The state of New Hampshire was originally a colony which was founded on a land grant given to Captain John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges by the Council for New England in 1622. Its first settlement was at Odiorne’s Point near Portsmouth and was called Pannaway Plantation. The first settlers were a group of English fishermen under David Thompson in 1623 who built a fort, a manor house and some other buildings mainly for fish processing.
Settlers of Pannaway later moved to the Portsmouth region and named their new settlement Strawberry Banke. Cocheco at Dover Neck was the other plantation set up at the time. Religious leaders founded the seacoast plantations of Hampton and Exeter in 1638. In 1631 Captain Thomas Wiggin was appointed the governor of the Upper Plantation which comprised of present-day Dover, Durham and Stratham.
Most of the settlers turned to fish and timber as a source of livelihood. After the death of John Mason, New Hampshire’s four plantations were forced to accept Massachusetts’ rule for a period of 40 years. Meanwhile the ownership title bounced from owner to owner. This region was witness to continuous strife between Native Americans and white settlers. By the middle of the 1700s white settlers’ supremacy had been established.
By 1760 there were 61 New Hampshire towns, most named nostalgically after British towns. Eighty-six more New Hampshire towns came into being by 1775.
New Hampshire was a British colony for 150 years. It revolted against the British rule during the American Revolution. The raid on Fort William and Mary in 1774 in Portsmouth Harbor was the only battle fought here. This raid is also referred to as the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
New Hampshire’s colonial history is ridden with tales of greed, fear and survival on one hand and honor, spirit and invention on the other.
New Hampshire has the distinction of having been home to America’s 14th President- Franklin Pierce. The election of 1852 saw this New Hampshire lawyer reach the White House. Since 1952 New Hampshire has been the holding the presidential primary in every presidential election year.
New Hampshire had been a textile stronghold till the late 1950s. However, with the collapse of the textile industry New Hampshire changed focus to technology.