Lotteries are a popular way to raise money. They have been used by governments and private organizations around the world for many years. The first known European lotteries date back to the Roman Empire. In these early times, the prize was often property or slaves.
Early lotteries in the United States were held to fund colleges, roads, and other public projects. One of the first lotteries to be held in the United States was organized by Benjamin Franklin and raised money for cannons for the defense of Philadelphia.
Many colonists in America used lotteries during the French and Indian Wars. The Continental Congress used lotteries to raise funds for the Colonial Army, and some of the smaller lotteries funded the building of several American colleges.
Private lotteries were also common. Some lotteries were organized by wealthy noblemen during Saturnalian revels. Another common use of private lotteries was to sell properties.
Lotteries were also organized as a means of financing bridges and roads. Several Low Countries towns held public lotteries to raise money for fortifications and the poor.
While a variety of lotteries existed in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, the largest ones were created in England. These lotteries were known as the English State Lottery, and ran from 1694 to 1826.
A record dated 9 May 1445 at L’Ecluse mentions raising funds for fortifications. During the Roman Empire, lotteries were primarily amusement at dinner parties. However, the Roman emperors gave away property and slaves in lotteries.