In the region of present-day New Hampshire, there has been human activity for at least 10 thousand years. There were actually two main communities, the Sokokie in the Saco Valley and the White Mountains, and the Pennacook in the Connecticut and Merrimack valleys.
At the time the first European explorers came to the area, the population of Native Americans numbered some twelve thousand, but the Native population was decreasing rapidly because of disease and the battles with European explorers. By the year 1725, most Native Americans had abandoned the area and had gone north.
The first European explorers came to New Hampshire in 1603, when an Englishman, captain Martin Pring, was sailing along the New Hampshire coast. In 1605, Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, was paying a visit to the same area as well. A permanent European settlement wasn’t founded though before 1623 when explorers set up a camp near the Piscataqua River mouth at Odiorne Point.
The early settlements (there was also one at present-day Dover) were set up for fur trading and fishing, and fell under the rule of the ‘Council of New England’. This English agency issued land grants in the American New World. John Mason acquired a piece of land that he called ‘New Hampshire’.
There were two occasions that New Hampshire was governed by Massachusetts, in the period 1641 – 1670, and 1690 – 1692, and the borders between these states were never officially set until 1740, so the danger of raids was diminishing, and the population in the border area was growing strong. Under colonial Governor Benning Wentworth (1741 – 1766), no less than 75 new townships were founded.
New Hampshire was actually the first colony (there were originally 13 colonies) that formed an independent government, and in 1776, on January 5th, New Hampshire had already adopted its own new Constitution, six months prior to the Declaration of Independence.
New Hampshire supported the independence movement during the Revolutionary War, and the residents took extensive measures and preparations for the protection of New Hampshire and its harbors from British attacks, and though there were no official battles during the Revolution in the state, more than 18,000 men took part in the war.
In 1788, on June 21st, New Hampshire was welcomed as the 9th state in the Union. In the period 1788 – 1805, the New Hampshire political system was dominated by Federalist Party, but there was an exception in 1804, when Thomas Jefferson, a convinced anti-Federalist, won the majority of the votes.
The most important New Hampshire industry was shipbuilding that began early in the 18th century, and by the mid-1700s, the provincial capital Portsmouth had already turned into a thriving commercial port. All through the 18th and 19th centuries, shipbuilding activities were dominating the state’s industry, and when more and more people were moving to the New Hampshire inland areas, agricultural activities became increasingly important. This development wasn’t long-lived, though, because the expansion of railroad transportation reduced the need to produce crops near settlements.
Soon textile manufacturing was taking over as the major economic activity, and it was in 1810, that the renowned ‘Arnoskeag Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company’ was established on the banks of the Merrimack River at a location that now is Manchester.
When the Civil War was over, technological and transportation improvements made that New Hampshire became very attractive for new immigrants, and many thousands of them found employment in the state’s new textile factories.
Around 1915, the textile industry had reached its peak and began to decline when World War I had ended. The old factories in New Hampshire’s southern regions couldn’t withstand the competition of the new textile mills in the southern U.S. but northern New Hampshire industries, mainly logging and paper manufacturing, continued to be prosperous as before.
In 1905, New Hampshire was the location for a world political event when the Treaty of Portsmouth, that put an end to the Japanese-Russian War, was signed.
In recent years, many factors have been contributing to the continuing urbanization of the state. Interstate highways, the Boston urban sprawl, and pretty low state taxes were stimulating investments and developments in the southern portions of New Hampshire.
The state’s commitment to a healthy environment shows in many of its towns where recycling containers can be found besides regular trash cans, and pretty heavy fines are being imposed on those who don’t use the system. New Hampshire is also unique in a political sense, as it holds the nation’s first presidential primary elections.
There are quite a few people who think that the candidate who wins the New Hampshire primary will be the next elected President of the United States.