State in the USA, one of the New England states, one of the original Thirteen Colonies, and one of the smallest US states; bordered to the north by the Canadian province of Québec, to the east by Maine and the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by Massachusetts, and to the west by Vermont; area 23,227 sq km/8,968 sq mi; population (2006) 1,314,900; capital Concord. New Hampshire is known as the Granite State owing to its high concentration of granite deposits. Other nicknames include Mother of Rivers, after the many New England rivers that originate in New Hampshire's mountains; the White Mountain State, after the White Mountain range; and the Switzerland of America, after the state's mountain scenery. The state is named after the county of Hampshire in England. The White Mountains in the north of the state are rugged and heavily forested, with picturesque gorges and ravines. The central rolling uplands are characterized by a large number of lakes and streams, and there is a short, rocky length of Atlantic coastline in the southeast. The economy is based on service industries and tourism, with the manufacture of industrial machinery and computer equipment also providing significant income. Agricultural produce includes greenhouse products, hay, and apples. Manchester is the largest city, and other major cities include Nashua, Derry, Rochester, Portsmouth, Salem, and Dover. New Hampshire was admitted to the Union in 1788 as the ninth US state.
Physical New Hampshire is roughly triangular, and can be divided into three main areas: the White Mountains, the New England Upland, and the seaboard lowland. The state is heavily glaciated, with many mountains, streams, lakes, boulders, and clays.
The White Mountains occupy most of the northern third of the state. They have many picturesque gorges and deep valleys, including Franconia Notch, Crawford Notch, and Tuckerman Ravine. The highest mountain in the state, and in the northeastern USA, is Mount Washington, situated in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, with an elevation of 1,917 m/6,288 ft.
The New England Upland in central and southern New Hampshire is rolling and hilly, with a few low isolated mountains rising in the south, known as monadnocks, after Mount Monadnock in southwestern New Hampshire. The flat Connecticut River plain occupies the western edge of this region. New Hampshire has over 1,300 lakes and ponds, of which Lake Winnipesaukee, in east-central New Hampshire, is the largest at 186 sq km/72 sq mi. Squam Lake, Newfound Lake, and Lake Sunapee are the other major lakes in the state.
The seaboard lowland covers the southeastern corner of New Hampshire, sloping gradually towards the Atlantic Ocean coast. New Hampshire has only 21 km/13 mi of coastline, but it has many deep inlets and some sandy beaches. The largest estuary is that of the Piscataqua River, and there are sandy beaches at Hampton, Rye, and Wallis Sands. The Isles of Shoals lie southeast of the coastal city of Portsmouth, but only three belong to New Hampshire – the rest are officially part of Maine.
New Hampshire has about 40 rivers, of which the most important are the Connecticut and Merrimack. The Connecticut rises in the Connecticut Lakes of northern New Hampshire, and the Merrimack is formed in central New Hampshire by the junction of the Pemigewasset and the Winnipesaukee rivers. The Connecticut's main tributaries in New Hampshire are the Israel, Ammonoosuc, Mascoma, Sugar, and Ashuelot rivers. The Merrimack's tributaries include the Contoocook, Piscataquog, Souhegan, and Suncook Rivers. The Cocheco and Salmon Falls rivers join at Dover to form the Piscataqua River. Two of the principal rivers of Maine, the Androscoggin and the Saco, originate in northern New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has cool summers and long, cold winters with heavy snowfalls. The White Mountains and the extreme north of the state are generally colder than the south. After Maine, New Hampshire is the most heavily forested state in the USA, with 86% of the total land area covered by hardwood and evergreen forests. The White Mountains form the largest alpine area east of the Rocky Mountains and south of Canada. Trees include spruce, fir, white pine, maple, and oak, and the state tree, the white birch. American yew, red osier, mountain laurel, and blueberry bushes are common, and of the many hundreds of species of wild flowers the wild aster, black-eyed Susan, ox-eye daisy, hockweed, purple trillium, goldenrod, gentian, buttercup, and violet are the most widespread. Mount Washington has rare alpine plants, such as Greenland sandwort, Labrador tea, alpine bearberry, dwarf cinquefoil, dwarf birch, willow, and balsam fir.
Wildlife in New Hampshire includes white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, beaver, skunk, porcupine, fox, muskrat, mink, snowshoe hare, and bobcat. The purple finch is the state bird, and other common birds include chickadee, nuthatch, woodpecker, hawk, cardinal, warbler, lark, grosbeak, and snow bunting. Fish include a variety of species of trout, salmon, black bass, pickerel, and perch.
Features New Hampshire has a number of historic sites dating from the colonial period. Fort Dearborn Historic Site in Odiorne Point State Park near Rye marks the site of Fort Dearborn (1623), the first European settlement in New Hampshire. Fort Constitution in New Castle was originally Fort William and Mary, a British stronghold overlooking Portsmouth Harbor, and dates from the 1600s. Jackson House (1664) in Portsmouth is the oldest surviving wooden house in New Hampshire. The site of Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth dates from the 1630s, and the Strawbery Banke Museum charts the development of New Hampshire, with exhibits of over 40 historic buildings.
Also in Portsmouth is the John Paul Jones House and Museum, a National Historic Landmark; the house dates from 1758 and was the home of the naval officer John Paul Jones during the American Revolution. The Hannah Duston Memorial (1902) in Boscawen is an island monument to Hannah Duston, taken prisoner during an Indian raid in 1697. The Governor John Wentworth Historic Site in Wolfeboro is the site of the former summer estate of the last colonial governor of New Hampshire.
The Old Meeting House (1774) in Sandown still has its original pews, including separate seating for slaves and benches for paupers. Other preserved meeting houses include Old Meeting House (1799) in Groveton and Old Webster Meeting House (1871) in Webster. Fort Stark in Canterbury was first used in 1746. Exeter, settled in 1638, was the colonial capital during the American Revolution; it has 18th- and 19th-century houses. The birthplace of Daniel Webster, a distinguished politician and orator, is located near Franklin. The Fells (1883) at the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge in Newbury was the Lake Sunapee summer home of politician and author John M Hay. The Franklin Pierce Homestead (1804), the birthplace of the 14th US president, is located in Hillsboro. In Concord, the Museum of New Hampshire History (1995) features exhibitions on the state's heritage and traditions. The Robert Frost farm in Derry is where the poet lived and worked between 1900 and 1909. The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish features the home and studio of the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who lived and worked there from 1885 to 1907.
New Hampshire has 53 covered bridges dating from the 19th century, including Bedell Bridge in Haverhill and Whittier Covered Bridge. Fort Point (1877) in New Castle is one of the state's oldest lighthouses.
The state has many natural attractions, chief among which is the White Mountain National Forest. This area contains several subranges of the White Mountains, including the Presidential Range – which has the highest peaks of the White Mountains, named after US presidents – the Sandwich Range, the Carter-Moriah Range, and the Franconia Mountains. Franconia Notch is the site of the ‘Old Man of the Mountain’, a rock formation resembling a human face in profile. At the southern end of Franconia Notch is a plunging, narrow gorge known as the Flume. Other features in this area are a deep glacial pothole known as the Basin, and the glacial caverns of Lost River, near North Woodstock. Mount Washington's cog railway, built in 1869, is the world's first mountain-climbing railway.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail crosses the White Mountains. There are 42 state parks in New Hampshire. Bear Brook State Park has a museum, a nature centre, and a historic meeting house. The Northern Forest Heritage Park Working Forest features exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, and heritage walks. The Seacoast Science Center (1992) is based in Odiorne Point State Park, Rye. Hampton Beach is a popular seaside resort and Weirs Beach, on Lake Winnipesaukee near Laconia, is the best-known state inland resort.
Culture English, Scots-Irish, Dutch, German, Greek, French, Slavic, Polish, and Québecois roots are common in New Hampshire, where textile-mill and factory towns attracted many immigrants from Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries.
An important contributor to cultural life in New Hampshire is Dartmouth College (1769), in Hanover, which is home to the Baker Library's collection of original manuscripts of works by writers Robert Burns, Joseph Conrad, and Herman Melville. It also has murals by the Mexican painter José Clemente Orozco. Dartmouth College's winter carnivals in January and February feature elaborate ice sculptures.
New Hampshire has two major art museums: the Currier Museum of Art and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth. The Currier (1929), in Manchester, has collections of European and US paintings, decorative arts, photographs, and sculpture. The Currier also owns Frank Lloyd Wright's Zimmerman House (1950), the only Wright-designed home in New England open to the public. The Hood Museum (1985), in Hanover, has a permanent collection of US, Asian, European, and contemporary art. The Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery (1965) at Keene State College features works by 19th-century New England artists.
Another cultural institution of New Hampshire is the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough. This was founded in 1907 by pianist Marian Nevins MacDowell, wife of the composer Edward Alexander MacDowell, as a summer retreat for musicians and writers.
The New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra (1974) is based in Manchester and the annual New Hampshire Music Festival draws international classical artists. The All-State Music Festival is held annually in Concord in April and includes the New Hampshire Chamber Festival. The Stark Fiddlers' Contest takes place annually in June and the Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival is held every August. The Southern New Hampshire Scottish Games and Celtic Music Festival take place every June in Greenfield. There are highland games at Loon Mountain in Lincoln every September.
New Hampshire has a long crafts tradition, well-illustrated at such events as the Sheep and Wool Festival, held each May in New Boston, and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's crafts fair, at Mount Sunapee in August. Salem is famous for horse-racing at Rockingham Park. Classic cars are seen at the Fall Foliage Tour each October in Charlestown. New Hampshire's scenery attracts not only sightseers and walkers but artists and photographers. Recreational activities include rock climbing, hiking, camping, swimming, birdwatching, fishing, biking, and horse riding. The autumn is a particularly popular time for tourists to visit the state, drawn by the often spectacular autumn foliage, and New Hampshire's many resorts draw thousands of skiers every winter.
GovernmentNew Hampshire's state constitution New Hampshire's constitution, only its second, dates from 1784 and is the second oldest constitution in the USA (after Massachusetts), predating the US Constitution by five years.
Structure of state government New Hampshire's legislature, or General Court, is bicameral (two chambers), comprising a 24-member Senate and a 375–400-member House of Representatives (the number depends on changes in population); members of both are elected for two-year terms. New Hampshire sends two representatives and two senators to the US Congress and has four electoral votes in presidential elections.
Since 1952, New Hampshire has held the first presidential primary towards the start of each US presidential election year. This has made the state an important focus for the national media and testing ground for Democrat and Republican presidential candidates.
The state is the most conservative in the northeast. Some trace the founding of the Republican Party to Exeter town in 1853. While it has often favoured Republican candidates in presidential elections, it has often been a ‘swing’ state, moving in the direction of the winning candidate, and Democrats have had a good measure of success in state elections.
The state's governor is elected for two-year terms and may be re-elected any number of times. A five-member executive council, an institution first created in the colonial period and unique to New Hampshire and Massachusetts, has considerable veto power over the governor and votes on state contracts over $5,000. The state does not have a Lieutenant-Governor.
The state's political culture favours local control and in some areas is libertarian, valuing individual freedom. For example there are no mandatory seatbelt, motorcycle helmet, and car insurance laws for adults.
New Hampshire's Supreme Court has a chief justice and four associate justices. New Hampshire has 10 counties, 13 municipalities, 221 towns, and 22 unincorporated places. Cities are governed under the city manager or mayoral form of government, and town meetings are a typically New England feature of local government.
Economy New Hampshire is the only US state with neither a general sales tax nor a state income tax. The service industries and tourism in particular are vital to the state's economy. Wholesale and retail trade are important too. Manufacturing remains strong and forestry continues to contribute significantly to the state's economy. In manufacturing, the chief products are industrial machinery, computers, electronic and electrical equipment, precision instruments, fabricated metal products, rubber and plastic items, food processing, printing and publishing, and paper products. Computer software and telecommunications equipment are also important. In agriculture, New Hampshire's leading crops are greenhouse and nursery products, hay, Christmas trees, and apples. Maple syrup is also a significant source of income. Despite the state's nickname, mining has declined in importance and is no longer a significant factor in the state's income.
HistoryEarly exploration and settlement New Hampshire was originally inhabited by several American Indian peoples: the Pennacook based in the Merrimack River Valley; the Algonquian in the White Mountains; the Abnaki, known as the Pigwackets, in the upper Saco Valley; and the Pocumtucks of western Massachusetts. The English sea captain Martin Pring explored New Hampshire's shoreline in 1603, and word of its abundant natural resources and potential for settlement spread via his enthusiastic reports. In 1605 French explorer Samuel de Champlain mapped the New England coastline for France; and in 1614 Captain John Smith made further charts of the region for England. In 1622 the former Plymouth Company (or Council for New England) issued land grants to Captain John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges, but Scots pioneer David Thomson was the first permanent settler in New Hampshire, arriving at Odiorne's Point in 1623 and establishing fishing and trading posts. English settler Edward Hilton established a similar base at Dover. Another early settlement was at Strawbery Banke (which became Portsmouth), established in about 1630. After John Mason's death the Masonian controversy over ownership of his lands raged until 1746.
Early government The English Civil War (1640–60) caused a power vacuum in the New England colonies, and political tensions grew. From the 1640s until 1679, the New Hampshire towns were governed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After the English Restoration in 1660, an English colonial presence returned to New Hampshire. John Mason's grandson, Robert Mason, claimed Mason's original New Hampshire lands, and they became a royal province subject to a charter. The royal province proved to be difficult to govern, however, and New Hampshire reverted to Massachusetts governance from 1689 to 1692. The two colonies shared the same royal governor until 1741, although land disputes often strained relations in government.
Colonial life and Indian wars The local production of goods such as furniture, bricks, clocks, and pewter was economically important, as were shipbuilding and the mast trade (the New Hampshire white pine became widely used in shipbuilding by the English navy). The coastal town of Portsmouth became a major commercial centre.
New Hampshire was largely unaffected by ‘King’ Philip's War (1675–76) between the English and the Wampanoag people, but between 1689 and 1760 the region became a battleground for the French and Indian wars. The Algonquins took the French side against the English settlers and their longstanding enemy, the Iroquois. During King William's War (1689–97), settlements at Cocheco River in Dover and Oyster River (later Durham) were burned to the ground. In Queen Anne's War (1702–13) some 300 settlers were killed in Indian raids. Settlers later retaliated fiercely against the tribes, and finally Lovewell's War in the 1720s caused many American Indians to leave the region altogether in search of land elsewhere.
Colonial expansion Benning Wentworth became the first royal governor of New Hampshire in 1741. Joining forces with the Masonian Proprietors, as those who controlled John Mason's original lands were known, he became responsible for all land sales in New Hampshire. Despite disputes over the New York and Vermont boundaries, the New Hampshire territory rapidly expanded and took shape. Benning Wentworth's successor, John Wentworth, made further improvements by constructing roads; he also helped to found Dartmouth College in 1769.
The American Revolution For New Hampshire the American Revolution started in earnest in December 1774, when John Langdon and John Sullivan led a raid on the armoury at Fort William and Mary in New Castle. A revolutionary New Hampshire congress adopted a provisional constitution and declared independence from Britain almost three weeks before the Declaration of Independence itself. New Hampshire witnessed no battles, but New Hampshire Minutemen were active in Massachusetts as back-up troops after the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. New Hampshire also provided regiments to the Continental Army. John Stark and John Sullivan were among the New Hampshire leaders active in the Revolution and it was Stark who provided the state motto ‘live free or die’.
Early statehood In June 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth and deciding state to ratify the US Constitution. Cotton manufacturing rapidly developed in Manchester, facilitated by the construction of the Amoskeag Canal. A successful shoe industry sprang up in 1823 in Weare. Manchester, Portsmouth, Nashua, Concord, and Dover grew into important manufacturing centres. The Democratic Party was dominant at this time, and in 1852 Franklin Pierce, a native New Hampshire Democrat, was elected US president. In Exeter a branch of the anti-slavery Republican Party was formed.
Industrial expansion Immigrants from all around the world flocked to New Hampshire to work in its burgeoning shoe and textile factories. Farmers moved away to farm more fertile lands in the Midwest and western USA, and New Hampshire became a primarily urban state. Tourism began to develop in the White Mountains, as resorts serving the wealthy vacationing classes in New York City and Boston sprang up. During this period the Boston and Maine Railroad became a dominating and monopolizing force in the New Hampshire legislature; and, by keeping railroad taxes low, it controlled 95% of the railroad tracks in New Hampshire. Partly in reaction to this, progressive movements, including trade unions, sprang up to counter corruption and to protect the rights of workers. A conservation movement developed alongside these social initiatives, leading to the creation of the first national forest in the USA, the White Mountain National Forest, in 1911.
World War I to World War II A backlash against the Progressive era gave rise to anticommunist feeling, and in New Hampshire this resulted in anti-Bolshevik legislation in 1919. Slavic immigrants were particularly targeted and were sometimes threatened with deportation. Owing to global competition and falling prices, the textile industry in New Hampshire began to decline, and the Amoskeag complex, a famous textile factory, closed in 1936. During the Great Depression, Governor John G Winant's policies supplemented the federal New Deal programme and helped the ailing New Hampshire economy. World War II revived activities at the Portsmouth Navy Yard with a submarine-building programme. Manufacturing was stimulated during wartime, giving a boost to employment levels and the state's economy.
The late 20th century As traditional manufacturing in New Hampshire struggled to compete in a global market, the state sought to diversify its economy, backing tourism, and in particular investing in the construction of ski resorts. The New Hampshire Turnpike and other high-speed highways improved links to the big cities, including New York City and Boston. New industries, such as electronics and precision-tool making, were established. Politically, New Hampshire remained innovative: in 1952 the state introduced the first presidential preference primary in the nation. The New Hampshire primary is considered influential in shaping the presidential race. New Hampshire is famous for resisting public taxation, and its school system relies heavily on property taxes, a factor that has contributed to uneven funding. Environmental conservation became a particularly vital concern, and diversification of the economy and the promotion of new technologies and businesses remain major issues.
science Alan B Shepard (1923–1998), astronaut
politics and law John Langdon (1741–1819), politician; Daniel Webster (1782–1852), politician; Franklin Pierce (1804–1869), 14th US president; William Pitt Fessenden (1806–1869), lawyer and politician.