Era 10 Themes

ERA 10 HIGHLIGHTS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: politics, taxes, the environment, industry, tourism, law and order, change, local rule, Seabrook, presidential primary, electronic communication's effects
on community, diversity. 

New Hampshire's image Conflicts and struggles arose between those who had political power and those who wanted it, between those for and against specific issues such as the Vietnam War or broad-based taxes, between environmental concerns and industrial interests, between those who hold on to the old ways and those who welcome the new, between the maintenance of and challenges to law and order. These express the essence of Era 10.

Conflict between local rule versus large industrial and commercial interests was tested when the town of Durham successfully fought off an attempt by Governor Meldrim Thomson and Aristotle Onassis to build an oil refinery on Durham Point in 1974. Another battle, the building of the Seabrook nuclear power plant, was fought by many of the same people, but this time the plant was built.

In politics, no matter what the election, taxes maintained a high profile as a pivotal recurring issue. The first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary ensured a place in the national media for New Hampshire every four years. Candidates traveled the state, meeting voters in stores, town meetings, diners, on the street, and in
homes. Politics had a personal, face-to-face quality. The new influence of television in elections was not tested .until th6 election of 1978. By the 1996 election, television advertising made the New Hampshire campaign much like that in other parts of the country, a media event of sound-bite-sized messages. The characteristic personal touch, possible because of New Hampshire's relatively small area, was not quite lost, however. The first elected female governor in New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen, was elected in 1996.

The electronic communications revolution reduced the relative and real-time distance between the residents of rural farmhouses, city apartment dwellers, and the rest of the world. Old values and ways
associated with New England and New Hampshire conflicted with the homogenizing effects brought by vehicles and electronics delivering people, attitudes, values, and products. Local battles in the 1990s over the coming of chain stores such as Wal-Mart and Rite-Aid forced communities to confront and debate related
economics and quality-of-life questions.

Change and a mobile population loosened community cohesion. Paradoxically, a counter-force to community disruption was the determination of people to escape what they saw as the ills of large-scale urban living and to build ties in more manageable environments such as New Hampshire.

In another apparent paradox, economic and technological change in the context of global and regional events parlayed into a more ethnically and culturally diverse demographic landscape even while
promoting homogenization by mass culture. In 1990 only 45.8% of the population was born in New Hampshire and 3.7% were foreign-born. The communication explosion has also given diverse people more means and contexts in which to express themselves, and that act has led to greater conflict as well as greater understanding.

The computer and other electronic communications now make another series of changes possible in the state. People can live in remote areas while working and talking to their colleagues and counterparts all over the world via high-tech channels. The social, cultural, and economic results remain to be seen.

More than ever, the state is tied to the fate of the larger whole, yet the tourist industry and media cling to an image of old values and semi-secluded quaintness. Evidence arguing against New Hampshire's untouched quaintness shows that New Hampshire is more industrialized than Vermont, another state that banks on its country image. According to the census in 1990, 51.6% of New Hampshire lived in urban areas.

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