The New England Town Meeting: Democracy in Action

By Joseph F. Zimmerman | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

The New Hampshire Open Town Meeting

The territory of present-day New Hampshire was included within the boundaries of the November 3, 1620, patent of James I to the Council of Plymouth in the county of Devon, which exercised granted powers until its dissolution in 1635. 1 New Hampshire’s first settlements date to Dover and Portsmouth in 1623, which were established primarily as fisheries and without title to the land. The Plymouth charter allowed its council to delegate its powers, and Captain John Mason was granted the territory of New Hampshire in 1629, but no government was established.

The first government was established by Exeter residents in 1639, and their lead was followed in 1641 by Dover and Portsmouth residents. In the same year, New Hampshire voluntarily was united with the Massachusetts Bay Colony and remained a part of the colony until 1679, when Charles II separated New Hampshire from Massachusetts. 2 Francis N. Thorpe explained:

Two causes moved in the direction of the union and the establishment of a separate province, one being the promotion of the interests involved in the Masonian title, and the other the policy in the Home Government and the desire of a small minority of royalists in the New England colonies to counteract and restrain the growing influence of the Puritan or Home Rule Party. 3

A new provincial government was established by the Crown in 1680. By 1689, however, New Hampshire was without a colonial government, as none was provided by the home government. The General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1690 ordered the reunion of New Hampshire with the colony, which continued until 1692, when the Province of New Hampshire again was established as a separate government. 4

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The New England Town Meeting: Democracy in Action
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Chapter 1 - Law-Making by Assembled Citizens 1
  • Chapter 2 - Genesis of the Town Meeting 15
  • Chapter 3 - The Massachusetts Open Town Meeting 27
  • Chapter 4 - The New Hampshire Open Town Meeting 59
  • Chapter 5 - The Vermont Open Town Meeting 83
  • Chapter 6 - The Maine Open Town Meeting 103
  • Chapter 7 - The Connecticut Open Town Meeting 117
  • Chapter 8 - The Rhode Island Financial Town Meeting 129
  • Chapter 9 - The Representative Town Meeting 139
  • Chapter 10 - Democratic Law-Making 163
  • Appendix I 195
  • Appendix II 197
  • Appendix III 199
  • Appendix IV 207
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 229
  • About the Author 233
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