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New Hampshire from 1939 to 1945


great Amoskeag complex
Great Amoskeag complex

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. "New Hampshire" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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