History of New Hampshire
Before the Europeans came to the region of today’s New Hampshire, it was inhabited by a number of Algonquian tribes. First records of European (mainly French and English) explorers ware made around 1600. Soon after, in 1623 the English established a small fishing village in the region of today’s Rye. The settlement was called the Pannaway Plantation, and it contained a manor house and a small fort. The first large permanent settlement was located in the region of today’s Dover. It is in 1631 that the Upper Plantation was founded. It encompassed the regions of today’s Stratham, Durham and Dover.
The region had great strategic value, as it was located on the border of French and English colonies. As such it was frequently contested over, and has seen a number of wars, including the King George’s War, Father Rale’s War, Queen Ann’s War and King William’s War. Seeing that it shared governorship with Massachusetts, the two colonies often had disputes over the exact position of their borders. These issues were not resolved until 1741 when the borders were settled and the governorship separated by King George II.
In 1776, New Hampshire became the first colony with independent government and an established constitution. But according to that very constitution, their intention was not to escape their dependence on Great Britain. The colony was divided between classes. The economy of the region was focused around the established town and village centers, merchant’s warehouses, shipyards and sawmills. This resulted in two distinct classes, wealthy merchants on one end, and slaves, indentured servants, mariners and day laborers on the other. The split was causing tensions and a desire for the change of the situation.
The state provided three regiments for the Revolutionary War, which fought in the Battle of Rhode Island, Saratoga Campaign, Battle of Bennington and the Battle of Bunker Hill. Six months before the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Congress of New Hampshire ratified the state constitution.
In 1835, Noyes Academy was founded in the city of Canaan by the abolitionists. However, it was short lived, as the people protesting integrated education actually dragged it away with oxen and set fire to it. However, the spirit of abolitionism was not extinguished, and it remained prevalent among the state’s populace.
After the civil war, textile production became one of the main state industries. However, the strengthening of the competition and the Great Depression have taken their toll, almost destroying the state’s textile industry. This was most evident after the closing of the Nashua Manufacturing Company mill and of the Manchester’s Amoskeag Mills. However, the period after the WW II has brought rejuvenation to the state’s economy.
New Hampshire Economy
In 2008 the GSP of New Hampshire amounted to $60 billion, which was the 40th highest GSP in that year. In the same year, the average household income of the state’s residents was $49,467, the 7th highest in the nation. The state’s industrial output includes tourism, plastic and rubber products, electric equipment and machinery, while the most important agricultural products are eggs, apples, cattle, nursery stock and dairy products.
Naturally, the dominant industries in the state have gone through significant changes during the last century. Once dominant industries such as small machining shops, shoe making and textile production are contributing only a small portion of the state’s total revenue, with the 9% of the revenue coming from the machining, 2% from the leather goods and 2% from the textile industry. There are a number of reasons for the decline of these industries, the main one probably being the fact that wages for these kind of jobs are much lower in the south of the US, so that is where most of such work is done.
In 2008, the state had a budget of $5.11 billion, $1.48 billion of which was from federal funds. The state has an unusual tax system, with no income or sales tax, but with a property tax. Taxes are also imposed on investment and business income, vehicles, lodging and meals.
Per capita and total energy consumption in the state have been determined to be among the lowest in the nation. Almost a third of the state’s electricity comes from a single plant, the Seabrook Station National Power Plant. This is the largest nuclear reactor in the New England region and it is located in the vicinity of Portsmouth. The remaining electricity in the state comes from several fossil and natural gas fueled plants. One of the reasons behind the fact that the energy consumption in the state is so low is the climate in the state.
The summers are quite mild, meaning that the state’s residents don’t have to rely on air conditioning too much, while during the winter months they mostly use other fuels for heating their homes, mostly fuel oil. Like most of the other states, New Hampshire has a decent renewable energies potential, including wood fuel, hydroelectricity and wind power. Income from interests and dividends is taxed at 5%, but the state doesn’t have a typical income tax or general sales tax. This has, however, resulted in quite high property taxes. Still, New Hampshire is the state with the 49th highest tax burden. New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is 5.4%.
New Hampshire Geography and Climate
New Hampshire is located in the New England region. It has Vermont on the west, Massachusetts on the south, Atlantic Ocean and Maine on the east, and Quebec on the northwest and north. The state is divided into several regions, including the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee area, the Monadnock Region, the Merrimack Valley, the Seacoast, the Lakes Region, the White Mountains and the Great North Woods. It is the state with the shortest ocean coastline that only stretches across 18 miles. One of the geographical features of New Hampshire that was quite well known was the Old Man of the Mountain. It was a rock formation in the Franconia Notch that resembled a human face, but it collapsed in 2003.
The White Mountains range is located in the northern section of the state. The range consists of a number of mountains including the Mount Adams, Mount Madison, and Mount Washington, which is the highest mountain in the northeastern United States. Mount Washington is infamous for its terrible weather conditions, including incredibly strong winds, which are partly to blame for more than 100 deaths of the people trying to scale the mountain. Because of such conditions, the people working in an observatory located on one of its peaks have dubbed it the place with the ‘World’s Worst Weather’.
New Hampshire can boast several larger rivers, including the 110 miles long Merrimack River which flows through the southern part of the state, before ending up in Massachusetts. The river’s most important tributaries are the Winnipesaukee River, Pemigewasset River and the Contoocook River. It is also important to mention the Connecticut River which originates at the Connecticut Lakes, and serves as a natural border between New Hampshire and Vermont. However, this natural border is quite peculiar in that that is not located in the middle of the river, as is the case with most of the other river defined borders, but instead on the Vermont’s side, meaning that the largest portion of the river belongs to New Hampshire.
The state has only one ocean port, located at Portsmouth, where the Piscataqua River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. This river, along with the Salmon Falls River, defines the southern part of the border with Maine. This border has even caused some disputes over the ownership of certain islands, but the case that the state of New Hampshire made was dismissed in 2002, and the ownership of the islands remained unchanged.
The largest lake in the state is Lake Winnipesaukee, which stretches over 71 square miles, and which is located in the eastern part of the state. It is followed by the Lake Umbagog with just 12.3 square miles of surface area. New Hampshire is second only to Maine when it comes to the percentage of state area that is covered in timberland.
The state is located in the mixed forests and temperate broadleaf biome. Large portions of the state are covered in northern hardwoods and conifers of the New England Acadian forests. Southeastern parts of New Hampshire are mostly covered in Northern coastal forest oaks.
The northernmost part of the state, which is also known as the ‘north of the notches’ or the ‘north country’, contains only a small portion of the state’s population, and is quite underdeveloped and poor. It was once significantly more prosperous, but one of its main industries, logging has been on a decline for some time now. However, the White Mountains are still very attractive to tourist, and it is from them that the most of the region’s income comes from.
The climate in the state is described as humid continental. It is characterized by wet, cold winter and humid, warm summers, as well as with steady precipitation throughout the whole year. The climate is not completely the same in all of the state’s regions, as the southern parts of the state are affected by the air currents coming from the Atlantic Ocean, which are moderating the climate in the region, giving it wetter and milder weather then that in the interior and northern parts of the state. Winters are quite cold, regardless of the part of the state, and they usually bring heavy snowfall. Naturally, they are most severe in the mountainous northern regions of the state. On average, New Hampshire is getting between 60 and 100 inches of snow every year.
When it comes to average temperatures, in the summer, daytime temperatures range between 70 °F and 80 °F, while nighttime temperatures are in the area of 50 °F or 60 °F. Winter daytime temperatures are usually around 34 °F, while during the night they are close to 0 °F. New Hampshire is getting somewhere around 40 inches of annual rainfall, with the White Mountains region being the only one that significantly differs from the rest of the state in the amount of rain that it gets.
The highest temperature recorded in New Hampshire was 106 °F, and it was recorded in 1911 at Nashua, while the lowest temperature of −47 °F was recorded in 1934 at Mount Washington. Thunderstorms and hurricanes are not unheard of in New Hampshire, but they usually exhaust most of their power before reaching the state. On average, there are two tornadoes every year and 20 days with thunderstorms.
Population of New Hampshire
In 2011, population of the state was 1,318,194 people, which presented a 0.13% increase when compared to the previous year. The town of Pembroke in the Merrimack County is the state’s center of population. The fact that this center has shifted 12 miles to the south since the year 1950 indicates that the area along the southern state border has been experiencing the fastest population growth in the state.
In 2010 it was estimated that 92.3% of the state’s population is made up of non Hispanic white people, 1.6% of Hispanic white, 2.2% of Asian, 1.1% of African American, 0.2% of Native American or Alaskan Native and 1.6% of multiethnic people. When it comes to ancestry groups, it was determined that people with French or French Canadian ancestry make up 24.5% of the population, people of Irish 21.5%, English 17.6%, Italian 10.3%, German 8.4%, American 5.4%, Scottish 4.4%, Polish 4.2%, Swedish 2%, Greek 1.6%, Portuguese 1.4% and people of Scots-Irish ancestry account for 1.1% of the state’s total population. English is the language spoken by the vast majority of the people in the state, with French in the second place with 3.41% of the population using it at home, and Spanish in the third with 1.6% of the population.
According to their religious beliefs, 72% of the state’s residents are members of some of the Christian denominations, with 35% of them being Catholics, 5% just declared themselves as Christian, and 32% Protestant, out of which 6% are Baptist Protestants, 6% Congregationalist/United Church of Christ, 4% Episcopalian/Anglican, 3% Methodist Protestants, 1% Lutheran, 1% Pentecostal/Charismatic, 1% Presbyterian and 10% just declared themselves as general Protestant. There are 1% of Jewish people in the state, 2% of members of other religions, 17% of the people declared as non religious, and each of the following religions covers less than 0,5% of the state’s population: Seventh-Day Adventist, Church of God, Evangelical, Buddhist, Muslim, Assemblies of God, Jehovah's Witnesses, non-denominational, Churches of Christ and Mormon/Latter Day Saints.
Residents of New Hampshire are less likely to attend weekly church services than residents of any other state (except Vermont), while only 54% believe beyond doubt that there is a God (national average is 71%). According to a poll conducted in 2012 52% of the state’s residents declared themselves as non religious, while 23% consider themselves very religious. Somewhere around 431,300 state residents are members of the Catholic Church, 18,927 of the United Methodist Church and 34,299 of the United Church of Christ.
New Hampshire Government and Legislation
New Hampshire is famous for having the first primary in the presidential elections. The state has two members in the federal House of Representatives and, just like all of the other states, two Senators in the Senate. New Hampshire has two Congressional districts, the first one consisting of the entire Rockingham County, except for Windham, Salem and Atkinson, Hookset in Merrimcak County Merrimack, Manchester, Goffstown and Bedford in Hillsborough County, New Hampton, Meredith, Laconia, Gilmanton, Gilford, Center Harbor, Belmont, Barnstead and Alton in Belknap County and the entire Strafford and Carroll counties. The second district includes the rest of the state. The state has four votes in the Electoral College.
New Hampshire’s government has three branches, just like the other US states and the federal government. They are the executive, the legislative and the judicial branch.
The executive branch is led by the state Governor, who works alongside with state agencies and the Executive Council. The purpose and duty of the executive branch is to enforce and implement the state laws. The Governor is the highest executive branch officer and is granted the title of His or Her Excellency (even though only ‘His Excellency’ is mentioned in the state constitution). The Governor of New Hampshire shares power and responsibilities with the Executive Council, which is not the case in any of the other states. The Executive Council and the Governor need to consult each other and reach an agreement when it comes to pardons, important agency appointments and state contracts with the value of over $5,000. However, the Governor still has the sole control of the National Guard and vetoing the bills from the legislature. Both the Councilors and the Governor serve two year terms, while employees of different state agencies serve four or five year terms. Unlike most of the other states, New Hampshire doesn’t have a position of Lieutenant Governor. Instead, if the Governor is prevented from performing his or her duties, the Senate President takes over. The line of succession then goes on to the Speaker of the House, Secretary of the State, and finally, the State Treasurer.
New Hampshire’s legislative body is called the General Court. It is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate, which has 24 senators, and the House of Representatives, which has 400 representatives. New Hampshire’s General Court is the 3rd largest body of legislature in the Anglophone world. At one point it actually had 443 members, before the amendment to the constitution limited the number to 400. At first this has raised some issues due to the fact that the state has 259 municipalities and there can only be 400 representatives, but the problem was soon fixed with the introduction of the floterial districts. State legislators serve two year terms. The duties of the legislative branch mostly revolve around proposing new bills and voting on them. If both houses of the legislature accept the bill it goes to the state Governor for signing. If the Governor decides to veto the bill, his or her decision can still be overturned by a two third majority vote from both of the houses of legislature.
Judicial branch of the state is composed of courts of different levels and jurisdictions. The highest court in the state is the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which is also the only appellate court in the state. One of the duties of the Supreme Court and the justices that are leading it is the supervision of the rest of the judicial branch. Other state courts include the District Court which deals with civil matters and minor violations; the Probate Court, which has jurisdiction over guardianship of minors, involuntary admissions and partition of property; the Superior Court, which is the only state court with criminal and civil jury trials; and finally the Family Division, which deals with domestic violence, child support or custody and divorces.