American Revolution

New Hampshire quickly became involved in the Revolutionary movement that led to independence. In 1773, the colony established a standing Committee of Correspondence that operated throughout the war. The following year, the colonial assembly voted to dissolve the royal government. This body would meet throughout the war to decide on contributions to the war effort and work out a new plan of government.

In December 1774, a group of New Hampshire men seized Fort William and Mary and the stores of weapons it housed. These weapons were distributed to towns throughout the colony and were eventually used in the war.

The committee met in January 1775 to approve the actions of the Continental Congress and conduct other business related to the war effort. At the fourth meeting of the committee, conducted just after the outbreak of war in May 1775, the body voted to establish a provincial post office system and an army of 2,000 men. New Hampshire was able to contribute men with considerable military experience to the war effort. In July, the colonial assembly established the First Provincial Congress to govern the colony.

In addition to fighting the war against England, New Hampshire also worked to revamp its frame of government. Under the new system that emerged after the Revolution, the franchise was expanded to include all taxpayers, and the property requirements for officeholders were significantly reduced. Each town was granted one assemblyman per 100 freemen in the House of Representatives. Members of this lower legislative body were responsible for electing the upper house, known as the Council. All state officers were elected by both legislative bodies, in part, because the new government made no provision for an executive officer. There was also no established judicial system.

New Hampshire was the first state to establish a separate government, and, on June 15, 1776, it declared its formal independence from England. While the Provincial Congress had acted quickly, the voters were not so quick to accept the new government. A series of constitutional conventions beginning in 1778 worked to revise the government. A new constitution was finally approved and put into effect in July 1784. Tonia M. Compton See also: New Hampshire (Chronology); Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Bibliography Daniell, Jere R. Colonial New Hampshire: A History. Millwood, NY: KTO, 1981. Fry, William Henry. New Hampshire as a Royal Province, Studies in History, Economics and Law, Vol. 29,No. 2. New York: Columbia University, 1908. Squires, James Duane. The Granite State of the United States: A History of New Hampshire from 1623 to the Present, Vol. 1. New York: American Historical Company, 1956. Van Deventer, David E. The Emergence of Provincial New Hampshire, 1623 1741. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

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