The first lotteries held in colonial America were economically significant in that they helped finance national and private ventures. Between 1744 and 1774, 200 lotteries are recorded to have taken place. These lotteries facilitated the construction of churches, canals, bridges, libraries...etc. Princeton and Columbia Universities were founded on the finances generated by lotteries in the 1740’s just as the Academy Lottery financed the construction of the University of Pennsylvania in 1755. Many colonies during the Indian and French Wars appealed to lotteries to raise finances for fortifications and local militias. A prime example is the State of Massachusetts’s use of lottery money to finance the “Expedition against Canada”.
For the defense of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin himself organised a lottery to finance the purchase of a cannon. George Washington managed Colonel Bernard Moore’s “Slave Lottery” in 1769 in which land and slaves were advertised in the Virginia Gazette as prizes.