New Hampshire

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut River forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E).

Facts and Figures

Area, 9,304 sq mi (24,097 sq km). Pop. (2020) 1,377.529, a 0.4% increase since the 2010 census. As of the 2020 census, the state's population was: White alone, 93.1%; Black alone, 1.8%; Hispanic or Latino, 4%; American Indian and Alaska native alone, 0.3%; Asian alone, 3%; Two or More Races, 1.8%. Capital, Concord. Largest city, Manchester. Statehood, June 21, 1788 (9th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution). Highest pt., Mt. Washington, 6,288 ft (1,918 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Granite State. Motto, Live Free or Die. State bird, purple finch. State flower, purple lilac. State tree, white birch. Abbr., N.H.; NH


The continental ice sheet once covered the entire state, scraping the mountains, eroding intervening upland areas, and rerouting water courses into precipitous streams and beautiful lakes. Across the north central part of the state the residual White Mountains of the Appalachian chain form ranges abruptly broken by passes (called notches). Between the Carter-Moriah Range and the Presidential Range in the east, the Ellis River drops 80 ft (24 m) through Pinkham Notch. West of the Presidential Range (which includes Mt. Washington, highest peak in New England at 6,288 ft/1,917 m), the cascading courses of the Ammonoosuc and Saco rivers divide it from the Franconia Mountains at Crawford Notch. To the southwest, in Franconia Notch, are Profile Lake (formerly watched over by the Old Man of the Mountain), the Basin, and the Flume, the waters of which flow into the Pemigewasset as it tumbles on its way to join the Merrimack. The northernmost gap, Dixville Notch, is surrounded by rocky pinnacles that look down upon a wild, fir-covered country abounding in lakes and streams.

South of the mountains the lake and upland area is frequently interrupted by isolated peaks called “monadnocks” from the original Great Monadnock near Jaffrey. The land surface declines westward to the broad valley of the Connecticut River, and the upper Connecticut valley (known as Coos country) is pleasantly pastoral. Practically every part of the state is within sight of, and identifies itself with, some peak. The climate varies greatly, and occasional high winds and violent storms roar through the narrow valleys. Annual precipitation is about 40 in. (102 cm), with snowfall mounting to 8 ft (2.4 m) in the mountain regions.

Concord is the capital and third largest city; the largest city is Manchester, followed by Nashua. The state's only port, Portsmouth, on the estuary of the Piscataqua River, also serves as a commercial center.

New Hampshire has 142 state parks and forests, and the White Mountains National Forest, which extends into Maine, has c.724,000 acres (293,000 hectares) in New Hampshire. The state's scenic beauty and serenity have long inspired writers and artists. Hawthorne, Whittier, and Longfellow summered in New Hampshire. Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculpted many of his finest works at the artist's colony at Cornish, and the MacDowell Colony at Peterborough is a summer haven for musicians, artists, and writers. The state is most intimately connected with the works of Robert Frost; Frost himself once said that there was not one of his poems “but has something in it of New Hampshire.”


Agriculture in New Hampshire is hampered by the mountainous topography and by extensive areas of unfertile and stony soil, but farmers are helped by the cooperative marketing that has expanded since World War II. Their main sources of income are dairy products, greenhouse products, apples, cattle, and eggs.

Since the late 1800s manufacturing has been important in the state. The textile mills and factories producing leather goods (such as shoes and boots) that once lined the state's fast-moving rivers have given way to high-technology firms, many of them migrating from the Boston area and its higher tax rates. Electrical and other machinery, as well as fabricated metals and plastics, are also manufactured.

Lumbering has been important since the first sawmill was built on the Salmon Falls River in 1631. Most of the timber cut now is used in paper production. Although New Hampshire has long been known as the Granite State, its large deposits of the stone—used for building as early as 1623—are no longer extensively quarried, the use of steel and concrete in modern construction having greatly decreased the granite market. Mineral production, chiefly of sand, gravel, and stone, is today a minor factor in New Hampshire's economy.

Year-round tourism is now the state's leading industry. Many visitors come to enjoy the state's beaches, mountains, and lakes. The largest lake, Winnipesaukee, is dotted with 274 inhabitable islands, while along the Atlantic shore 18 mi (29 km) of curving beaches (many state-owned) attract vacationers. Of the rugged Isles of Shoals off the coast, three belong to New Hampshire. Originally fishing colonies, they are now used largely as summer residences.

In the winter skiers flock northward, and the state has responded to the increasing popularity of winter sports by greatly expanding its facilities. When the snows melt, skiers are replaced by hikers, rafters, and climbers. Folk crafts such as wood carving, weaving, and pottery making have been revived to meet the tourist market.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

New Hampshire's constitution, adopted in 1784, is the second oldest in the country. New Hampshire is the only state in which amendments to the constitution must be proposed by convention; once every seven years a popular vote determines the necessity for constitutional revision. The state's executive branch is headed by a governor and five powerful administrative officers called councillors. The governor is elected for a two-year term and is traditionally limited to two successive terms. Perhaps the most unusual feature of New Hampshire politics is the size of its bicameral legislature (General Court), one of the largest representative bodies in the English-speaking world, with 24 senators and 400 representatives, all elected for two years. The state elects two senators and two representatives to the U.S. Congress and has four electoral votes.

The New Hampshire presidential primary is among the first to be held in election years and has often forecast national trends or influenced election outcomes. The primary is itself a major New Hampshire “industry.” Republicans played the dominant role in New Hampshire politics for more than a century after the Civil War, but Democerats have fared better since the 1980s in winning the governorship. It is now considered a swing state, with the state legislature flipping back and forth between the two parties' control.

Among the state's institutions of higher learning are the Univ. of New Hampshire, at Durham; Keene State Univ.; Dartmouth College, at Hanover; and Franklin Pierce College, at Rindge.


Early Settlement

The region was first explored by Martin Pring (1603) and Samuel de Champlain (1605). In 1620 the Council for New England, formerly the Plymouth Company, received a royal grant of land between lat. 40°N and 48°N. One of the Council's leaders, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, formed a partnership with Capt. John Mason and in 1622 obtained rights between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers, then called the province of Maine. By a division Mason took (1629) the area between the Piscataqua and the Merrimack, naming it New Hampshire. Portsmouth was founded by farmers and fishermen in 1630.

Through claims based on a misinterpretation of its charter, Massachusetts annexed S New Hampshire between 1641 and 1643. Although New Hampshire was proclaimed a royal colony in 1679, Massachusetts continued to press land claims until the two colonies finally agreed on the eastern and southern boundaries (1739–41). Although they were technically independent of each other, the crown habitually appointed a single man to govern both colonies until 1741, when Benning Wentworth was made the first governor of New Hampshire alone.

Wentworth and his friends purchased the Mason rights in 1746 (see Masonian Proprietors under Mason, John, 1586–1635), laying claim to lands east of the Hudson and thereby provoking a protracted controversy with New York (see New Hampshire Grants). Although a royal order in 1764 established the Connecticut River as the western boundary of New Hampshire, the dispute flared up again during the American Revolution and was not settled until Vermont became a state.

Growth and Independence

The French and Indian Wars had prevented colonization of the inland areas, but after the wars a land rush began. Lumber camps were set up and sawmills were built along the streams. The Scotch-Irish settlers had already initiated the textile industry by growing flax and weaving linen. By the time of the Revolution many of the inhabitants had tired of British rule and were eager for independence. In Dec., 1774, a band of patriots overpowered Fort William and Mary (later Fort Constitution) and secured the arms and ammunition for their cause.

New Hampshire was the first colony to declare its independence from Great Britain and to establish its own government (Jan., 1776). New Hampshire became the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the new Constitution of the United States in 1788. New Hampshire's northern boundary was fixed in 1842 when the Webster-Ashburton Treaty set the international line between Canada and the United States.

The Slavery Question

The Democrats remained in political control until their inability to take a united antislavery stand brought about their decline. When Franklin Pierce, New Hampshire's only President of the United States (1853–57), tried to smooth over the slavery quarrel and unite his party, antislavery sentiment was strong enough to alienate many of his followers. During the Civil War, New Hampshire was a strong supporter of the Northern cause and contributed many troops to the Union forces.


After the war New Hampshire's economy began to emerge as primarily industrial, and population growth was steady although never spectacular. The production of woolen and cotton goods and the manufacturing of shoes led all other enterprises. The forests were rapidly and ruthlessly exploited, but in 1911 a bill was passed to protect big rivers by creating forest reserves at their headwaters, and since that time numerous conservation measures have been enacted and large tracts of woodland have been placed under state and national ownership.

Depression and Diversification

The Great Depression of the 1930s severely dislocated the state's economy, especially in the one-industry towns. The effort made then to broaden economic activities has been continually intensified. The recent establishment of important new industries such as electronics has successfully counterbalanced the departure to other states of older industries such as textiles.

In the 1980s, New Hampshire produced many new jobs and had one of the fastest growing economies in the United States. The state benefits from its close proximity to the Boston metropolitan area with its many high-technology firms, but when Massachusetts experiences a recession like that of the late 1980s and early 90s, New Hampshire is similarly affected.

After decades of Republican control of the governorship, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen was elected governor in 1996, serving two additional terms, and then was elected to the U.S. Senate (2009-), the first Democrat from the state to serve in that body since 1981. The Republicans briefly held the governor's office again (Craig Benson, 2003-05), but then Democrat John Lynch (2005-13) narrowly defeated Benson. Democrat Maggie Hassan (2013-17) left office shortly before the end of her second term after being elected to the U.S Senate, making her and Shaheen the only two women to be elected both their state's governor and Senator. Moderate Republican Chris Sununu is the current governor (2017-), now in his third term in office.


See D. Delorme, ed., New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer (1983); L. W. Turner, The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years (1983); R. N. Hill, Yankee Kingdom (1984); W. G. Scheller, New Hampshire: Portrait of the Land and Its People (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

New Hampshire State Information

Phone: (603) 271-1110

Area (sq mi):: 9349.94 (land 8968.10; water 381.84) Population per square mile: 146.10
Population 2005: 1,309,940 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 6.00%; 1990-2000 11.40% Population 2000: 1,235,786 (White 95.10%; Black or African American 0.70%; Hispanic or Latino 1.70%; Asian 1.30%; Other 1.90%). Foreign born: 4.40%. Median age: 37.10
Income 2000: per capita $23,844; median household $49,467; Population below poverty level: 6.50% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $33,396-$35,140
Unemployment (2004): 3.90% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.20% Median travel time to work: 25.30 minutes Working outside county of residence: 33.30%

List of New Hampshire counties:

  • Belknap County
  • Carroll County
  • Cheshire County
  • Coos County
  • Grafton County
  • Hillsborough County
  • Merrimack County
  • Rockingham County
  • Strafford County
  • Sullivan County
  • Counties USA: A Directory of United States Counties, 3rd Edition. © 2006 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    New Hampshire Parks

    Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
    The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

    New Hampshire


    a state in the northeastern USA, in New England, bordering Canada. Most of the state is occupied by ranges of the Appalachians; in the northeast are the White Mountains (Mount Washington, 1,916 m); in the southeast is a maritime lowland. Area, 24,200 sq km. Population, 738,000 (1970), of which 56.4 percent is urban. Capital, Concord; largest city, Manchester.

    In 1970, 104,000 persons in New Hampshire were employed in manufacturing (35.5 percent of the work force). The state’s industries include machine building (electrical and industrial equipment), leather footwear, textiles, cellulose and paper, and shipbuilding. Agriculture is dominated by dairy and poultry farming. Hay, corn for silage, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit are grown. The state has many lakes. Coniferous forests cover a considerable portion of northern New Hampshire. Tourism is an important industry.


    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

    New Hampshire

    Ninth state; adopted the U.S. Constitution on June 21, 1788

    State capital: Concord
    Nicknames: The Granite State; The Mother of Rivers;

    Switzerland of America; White Mountain State State motto: Live Free or Die State amphibian: Spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) State animal: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) State bird: Purple finch (Carpodacus purpureus) State butterfly: Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa, subspecies

    samuelis) State flower: Purple lilac (Syringa vulgaris); wildflower: Pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule) State freshwater fish: Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis);

    saltwater game fish: Striped bass (Roccus saxatilis) State fruit: Pumpkin State gem: Smoky quartz State insect: Ladybug (Hippodamia convergens) State mineral: Beryl State rock: Granite State song: “Old New Hampshire” State sport: Skiing State tartan: New Hampshire tartan State tree: White birch (Betula papyrifera)

    More about state symbols at:


    AmerBkDays-2000, p. 466 AnnivHol-2000, p. 103


    State web site:

    Office of the Governor State House 107 N Main St Rm 208 Concord, NH 03301 603-271-2121 fax: 603-271-7680

    Secretary of State 107 N Main St State House Rm 204 Concord, NH 03301 603-271-3242 fax: 603-271-6316

    New Hampshire State Library 20 Park St

    Concord, NH 03301
    fax: 603-271-2205

    Legal Holidays:

    Day after ThanksgivingNov 25, 2011; Nov 23, 2012; Nov 29, 2013; Nov 28, 2014; Nov 27, 2015; Nov 25, 2016; Nov 24, 2017; Nov 23, 2018; Nov 29, 2019; Nov 27, 2020; Nov 26, 2021; Nov 25, 2022; Nov 24, 2023
    Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    New Hampshire

    a state of the northeastern US: generally hilly. Capital: Concord. Pop.: 1 287 687 (2003 est.). Area: 23 379 sq. km (9027 sq. miles)
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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