New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. During the American Revolution, it was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule. One of the smallest U.S. states in area and population, it was part of New England's textile economy between the American Civil War and World War II. Since the 20th century, the state has been known for its presidential primary, outdoor recreation, its educational boarding schools, and being part of the biotech industry.

Founding: 17th century–1775

Main articles: Province of New Hampshire and Dominion of New England

New Hampshire was named after the English county of Hampshire.
Fort William and Mary, 1705

Precolonial to colonial period

Various Algonquian-speaking Abenaki tribes, largely divided between the Androscoggin, Ko'asek and Pennacook nations, lived in the area as long as 12,000 years before European settlement.[1][2] Despite the similar language, they had a very different culture and religion from other Algonquian peoples. English and French explorers visited New Hampshire in 1600–1605, and David Thompson settled at Odiorne's Point in present-day Rye in 1623.

Colonial period

The first permanent settlement was at Hilton's Point (present-day Dover). By 1631, the Upper Plantation comprised modern-day Dover, Durham and Stratham; in 1679, it became the "Royal Province". Dummer's War was fought between the colonists and the Wabanaki Confederacy throughout New Hampshire.

The colony that became the state of New Hampshire was founded on the division in 1629 of a land grant given in 1622 by the Council for New England to Captain John Mason (former governor of Newfoundland) and Sir Ferdinando Gorges (who founded Maine). The colony was named New Hampshire by Mason after the English county of Hampshire, one of the first Saxon shires. Hampshire was itself named after the port of Southampton, which was known previously as simply "Hampton".

New Hampshire was first settled by Europeans at Odiorne's Point in Rye (near Portsmouth) by a group of fishermen from England, under David Thompson[3] in 1623, three years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Early historians believed the first native-born New Hampshirite, John Thompson, was born there.

Fisherman David Thompson had been sent by Mason, to be followed a few years later by Edward and William Hilton. They led an expedition to the vicinity of Dover, which they called Northam. Mason died in 1635 without ever seeing the colony he founded. Settlers from Pannaway, moving to the Portsmouth region later and combining with an expedition of the new Laconia Company (formed 1629) under Captain Neal, called their new settlement Strawbery Banke. In 1638 Exeter was founded by John Wheelwright.

In 1631, Captain Thomas Wiggin served as the first governor of the Upper Plantation (comprising modern-day Dover, Durham and Stratham). All the towns agreed to unite in 1639, but meanwhile, Massachusetts had claimed the territory. In 1641, an agreement was reached with Massachusetts to come under its jurisdiction. Home rule of the towns was allowed. In 1653, Strawbery Banke petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts to change its name to Portsmouth, which was granted.

Map showing several claims and disputed borders, 1691–1775

The relationship between Massachusetts and the independent New Hampshirites was controversial and tenuous and complicated by land claims maintained by the heirs of John Mason. In 1679 King Charles II separated New Hampshire from Massachusetts, issuing a charter for the royal Province of New Hampshire, with John Cutt as governor. New Hampshire was absorbed into the Dominion of New England in 1686, which collapsed in 1689. After a brief period without formal government (the settlements were de facto ruled by Massachusetts) William III and Mary II issued a new provincial charter in 1691. From 1699 to 1741 the governors of Massachusetts were also commissioned as governors of New Hampshire.

The province's geography placed it on the frontier between British and French colonies in North America, and it was for many years subjected to native claims, especially in the central and northern portions of its territory. Because of these factors, it was on the front lines of many military conflicts, including King William's War, Queen Anne's War, Father Rale's War, and King George's War. By the 1740s most of the native population had either been killed or driven out of the province's territory.

Because New Hampshire's governorship was shared with that of Massachusetts, border issues between the two colonies were not properly adjudicated for many years. These issues principally revolved around territory west of the Merrimack River, which issuers of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire charters had incorrectly believed to flow primarily from west to east. In the 1730s New Hampshire political interest led by Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth were able to raise the profile of these issues to colonial officials and the crown in London, even while Governor and Massachusetts native Jonathan Belcher preferentially granted land to Massachusetts interests in the disputed area. In 1741 King George II ruled that the border with Massachusetts was approximately what it is today, and also separated the governorships of the two provinces. Benning Wentworth in 1741 became the first non-Massachusetts governor since Edward Cranfield succeeded John Cutt in the 1680s.

Wentworth promptly complicated New Hampshire's territorial claims by interpreting the provincial charter to include territory west of the Connecticut River and began issuing land grants in this territory, which was also claimed by the Province of New York. The so-called New Hampshire Grants area became a subject of contention from the 1740s until the 1790s when it was admitted to the United States as the state of Vermont.

Slavery in New Hampshire

As in the other Thirteen Colonies and elsewhere in the colonial Americas, racially conditioned slavery was a firmly established institution in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Assembly in 1714 passed "An Act To Prevent Disorders In The Night":[4][5]

Whereas great disorders, insolencies and burglaries, are ofttimes raised and committed in the night time, by Indian, Negro, and Molatto servants and slaves, to the Disquiet and hurt of her Majesty's good subjects: No Indian, Negro, or Molatto servant or slave, may presume to absent from the families where they respectively belong, or be found abroad in the night time after nine o'clock; unless it is upon errand for their respective masters or owners.

Notices emphasizing and re-affirming the curfew were published in The New Hampshire Gazette in 1764 and 1771.[4]

"Furthermore, as one of the few colonies that did not impose a tariff on slaves, New Hampshire became a base for slaves to be imported into America and then smuggled into other colonies. Every census up to the Revolution showed an increase in the black population, though they remained proportionally fewer than in most other New England colonies."[6]

Following the Revolution, a powerfully-written petition of 1779 sent by 20 slaves in Portsmouth—members of what historian Ira Berlin identified as the revolutionary generations [de] of enslaved people in his pivotal work Many Thousands Gone[7]—unsuccessfully requested freedom for the enslaved. The New Hampshire legislature would not officially eliminate slavery in the state until 1857, long after the death of many of the signatories. The 1840 United States Census was the last to enumerate any slaves in the households of the state.[4]

While the number of slaves resident in New Hampshire itself dwindled during the 19th century, the state's economy remained closely interlinked with, and dependent upon, the economies of the slave states. Slave-produced raw materials, such as cotton for textiles, and slave-manufactured goods were imported. The ship Nightingale of Boston, built in Eliot, Maine in 1851 and outfitted in Portsmouth, would serve as a slave ship before its capture by the African Slave Trade Patrol in 1861, indicating the region's further economic connection to the ongoing Atlantic slave trade.[4][8]

Revolution: 1774–1815

Main articles: American Revolutionary War, Lee Resolution, United States Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation § Ratification, Treaty of Paris (1783), Constitutional Convention (United States), Admission to the Union, and List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union

Broadside statement of Congress of the Colony of New Hampshire, referencing "sudden & abrupt departure" of Royal Governor John Wentworth, January 1776

The only battle fought in New Hampshire was the raid on Fort William and Mary, December 14, 1774, in Portsmouth Harbor, which netted the rebellion sizable quantities of gunpowder, small arms, and cannon over the course of two nights. (General Sullivan, leader of the raid, described it as "remainder of the powder, the small arms, bayonets, and cartouche-boxes, together with the cannon and ordnance stores".) This raid was preceded by a warning to local patriots the previous day, by Paul Revere on December 13, 1774, that the fort was to be reinforced by troops sailing from Boston. According to unverified accounts, the gunpowder was later used at the Battle of Bunker Hill, transported there by Major Demerit, who was one of several New Hampshire patriots who stored the powder in their homes until it was transported elsewhere for use in revolutionary activities. During the raid, the British soldiers fired upon the rebels with cannon and muskets. Although there were apparently no casualties, these were among the first shots in the American Revolutionary period, occurring approximately five months before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. On January 5, 1776, New Hampshire became the first colony to declare independence from Great Britain, almost six months before the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Continental Congress.[9]

New Hampshire was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule during the American Revolution. The Massachusetts Provincial Congress called upon the other New England colonies for assistance in raising an army. In response, on May 22, 1775, the New Hampshire Provincial Congress voted to raise a volunteer force to join the patriot army at Boston. In January 1776, it became the first colony to set up an independent government and the first to establish a constitution,[10] but the latter explicitly stated "we never sought to throw off our dependence on Great Britain", meaning that it was not the first to actually declare its independence (that distinction instead belongs to Rhode Island).[11] The historic attack on Fort William and Mary (now Fort Constitution) helped supply the cannon and ammunition for the Continental Army that was needed for the Battle of Bunker Hill that took place north of Boston a few months later. New Hampshire raised three regiments for the Continental Army, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd New Hampshire regiments. New Hampshire Militia units were called up to fight at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Battle of Bennington, Saratoga Campaign and the Battle of Rhode Island. John Paul Jones' ship the sloop-of-war USS Ranger and the frigate USS Raleigh were built in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, along with other naval ships for the Continental Navy and privateers to hunt down British merchant shipping.

Concord was named the state capital in 1808.[12]

Order by John Taylor Gilman, State Treasurer and later Governor, 1784

Industrialization, abolitionism and nativism politics: 1815–1860

Map of the Republic of Indian Stream

In 1832, New Hampshire saw a curious development: the founding of the Republic of Indian Stream on its northern border with Canada over the unresolved post-revolutionary war border issue. In 1835 the so-called "republic" was annexed by New Hampshire, with the dispute finally resolved in 1842 by the Webster–Ashburton Treaty.[13]

Abolitionists from Dartmouth College founded the experimental, interracial Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire, in 1835, at a point in history when slaves still appeared in the households of New Hampshire in the census. Rural opponents of the school eventually dragged the school away with oxen before lighting it ablaze to protest integrated education, within months of the school's founding.

Abolitionist sentiment was a strong undercurrent in the state, with significant support given the Free Soil Party of John P. Hale. However the conservative Jacksonian Democrats usually maintained control, under the leadership of editor Isaac Hill.[14]

Nativism aimed at the rapid influx of Irish Catholics characterized the short-lived secret Know Nothing movement, and its instrument the "American Party." Appearing out of nowhere, they scored a landslide in 1855. They won 51% of the vote against a divided opposition. They won over 94% of the men who voted Free Soil the year before. They won 79% of the Whigs, plus 15% of Democrats and 24% of those who abstained in the 1854 election for governor.[15] In full control of the legislature, the Know Nothings enacted their entire agenda. According to Lex Renda, they battled traditionalism and promoted rapid modernization. They extended the waiting period for citizenship to slow down the growth of Irish power; they reformed the state courts. They expanded the number and power of banks; they strengthened corporations; they defeated a proposed 10-hour law that would help workers. They reformed the tax system; increased state spending on public schools; set up a system to build high schools; prohibited the sale of liquor; and they denounced the expansion of slavery in the western territories.[16]

The Whigs and Free Soil parties both collapsed in New Hampshire in 1854–55. In the 1855 fall elections the Know Nothings again swept the state against the Democrats and the small new Republican party. When the Know Nothing ("American" Party) collapsed in 1856 and merged with the Republicans, New Hampshire now had a two party system with the Republican Party headed by Amos Tuck edging out the Democrats.[17]

Civil War: 1861–1865

Main article: New Hampshire in the American Civil War

Further information: Union (American Civil War)

After Abraham Lincoln gave speeches in March 1860, he was well regarded. However, the radical wing of the Republican Party increasingly took control.[citation needed] As early as January 1861, top officials were secretly meeting with Governor John A. Andrew of Massachusetts to coordinate plans in case the war came. Plans were made to rush militia units to Washington in an emergency.[18]

New Hampshire fielded 31,650 soldiers and 836 officers during the American Civil War; of these, about 20% died of disease, accident or combat wounds.[19] The state provided eighteen volunteer infantry regiments (thirteen of which were raised in 1861 in response to Lincoln's call to arms), three rifle regiments (who served in the 1st United States Sharpshooters and 2nd United States Sharpshooters), one cavalry battalion (the 1st New Hampshire Volunteer Cavalry, which was attached to the 1st New England Volunteer Cavalry), and two artillery units (the 1st New Hampshire Light Battery and 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery), as well as additional troops for the Navy and Marine Corps.[19]

Among the most celebrated of New Hampshire's units was the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Colonel Edward Ephraim Cross.[20] Called the "Fighting Fifth" in newspaper accounts, the regiment was considered among the Union's best both during the war (Major General Winfield Scott called the regiment "refined gold" in 1863) and by historians afterward.[20] The Civil War veteran and early Civil War historian William F. Fox determined that this regiment had the highest number of battle-related deaths of any Union regiment.[20] The 20th-century historian Bruce Catton said that the Fifth New Hampshire was "one of the best combat units in the army" and that Cross was "an uncommonly talented regimental commander."[20]

The critical post of state Adjutant General was held in 1861–1864 by elderly politician Anthony C. Colby (1792–1873) and his son Daniel E. Colby (1816–1891). They were patriotic, but were overwhelmed with the complexity of their duties. The state had no track of soldiers who enlisted after 1861; no personnel records or information on volunteers, substitutes, or draftees. There was no inventory of weaponry and supplies. Nathaniel Head (1828–1883) took over in 1864, obtained an adequate budget and office staff, and reconstructed the missing paperwork. As a result, widows, orphans, and veterans who served, received the postwar payments they had earned.[21]

Main article: List of New Hampshire Civil War units

Prosperity, depression and war: 1865–1950

1922 map of New Hampshire published in the bulletin of the Brown Company in Berlin

Between 1884 and 1903, New Hampshire attracted many immigrants. French Canadian migration to the state was significant, and at the turn of the century, French Canadians represented 16 percent of the state's population, and one-fourth the population of Manchester.[22] Polish immigration to the state was also significant; there were about 850 Polish Americans in Manchester in 1902.[22] Joseph Laurent, a 19th/early 20th century Abenaki chief, immigrated from Quebec, wrote an Abenaki English language dictionary,[23] set up an Indian trading post and served as its postmaster. Today the Intervale site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[24]

The textile industry was hit hard by the depression and growing competition from southern mills. The closing of the Amoskeag Mills in 1935 was a major blow to Manchester, as was the closing of the former Nashua Manufacturing Company mill in Nashua in 1949 and the bankruptcy of the Brown Company paper mill in Berlin in the 1940s, which led to new ownership.

Modern New Hampshire: 1950–present

The post-World War II decades have seen New Hampshire increase its economic and cultural links with the greater Boston, Massachusetts, region. This reflects a national trend, in which improved highway networks have helped metropolitan areas expand into formerly rural areas or small nearby cities.

The replacement of the Nashua textile mill with defense electronics contractor Sanders Associates in 1952 and the arrival of minicomputer giant Digital Equipment Corporation in the early 1970s helped lead the way toward southern New Hampshire's role as a high-tech adjunct of the Route 128 corridor.

The postwar years also saw the rise of New Hampshire's political primary for President of the United States, which as the first primary in the quadrennial campaign season draws enormous attention.

See also


  1. ^ "12,000 Years Ago in the Granite State". New Hampshire Humanities. Retrieved 2023-10-04.
  2. ^ Harris, Michael (2021). "N'dakinna: Our Homeland...Still – Additional Examples of Abenaki Presence in New Hampshire". Spectrum. 10 (1): 1. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  3. ^ "The Contact Era". Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2013-12-12. The largely unsung founder of New Hampshire is David Thompson (spelt "Thomson" by some accounts). Thompson's father worked for Sir Ferdinando Gorges of Plymouth, a most powerful English noble who had received the rights from King James I to set up the first two American "plantations" at Jamestown and Plymouth.
  4. ^ a b c d Sammons, Mark J.; Cunningham, Valerie (2004). Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African-American Heritage. Durham, New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire Press. ISBN 9781584652892. LCCN 2004007172. OCLC 845682328. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  5. ^ Acts and laws of His Majesty's province of New-Hampshire, in New England: With sundry acts of Parliament. Laws, etc. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Daniel Fowle. 1759. p. 40.
  6. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Slavery in New Hampshire". Slavery in the North. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  7. ^ Berlin, Ira (1998). "Slave and Free: The Revolutionary Generations". Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 217. hdl:2027/heb.00069. ISBN 9780674810921. LCCN 98019336. OCLC 55720074.
  8. ^ Edward H. Vetter. "The Clipper Ship "Nightingale"". Town of Eliot, Maine. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09.
  9. ^ "Constitution of New Hampshire - 1776". December 18, 1998.
  10. ^ "NH Firsts and Bests". State of New Hampshire official website. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  11. ^ Mara Vorhees; Glenda Bendure; Ned Friary; Richard Koss; John Spelman (1 May 2008). New England. Lonely Planet. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-74104-674-8. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  12. ^ Lyford, James; Amos Hadley; Howard F. Hill; Benjamin A. Kimball; Lyman D. Stevens; John M. Mitchell (1903). History of Concord, N.H. (PDF). Concord, N.H.: The Rumford Press. pp. 324–326. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-15.
  13. ^ Daniel Doan, Indian Stream Republic: Settling a New England Frontier, 1785-1842 (UPNE, 1997).
  14. ^ Donald B. Cole, Jacksonian Democracy in New Hampshire: 1800-1851 (Harvard UP, 1970) p. 246.
  15. ^ Lex Renda, Running on the Record: Civil War-Era Politics in New Hampshire (University Press of Virginia, 1997) pp 54. 211 table 15.
  16. ^ Renda, pp 33-57.
  17. ^ Renda, pp. 55, 58, 212.
  18. ^ Richard F. Miller, ed., States at war: a reference guide for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont in the Civil War (2013) 1: 368-69
  19. ^ a b Bruce D. Heald, New Hampshire and the Civil War: Voices from the Granite State (History Press, 2012).
  20. ^ a b c d Mike Pride & Mark Travis, My Brave Boys: To War with Colonel Cross and the Fighting Fifth, University Press of New England, 2001.
  21. ^ Miller, ed., States at war (2013) 1: 366-7
  22. ^ a b Wilfrid H. Paradis, Upon This Granite: Catholicism in New Hampshire, 1647-1997 (1998), pp. 111-12.
  23. ^ Belman, Felice (2001). The New Hampshire Century: Concord Monitor Profiles of One Hundred People Who Shaped It. UPNE. pp. 101. ISBN 9781584650874.
  24. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form". National Park Service. 1991. Retrieved 16 April 2015.


Further reading