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Otsego Herald

February 27, 2014

Making maple sugar

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Feb. 26, 1814

Compiled, with comments


An Indian Method

The sap begins to run — farmers, look out; it is all important that every effort should be made to obtain a national supply, the present year, from our own resources.

One of the principle [sic] obstacles heretofore has been, the loss of sap, trouble and inconvenience, from the awkward machines for catching it, or buckets which are too expensive — to remedy both, make your troughs of white birch bark, holding from 8 to 12 quarts; a squaw will make 150 a day; the ends are warmed a few seconds by the fire to prevent cracking, then folded so as to be entirely tight; the ends meet at top, and are tied by a string of slippery elm, run through and tied outside.

A man may easily carry about 15 or 20, being of different sizes. Another important matter is, to scrape the snow off the surface 6 or 8 feet round the tree, so as to expose the roots to greater cold, by which means from 7 to 10 days extra running is obtained.

COMMENT: With American ports firmly blockaded by British warships, maple sugar was needed to replace the white cane sugar normally imported from the West Indies. William Cooper of Cooperstown had, around 1800, sought to promote maple sugar for moral reasons (cane sugar was produced by African slaves), but didn’t get very far. Now there was an economic reason as well.


Hellish conspiracy is in motion. Why sleeps the genius of the Union, until devils are cast out from the land? A most treasonable pamphlet is secretly circulating in this city.... It is entitled “Northern Grievances.” It speaks in the most bitter & vindictive terms of the government—& expressly recommends a dismemberment of the empire.

This incendiary pamphlet concludes with the following sentence. “You have carried your oppression to the utmost stretch. We will no longer submit. Restore the Constitution to its purity—give us security for the future, indemnity for the past—abolish every tyrannical law—make an immediate and honorable peace—revive our commerce—increase our navy—protect our seamen—.

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