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History of New Hampshire

Various Algonquian (Abenaki and Pennacook) tribes inhabited the area prior to European settlement. English and French explorers visited New Hampshire in 1600–1605, and English fishermen settled at Odiorne’s Point in present-day Rye in 1623. 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.” Father Rale’s War was fought between the colonists and the Wabanaki Confederacy throughout New Hampshire.

FortWilliam and Mary was established in in 1705

New Hampshire was one of the thirteen colonies that rebelled against British rule during the American Revolution. By the time of the American Revolution, New Hampshire was a divided province. The economic and social life of the Seacoast revolved around sawmills, shipyards, merchant’s warehouses, and established village and town centers. Wealthy merchants built substantial homes, furnished them with the finest luxuries, and invested their capital in trade and land speculation. At the other end of the social scale, there developed a permanent class of day laborers, mariners, indentured servants and even slaves.

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. (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”) over the course of two nights. 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.

New Hampshire was a Jacksonian stronghold; the state sent Franklin Pierce to the White House in the election of 1852. Industrialization took the form of numerous textile mills, which in turn attracted large flows of immigrants from Quebec (the “French Canadians”) and Ireland. The northern parts of the state produced lumber and the mountains provided tourist attractions. After 1960, the textile industry collapsed, but the economy rebounded as a center of high technology and a service provider.

Since 1952, New Hampshire gained national and international attention for its presidential primary held early in every presidential election year. It immediately became the most important testing grounds for candidates for the Republican and Democratic nominations. The media gave New Hampshire (and Iowa) about half of all the attention paid to all states in the primary process, magnifying the state’s decision powers (and spurring repeated efforts by out-of-state politicians to change the rules.)

 

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