I wasn’t working today, but took the day off to chaperone Teela’s class trip to Historic Saint Mary’s City. It’s a fairly cool place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
St. Mary’s had two main crops: Tobacco for cash, and corn to eat. Tobacco was both the main crop and the main currency. Getting it grown was mostly the work of indentured servants, and being indentured was both a tough way to make a living and an effective way to get an education. A boy who spent anywhere from four to ten years indenture learned all about growing tobacco, and at the end of his indenture got cash, tools, and a land grant. If you paid any attention to what you were doing (and survived illness, injury, cold and possibly famine) you could grow tobacco and at least your children would be wealthy.
Without local sources of metal, and a very limited middle class, most manufactured goods (and all metals) were imported. The stuff came over by ship, but very, very small ships. They had a replica of a fast trader, and it was a tiny place to spend a couple of months crossing the Atlantic, especially in winter. This was pre-industrial-revolution, of course, so doing simple things, like raising a 350 pound anchor, was hard work.
I don’t think we do hard work anymore. We do difficult things that require a lot of thought, but not a lot of real work, in the personal or physical sense. I don’t quite believe what I do, sitting in front of a keyboard, qualifies as “hard work.”