We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that potatoes are NOT the first thing you associate with New Hampshire. (In chapter 4, Mo discovers he loves potatoes. French fries, to be exact.) Guess where the first potato crops in this country were planted? In New Hampshire, in a town called Londonderry. Potatoes were introduced in 1791 by Scottish-Irish immigrants who had brought the vegetables with them across the Atlantic. So the next time you eat potatoes, whether they’re mashed, baked, or fried, think of New Hampshire!
Do you know where New Hampshire is located? It’s bordered by Canada to the north, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Massachusetts to the south, and Vermont to the west.
The state can be divided into three different regions:
- The White Mountains: Located in the north, this region includes Mount Washington, which is New England’s highest point (6,288 feet high).
- New England Upland: This region covers most of the central and southern portions of the state. It includes Lake Winnipesaukee (the state’s largest lake); the Connecticut River Valley, which forms New Hampshire’s western border; and Mount Monadnock, one of the world’s most-climbed mountains!
- The Coastal Lowlands: This region is located in the southeastern corner of the state, and touches the Atlantic Ocean.
Besides being the first state to plant potatoes, New Hampshire was also the first colony to create a constitution in 1776 and declare its independence from Great Britain. The constitution includes a bill of rights that guarantees the right to revolution.
But why would anyone want to start a revolution or war? Thousands of men in the state fought for freedom in the American Revolution (1775 to 1783). They wanted to be free of British control. The state’s motto is a constant reminder of their sacrifices: Live Free or Die.
What really happened
- People lived in what’s now New Hampshire at least 12,000 years ago. Thousands of years later, Native American tribes, including the Abenaki and the Pennacook, lived on the land.
- In the 1500s, French and English explorers began to arrive. The English established the first permanent European settlement in 1623.
- The French and English fought during the late 1600s and early 1700s. At first, the Native American tribes tried to stay out of the wars. Eventually, they sided with the French, but the British won more battles and forced the Native Americans out of the region.
- Ever hear of Paul Revere? He made history for his midnight ride in 1775 (on horseback) to warn the colonists that the British troops stationed in Boston, Massachusetts were about to march into the countryside. But not everyone knows that four months earlier in December 1774, Revere rode (on horseback) for an even longer ride (more than sixty miles!) from Boston to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to warn of an attack on Fort William and Mary. Colonists prevented the attack from happening and saved the fort from the British.
- As a side note, Revere was not alone on his famous midnight ride. He never shouted the infamous phrase: “The British are coming!” during his mission. By the end of the night, as many as 40 other men on horseback were helping him discreetly spread the news from town to town.
- In 1788, New Hampshire was named the ninth US state.
- New Hampshire actually had three names. It was first called North Virginia because its landscape looked similar to that of Virginia. Then King James renamed it New England. Captain John Mason later named the state New Hampshire after Hampshire County in England where he had lived as a boy.
- Samuel Shelburne of Portsmouth was the first Attorney General of the United States. He was named to the post in 1789.
- In 1833, the first free public library in the United States was established in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
- In 1853, Franklin Pierce, a native of Hillsborough, New Hampshire, became the first US president from that state.
- Starting in 1890, the State of New Hampshire encouraged people to adopt abandoned farms for summer homes as a way to handle its declining rural population.
- In 1936, damage from spring flooding proved to be the worst in 14,000 years. That spurred the passage of the Flood Control Act of 1936.
Stuff you should know
- New Hampshire is one of the six New England states. The others are: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
- The state only has 18 miles of coastline, which is the shortest coastline of any state that borders the sea or ocean.
- The first American to travel into space, Alan Shepard, was born in Derry, New Hampshire. In 1961, his flight lasted just 15 minutes and 22 seconds. In 1971, he was the fifth person to walk on the moon.
- New Hampshire is nicknamed the “Mother of Rivers.” Here’s why: Five of the great streams of New England originate in its granite hills. The Connecticut River rises in the north; the Pemigewasset River joins the Winnipesaukee to form the Merrimack River; the Cocheco River and Salmon Falls River form the Piscataqua River; and two of the principal rivers of Maine, the Androscoggin and the Saco, have their beginnings in northern New Hampshire.
Crazy, funny, or just plain weird
- Mount Washington in New Hampshire is one the windiest places on earth. The Mount Washington Observatory, at the top of the 6,289-foot peak, recorded a wind speed of 231 miles per hour on April 12, 1934. That’s comparable to winds in F4 tornadoes or Category 5 hurricanes. For 62 years, this was the highest wind speed ever recorded, until a speed of 253 miles per hour was recorded in Australia during a typhoon!
- The first American alarm clock was invented by clock-makerLevi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire in 1787. (Earlier versions were made by Europeans, including Leonardo da Vinci, a famous Italian artist, inventor and scientist.) But Hutchins’ alarm clock could only be set once, at a specific time. In other words, it would ring at the same time every day. It couldn’t be reset, changed or even turned off. Can you guess what time Hutchins set his alarm clock? He was an early riser. His clock would wake him up at four o’clock in the morning, every day of the week!
Tell me more
- Every state legislature (except in Nebraska) has two separate chambers called a House of Representatives and a Senate. There are 400 members in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives, making it the largest state house of all the US states.
- New Hampshire is nicknamed the Granite State because it has a history of mining granite and has some of the best quarries (open pit mines) in the country. Granite is the oldest rock in the world that forms deep underground. It’s also one of the hardest substances in the world, second only to diamonds. It’s so tough and durable that the pedestal that the Statue of Liberty stands on is made from granite. Granite has been used in construction since the Ancient Egyptians.
- By establishing the League of New Hampshire Arts and Crafts in 1931, the state was the first to use public funding for promoting and teaching traditional handcrafts.
Do you live in New Hampshire? Or have you vacationed or visited the state? Share something about the state’s geography or history along with your first name, age, and state where you live. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages!