The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

Synopsis

Turner's work documents New Hampshire's transition from colony to state, including the development of the state constitution, the contests between constantly mutating political parties, and the conquering of the New England wilderness. He details the painful evolution of relations between the state government and the equally inexperienced federal government and takes note of the formidable accomplishments of the state's citizens during this period.

Originally published in 1983.

Excerpt

Lynn W. Turner—professor, college president, editor, author, educator, scholar—did not live to see this work published. He did all the research and he prepared the manuscript and he submitted it for evaluation and he received Phi Alpha Theta's annual manuscript award for his work in I978. He was preparing the book for publication by the University of North Carolina Press when he died—early in 1982.

Professor Turner's finished work, The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years, is a pioneer study, unusual at this late date in the development of American historiography, covering the history of New Hampshire from the revolutionary period into the miscalled Era of Good Feelings. His emphasis is upon the political developments within the state.

He bases these developments upon the four geographical sections that existed in the state when the Revolution began—the Old Colony in and around Portsmouth; the Merrimack Valley, originally peopled by migrants from Massachusetts; the Connecticut Valley, a kind of extension of the land of steady habits; and the Frontier. Though they all belonged— not always willingly—to the same political entity, the people of these areas were sadly lacking in any sense of union or concert in the management of public affairs. Their discord was readily reflected in their inability to write a satisfactory fundamental law. Six times they tried after 1776, but it was not until 1792 that they produced even a semirational compromise. Meantime, they engaged in passionate conflicts, typical of other states, over other substantive issues—the fate of Tory property, conflicting land claims, financial delinquency, the use of paper currency—until the conservative elements throughout the state began to assert themselves.

The touchstone for their activity was the new federal Constitution, which was supported by mercantile interests in the Old Colony and by farmers, mostly those in the Connecticut Valley, who had access to an outside market. These elements, interestingly, did not form a Federalist party. In national politics they were Yankees first and Federalists by happenstance. In New Hampshire they formed an elite, content to be firmly in control; their rivalries were personal. Among them the most important were those between John Sullivan, frequently governor, and John Langdon, United States senator for twelve years and a strong centralist.

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