Era 3 Themes

ERA 3 HIGHLIGHTS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: differences among groups in revolutionary New Hampshire, Fort William and Mary, Battle of Bennington, Battle of Bunker Hill, the Revolution on
the home front, state constitutions, US Constitution, social and cultural changes, the economy

Connections between New Hampshire history and events outside the state could hardly be more evident than in Era 3. Divisions outside of New Hampshire led to divisions within. The class, economic, and religious ties of Loyalists and Revolutionaries separated individuals, groups, and regions. The Revolution in
New Hampshire, as elsewhere, did not ride a unified ground swell of support; the state had revolutionary instigators as well as Loyalists.

After Governor John Wentworth left and in the absence of a viable royal government, the state of New Hampshire declared a provisional government in January of 1776. The New Hampshire delegates to
Philadelphia signed the Declaration of Independence of the thirteen colonies later that same year. State documents illustrate the ideas of the time. There were two state constitutions as a response to revolution and statehood, one in 1776 and one in 1784. The 1784 Constitution, with amendments, forms the state constitution of today.

New Hampshirites contributed their share to military events of the Revolution. The 1774 bloodless raid on casually-guarded Fort William and Mary came after Paul Revere rode north to Portsmouth to warn that the British were coming to remove the stores of gunpowder there. The Revolutionaries used that gunpowder later at the Battle of Bunker Hill. While no battles were fought in New Hampshire, the state's soldiers were active throughout the Revolution. In addition to fighting at Bunker Hill, John Stark and New
Hampshire troops were critical in the victory at the Battle of Bennington. Some Loyalists stayed in the state, but others like John Wentworth left for safer ports. Privateers sailed in and out of Portsmouth, and smuggling flourished.  When the campaign moved south, some New Hampshire troops went, too, while others returned
to their farms and shops.

More people experienced the Revolution on the home front than on the battlefield. The home front can be traced through the activities and fortunes of women, slaves, children, Loyalists, men who stayed home, and government officials. For example, caught up in the ideas of the Revolution, 20 NH slaves petitioned the NH legislature for freedom in 1779; their petition was tabled, even though it contained ideas similar to those found in the Declaration of Independence.

Social and political change brought anxiety. Some New Hampshire people depended on religion to accommodate and explain the upheavals they felt. The Shakers, the Baptists, the Universalists, and the New Lights were radical religious sects that formed around the edges of Revolutionary society.

New Hampshire was the ninth and deciding state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788. New Hampshire voters just barely gave the edge to the Federalists, but there was always a strong feeling for states' rights in New Hampshire.

The successful fight for independence opened vexing questions: Who was a citizen? What constituted virtue in citizens? How could the states ensure a supply of virtuous citizens?  What should
become of slavery? What place should be accorded to women and Blacks, neither of whom were allowed to vote? The people and the presses of New Hampshire pursued the questions and answers with as much zeal as people did in the rest of the new United States.

IntroductionQuestionsOverviewsPeopleLesson PlansAppendixesEra 1Era 2Era 3Era 4Era 5Era 6Era 7Era 8Era 9Era 10