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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview > Lesson 1
Lesson 1
1704-1790 -- Growth and Struggle

Newcomers joined the settlers who remained or who returned after the Deerfield raid of 1704. Together they rebuilt and improved the community. By the 1710s, newly-settled towns to the north helped to provide a buffer from further raids on the scale of the 1704 attack, but there continued to be smaller raids on outlying areas as late as 1746.

During King George's War (1743-1745) and the Seven Years War (1756-1763), Deerfield became an important staging area for defensive operations to the north and west. The economic stimulation provided by the war effort and the fertility of Deerfield's soil enabled farmers on the Street to prosper through the sales of wheat, rye, and livestock. These farmers built new houses, added to or remodeled others, erected farm outbuildings, improved fields and orchards, and intensified their use of the land. This was also a period of substantial growth and expansion of the supporting professionals and craftsmen necessary in a settlement whose population, by the middle of the Seven Years War, had reached more than seven hundred residents. Deerfield was now the most well developed of the English settlements situated on the Connecticut River Valley's northern frontier.

The period between 1760 and 1790 was difficult for some families. The capture of New France in 1760 ended the threats of attack, but it also diminished the patronage and influence of wealthy Connecticut Valley families. In the next 15 years, as political conditions between colonists and the crown worsened, the town became divided between the Patriots and Tories. In spite of this tension, the period of 1755 to 1775 saw several families building new dwellings or remodeled old ones. Although Deerfield farmers sold agricultural products to the Continental Army during the Revolution War, economic and social conditions remained strained throughout the conflict and into the 1780s. From 1770 to 1790, most families did not undertake large building projects. War debts and economic reconstruction dominated politics and society in the post-war era. A few families failed financially. In the fall of 1786, some families in western and central Massachusetts towns joined Shays' rebellion, but Deerfield residents remained loyal to the Massachusetts government. By the late 1780s, conditions improved, the population continued to rise, and families again began to invest in new building projects.


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