Bridge Up, Money Down (Henniker)

1780: How much rum does it take to build a bridge during a Revolution?

This all got me thinking…
What percentage of the town’s bridge-building budget went for rum?

  • First of all, these “dollars” would probably be Spanish dollars, since the US “dollar” was not created until 1792.
  • Let’s assume a ballpark figure of the standard 1 POUND STERLING = 4.5 (Spanish) dollars
  • Then that $740 rum budget = 164 POUNDS.
    (For simplicity, I’m assuming the town figured in pounds sterling.  If they did NOT, then our calculations would be off, perhaps by a factor of 57!)
  • That 164 POUNDS = 1.8% of the overall budget of 9,000 POUNDS.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search for more recent bridge repair discussions in Henniker town meetings.  If the town’s rum budget has remained at 1.8% of the overall bridge budget, we can assume that when the town discusses “initial cost for engineering services” to evaluate a bridge & make plans for a repair at a cost of $30,000-50,000 (!), then something like $540-900 would go towards purchasing rum for said engineers….  (It would be interesting to know how much rum the engineers use in this process nowadays, just for historical comparison!)

Published by Marek

Cartoonist, musician, teacher.

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