The first colonial iron-works of any importance was established at Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1642. Eleven "English gentlemen," mostly military officers, supplied the capital, which was only five thousand dollars; and a son of Governor Winthrop furnished the political "pull." The latter was the company's chief asset. Every special privilege young Winthrop could suggest seems to have been promptly granted, the most important being:
- A monopoly of iron-making in Lynn for twenty-one years.
- Exemption from taxation for twenty years and from all military service.
- A free gift of three square miles of land for every furnace built, and of all necessary ponds and waterways.
- Permission to sell to Indians and to enemies of the British government. [RodneyOhebsion, search for "first colo"]
Unlike today's tax payers, the citizens of Lynn preferred fairness for all over jobs for a few.
The granting of so many special privileges angered the Lynn Puritans, and they began a series of persecutions that finally harried the iron men out of business. They declared that the company was in league with the pirates, and raged because it destroyed the forests. Several farmers brought suit on the ground that its dam had flooded their fields; and a mob went by night and cut away the flood-gates. The wife of John Gifford, the unpopular agent of the company, was next charged with being a witch, and narrowly escaped the penalty. [RodneyOhebsion]