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Early History

Appearing on this page are some of the events leading up to New Hampshire becoming the 9th of the original 13 states to enter the Union (1788).

New Hampshire was named after the English county of Hampshire. It is called the "Granite State" because of its numerous granite quarries; the nickname may also reflect the state's attachment to tradition and its history of a frugal government. There are no general sales or individual income taxes, which fits with the state motto of "Live free or die."

A relatively small state, New Hampshire plays a major role every four years in the presidential election, as it holds the first primary election.

Concord is the capital of New Hampshire.

Early historians record that in 1623, under the authority of an English land-grant, Captain John Mason, in conjunction with several others, sent David Thomson, a Scotsman, and Edward and Thomas Hilton, fish-merchants of London, with a number of other people in two divisions to establish a fishing colony in what is now New Hampshire, at the mouth of the Piscataqua River.

Remember John Smith and Pocahontas?

Well, Smith had been to this north land nine years prior to the arrival of Mason's two divisions. He had sent back to King James glowing remarks about the land and how all those fish seem to jump into his boat. King James got all excited and gave Mason a land grant and told him to go get him a mess of fish.

State Saltwater Fish, Striped Bass

State Fresh Water Fish, Brook Trout

Smith first named the land "North Virginia" but King James later revised this into "New England." To the map was added the name Portsmouth, taken from the English town where Captain John Mason was commander of the fort, and the name New Hampshire is that of his own English county of Hampshire. Thus the source of the name of the state.

By 1635 income from fishing was increased by that from trade in furs and timber.

Taking the idea from the English government, a community of "towns" was erected, and this became a "royal province" in 1679 with John Cutt as president, with a population intended to be as nearly like England as it could be.

The "royal province" continued until 1698 when it came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts with Joseph Dudley as Governor. Thus it continued until 1741.

Under King George II New Hampshire returned to its provincial status with a governor of its own, Benning Wentworth, who was its chief magistrate from 1741 to 1766.

During the first two decades of Governor Wentworth's term New Hampshire had been beset with Indian troubles. With little aid from England, then at war with its old-time enemy, France, the colonists undertook the sieges of Louisbourg, and helped to reduce Crown Point, and in the conquest of Canada. By the time of the signing of the Peace of Paris in 1762, and the end of the Indian fighting under the Rogers Rangers, the entire north country of New Hampshire was ready to be explored, surveyed, and populated.

Robert Rogers who organized the New Hampshire Rangers.

"my men lay concealed in a thicket of willows, while I crept something nearer, to a large pine-log, where I concealed myself, by holding bushes in my hand."

New Hampshire was the ninth and deciding state in accepting the National Constitution as that of a republic, never to be known under any other form of government. New Hampshire's John Langdon was the first acting vice-president of the United States, and was President of the Senate when Washington was elected first president.

Now let's take a look at some of the New Hampshire heroes during the revolutionary war. Click on George Washington on the Delaware scene below: