New Hampshire, one of the six New England states and one of the smaller states of the United States. The state is bordered on the north by the Canadian province of Québec, on the east by Maine and the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Massachusetts, and on the west by Vermont. Concord is the capital of New Hampshire. Manchester is the largest city.
Settled only three years after the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, New Hampshire was one of the original 13 colonies. As the ninth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, New Hampshire cast the decisive vote on June 21, 1788, that put the Constitution into effect.
New Hampshire has within its boundaries the highest mountains in New England, countless lakes, hundreds of streams and brooks, and large areas of unspoiled woodlands. Tourists have flocked to New Hampshire since the late 1800s. Despite its rural appearance, New Hampshire has long been an industrial state. Two of its early industries, the manufacture of shoes and of textiles, started in the homes of the earliest settlers.
New Hampshire is known as the Granite State because of its extensive granite formations and deposits. The state was named by Captain John Mason, who in the early 17th century received one of the first land grants in what was to become New Hampshire. He named the area after the English county of Hampshire, where he had spent time as a youth.
New Hampshire is the seventh smallest state in the nation, with an area of 24,216 sq km (9,350 sq mi), including 813 sq km (314 sq mi) of inland waters. The state is roughly triangular in shape. Its greatest distance from north to south is 291 km (181 mi) and its largest extent east to west is 151 km (94 mi). New Hampshire’s mean elevation is about 300 m (about 1,000 ft).
New Hampshire was once covered by glaciers, the last of which receded 10,000 years ago. These glaciers greatly affected the landscape by rounding the mountains and creating hundreds of streams and lakes. In addition, much of New Hampshire is covered with rocks, boulders, and clays that were deposited by the glaciers. Although all of the state was covered by the glaciers, there are great differences among its natural regions.
New Hampshire’s land area is divided into three major natural regions: the White Mountains, the New England Upland, and the Seaboard Lowland. All three are sections of the New England physiographic province, which in turn forms part of the Appalachian Region.
The White Mountains occupy most of the northern one-third of the state. This natural region is the most rugged and heavily forested part of New Hampshire and contains some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in the eastern United States. The average elevation of the White Mountains in New Hampshire is from 760 to 1,200 m (2,500 to 4,000 ft). However, Mount Washington, in a part of the White Mountains called the Presidential Range, in north central New Hampshire, rises to 1,917 m (6,288 ft) and is the highest mountain in New England. Eight other mountains in the Presidential Range also have elevations of more than 1,500 m (5,000 ft). Deep glacial valleys, or gorges, are common in the White Mountains. Among the most famous of such valleys are Franconia Notch, Crawford Notch, and Tuckerman Ravine. That part of the White Mountains in the extreme northern New Hampshire is somewhat lower, with a maximum elevation of about 1,100 m (3,600 ft).
The New England Upland occupies most of central and southern New Hampshire. It is a hilly or rolling region with an average elevation of about 370 m (1,200 ft). However, a few isolated mountains rise to more than 900 m (3,000 ft) in the south. These mountains, which consist of rock that has resisted erosion more than the surrounding terrain, are called monadnocks, after Mount Monadnock, which was formed in this way in southern New Hampshire. The western edge of the New England Upland in New Hampshire includes the valley of the Connecticut River, a level plain 8 km (5 m) wide. The upland region in the state is also dotted with hundreds of lakes and streams, most of which were formed by glaciers.
The Seaboard Lowland covers the southeastern corner of the state. In this region the land slopes gently downward to the ocean from about 150 m (500 ft) near the New England Upland. The Seaboard Lowland is mostly level or gently rolling.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
The Connecticut and Merrimack river systems drain most of the state. The Connecticut River rises in the Connecticut Lakes of northern New Hampshire and flows southward for 400 km (250 mi) along the Vermont-New Hampshire border before entering the state of Massachusetts. Its main tributaries in New Hampshire are the Israel, Ammonoosuc, Mascoma, Sugar, and Ashuelot rivers.
The Merrimack River is formed in central New Hampshire by the junction of the Pemigewasset and the Winnipesaukee rivers. The Merrimack’s largest tributaries are the Contoocook, Piscataquog, and Souhegan rivers, all of which enter from the west, and the Suncook River, which enters from the east. Other important rivers in New Hampshire are the Androscoggin and the Saco, which rise in northern New Hampshire and flow through Maine, and the Piscataqua and Salmon Falls rivers, which form part of the boundary between Maine and New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has more than 1,300 lakes and ponds. Its largest lake by far is the irregularly shaped Lake Winnipesaukee, in east central New Hampshire, which is 186 sq km (72 sq mi) in size. Other large natural lakes are Squam Lake, Newfound Lake, and Lake Sunapee.
New Hampshire’s short coastline on the Atlantic is only 21 km (13 mi) long, but if all islands and inlets are included, the shoreline is 211 km (131 mi) long. The largest inlet on the coast is the estuary of the Piscataqua River, which forms the harbor of the city of Portsmouth.
Among the few islands along the coast are the Isles of Shoals 16 km (10 mi) southeast of Portsmouth. Three of these isles belong to New Hampshire and the rest to Maine. Most of the coast is rocky, but there are sandy beaches at Hampton, Rye, and Wallis Sands.
New Hampshire has a humid continental short summer climate, with cool summers and long cold winters. Some of the longest and severest winters in the eastern United States occur in the Presidential Range of north central New Hampshire. The highest wind velocity on record, 372 km/h (231 mph), was recorded on Mount Washington.
The coldest parts of the state are in the White Mountains and the extreme north. Average January temperatures range from about -11° C (about 12° F) along the Canadian border to about -3° C (about 26° F) along the coast. July temperatures range from about 17° C (about 63° F) in the mountains to about 21° C (about 70° F) in the south.
Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year over most of the state. However, the higher peaks of the White Mountains have heavy rainfall during summer. For most of the state the average annual precipitation is about 1,020 mm (about 40 in), although the White Mountains receive about 1,170 mm (about 46 in). Heavy snowfalls are common in winter.
The growing season averages about 120 days throughout most of the state. Concord in the Merrimack River valley has a growing season of about 150 days. However, the extreme north has less than 100 days.
The soils of New Hampshire are typically stony and relatively infertile, having formed in acid, loamy materials overlying granite and schist bedrock. Soils classified as spodosols are common in northern New Hampshire and at higher elevations, while inceptisols are prevalent in the south. The valley soils are the most fertile and support productive agriculture, particularly in the Connectitcut and Merrimack river valleys. The upland soils support healthy hardwood forests throughout the state, with spruce and fir becoming dominant in the north.
Forests cover 84 percent of New Hampshire’s land area. Maine is the only state with a greater percentage of forested coverage. Northern New Hampshire and much of the White Mountains have mostly evergreen forests of spruce and fir. The southern and central areas have mixed forests, mainly of white pine, maple, and oak. The white birch is the official state tree and is found throughout the state.
Among the many shrubs found in New Hampshire are the American yew, pin cherry, red osier, mountain laurel, hobblebush, and blueberry. There are hundreds of species of wildflowers in the state. The most common include the wild aster, black-eyed Susan, oxeye, daisy, hockweed, purple trillium, goldenrod, gentian, pink ladyslipper, buttercup, and blue, white, and yellow violets.
Most of New Hampshire’s wildlife is found in the sparsely populated sections in the northern and central parts of the state. The white-tailed deer is the most numerous of the large animals. Black bears are fairly common, and moose are prevalent in the north. Smaller mammals include the beaver, skunk, porcupine, fox, muskrat, mink, fisher, and bobcat. Snowshoe hares, squirrels, mice, and shrews are numerous throughout most of the state.
The state bird of New Hampshire is the purple finch. Also found are the boreal chickadee, the black-capped chickadee, red and white breasted nuthatches, the woodpecker, the hawk, the white-throated sparrow, cardinal, pine siskin, brown creeper, and more than ten species of warblers. Kingbirds, phoebes, meadowlarks, and sparrows inhabit farmland, and whipporwills and flycatchers are found in the forests of the south. Birds especially common in the winter include the horned lark, which is found on the coast, and the northern shrike, pine and evening grosbeak, and snow bunting.
Fish are abundant in the state’s rivers and lakes. Brook trout are native to most spring-fed streams and ponds, and rainbow and brown trout have been stocked in many of the larger lakes and streams. Lake trout and landlocked salmon are found in the larger, deeper lakes, and black bass, pickerel, and yellow and white perch are found in the warmer, shallower ponds and lakes. The Atlantic salmon no longer run up New Hampshire’s tidal rivers, blocked by the development of water-powered industry in the early 1800s. However, plans are underway to re-introduce the Atlantic salmon runs.
The chief conservation activities in New Hampshire are directed at forests and wildlife. Most of the conservation program is administered by the state departments of environmental services, and fish and game. Federal agencies that participate in conservation programs in the state include the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In 2006 New Hampshire had 20 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Between 1995 and 2000, the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment increased by 2 percent.
Among New Hampshire’s most serious conservation problems is the overcutting of its forests. The destruction of forests eliminates an important source of state revenue, impairs the natural beauty of the landscape, destroys the habitat of many animals, and increases the possibility of erosion and flood damage. For these reasons the state aids in the preservation of forest areas by encouraging selective forest cutting through special tax provisions.
From colonial times until the early 19th century, agriculture was the principal economic activity in New Hampshire. However, as waterpower and transportation facilities developed, numerous small factories moved into the state. From 1830 to the present the proportion of the labor force engaged in agriculture has dropped from 83 percent to 2 percent. At first textiles were the chief products of the state’s industries, but by the late 1990s machinery, electronic equipment, and precision instruments had become the principal manufactures. New Hampshire’s charm and numerous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors draw people from throughout New England, and tourism has become an important economic activity.
New Hampshire had a work force of 737,000 people in 2006. The largest share of the work force, 35 percent, was employed in the diverse service sector, doing jobs such as working in restaurants or programming computers. Another 22 percent worked in wholesale or retail trade; 12 percent in manufacturing; 15 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those serving in the military; 16 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 4 percent in construction; 22 percent in transportation or public utilities; and 2 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing. Only 0.2 percent of the labor force worked in mining. In 2005, 10 percent of New Hampshire’s workers were members of labor unions.
Because of poor soil, a short growing season, and competition from more fertile regions, much of New Hampshire’s former farmland has returned to forest land. Most farms are in the Connecticut and Merrimack river valleys and the coastal lowlands.
In 2005 there were 3,400 farms in New Hampshire. Some 26 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000. Most of the rest were sidelines for operators who also held other jobs. Farmland occupied 182,109 hectares (450,000 acres), of which 29 percent was used to grow crops. The rest is mostly woodlots and pasture.
The sale of dairy products accounts for about one-third of the state’s total farm income. New Hampshire’s dairy industry is concerned primarily with the production of fresh milk, both for local consumption and for shipment to Massachusetts markets. Because of their high productivity, New Hampshire’s dairy cattle are also sold, in embryo form, as breeding stock throughout the world. Other livestock raised, particularly as a sideline by dairy farmers, include beef cattle and hogs. Fresh eggs for market are the most valuable poultry product. Chickens, cattle and calves, and turkeys are also sold. New Hampshire farms derive 56 percent of their income from the sale of livestock and livestock products.
The chief commercial crops raised in New Hampshire are greenhouse and nursery products, Christmas trees, and apples. In addition, various vegetables and forest products are sources of agricultural income. Specialized nurseries, growing forest seedlings and flowers for the Boston and New York City markets, are scattered throughout the state. Hay grown to feed livestock is the chief field crop, and the leading vegetable produced is sweet corn. Lumber cut from farm woodlots is sold. Many farmers supplement their income by tapping the maple trees on their lands to produce maple syrup and maple sugar.
|B||Forestry and Fisheries|
The products of the forest were of major importance to the regional economy during the colonial period, when New Hampshire timber produced masts for British navy warships. Later, many of the familiar Yankee clipper ships and the Concord stagecoaches used on the American frontier were built with New Hampshire lumber. In recent years the local supply of timber has gone into the manufacture of pulp and paper products, railroad ties, furniture, and fence posts.
Most of the commercial forest land is privately owned. Individual holdings are generally small, mostly less than about 80 hectares (about 200 acres). Some of these holdings were formerly unprofitable farmlands. More than two-thirds of the timber consists of softwoods, including pine, spruce, fir, and hemlock. In order to discourage indiscriminate cutting on private land, the state collects no tax on timber until after it is cut.
Fishing plays only a minor part in the state’s economy, with a catch worth $8.8 million in 2004. A small fishing fleet, based at Portsmouth, brings in a catch of flounders and smelt. In addition, lobsters, shrimp, and crabs are caught in the coastal waters.
Although New Hampshire is known as the Granite State, the production of granite and other minerals is a relatively minor part of the state’s economy. New Hampshire ranks near the bottom among the states in the value of its mineral production. Sand and gravel, which account for two-thirds of the total output by value, are found in abundant quantities throughout the state, most often in association with glacial kames, mounds of material deposited by glacial meltwater. The second most valuable mineral is crushed stone, particularly granite, which is quarried in almost all of New Hampshire’s counties. In terms of end use by value, most of the state’s mineral output is used in highway and building construction. Clays are also mined and a few gemstones are collected.
For more than a century, New Hampshire has relied on manufacturing as a major source of income and employment. The state prides itself in providing a welcoming atmosphere for manufacturing. New Hampshire does not tax personal income or sales, nor does it tax the inventory and machinery of manufactures as in some states. The tax structure combined with ready access to major New England markets has encouraged many manufacturers to locate in the state.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the growth and diversification of manufacturing in New Hampshire was promoted by the development of industrial parks and state technical institutes.
A leading industry in terms of income generated was the manufacture of industrial machinery. Included in this sector is the making of computers and related products, bearings, and machinery for the paper industry. Another important industry is the manufacture of electronic and electrical equipment, including firms making printed circuit boards, electric lamps, and semiconductors. The manufacture of precision instruments, another high-ranking industry, includes industries making electricity-measuring devices, search and navigation devices, instruments used in surgery, and optical instruments and lenses. Other leading industries include the making of fabricated metal products; the making of rubber and plastic items; food processing; printing and publishing; and the manufacture of paper products.
Factories and mills in New Hampshire are generally small. Manufacturing centers are concentrated along the river valleys in the south, particularly in Hillsborough County. Berlin and several other milling centers in Coos County have large pulp and paper industries. The Portsmouth-Kittery Naval Shipyard, once an integral part of New Hampshire’s economy, declined significantly in importance during the 1970s.
In addition to shipbuilding at Portsmouth, which began during the colonial period, the earliest manufacturing activities in New Hampshire were the production of linen, wool, and paper. An abundance of waterpower and the state’s proximity to Eastern markets were major reasons for the development of the factory system in New Hampshire. By 1804 the state’s first carding and cotton mills were operating, and the wool and cotton industry grew rapidly thereafter. The invention of the shoe-sewing machine in 1858 gave impetus to the leather industry, which, together with woolen and cotton goods, dominated the economy of the state until the late 1940s.
In the second half of the 20th century New Hampshire faced competition from Western states in leather and paper production. The textile industry, which throughout the 19th century was the state’s leading source of industrial income, declined rapidly following the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Amoskeag Mills at Manchester, chartered in 1831 and once the largest cotton textile plant in the world, stopped operations in the 1930s. Many other mills also closed down or moved to the South, where labor costs were lower.
During the late 1900s the state made a successful effort to diversify its economy. With the attraction of newer industries, the emphasis shifted from shoes and textiles to metals and machinery. The growth in manufacturing in New Hampshire was due largely to a big influx of firms that manufacture electrical and electronic equipment, computers and computer software, telecommunications equipment, and precision instruments.
Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, is now diversified in its industry, with factories that produce machinery and electrical and electronic products. Nearby Concord specializes in the electronics industry and printing. Nashua, the state’s second largest city, has plants that manufacture machinery and telecommunications equipment. The development of computer software is also a primary activity. The area around Portsmouth and Dover has diversified its industry, which now includes the manufacture of automobile parts and high-technology equipment. Other industrial areas center on Keene, Claremont, Berlin, and Laconia.
The Seabrook nuclear power plant, located south of Portsmouth, generates 40 percent of the electricity produced in New Hampshire. The state’s sole nuclear facility began commercial operation in 1990. Another 51 percent of the electricity is generated in plants burning fossil fuels, primarily coal and oil. The rest comes from the 95 hydroelectric generators, at dams that have harnessed New Hampshire’s rivers, and co-generation plants, which are fueled by burning wood chips.
Two state-owned hydroelectric dams near Pittsburg are leased to private power companies. They provide, in addition to power, water-storage and recreation facilities at Lake Francis. Private utility companies in both Vermont and New Hampshire operate several power dams on the Connecticut River that also help to control floods. Among these are Wilder Dam, which has created a lake for water sports, and Samuel C. Moore Dam, near Littleton, which serves the largest hydroelectric power plant in New England.
New Hampshire has been a popular resort area for summer vacationers since the late 19th century and for skiers since the 1930s. Since the 1950s improved highways and the expansion of public facilities for camping and recreation have further stimulated tourism. Autumn is an especially popular time to visit the state, for the colorful fall foliage. In 2002 travelers spent $2.7 billion in the state.
Colonial New Hampshire was slow to develop its overland transportation routes. The early settlements were connected only by a few trails and cart roads and a network of waterways. It was not until 1761 that regular stagecoach service was provided on a road from Portsmouth to Boston. Beginning in the 1790s, numerous private turnpike companies were chartered to build and operate toll roads. Somewhat expensive to maintain, these roads were eventually turned over to the state. River navigation was improved by the construction of canals on the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers.
The steamboat was soon replaced by the railroad, which first appeared in 1838. By 1884 there were 1,960 km (1,218 mi) of track in the state. In recent years much of the rail system has fallen into disuse, and in 2004 New Hampshire had just 678 km (421 mi) of railroad track. Some trains operate as sightseeing excursions for tourists, and a rare cog railroad (which is propelled by cogs on a gear wheel pushing against crossbeams in the track) takes passengers to the top of Mount Washington.
New Hampshire had 25,053 km (15,567 mi) of public highway in 2005, of which 362 km (225 mi) was part of the federal interstate highway system. There were 3 airports in the state in 2007, many of which were private airfields. The largest airport is in Manchester, although none of the state airports are considered busy by national standards.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE|
When European settlers first came to what is now New Hampshire, they encountered many Algonquian Native Americans. As the settlers took more and more land, most of the dispossessed Native Americans withdrew to what was to become Canada. Only a small number of Native Americans now reside in the state.
The early settlers were English, as were those who migrated to New Hampshire from neighboring New England colonies. As the towns prospered in the 18th century, the population greatly increased. In 1732, more than a century after the first settlement, there were only about 12,500 people in New Hampshire, but by 1790 the population had grown to 141,885. By that time many Scots-Irish, as well as small groups of Dutch, German, and French settlers, had reached New Hampshire. During the 19th century the great westward migration drew many people away from New Hampshire. However, this population loss was offset by a major influx of workers from Québec and Ireland. Heavy immigration from at least 50 countries continued until the 1920s. New Hampshire’s population also has been increased by an influx of people from other states. In 2000 whites were 96 percent of the population, Asians were 1.3 percent, blacks were 0.7 percent, Native Americans were 0.2 percent, and those of mixed race or not reporting ethnicity were 1.7 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 371 at the time of the census. Hispanics, who may be of any race, constituted 1.7 percent of the population.
New Hampshire’s 2000 population was 1,235,786. In 2006 the state had an average population density of 57 persons per sq km (147 per sq mi), but the population is concentrated in the cities and towns in the south. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of New Hampshire grew by 11.4 percent. In 2000, 59 percent of the state’s inhabitants were classified as urban, one of the lowest rates among the states. Manchester, the state’s largest city, had a population of 109,497 in 2006. Nashua, an industrial center near the border with Massachusetts, had a population of 87,157. Concord, the state capital, had 42,378 residents. Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s only seaport, had a population of 20,618.
The churches established by the early Puritan settlers were forerunners of the modern Congregationalist churches. While the denomination remains active, today the Methodists and Baptists are the largest Protestant denominations. The Roman Catholic church, however, is the largest religious group, with about two-fifths of all church members.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
Public education in New Hampshire was established by law as early as 1647, when the colony was a part of Massachusetts. Until 1919, schools were largely under local supervision, and dependent on the town or district for financial support. Since that year public education has been under the control of a state board of education, composed of seven members appointed for five-year terms by the governor. Education is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16. Private schools enroll 11 percent of the state’s children.
In the 2002–2003 school year New Hampshire spent $9,802 on each student’s education, compared to the national average of $9,299. There were 13.7 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9 students). Of those older than 25 years of age in 2006, 89.9 percent had a high school diploma, while the country as a whole averaged 84.1 percent.
In 2004–2005 New Hampshire had 9 public and 17 private institutions of higher education. The oldest and best known is Dartmouth College, at Hanover, which received its charter from King George III of Great Britain in 1769. The University of New Hampshire, the state’s land-grant university established in 1866, has its central campus at Durham. There are state colleges at Keene and Plymouth. The state also maintains two-year colleges. Other noted institutions include Saint Anselm College and New Hampshire College, in Manchester; Colby-Sawyer College, in New London; and Franklin Pierce College, in Rindge.
New Hampshire pioneered in the establishment of public libraries. Probably the first free public library in the United States was that established in Peterborough in 1833. In 2002 the state had 230 tax-supported libraries, and free libraries are found in all but a few tiny towns. The State Library in Concord provides a variety of support services to local libraries. Each year the libraries circulate an average of 7.3 books for every resident.
The Baker Library at Dartmouth College contains a collection of original manuscripts of works by Robert Burns, Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville, and other distinguished literary figures. In the library are murals by the noted Mexican painter José Clemente Orozco. Other outstanding libraries are the University of New Hampshire Library in Durham and the library of the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord.
Two of the state’s leading art galleries are the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College and the Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester. Both have fine permanent collections as well as special periodic exhibitions. Other notable galleries include the Lamont Gallery at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, the Art Gallery at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College. The museum of the New Hampshire Historical Society houses period rooms and art objects. The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is a statewide organization that promotes handicrafts through a teaching program as well as through the shops it operates in various parts of the state and the gallery at its headquarters in Concord. The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish features the home, gardens, and studios of the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
The MacDowell Colony at Peterborough, named for the noted American composer Edward MacDowell, is a special haven for artists in all creative fields. This colony was originally MacDowell’s summer home.
The New Hampshire Gazette, the state’s first newspaper, was published in Portsmouth in 1756 and is now part of the Portsmouth Herald. In 2002 New Hampshire had 10 daily newspapers. Influential newspapers included the Union Leader of Manchester, the Telegraph of Nashua, the Concord Monitor, and Foster’s Daily Democrat of Dover. An important 20th-century New Hampshire journalist was William Loeb, publisher of the Union Leader.
New Hampshire’s first radio station, WLNH in Laconia, was licensed in 1922. WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire’s first commercial television station, began operations in 1954. In 2002 the state had 25 AM and 43 FM radio stations and 6 television stations.
|E||Music and Theater|
Among a number of theaters that operate in the state, some under university auspices, are those at Paul Creative Arts Center at the University of New Hampshire, Hopkins Center on the Dartmouth campus, and Silver Cultural Arts Center at Plymouth State College. Other theaters are modest local enterprises operating in barns and village playhouses. The New Hampshire Music Festival presents symphony and choral concerts at Gilford and Plymouth during the summer.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
The rugged White Mountains, the many woodland lakes and scenic splendors, and the cool summers bring many visitors to New Hampshire. The attractions include hunting, camping, hiking, and mountain climbing in the summer and fall; swimming and boating in summer; skiing and snowmobiling in winter; and local theater and music programs.
One of the most famous New Hampshire sights was the “Old Man of the Mountain,” a striking rock formation resembling a human face on Profile Mountain. However, the rocks that formed the profile collapsed in a rock slide in 2003. Remaining scenic features of Franconia Notch include the Flume, a spectacular gorge, and the Basin, a deep glacial pothole. Also in the White Mountains are the glacial caverns of Lost River, near North Woodstock, and the view from the top of Mount Washington, New England’s highest mountain. A cog railway and a toll road allow access to a visitor’s center at the summit. The larger lakes of New Hampshire all have well-developed resorts with excellent boating and water-skiing facilities. Weirs Beach, on Lake Winnipesaukee near Laconia, is one of the better-known inland resorts. Hampton Beach is New Hampshire’s most popular seaside resort.
New Hampshire has many major ski areas. Many large ski lifts and gondolas operate during the summer for sightseers and picnickers. These lifts include those at Mount Sunapee State Park; Loon Mountain, near North Woodstock; and the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, near Easton.
The White Mountain National Forest covers 292,000 hectares (721,000 acres) of northeastern New Hampshire with hardwood forests and the largest alpine area east of the Rocky Mountains and south of Canada. Some of the state’s most popular sites are located in the forest, which also contains five national wilderness areas: the Caribou-Speckled, Great Gulf, Presidential Range-Dry River, Pemigewasset, and Sandwich Range. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which travels nearly the length of the Eastern United States, traverses the White Mountains.
New Hampshire has 42 state parks. Among them are popular year round sites that include camping, hiking, boating, fishing and other recreational opportunities, such as those at Mount Sunapee, Pillsbury, Hampton Beach, and Sculptured Rocks Natural Area. Bear Brook State Park provides recreation as well as a museum, a nature center and an historic meeting house.
|C||Other Places to Visit|
Throughout New Hampshire the visitor will find well-preserved 18th-century towns, many of which still have white wooden churches, public greens or commons, and early homes. Some of the historic sites in the state include the Franklin Pierce Homestead in Hillsboro, the birthplace of Daniel Webster near Franklin, the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion near Portsmouth, which was the residence of New Hampshire’s royal governor, and the Robert Frost farm at Derry. Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site preserves the home and studio in Cornish of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of the country’s noted sculptors. Strawbery Banke, at Portsmouth, is a restored maritime community dating from the 1630s. New Hampshire has 53 covered bridges dating from the 19th century.
New Hampshire has several winter carnivals in January and February, the most famous being the one at Dartmouth College, where elaborate ice sculptures are featured. Music festivals are another popular diversion in New Hampshire, including the All-State Music Festival, in April; the annual Stark Fiddlers’ Contest, in June; and the Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival, in Campton each August. The state’s crafts are featured during the Sheep and Wool Festival, held each May in New Boston, and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s crafts fair, which takes place at Mount Sunapee in August. In September the Highland Games are competed at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, horse races are held at Rockingham Park in Salem in both spring and fall, and antique and classic automobiles are featured at the Fall Foliage Tour each October in Charlestown.
New Hampshire’s present constitution, its second, was enacted in 1784 and is older than that of any other state except Massachusetts and even older, by five years, than the United States Constitution. Amendments to the constitution may be proposed either by a convention or by a three-fifths majority in each house of the legislature and to be adopted must be approved by two-thirds of the electorate voting on the question.
New Hampshire is the only state with neither a general sales tax nor a state income tax. When increased revenues have been needed, the state has increased specific sales taxes, such as those on rooms and meals, or taxes on business profits.
The governor of New Hampshire is elected to two-year terms and may be reelected any number of times. The Executive Council, an institution that dates back to the colonial period and is used only by New Hampshire and Massachusetts, has veto power over the governor in most matters. The five-member council is elected by the people. The governor cannot approve expenditures or make appointments without council agreement. While most administrative leaders are appointed by the governor, subject to the council’s approval, the secretary of state and state treasurer are elected by the General Court.
New Hampshire’s legislature, known as the General Court, consists of a 24-member Senate and a House of Representatives of 400 members. The 400-member house is the largest state legislative body in the Union. Both senate and house members are elected to two-year terms.
New Hampshire has a Supreme Court consisting of a chief justice and four associate justices. The Superior Court is made up of a chief justice and associate justices. The state also has district courts and a number of municipal and probate courts. All judges are appointed by the governor.
Each of New Hampshire’s ten counties elects a sheriff, county attorney, treasurer, register of deeds, register of probate, and three commissioners, all for two-year terms. The state is also divided into cities, towns, and unincorporated places. Cities are governed under the city manager or strong mayor form of government. Most towns have annual town meetings at which selectmen are elected to manage town affairs. County government is secondary in importance to town governments.
New Hampshire sends two senators and two representatives to the Congress of the United States. This gives the state a total of four electoral votes.
Four principal groups of Algonquian-speaking native peoples inhabited New Hampshire just before European settlement. By far the largest was the Pennacook, the name given both to the tribe centered in the Merrimack River Valley near the present site of Concord and to a larger association consisting of the central tribe and several smaller bands stretching north and south in the Merrimack Valley. The Pennacook lived in villages surrounded by cultivated fields, living by agriculture and hunting during much of the year but moving to the seacoast for fishing and gathering shellfish during the summer.
Other groups, also of the Algonquian culture, included the Sokokis north of the White Mountains, whose hunting grounds extended into what is now western Maine; a westward extension of the Maine-based Abenaki, known as the Pigwackets, in the upper Saco Valley on the southeastern edge of the White Mountains; and the Pocumtucks of western Massachusetts, whose hunting grounds extended into the lower Connecticut Valley of New Hampshire.
Because the native peoples had no written language and early contact with Europeans was limited, information about the native inhabitants is scarce and sometimes confusing. The total native population of the New Hampshire area was estimated at more than 12,000, but their numbers were sharply reduced in the early 1600s by warfare with the Mohawk people to the west and by epidemics that swept New England.
The native people lived cooperatively with the early European settlers, whose numbers were too small to pose a threat. The native groups taught the whites many skills that were essential to their survival: how to cultivate corn, tap maple trees for syrup, make canoes and many kinds of garments, and to locate the best trails. The Native Americans, in turn, sought to trade with the settlers for metal tools and utensils, blankets, and weapons, both for hunting and for resisting Mohawk attacks.
|B||Exploration and Settlement|
The first white people to visit New Hampshire may have been Norse seafarers in the 11th century, or Europeans who fished in North American waters in the 15th century. However, the first recorded visit to New Hampshire was made in 1603, when an English sea captain, Martin Pring, explored the shoreline and ventured a short way into the interior. He wrote enthusiastically of the abundance of wildlife in the area around present-day Portsmouth. Pring was followed in 1605 by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who mapped the New England coastline. In 1614 Captain John Smith repeated the process for the English.
The first settlements in New Hampshire were made in 1623. David Thomson, a Scotsman, arrived in the spring at Odiorne’s Point, in the present town of Rye, with a few settlers. Farms were established, and Thomson began fishing operations and set up a trading post. A few years later, Edward Hilton arrived from London and made a settlement at Dover. In 1626 Thomson left for what is now Boston, Massachusetts, and any settlers who remained at Odiorne’s Point were probably drawn to Strawbery Banke (later Portsmouth), settled in about 1630. In 1638 Exeter and Hampton were settled. Dover, Portsmouth, Exeter, and Hampton were the only permanent settlements in New Hampshire until 1673, when Dunstable, Massachusetts, was founded. Part of Dunstable became Nashua, New Hampshire, when the boundary between the two provinces was drawn in 1741, dividing several towns.
|C||Early Land Grants|
Land titles in early New Hampshire were confused because several conflicting grants were made. In 1622 two Englishmen, Captain John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges, received a grant from the Council for New England (formerly the Plymouth Company) for the land between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers. Smaller grants were also made, including one to David Thomson for his settlement at Odiorne’s Point. Edward Hilton, who established the settlement at Dover, did not receive a grant at this time, but was given legal standing in 1631. In 1629 Gorges and Mason divided their joint holding at the Piscataqua River. Gorges called his part, to the east of the Piscataqua, the province of Maine; Mason named his New Hampshire after the English county of Hampshire that had been his home. After Mason died in 1635, his heirs in England neglected his holdings, allowing others to occupy land that was part of his grant. When Mason’s grandson finally pressed his claim to the territory in 1660, a dispute erupted over land titles that dominated the political life of the province for decades. The so-called Masonian controversy was not finally resolved until 1746.
After Mason’s death, the four New Hampshire towns faced a period of political uncertainty. Massachusetts began to claim southern New Hampshire in about 1638. The English Revolution (1640-1660), which overthrew the monarchy and created years of turmoil in England, left the colony without a definite central authority. From the early 1640s until 1679, the New Hampshire towns placed themselves under the protection of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. During this time few new settlements were created, and only one important exploration was undertaken, which led to the discovery of the White Mountains.
After the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, Robert T. Mason sought the return of the lands he had inherited from his grandfather, John. As a result, New Hampshire was detached from Massachusetts and was made a royal province. The new charter, effective on January 1, 1680, provided for a president and a council, selected by the king, and for an assembly chosen by voters of the province. But political instability continued in the province, and New Hampshire was again under Massachusetts protection from 1689 to 1692. At that time it once again became separate, but the two colonies shared the same royal governor until 1741.
During this period there was bitter rivalry between the two colonies over jurisdiction in disputed lands. Massachusetts continued to make grants of lands in parts of what was later judged to be New Hampshire, and these grants often conflicted with those made by New Hampshire. New Hampshire petitioned the king for a final settlement of its boundaries to the east and south with Massachusetts. In 1741 New Hampshire won a favorable decision, gaining more territory and its own royal governor, independent of Massachusetts.
Agriculture became the mainstay of colonial New Hampshire in the 18th century, but fur trading and fishing were profitable enterprises for the early settlers, with most of the catch being exported. Local crafts soon developed; Portsmouth had skilled cabinetmakers, and other towns specialized in making iron products, bricks, clocks, or pewter ware.
Lumbering and shipbuilding soon became important operations in 17th century New Hampshire. Boards, staves, and masts were shipped to England. Shipbuilding and the mast trade centered in Portsmouth, which developed into an important commercial town of colonial America. New Hampshire white pine, particularly suitable for ships’ masts, became especially important to the English navy. In winter a representative of the king marked trees destined to be made into masts; the trees were cut, hauled over the snow to the river, and floated to the sea. The term “mast road” is still used in New Hampshire for the part of several modern thoroughfares that were once trails along which the masts were dragged. New Hampshire’s economy expanded in the early 18th century by the introduction of potato cultivation and linen-making by the Scots-Irish. These settlers were descendants of Scottish people who emigrated to northern Ireland, then came to the colony to escape poverty and religious persecution in the British Isles.
The earliest settlements on the Piscataqua River were prompted by commercial motives. Religion was not an issue, as it was in the Puritan settlements of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. Most of the earliest arrivals probably professed some form of attachment to the Church of England; the earliest designation of church lands in Portsmouth was based on that assumption, though little evidence exists that Anglicanism was actively practiced. However, the original settlers were soon outnumbered by new arrivals from Massachusetts, almost all of them Puritans of some type. Some of these newcomers were exiles from the Bay Colony, because they did not conform to its narrow theological and moral standards. Both Exeter and Hampton, for example, were founded by Puritan ministers who for different reasons were not welcome in Puritan Massachusetts. New Hampshire’s religious laws during its provincial period were modeled after those of Massachusetts but tended to be somewhat less restrictive and not as actively enforced. The one religious group that did face severe persecution in New Hampshire was the Quakers, who had formed a congregation, or meeting, in Dover.
Influential Portsmouth residents established an Anglican church in 1732, in an attempt to win royal favor. Queen’s Chapel was served by a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, an organization affiliated with the Anglican church. This church offered a fashionable alternative to the prevailing Puritan Congregationalism and a place of refuge for those alienated by the religious controversies of the Great Awakening, the revival of evangelical religion that swept the colonies in the 1740s. Two more Anglican congregations were established in the 1760s, one in Claremont and one in Holderness. In most towns, the established, tax-supported church was Congregational or, in the case of a few Scots-Irish towns, Presbyterian.
For 50 years the settlers and Native Americans in New Hampshire maintained friendly relations. Even when most of New England was involved in King Philip’s War (1675-1676) between settlers and native people led by the Wampanoag chief Philip, New Hampshire native groups tried to remain neutral. But as white settlements increased, so did tensions. The Europeans introduced livestock that often ruined crops in the Native Americans’ fields, and disputes arose over access to traditional hunting and fishing grounds.
These conflicts turned to bloodshed from 1689 to 1760, when New Hampshire became a battleground between France and England in their struggle for control of North America. During a series of wars, the European powers formed alliances with rival native groups. The Algonquian-speaking native people of New Hampshire, increasingly displaced from their lands by English settlers, fought with the French against the English settlers and the Iroquois, the Algonquian peoples’ traditional enemy.
For New Hampshire, by far the most destructive raids of the wars occurred in King William’s War (1689-1697). Native people attacked settlements at Cocheco River in Dover and Oyster River (later Durham) in 1689, burning houses, killing more than 20 settlers in each raid, and taking many more captive. The constant threat of attack during this period and during Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713) affected every aspect of life for New Hampshire settlers. Expansion into new areas all but stopped, food production dropped, and nearly every white family suffered a loss; almost 300 settlers were killed.
White settlers responded by burning native crops and villages and offering a bounty on natives’ scalps. After several attacks by colonists in the 1720s, including an incident known as Lovewell’s War, most of the surviving native peoples moved out of the New Hampshire region.
Toward the end of this period of warfare, the wilderness of New Hampshire was opened to settlement. Hundreds of large tracts of land were sold under Benning Wentworth, who became the first royal governor of New Hampshire in 1741. Other land grants were made by the Masonian Proprietors, who in the mid-1740s had purchased the rights to Mason’s lands from his heirs. During lulls in the hostilities between 1713 and 1740, many new farms and towns were established in New Hampshire. New Hampshire saw an unprecedented surge in new settlement just before and after 1763, when the French and Indian War ended with a British victory. Dozens of new townships were established, both east of the Connecticut River and to the west in what is now Vermont, a disputed territory that was also claimed by New York. Land was purchased by immigrants planning to settle and speculators hoping to profit from a quick resale.
New York won its claim to the lands west of the Connecticut River in 1764, when the king fixed New Hampshire’s western border as the river’s west bank. The disputed territory, known as the New Hampshire Grants, later became Vermont.
Wentworth was succeeded by his nephew, John Wentworth, in 1767. The new governor directed the building of roads to the interior to help the many new towns develop. Other public projects were undertaken, and trade opportunities were expanded. John Wentworth was also influential in founding Dartmouth College in 1769. The colony’s justice system was divided into five counties to make it more accessible to the people of the interior. The governor established a strong militia. Although Wentworth opposed the British taxes that the colonists hated so bitterly, he remained loyal to Great Britain. When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, he was forced to leave.
Revolutionary actions began in New Hampshire as early as December 1774, when rebels led by John Langdon and John Sullivan raided the armory at Fort William and Mary in New Castle and carried off military stores. Soon afterward, the governor was forced from the colony and a revolutionary New Hampshire congress took over the government. In January 1776 the congress adopted a provisional constitution. On June 15, three weeks before the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress, the legislature established by the provisional constitution declared New Hampshire independent of Great Britain. The constitution, which remained in effect until 1784, established a bicameral legislature and an executive body, called a committee of safety, chosen from the legislature.
Although no battles of the revolution were fought on New Hampshire soil, the state played a key role in the struggle for independence. New Hampshire Minutemen rushed to support the rebels of Massachusetts after the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. New Hampshire provided three regiments for the Continental Army, and also contributed such prominent military leaders as John Stark and John Sullivan. In August 1777 General Stark commanded an American force that defeated the British at the Battle of Bennington in Vermont. Portsmouth was an important port from which about 100 privateers—privately owned armed vessels helping the colonies—attacked British ships. In addition, Portsmouth shipyards built some vessels for the Continental navy. Years after the war Stark wrote a toast for a reunion of soldiers from the Battle of Bennington that became the state’s motto: “Live Free or Die.”
After the revolution, New Hampshire was confronted with heavy debts. In 1786 the legislature refused to issue paper currency to reduce the state’s indebtedness. But while the legislature was in session in Exeter it was confronted by an armed body of men who favored issuing paper money. The war hero John Sullivan, then chief executive, or president, of the state, dispersed the mob without bloodshed. The legislature soon turned to a more difficult problem, the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. After much controversy, in June 1788 New Hampshire became the ninth and deciding state to ratify the Constitution.
By the start of the 19th century the New Hampshire economy had recovered from the war and was prospering. Farming, commerce, fishing, and lumbering were the main occupations, and manufacturing also began. Cotton goods were first produced in the state in 1804, and the opening of the Amoskeag Canal in 1806 spurred growth in manufacturing in Manchester. Economic expansion brought more people to the interior. New Hampshire’s shoe industry began in 1823 in Weare. Concord became famous for making wagons and stagecoaches. Abundant water power and the development of railroads helped create several industrial centers. These included Manchester, Portsmouth, Nashua, Concord, and Dover, all of which were incorporated as cities between 1846 and 1855.
The gradual movement of population to the interior of the state was reflected in a shift of the capital. The state legislature had met a few times in Portsmouth after framing its constitution in 1776, but the majority of meetings were in Exeter, with a few meetings in Dover, Amherst, Hopkinton, and Concord. The legislature never formally adopted a place for the state capital, but began meeting regularly in Concord as early as 1808 and voted to build the statehouse there in 1816.
In the early years of the new state, New Hampshire supported the Federalist Party. By 1816, however, control of state politics had passed to the Democratic-Republican Party, which with its successor, the Democratic Party, maintained its dominance until the mid-1850s. In 1852 Franklin Pierce, a Democrat, became the first New Hampshire native to be elected president of the United States. Political turmoil in the 1850s over slavery finally led to the fall of the state Democratic Party.
In 1853 opponents of slavery met at Exeter to form the Republican Party in the state. In early 1860 the Republicans invited Abraham Lincoln, whose son was a student at Phillips Exeter Academy, to come to the state for speaking engagements. Lincoln accepted and spoke there four times in March. He met with great acclaim, and during his stay in New Hampshire the Lincoln-for-President campaign started. In the 1860 presidential election, New Hampshire voted overwhelmingly for Lincoln. For the next 100 years it remained largely Republican.
|L||The Post-Civil War Economy|
During the Civil War (1861-1865) the population of New Hampshire decreased, and for several years after the war the population increased very little. A large number of farmers left to take advantage of government grants of land in the West, where the soil was much richer and more easily tillable than it was in the hilly agricultural regions of New Hampshire. As farming declined, water-powered manufacturing continued to develop. By the end of the century the state was a leading national producer of shoes, textiles, and wood products. Six more cities were incorporated between 1873 and 1897, and much of the remaining rural population moved to the cities.
Throughout this period and into the 20th century, French-Canadian immigrants and others from Ireland, Poland, and Greece came into the state, providing inexpensive labor for expanding industries. By 1910 New Hampshire was primarily an industrial and urbanized state, with more than half of the total population living in cities. The Amoskeag textile complex in Manchester had become the largest such operation in the world. Meanwhile, elegant hotels brought wealthy city-dwellers from Boston and New York to the White Mountains, making tourism a major source of wealth for the state.
|M||Big Business and the Progressive Era|
New Hampshire’s industrial expansion, as in the United States generally, brought new prosperity but also a shift in the relative power of public and private interests. With increasing frequency, mills and factories in New Hampshire were controlled by out-of-state owners who could use their wealth and influence to secure favorable legislation and regulatory decisions. Among the most powerful business interests in the late 1800s was the Boston and Maine Railroad, which dominated the legislature and courts that were supposed to regulate it. As a result, taxes assessed on railroad property were very low and there was little regulation of fares. The railroad won cooperation and silenced opponents by handing out valuable free passes. By 1900 the Boston and Maine, having swallowed its weaker competition, controlled more than 95 percent of the railroad tracks in New Hampshire.
The turn of the 20th century marked the rise, in New Hampshire and elsewhere in the United States, of progressive movements dedicated to curbing abuses by governments and industry and to improving the lives of workers, immigrants, the poor, and other groups. In New Hampshire, a group within the Republican Party, including Senator William E. Chandler, Governor John McLane, the American author Winston Churchill, and Robert P. Bass, began working to break the railroad’s grip on state politics. In 1909 they succeeded in passing a law establishing direct primary elections, which let voters rather than party bosses choose candidates. In 1910 Bass ran for governor in the state’s first direct primary election for that office. His victory effectively ended the railroad’s control. Legislation followed to regulate businesses and protect the health and welfare of workers. The state’s Republican Party remained dominant, but it split—as did the national party at the time—into progressive and conservative wings (see Progressive Party).
A conservation movement developed at about the same time and led to the founding in 1901 of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, an influential educational organization. This conservation movement also led to the creation of the White Mountain National Forest, the first in the nation, in 1911.
|N||From World War I to World War II|
The liberal tendencies of the Progressive Era continued through World War I (1914-1918). But afterward, those attitudes were replaced by a strong prejudice against immigrants and anti-Communist hysteria, which followed the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Caught up in the “red scare,” New Hampshire in 1919 passed an anti-Bolshevik law. In 1920 federal agents raided eight New Hampshire communities where Slavic immigrants had settled, in the most extensive of a group of raids aimed at rounding up and deporting presumably dangerous aliens. Almost none of the 250 New Hampshire residents arrested proved to be dangerous enough to deport.
Hard economic times followed the war’s end. The textile industry, hurt by competition from the South, declined, resulting in serious labor disputes and finally the permanent closing of the great Amoskeag complex in 1936. Smaller mills around the state either cut back their operations drastically or shut down completely until a temporary revival during World War II (1939-1945).
The progressive tradition revived briefly in the mid-1920s and again in the early 1930s under Governor John G. Winant, who advocated workers’ compensation and pension laws, a shortened work week, and forest conservation. During the Great Depression, the economic hard times of the 1930s, Winant instituted a number of state-based programs to supplement the measures of the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt’s program to overcome the depression. Winant eventually switched to the Democratic Party and served in the Roosevelt administration, finally as ambassador to the United Kingdom during World War II.
New Hampshire, like the nation at large, emerged from the Great Depression because of the heavy demands on industry caused by World War II. The sagging textile, leather and shoe, and lumber and paper industries revived temporarily. The war brought dramatic new activity to the Portsmouth Navy Yard, which launched 82 submarines from 1940 to 1945. Shipyard employment grew from 3,500 workers in 1939 to 20,500 in 1940. About 60,000 New Hampshire men and women served in the armed forces during the war, of whom about 1,600 died.
|O||Economic Development Since 1945|
New Hampshire’s largest industries since the mid-19th century, textiles and shoes, began their final decline after the war was over. State and local governments, however, along with new state and community-based industrial development foundations, moved aggressively to fill the gap. Tourism received a boost from vigorous state-financed promotion and the completion of a second state ski area at Mount Sunapee in 1948. The New Hampshire Turnpike opened in 1950, later supplemented by two other high-speed highways. The New Hampshire congressional delegation lobbied vigorously for construction of Pease Air Force Base, which began in 1951.
Nearly 1,000 new businesses incorporated in the state between 1951 and 1955, creating a highly diversified manufacturing industry, including electronics and precision-tool making. These new businesses supplemented the lumber and paper industries and the growing tourism trade as mainstays of the state’s economy.
In 1952 New Hampshire introduced the first-in-the-nation presidential preference primary. Since then, presidential candidates campaigning for votes attract tremendous attention to New Hampshire every four years, out of proportion to the state’s numbers and fundamental political importance. The political life of New Hampshire since World War II has been shaped by several powerful figures and trends. One of the major influences on public opinion in the state was William Loeb, an eccentric, right-wing publisher. From 1946 until his death in 1981, Loeb owned the Manchester Union-Leader, the only newspaper to circulate statewide, and used it to editorialize against any sales or income tax. He was also known for his attacks on people and issues he considered liberal.
A staunch tradition of opposition to taxes has remained a matter both of pride and deeply held political principle in state government since the 1950s. In the early 21st century New Hampshire was the only state in the nation without a broad-based income tax or a general sales tax. Supporting that tradition helped Republican Steve Merrill win the election for governor in 1992 and 1994. In 1996 New Hampshire voters elected state senator Jeanne Shaheen as governor. She became the first female governor in the state’s history and the first Democrat to hold that office since 1982. She was reelected in 1998 and 2000. In 2002 Republican Craig Benson, an entrepreneur, was elected governor. Democrat John Lynch was elected governor in the November 2004 elections.
The lack of statewide taxes has left New Hampshire schools heavily dependent on local property taxes. In the 1990s several property-poor school districts sued the state, demanding adequate and equitable funding. In 1996 the Merrimack County Superior Court ruled in favor of the state. The school districts appealed the case to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in 1997 that the state’s extreme reliance on land taxes to finance public education was unconstitutional because it resulted in large disparities in funding among school districts. The court gave the state until April 1, 1999, to develop new methods of financing education, but opposition to an income tax and other statewide funding measures continued, and the date passed with no legislative action on the matter. Legislators finally passed a school-funding bill in late April 1999 that relied primarily on new statewide property taxes to be phased in over a five-year period.
The state’s population has grown dramatically, from 533,000 in 1950 to more than 1 million in 1990 and 1,315,828 in 2007. Much of the growth came as businesses and workers moved from Massachusetts across the border into the lower Merrimack Valley. The mixture of this new, more affluent population with the more rural, traditionally “Yankee” residents has caused some strain within and between communities, especially over public issues such as taxation, educational policies, and environmental concerns in industrial development. In the early 1990s tensions were intensified by some renewed economic difficulties, including the closing of Pease Air Force Base in 1990. After the base closed, efforts were undertaken to redevelop the facility with nonmilitary businesses. By 1996 those efforts had begun to show significant success.
Long a Republican stronghold, New Hampshire joined the national shift toward the Democratic Party in 2006 midterm elections. Democrats took both of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives from incumbent Republicans, and voters reelected Lynch, the popular Democratic governor. For the first time since the 1920s, Democrats took control of both houses of the state legislature. Not since the 1870s had the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature been in Democratic hands. Republicans still occupied both seats in the U.S. Senate, however.
In April 2007 New Hampshire became the fourth state to allow civil unions between same-sex couples. The measure attempted to ensure that homosexual couples in civil unions enjoy the same rights and benefits accorded to heterosexual married couples.
The history section of this article was contributed by Charles E. Clark. The remainder of the article was contributed by Mark J. Okrant.