Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/360

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houses should be built in every county at the county charge, and that provision should be made for the employment of tanners and curriers. The rates of hides and shoes were fixed, and stringent efforts were made to prevent the exportation of hides. Maryland adopted similar measures; but Beverly, writing a few years later, says of these enterprises that "a few hides were with much ado tanned and made into servants' shoes, but at so careless a rate that planters don't care to try them if they can get others."

Fortunately, the industry fared better in its first planting in New England, and Higginson probably struck the secret of this good fortune when, in 1630, he called attention to the extraordinary increase of cattle in Massachusetts, and the "store of sumacke trees, good for dyeing and tanning leather." Cattle continued to multiply rapidly from 1630 to 1650, but the prices placed upon them were so high that few were slaughtered. But in the latter year the cessation of immigration from Europe caused a depression in the cattle market, and they began to be killed freely, thus supplying the tanners with the necessary hides. The Massachusetts General Court, in 1640, recognized the importance of the industry, and passed a law punishing those who slaughtered cattle and neglected to save the hides and have them tanned. But Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island thought that they must take a stronger hand in the pushing of this industry those were in truth the days of infant industries, and of detailed trade regulations and so special laws were passed for that purpose. Protection, in the current political sense of the word, was not known then, but the same ends were attained through the guild privileges. The general law of Massachusetts, passed in 1642, is typical of these regulations. This declared that no leather overlimed or insufficiently tanned, or not thoroughly dried after tanning, should be exposed for sale. Tanners putting leather into hot or warm "moors," where the leather should heat and burn, were to forfeit twenty pounds for each offense. Curriers were not to dress any leather imperfectly tanned or dried, nor use "any deceitful or subtle mixture, thing, way or means to corrupt or hurt the leather, nor curry any sole leather with anything but with good, hard tallow, nor with less than the leather would receive; nor dress or curry any upper leather but with good and sufficient stuff, not salt, and should thoroughly liquor it until it would receive no more; they were not to burn or scald any leather in the currying, on forfeiture for every one marred by unworkmanlike handling, to be judged by the oath of sufficient witnesses."

This law, probably, was of little value to the industry, as some years later it was repealed, and all efforts to enact similar measures proved fruitless. It throws an interesting light, however, upon some of the methods and practices then in vogue, as it was