The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

By Lynn Warren Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

PEACE AND DEPRESSION

The war with all its Calamitys did not seem near so distressing as the present times.—New Hampshire State Papers

In the years that immediately followed the proclamation of peace the people of New Hampshire were to learn that the liquidation of an eight‐ year war was a slow and painful process. 1 The conflict left a heritage of festering wounds that monopolized the attention of legislators to the detriment of constructive measures. The journals of the general court, for a decade after the nominal establishment of peace, are fraught with the aftermath of war—with pleas of soldiers for back pay, compensation, and pensions; with payrolls and accounts for requisitioned supplies, bounties, provisions, and services to be adjusted between a bankrupted state treasury and importunate creditors, including Congress; and with a miscellany of demands that drove legislators to distraction. When the political uncertainty growing out of defective state and national constitutions and the financial chaos produced by an enormous debt, unpaid taxes, and inflated currency were added to this, they made the task of reconstruction during the I780s one that would have tried even experienced statesmen working under the most favorable conditions. But the New Hampshire leaders of that period were experimenting with a new form of government and facing an economic depression in addition to all their inherited difficulties.

A sharp difference of opinion over postwar treatment of the loyalists was one of the earlier evidences of the shape of the future. Such leaders as John Adams, John Jay, and George Washington approved the fourth, fifth, and sixth articles of the treaty of peace and believed that they should be carried out as fully as though Congress had sovereign power to execute them. The men who governed New Hampshire after 1783 were in at least partial agreement with this opinion. Even before Congress acted, John Sullivan, the attorney general of the state, properly interpreted the sixth article of the treaty as nullifying a New Hampshire law of 1782 which provided for the confiscation of all absentee loyalists' property and brought no further actions under that statute. 2 When Congress sent out its proclamation of January 14, 1784, enjoining the states to observe their obligations under the treaty, the New Hampshire legislature responded more loyally than did most of the states. In November it

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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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