Era 9 Themes

ERA 9 HIGHLIGHTS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Cold War, returning soldiers, woman's place, middle class ideals, the consumer culture, conservative politics, the tax question, dissension of the 1960s

The big themes of this era center on the fears and hopes of post-war politics, economics, and technology set against a background of the atomic bomb and a growing mass consumer culture.

During the 1950s. New Hampshire was still finding out how national and international trends and forces would play out in the state. New Hampshire took part in the postwar economic boom. Soldiers cam 
home, married, bought houses, and started families. As the men returned, women found that they had to leave many of the jobs they had held during the war. The dominant middle class social expectation was that women would return to the home and become homemakers.

The home became the center of consumerism. Household gadgets and appliances defined the modern household. While the ideal had the appearance of a consensus view, many individuals and families
in New Hampshire could not afford or did not choose to follow the middle class ideal of the modern household; a higher percentage of women continued to work for pay than in the other New England states, and some households resisted modern gadgets to accomplish work done in more traditional ways.

Nonwhites in the state increased during the 1950s, until by 1960 there were 2,587, partially because of members of the armed forces at Pease Air Force Base. By 1970, the nonwhite population was 4575 and 2505 of those were black in a total population of 737,681. 

The economic profile of New Hampshire changed. Once textiles had been the industrial backbone of the state, but now small manufacturing and electronics firms moved into the forefront in a resurgence of industry. Agriculture began an almost unnoticed rebirth with organic farming that would take thirty years to develop. Tourism grew to become a major part of the New Hampshire economy. Automobiles on improved roads moved tourists and sports enthusiasts to and from the state. Recreational visits became shorter and more frequent, unlike the extended sojourns of the nineteenth century, and this demanded different kinds of
recreational services.

In politics, the Cold War reached into the state and New Hampshire became a kind of conservative bell-weather. William Loeb bought the Manchester Union Leader in 1946; as owner and editor of the only statewide New Hampshire newspaper, Loeb achieved a national reputation as the irascible conservative voice
of dour Yankees. Under the influence of Loeb, taxes became the guiding issue for elections. By the 1970s, to win the governorship, candidates had to promise not to introduce broad-based taxes.

New Hampshire state politics kept a conservative Republican cast. The New Hampshire legislature created a commission in 1949 to investigate Communist activities in the state. In 1951 the legislature passed a Subversive Activities Act. Under the umbrella of this act, Louis Wyman, as New Hampshire Attorney General from 1953-1961, with the public support of the Manchester Union Leader, headed a government search to ferret out Communist sympathizers in the state. In the same decade. New Hampshire's first-in-the- nation presidential preference primary quickly became a national political barometer.

Cracks appeared in the public persona of the state, however. Issues such as what kind and quantity of taxes would pay for local schools arose every election year. In addition, nation-wide movements in the 1960s -Civil Rights, women's rights, peace, rock music, and flower children - chipped away at what some declared to be the New Hampshire way of die-hard conservatism.

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