A Government For the People
They were not happy when England decided to become more involved with the colonies by levying taxes and trying to take away their guns. The province wanted a government that would maintain the liberties its citizens had gotten used to. It was the least populated of the thirteen original colonies, but there was a spirit in this place that pushed it forward to becoming a leader in the birth of American independence.
The First Act of Colonial Rebellion
The people of New Hampshire were happy to help when Paul Revere came riding into Portsmouth to say the British were coming, and they needed to hide the guns and powder. So on December 14, 1774, the day after Paul’s visit, four hundred of the locals along with the fife and drum band headed to Fort William and Mary in New Castle, just outside Portsmouth, to capture the fort and take the weapons.
According to Captain John Cochran, his five men were told to fire on the mob when they would not disperse. The Brits did fire, though no one was injured, and then they were overwhelmed by the mob before they could reload. The British were held while all but one barrel of gunpowder was taken. The Captain and his men were freed when the locals sailed away.
The next day a larger group overtook the fort, and they left with the light cannons and sixty muskets. The British flag was lowered as well.
The British Paul Revere spoke of did not arrive for weeks giving the New Hampshire Patriots time to bring firepower to help at the Battle of Bunker Hill. And, apparently, most of those fighting at that battle were from New Hampshire. The small state sent three militia regiments to the Continental Army.
And the First Signer
But New Hampshire’s contribution to freedom did not stop there. The first person to vote for and to sign the Declaration of Independence after John Hancock was Josiah Bartlett from New Hampshire. The Declaration was signed North to South, and New Hampshire being the most northerly state signed first despite the fear of retribution from the Crown for this treasonous act.
New Hampshire was the 9th and deciding vote to accept the Constitution. In January of 1776, New Hampshire was the first colony to declare its independence, form a Provincial Congress and adopt a constitution to provide leadership through the Revolution. John Langdon, the first acting vice president of the United States, was from New Hampshire, and the contributions go on from there.
It is important that you understand fully what people sacrificed to be leaders in the Revolution and how much their rights meant to them. These were dangerous times as the British tried to squash the colonists revolt. There were supporters of the crown within the colonies that tried to prevent the revolution from taking place by turning people in and committing acts against those working for freedom.
Josiah Bartlett’s house was burned to the ground because of his political views, but he remained in Philadelphia to finish what had been started. Several signers of the Declaration were tortured and died, some had homes ransacked and burned, some had sons captured or die in the war and some fought and died from wounds or hardship. In their minds, all they gave was worth it, and we have all benefited from their dedication.