New Hampshire, Our Story of The Revolution.
Everyone knows the story of Paul Revere’s ride and the “shot heard round the world” at the battle of Lexington and Concord, but did you know the first shot was actually fired in New Hampshire? That’s right, New Hampshire. And New Hampshire was hugely instrumental in helping this country gain its independence.
In the Beginning . . .
Let’s set the scene. New Hampshire was settled in 1623 as part of a land grant from King James I to Captain John Mason and friends. The king provided ships, provisions and offered free land with the stipulation that the inhabitants would remain loyal to England.
Captain Mason sent two groups of people to settle the land in what was originally known as North Virginia, then New England, with the addition of a spot called Portsmouth (after Captain Mason’s command in England) and then finally called New Hampshire to recognize his home county of Hampshire. The original settlers were fish merchants and set up shop in what is now Rye and Dover.
Captain Mason sadly never made the journey as he passed away just before he was set to come, after having invested quite a large sum of money in development and protection of New Hampshire. The area continued to expand and grow due to fishing, and trading furs and lumber.
Initially, as the New Hampshire was developed, it closely followed the English governmental system establishing towns that created a “royal province,” which lasted for eighteen years. In 1698 the king made New Hampshire part of Massachusetts for about forty-three years. (If you have ever shopped the mall in South Nashua you would think New Hampshire was still part of Massachusetts.)
Finally, a Colony Again
Through the years there were several monarchy changes, which meant shifts to the local leadership as the royal governors were appointed by the king. Eventually, in 1741 New Hampshire was changed back to provincial status and given a governor, Benning Wentworth. Benning died in 1770, and his nephew became governor, and that is where the story of New Hampshire’s role in the Revolution begins.
The Crown had not been all that attentive to New Hampshire in the early days, leaving it to defend itself from Indians. The people who came to settle here enjoyed the freedom they found, and they were known for their independent attitude.