HUSKING-BEES AND TAVERN SPORTS
AS THE ECONOMIC SECURITY OF THE LITTLE COMMUNITIES THAT stretched along the eastern fringe of America from Maine to South Carolina gradually increased, colonial life took on many new aspects. The opening of the eighteenth century marked a far departure from the first days of settlement. The South had almost completely broken away from earlier restraints; New England's outlook was beginning to broaden. The colonists generally sought out and developed opportunities for recreation they had not before had time to enjoy. Among the common people, the great mass of yeomanry who made up nine-tenths of the population, the English love of games and sports was reasserting itself. An eager welcome was accorded all possible amusements.
It is not always easy to discover just what form this recreation took. The short and simple annals of the poor are no more revealing on this phase of their life than of other aspects. But there is sufficient evidence to show that they found many ways to enjoy themselves. And the common experience of colonial farmers in hunting and in shooting contests, in simple country sports, in the communal activities of training days and barnraisings, played its part in the welding of a nation. These phases of colonial recreation more truly reflect the life of eighteenthcentury America than the social activities of Boston's wealthy merchants, the dancing assemblies of New York, or the foxhunts of Virginia.
Rural life in New England was still hard and laborious. It was back-breaking to induce crops to grow in that stony soil. Nevertheless there were compensations which other farming com