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New Hampshire State History

History | Symbols | Interesting Facts | Famous People


1603—Martin Pring of England explores the mouth of the Piscataqua River

1614—English captain John Smith explorers the Isles of Shoals

1622—Gorges and Mason receive the land of Maine and New Hampshire

1623—Dover, the first permanent settlement, is founded.

1629—John Mason receives New Hampshire

1641—Massachusetts Colony gains control of New Hampshire

1679—England forms New Hampshire as a separate royal colony

1734—The Great Awakening sweeps through New Hampshire

1756—New Hampshire Gazette, the state’s first newspaper is established

1770—Dartmouth College opens at Hanover

1776—The first independent government from England is established

1788—New Hampshire becomes the 9th state

1808—The state capital is established in Concord

1819—religious toleration act prohibits taxation for church purposes

1833—The first U.S. public library is founded in Peterborough

1853—Franklin Pierce of Hillsboro becomes the 14th U.S. President

1944—The International monetary Conference is held at Bretton Woods

1963—New Hampshire legalizes lottery; the nation’s first since 1894

The Abenaki and Pennacook Indians were living in the area of New Hampshire when Europeans arrived.  Exactly who were the first white men to settle the area is unknown, but general exploration began in the 1600s.

In 1603, Martin Pring from England explored the mouth of the Piscataqua River.  John Smith explored the Isles of Shoals in 1614, naming them Smith’s Islands.

English King James I gave the land that now includes Maine and New Hampshire to Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason in 1622.  The land was divided between the two men in 1629, Mason receiving his share between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers.  He named it after his home county in England, Hampshire.  Massachusetts bought New Hampshire in 1641, but in 1680 King Charles II again made it a separate colony.

Great Britain gained control of Northeastern America during the French and Indian Wars.  New laws increasing taxes and restricting colonial trade led to the Revolutionary War.  New Hampshire was the first colony to declare independence of Britain by establishing a separate government on January 5, 1776.  Although none of the Revolutionary battles took place on New Hampshire land, hundreds of “minutemen” went to Boston to fight the British.  On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, making it the law of the land.

New Hampshire was against slavery and sent about 34,000 soldiers to fight for the Union during the Civil War.  Portsmouth Naval Shipyard built ships that blockaded Southern ports.

After the war, the once agricultural state began a period of industrial growth with new businesses and factories.  Thousands of immigrants from Canada and Europe came to work in textile, woodworking, and leather industries.  Many farmers left to claim free land in the West, creating more of an urban New Hampshire.

During World War I, Portsmouth again supplied warships.  Leather and shoe manufacturing became the state’s leading industry.  World War II, required more warships and submarines.  Military uniforms were supplied from textile mills and boots from shoe factories.

In 1944, the International Monetary Conference was held in Bretton Woods, to help restore world trade after the war.  Representatives from 44 different countries came together and established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In the 1950s, the Business Development Corporation and the Industrial Park Authority were established to aid new businesses and attract industry to New Hampshire.  Today, few of the businesses in New Hampshire are textile mills or shoe factories.  Computer companies and tourism are the growing industry.