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Revolutionary actions in New Hampshire


General Stark
General Stark

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.”

Post-Revolutionary Development


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

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