The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

By Lynn Warren Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

CONSTITUTION MAKING

You and I, my dear friend, have been sent into life at a time when the greatest lawgivers of antiquity would have wished to live. How few of the human race have ever enjoyed an opportunity of making an election of government for themselves or their children!—John Adams

Independence had been won in 1783 not by a new nation but by a loosely federated group of thirteen individual and separate states. 1 Even that congeries had not been formalized until Maryland's ratification of the Articles of Confederation on March I, 1781, less than eight months before the surrender of Cornwallis and the virtual end of the war. Generally speaking, the smaller states—Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, and New Jersey—were reluctant to ratify the Articles, despite their having equal voices with the larger states in Congress, because the proposed union failed to nationalize the trans-Appalachian west. New Hampshire had not raised this objection, but its delegates had opposed the provisions that requisitions for meeting the expenses of the "common" government should be assessed according to the value of surveyed land in each state and that levies for the armed forces should be in proportion to the number of white inhabitants. The ground of objection in both instances was the great number of Negro slaves in the southern states, who would neither be taxed nor counted as manpower—an ominous foreshadowing of future bitter disputes. 2

These scruples, however, did not prevent New Hampshire's early ratification of the Articles, on March 4, 1778. In April 1781, furthermore, the New Hampshire legislature readily agreed to give Congress the requested authority to raise a 5 percent duty on imports. Until 1782 the Granite State met congressional requisitions for both men and money with commendable promptitude. It could fairly be said, when peace came, that New Hampshire had carried its share of the war burden.

The northernmost state, however, entered the postwar period under the embarrassment of a state constitution that declared that it was to prevail only "during the present unhappy and unnatural contest with Great Britain." This anomaly was only one of many that New Hampshire experienced as it sought, in common with the other states, to find a new and suitably republican basis for the exercise of government. Unlike the other New England colonies, it had no charter that could serve this purpose, even temporarily. Consequently, as did ten others of the "origi

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The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Ninth State - New Hampshire's Formative Years *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword *
  • Preface *
  • Chapter 1 - Revolutionary New Hampshire *
  • Chapter 2 - Constitution Making *
  • Chapter 3 - Peace and Depression *
  • Chapter 4 - Personal Politics *
  • Chapter 5 - A Fragment of Social History *
  • Chapter 6 - In the Federal Union *
  • Chapter 7 - Constitutional Revision *
  • Chapter 8 - The Rise of Parties *
  • Chapter 9 - Federalists and Republicans *
  • Chapter 10 - Federalist Decline *
  • Chapter 11 - The Old Order Yieldeth *
  • Chapter 12 - Democracy Triumphant *
  • Chapter 13 - Federalist Collapse *
  • Chapter 14 - Blockade and Embargo *
  • Chapter 15 - Drifting Toward War *
  • Chapter 16 - In the War with England *
  • Chapter 17 - The Indian Summer of Federalism *
  • Chapter 18 - Peace Abroad: War at Home *
  • Chapter 19 - Tribulations *
  • Chapter 20 - The Demise of Federalism *
  • Chapter 21 - Reform and Freedom *
  • Appendix - Maps and Explanations *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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