Was Lottery Money Really Used to Establish the United States of America?

Lottery Money and United States of America

The history of America is filled with so many inspirational and intriguing moments. There is one curious fact; however, that fairly few people seem to be familiar with.

Did you know that American history and the lotto history are closely linked to each other? The sale of lottery tickets helped establish the 13 colonies that turned into the United States of America. Here are all of the fantastic details.

The Lottery and the Establishment of the USA

Early American settlers had a history of playing the lottery. That lottery was tied to their European origin. In the 17th century, many European monarchies were counting on lotteries instead of taxation to generate more funds for the national budget.

The model was taken up when colonies got established in the New World.

The early American settlers took that heritage to the new continent, and they used lotteries to generate funds for the 13 colonies established there. Raffles and lottery-style games were a part of settlement life and culture since the colonies’ very establishment.

The lotteries organized in the colonies were used to finance many things. Some of the money generated through ticket sales went to constructing public buildings, roads, canals, and all other kinds of necessary infrastructure.

Lotteries weren’t being offered by official entities solely.

Imagine one of the settlers having a rather big plot of land. If they decided to sell the property, they would have issues discovering a single buyer (due to the costs). As a result, the owner had a chance to use an alternative. They could offer parts of the plot during a lottery, and winners would receive the land. The owner would be given the proceeds generated through the sale of tickets.

Since lotteries were gaining so much popularity and were being utilized for all kinds of transactions, the colonial governments soon realized the huge potential hidden behind such schemes. By the mid-1700s, lotteries were used to collect official money collection instead of additional taxation on colony citizens.

Lotteries Becoming Institutionalized

The small-scale lotteries set up in the first colonies quickly picked up the pace to start funding much more important and larger projects.

According to historical information, lottery money was used to establish some of the most prestigious American universities. Harvard was set up in 1636, Yale followed suit in 1701, and Princeton’s history commenced in 1746.

In 1776, the First Continental Congress started one of the biggest lotteries of its time. The brand new game of luck aimed to generate funding required for the ongoing Revolutionary War. The American Revolutionary War started in April 1775 and continued until September 1783. Also known as the War of Independence, the Revolutionary War culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence – the document established the 13 British colonies as a separate country that we know today as the United States of America.

While the initiative was rather ingenious, it didn’t deliver the anticipated outcome.

One reason for the lottery’s failure was its use of the brand new continental currency. In an attempt to differentiate themselves from Great Britain, the 13 colonies launched their currency. The problem with this brand new kind of money was volatility. The continental currency value fluctuated wildly, which is why the lottery proved to be a massive failure.

The colonies ended up winning the war, but the efforts to generate funds didn’t have much of the desired effect.

The Brand New Country and Its Ongoing Lottery Affair

USA lottery continued being tremendously popular even after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Historical documents suggest that in the 1790s, the average resident of New York or Philadelphia would spend tremendous amounts of money on the lottery. That sum would equate to 1,400 dollars per year today.

The US was inhabited by many people looking for a new opportunity, a change of circumstances. This is the main reason why the lottery continued to be such a popular choice. It had quickly become a favorite pastime that gave the promise of easy fortune.

There was a lot on the line for these people. Some of them had no other opportunity to ensure a decent life for themselves and their family. Some even used the lottery to further their cause and attempt to promote social change.

One of the most prominent early cases of such a lottery win is the story of Telemaque.

In 1799, the enslaved Telemaque (also known as Denmark Vesey) from South Carolina won 1,500 dollars from the lottery. He used 600 dollars from that new fortune to buy his freedom. Using his status as a free man, Vesey went ahead to plan a slave uprising that occurred 20 years after his big win. The revolt wasn’t successful, but its scale was large enough to trouble South Carolina officials. As a result of the Vesey uprising, South Carolina undertook legislative changes to prevent future slave freedom revolts.

The Vesey story also raised a huge red flag about how lottery money could be used to threaten the very essence of the brand new American society. This notable story and several other occurrences contributed to lotteries becoming utterly illegal by the 1850s.

The US Lottery History: Tumultuous but Inspiring

Suppose you’re a fan of some of the biggest US lotteries today, and you’re wondering about the Powerball history or Mega Millions history. In that case, you should know that it all started with the colonial raffles and games of luck.

And while there was a considerable time during which lotteries in the US were organized as underground initiatives, they never went completely extinct.

By the 1960s, lotteries had been making a re-emergence in mainstream society. They were once again seen as an opportunity to generate state funds without having to increase taxation. Such a scheme was seen as quite favorable in tax-averse states like New Hampshire.

Once lotteries got reintroduced, they saw a slow start. Sales weren’t as high as initially anticipated, but they were gradually going up.

If you’re wondering about the oldest lottery that’s still being played today, you’ll probably be surprised to find out that it’s not one of the huge games available across the country. The New York Lotto launched in 1967 is still available today, and its popularity is still tremendously high.

Initially, the New York Lotto was held as a raffle (much like all other games of luck). Also, months had to pass for enough funds to collect and a drawing to take place. Today, the lotto is available every week, and there are two drawings taking place – each Wednesday and Saturday.

Today, lotteries in the US are run by official entities in 48 jurisdictions – 45 states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Mega Millions and Powerball are being offered almost universally across all of these jurisdictions. Lotteries are so popular that Americans spend nearly 77.7 billion dollars on ticket sales every calendar year.

So, there you have it. Lotteries have been around in America since those early settlers set their foot on the continent. They were fuel for social change; they contributed to the US gaining its independence, and eventually, lotteries became so powerful that governments viewed them as a threat. Rather tumultuous, the history of US lotteries is also very inspiring. It shows how the desire to change one’s life can have much more profound consequences and affect almost all society members.

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