devistating economic effects upon coastal cities.

One such blockade of Boston cost the city’s Rum distillers the equivalent of $200,000 per week in today’s money.

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5 Colonies for Rum

By and large America’s original 13 colonies wanted very little to do with one & other. This is why it is worthy of note that in 1766 some of them banded together against British meddling for the first time in history.

Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania sent a delagation to England that was able to convince the crown to overturn the economically oppressive Molasses Act—replaced by the Sugar Act.

This new legislation lowered the price of sugar so much that it was no longer profitable for the American Colonists to smuggle it in—which made Rum a whole lot cheaper to create!

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How Salem Beat Out Lexington & Concord

On February 26, 1775 tensions mounted between a detachment of British soldiers and American militia in Salem, Massachusetts. In arguing over the crossing of a bridge the two forces met literally face to face. For his insolence American Joseph Whicher received a nick from a British sword.

Tensions descalated at this point, and no further violence ensued. With the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord still two months away, Joseph Whicher—a foreman at a Salem rum distillery—shed the first blood of the Revolutionary War.

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Would You Buy French or British Sugar?

Rum is made from molasses.

In the early 1700s Americans found it much cheaper to buy their molasses from French colonies in the Carribean, rather than British ones. When these British molasses producers went crying home to mama, the English crown responded by placing steep tarrifs on America’s import of all French sugar products.

The seed of defiance had already taken root in the American colonies, and our predacessors took to smuggling, rather than paying duties on French sugar or buying British. So prolific was America’s sugar smuggling that England collected all of £2 on French sugar for the entire year of 1735. This roughly equates to $168 (£128) today.

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British Navy Stopped Serving Rum to Sailors 49 Years Ago

There are many instances throughout history of people turning to booze in favor of tainted water supplies, and sailors on the high seas were no different.

For 325 years the British Navy not only paid its sailors in cash, but a twice-daily allotment of rum, as well. In fact, they had a ritual of proving the rum had not been watered down by burning some in front the crew each day.

The British Navy ended the practice of dolling out rum rations on July 31, 1970. Yes, merely 49 years ago.

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