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Chippa Granite Says Buy NH Products
The 20th century was a time of inventions, conflict, and progress. People got access to all sorts of things that made their lives easier, like indoor plumbing, electricity, and automobiles. There were also several wars during the 20th century, most notably World War I and World War II. And there was enormous social and cultural change. Fashions changed, mass communication and entertainment became available to all Americans, and people pushed for greater rights in society to jobs, housing, and education.

All of these changes affected New Hampshire, and more than ever before Granite Staters felt connected and involved in what was happening in the country and the world.

As you learn about New Hampshire in the 20th century, think about the following questions:
  1. How did New Hampshire’s identity evolve in the 20th century?
  2. What economic changes did New Hampshire experience during this time?
  3. How did New Hampshire’s people adapt to changes in the 20th century?
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New Hampshire in the Early 20th Century

What was life like in New Hampshire in the early 1900s?

Farming has always been important in New Hampshire, but in the late 19th century, thousands of Granite Staters left their farms. Some moved west where weather and soil conditions made farming easier, while others moved into cities where they worked in factories or entered a profession, like medicine or the law.

By 1900, only about one-third of New Hampshire’s population still lived and worked on farms. With so many people leaving rural communities, the population of many New Hampshire towns became smaller during these years. Many Granite Staters worried that some New Hampshire towns would disappear altogether if people kept leaving.
New Hampshire Farms: Your Opportunity
Old Home Week Letterhead

Old Home Week

In 1899, New Hampshire Governor Frank W. Rollins
Frank W. Rollins
came up with a way to support the towns. His idea was to hold celebrations in communities across New Hampshire. He called these celebrations Old Home Week. Each town organized its own activities for Old Home Week, like picnics, parades, concerts, baseball games, and plays. All the townspeople were invited, which gave people in the towns something fun to do and encouraged community spirit.

Each town also invited people who had once lived there to come back and join in on the Old Home Week celebrations. The hope was that when these people came back to their old town, they would support the town by contributing money to fix the town up or build something new, like a park or a library.
Old Home Week celebrations became very popular, not just in New Hampshire but throughout New England and even in Canada. Many Granite State towns held Old Home Weeks in the early 20th century, and people did contribute to big projects in towns across the state. Old Home Weeks offered communities a way to celebrate and made life in the towns more attractive, but they didn’t stop people from moving out of the towns.
Old Home Week Pin


Most of New Hampshire’s population in the early 20th century worked in the factories and mills that were all over the state. Lots of products came from New Hampshire during these years and were shipped all over the country, like paper, shoes, carriages, and buttons.

The largest factory in the state was the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester. The Amoskeag Company made all sorts of things, including rifles and locomotives, but it was best known for making textiles. In the early 1910s, Amoskeag was the largest textile factory in the world, with 17,000 people working there. Every week, the Amoskeag factories produced 5 million yards of cloth.
One Day's Production of Amoskeag Cloth
Keene's Main Street in the 1900s
For most people in New Hampshire during these early years of the 20th century, life was centered on what was happening in their communities or in the state. People read in the newspaper about what was happening in the rest of the country, but much of it seemed far away from New Hampshire.

Very few Americans paid much attention to what was happening in the rest of the world. The United States had long had a policy of staying out of arguments between other countries. Americans did not want to get involved in the wars that happened elsewhere in the world. This policy was known as isolationism because the United States was isolated, or separated, from the problems of the rest of the world. But as the country became bigger and wealthier, Americans found themselves drawn into world affairs more and more in the 20th century.

World War I

How did World War I shift Granite Staters’ attention to worldwide events?

In 1914, a war broke out between many countries in Europe that got everyone’s attention. It became the biggest war that had ever happened up to that time. In fact, people called it the Great War or the War to End All Wars. Now, it is known as World War I. Over 60 million people fought in this war over the four years it lasted from 1914 to 1918.

The United States stayed out of the war for the first three years. But in April 1917, America joined the fight and sent soldiers to Europe. In all, 4 million Americans fought in this conflict.
Thousands of the soldiers came from New Hampshire. Groups of families, friends, or coworkers often signed up for the military together and then fought together in units. Granite Staters served in both the army and the navy. Some even learned how to fly airplanes, which were a recent invention, and served as pilots during the war. Several New Hampshire women went to Europe with the troops and served as nurses.
Lieutenant John Winant
First Infantry Division, N.H. National Guard

Yankee Division

Most of New Hampshire’s fighting men served in the army in a unit called the Yankee Division. The Yankee Division was the first American unit of soldiers to arrive in France, where most of the fighting was.

French officers trained the American troops. The French saw that American soldiers were very good at throwing grenades and believed it was probably because Americans played so much baseball.

The Yankee Division saw a lot of hard fighting during World War I and didn’t return to the United States until after the war was over.


The war had a big impact on life in New Hampshire, even for those who didn’t go to Europe to fight. New Hampshire farmers grew food for the U.S. military. In fact, many Granite Staters had to start growing their own vegetables in victory gardens because the food grown by the state’s farmers went to the soldiers.

People on the homefront also had to cut back on how much they ate of certain foods so that the soldiers would have enough, especially sugar, meat, and wheat. The U.S. government encouraged people to make these patriotic sacrifices as their way of contributing to the war effort.
World War I Potato Drive
Amoskeag Company Great Flag
Manufacturers in New Hampshire also made a lot of products for the war effort, supplying the army with cloth for uniforms, weapons, shoes, ships, and even submarines, which were a new invention.

The U.S. Navy’s first submarine was built in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1917. Portsmouth also made dozens of ships during the war. Some were battleships that fought in the naval war in the Atlantic Ocean, and others were merchant ships that carried supplies to Europe.
The United States and its allies won World War I, but it was a deadly and destructive war. The countries fighting the war created many new inventions to get an advantage over their enemies. After the war, these new inventions became part of everyday life. Things like automobiles, airplane travel, and wristwatches became more common after World War I.
Early Automobile

The Roaring Twenties

After World War I, many people shifted their attention back to the Granite State, but life was different than it had been before the war.

The 1920s are often called the Roaring Twenties because some people treated the decade like one long party. Many people wanted to put the hardships of World War I behind them and have fun instead. With the war over, lots of people were hopeful that the future would be good. And everyone agreed that World War I had been so awful that there should never be another war again.
The Roaring Twenties
Family Listening to Radio
Many new inventions became popular during the Roaring Twenties, which changed the lives of people in America. For example, most people in New Hampshire had electricity in their homes by the 1920s, which meant they could run all sorts of appliances like refrigerators and lights. Electricity was available not just in cities but all over the state.

Radio was another invention that became popular in the 1920s as a form of mass communication. This was a new form of entertainment, and many people spent their evenings listening to shows on the radio that featured singing, comedy sketches, interviews, and news.
Movies also became very popular in the 1920s, and movie theaters opened in many New Hampshire towns and cities.

Movies at this time were silent. There was no sound recorded with the video, but theaters often hired piano players to play music along with the film.

Movies usually came with newsreels, which gave Granite Staters a way to see what was happening in the rest of the world, instead of just reading about it in the newspaper.
Movie Premiere
Automobiles at a Ballpark
Another invention that became popular in the 1920s was automobiles. Many families bought cars during these years, which allowed them to travel more easily from place to place. When people traveled by train in the 19th century, they could only go where the train tracks went, but having a car allowed people to go where they wanted.


The popularity of cars changed New Hampshire’s tourist industry. Tourists in the 19th century were mostly wealthy people, but once middle-class people bought cars in the 1920s, they began coming to New Hampshire as well. They couldn’t afford to stay at the grand resort hotels that had been popular for wealthy people in the 19th century, so Granite Staters built motels that were cheaper to stay at. People could drive right up in their cars. Restaurants opened near the motels so these tourists had someplace to eat.

Tourists in the 1920s also began exploring other parts of New Hampshire since they could travel wherever there were roads for their cars. New tourist destinations opened in places where visitors hadn’t traveled in the 19th century. Cars made New Hampshire’s tourist industry available to more people and allowed them to go to new places in the state.
Dolphyn Motel

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Farms and Factories

New Hampshire farmers struggled in the early 20th century, and many people abandoned their farms for jobs in the cities or to move west. The state's factories flourished at this time and produced goods sold all over the country.

Old Home Week

Towns began hosting Old Home Weeks in 1899 as a way to make life in NH's towns more exciting and fun. It also brought people who had moved back to the towns, and many of them contributed to big public projects in their old communities.

Roaring Twenties

New inventions developed during World War I became widely available for Americans in the 1920s. Many Granite Staters got access to electricity, radio, and automobiles during these years, which marked a big change in their lives.

Automobiles for Tourists

Middle-class people began to visit New Hampshire as tourists in greater numbers during the 1920s. They drove their own cars, which opened up new areas of the state to the tourist industry.
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The Great Depression

How did the Great Depression affect New Hampshire?

In 1929, the Roaring Twenties came to an end, not just because the decade was over but because the U.S. economy collapsed. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, many lost their homes, and for some people it was very hard just to find enough to eat. This period of economic hardship is called the Great Depression.
Soup Kitchen
Amoskeag Manufacturing Company
The people of New Hampshire struggled more during the Great Depression than Americans in other parts of the country because many of New Hampshire’s factories closed during this period.

Many of the state’s mills were already doing badly when the Great Depression began. In the 1920s, new factories in other parts of the country opened and started competing with New Hampshire factories. These new factories had newer, faster machines and could hire employees who worked for less money than workers in New Hampshire would. Manufacturing moved to where these new factories were, mainly in the American South. Since cotton was already grown in the South, these new factories had lower costs because the cotton did not have to be shipped north. Southern factories could produce more cloth faster and sell it at a lower price than New Hampshire factories could, so New Hampshire factories lost a lot of business.
The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company had a particularly hard time. During World War I, the company had its biggest years ever. It made more cloth and more money than ever before. But that all changed quickly in the 1920s, when most textile manufacturing moved to the South. When the company cut workers’ pay, the workers went on strike, but the company couldn't afford to pay them what they had before. Then the company started cutting back on the number of people it employed, and many people lost their jobs. In 1936, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company went out of business.

Almost all of New Hampshire’s textile factories closed during this period. So did a lot of other Granite State factories. Almost one-third of New Hampshire’s workers were unemployed during the Great Depression, which was much more than in the rest of the country.
Amoskeag Manufacturing Company Workers
John Winant
With so many people suffering in New Hampshire, Governor John Winant
John Winant
came up with a plan for the state government to help. He created several different government programs to support Granite Staters, such as having the state government send more money to the towns to buy food for people and help them pay their bills. He also started some big construction projects on roads in New Hampshire, which gave people jobs.
Governor Winant’s plan to get the state government involved was a lot like the plan presented by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who directed the federal government to help support people who were suffering. Governor Winant and President Roosevelt disagreed about many political issues, but they worked together because they knew that people really needed jobs. Roosevelt’s plan was called the New Deal because it promised “a new deal for the American people.”

As part of the New Deal, the U.S. government created many new programs that worked on big projects and gave jobs to millions of people. The two most important federal job programs in New Hampshire were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Thousands of Granite Staters got jobs through these programs.
WPA Sign
Working in the Kitchen
People who worked for the CCC worked on conservation projects to protect the environment and built infrastructure projects. The CCC only hired young men, and CCC workers lived and worked together in camps, sort of like the army. The CCC hired both Black and white men, but the camps were separated, or segregated, by race. CCC workers earned $30 each month and had to send $25 home to help their families.

The CCC lasted from 1933 until 1942. CCC workers built things like parks, ski resorts, bridges, dams, and roads. They also cut trails in the mountains, planted trees, and helped fight wildfires. We still use today almost all of the things they built. They also helped clean up after natural disasters, such as big floods in 1936 and a hurricane in 1938.
People who worked for the WPA also built infrastructure like roads and even airports. And they helped hand out food and clothing to people in need.

One branch of the WPA focused on the arts. Called the Federal Arts Project, it gave jobs to many artists and craftsmen who created murals and statues, composed music, organized theatrical productions, and took photographs that documented life in the state during this period.
Wild Life in the White Mountains

Winter Tourism

Although New Hampshire’s economy struggled during the Great Depression, there was one new development that helped the state: winter tourism. Until the 1930s, the tourists who came to New Hampshire visited mostly in the summer when they could hike, sail, fish, and swim. But starting in the early 1930s, people started coming to New Hampshire for winter sports, mainly skiing.

Skiing has a long history in New Hampshire. Small numbers of people started skiing here in the late 19th century and early 20th century when immigrants from Scandinavian countries like Norway, Finland, and Sweden arrived in the state. Most of these immigrants worked in New Hampshire’s lumber industry, and a lot of them settled in the northern half of the state. Scandinavians introduced both downhill skiing and cross-country skiing to New Hampshire and the United States.
Alpine Skier
All Off Together
In 1909, a group of students from Dartmouth College organized a club to promote winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing. The Dartmouth Outing Club made skiing very popular among the college’s students, and the college’s winter carnival drew skiers from around the country. By the 1920s, a few skiing events were even included in the Olympics, which brought more attention to the sport. Skiing became one of the more popular trends of the Roaring Twenties.

New Hampshire’s cold, snowy winters were perfect for skiing. The state usually got well over 100 inches of snow a year, so many areas had good conditions for either downhill skiing or cross-country skiing. The work of the CCC to cut trails and build other infrastructure encouraged skiers to come to New Hampshire as well. By the mid-1930s, New Hampshire had 50 trails for downhill skiing, which was a lot more than other states in the East.
Snow Train Poster
The New Hampshire tourist industry figured out ways to adapt to winter tourism. Many hotels put in heating systems, hot water, and fireplaces so that tourists could stay there year-round. Some places opened ice rinks so visitors could skate or play hockey. Lots of hotels bought sleighs and sleds so that people could get around on snowy roads. The Boston & Maine Railroad offered ski trains that took skiers from Boston to New Hampshire for the day or the weekend.
Granite Staters invented new ways to make skiing fun and promote the sport. One challenge for skiers was getting to the top of a mountain so they could ski down. In the late 1920s, skiers usually had to walk up the mountains while carrying their skis and poles! But soon, people came up with easier ways to get to the top.

The first tow rope in New Hampshire was installed in Gilford in 1934. It pulled skiers up Gunstock Mountain. Three years later, the first chair lift in the eastern United States opened at Mount Rowe in Gilford. The year after that, the Cannon Mountain Tramway opened and quickly became a popular tourist destination for both skiers and those who wanted to see the view in the White Mountains.
Mount Cranmore Skimobile
Goffstown Incline Railway
Some tourist destinations found new ways to use old tourist attractions. For example, Goffstown’s incline railway, which had been taking visitors to the top of a nearby mountain for decades in the summer, started operating in the winter. The skiers rode the incline railway up the mountain and skied down it.

Winter tourism became a very important part of New Hampshire’s economy and expanded the state’s tourism industry to a new season of the year.

World War II

Although government programs and winter tourism helped New Hampshire survive the Great Depression, the economic crisis didn’t really end until the early 1940s, when another world war broke out.

Everyone hoped that they would never have to live through another war as big as World War I, but World War II ended up being an even bigger conflict. It was fought on almost every continent. The war impacted hundreds of millions of people throughout the world and lasted for six years. No one knows how many people were killed in World War II, but it could have been as many as 75 million people.

The war started in 1939 in Europe, but it quickly spread. Just like in World War I, the United States did not get involved right away. It was not until 1941, when Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii that America joined the fight. Many countries fought in World War II, either with the Axis Powers or the Allied Powers. The United States fought with the Allied Powers, along with Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and many other countries.
World War II Poster
World War II Victory Booth
Mason's Fun Fact
Like other Americans, Granite Staters played a role in World War II, with both men and women serving in the military. Some of the factories that had closed during the Great Depression reopened and produced all sorts of supplies for the war effort, like uniforms, shoes, and guns.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard built lots of ships for the U.S. Navy during World War II because much of the war was fought by ships on the oceans of the world. Ships were also used to transport troops, food, and supplies to where they were needed. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard also built submarines, producing 75 of them during the course of the war.

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The Great Depression

In 1929, the world suffered from a global economic crisis known as the Great Depression. In America and New Hampshire, millions of people lost their jobs. Some even lost their homes. For a lot of people, they even had a hard time finding enough food to eat.

Factories Close

Many factories in New Hampshire closed during the Great Depression. They had already been struggling, but the economic crisis and a series of natural disasters forced them out of business.

State and Federal Government Programs

Both the state government and the federal government organized new programs to help people who were struggling and create jobs. These programs in New Hampshire built infrastructure like roads, bridges, and trails. They also supported the creative work of artists and writers.

World War II

Shortly after another big war broke out, the United States became involved in World War II. NH contributed men and women to the military, grew crops to support the troops, reopened factories to make good for the war effort, and built ships and submarines to help with the fight.
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Post-War New Hampshire

What economic challenges did New Hampshire overcome in the post-war years?

After the Allied Powers won World War II, the U.S. economy boomed, especially for those in the middle class. In the years after the war, more Americans than ever before could find decent jobs that paid well enough so they could afford housing, food, and a car. More people finished high school and even went to college, both men and women. The hardships of the Great Depression were in the past, and Americans in the post-war years looked forward to a higher standard of living than those who lived before them.

The people of New Hampshire were optimistic about the future, but they also faced some big challenges. Some parts of the New Hampshire economy did very well in the post-war years, like tourism. More Americans had money and time off from their jobs to take vacations. For those who lived in the eastern United States, New Hampshire was a great place to go. It had beautiful scenery with its mountains, lakes, and seacoast, and there were lots of attractions for visitors, including things to see and do, as well as places to stay and eat. And it wasn’t too far away for people who lived in places like Philadelphia or New York. The tourist industry became bigger than ever in the Granite State in the post-war years.
World War II Ends
Swimming and Diving at Camp
Summer camps also expanded in the post-war years, drawing more children from other states to New Hampshire. Sometimes known as sleepaway camps, summer camps had been popular in the state since the late 19th century. In the post-war years, even more camps opened, bringing thousands of children to the Granite State every year. Their parents wanted to get kids out of busy, crowded cities in the summers and send them to a place where they could enjoy the “great outdoors.” Summer camps offered city kids a chance to spend time in nature doing outdoor activities, like camping, swimming, fishing, and sailing.

Chippa Granite

In the early 1950s, the state government in New Hampshire decided to start an advertising campaign to let Americans know about all the wonderful things the state offered tourists. The state government organized a contest for artists to see who could come up with a good image to promote the state. A woman named Alice Cosgrove
Alice Cosgrove
won the contest by creating an image of a boy with red hair and freckles who was skiing. He represented the winter sports that were popular among tourists and suggested that New Hampshire was a place where the whole family could have fun.
Alice Cosgrove
Chippa Granite and NH Skiing
The state government then organized a second contest—this time among New Hampshire school children—to give the little boy in the picture a name. The state’s kids came up with the name “Chippa Granite.” Granite is a symbol of New Hampshire because there is so much granite rock in the state. After all, New Hampshire’s nickname is the Granite State. “Chippa” is a contraction, or combination, of the words “chip of.” The boy’s name, then, was meant to remind people that he represented a little piece of New Hampshire.

Chippa Granite was used on posters, brochures, and advertisements all over the country. He promoted both New Hampshire tourism and New Hampshire products, like milk, potatoes, and cheese.


Although Chippa Granite helped sell New Hampshire farm goods, farmers in the state struggled in the post-war years. For decades, New Hampshire farms had supplied dairy products, fruits, and vegetables to east coast cities like Boston and New York. But after World War II, U.S. grocery stores started buying many of their products from other countries, which was cheaper than buying them from New England.

Many people did not want to be farmers anymore, either. Instead, they wanted to get jobs in offices or factories that paid more money and didn’t require so much physical labor. A lot of farms in New Hampshire closed during these years, even though many of them had been family farms for generations.
Chippa Granite Says Make Mine Milk
Pandora Worker


The state’s economy faced other big challenges in the post-war years. Almost all of the big factories of the 19th century and early 20th century closed during the Great Depression or at the end of World War II. In many towns and cities, these old factory buildings were left empty. No one knew what to do with them.

But some New Hampshire communities found new ways to use these buildings by opening new kinds of factories. Many of these factories were focused on light industries because the products they made did not require all the equipment that the big factories used. They made things like shoes, sweaters, and electronics. Light industries offered jobs to many Granite Staters in the mid-20th century.
Among the new industries that came to New Hampshire in the post-war years were those that focused on supporting the U.S. military. They are known as defense industries because they make things that help defend the United States from other countries. Many New Hampshire defense industries design computer hardware and software, including the technology needed for the U.S. space program.
Sanders Graphic 7 Terminal
Alan Shepard Suited Up
In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States made a big effort to explore outer space, starting with the area closest to our own planet. Scientists found ways to send rockets up into space, which means the rockets traveled more than 50 miles above the earth.

The first American in space was Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard
, who was from Derry, New Hampshire. In 1961, he traveled on a spaceship called the Freedom 7 into space. Shepard’s ship went 116 miles above the earth. His trip was an important step in the space program, because it proved that people could go to space and come back safely to the earth again.

Ten years later, in 1971, Alan Shepard flew on another space mission that took him all the way to the moon. He even got to walk on it! When he came back to the earth, he brought a moon rock with him, which is now on display at the New Hampshire State House.
Alan Shepard was not the only Granite Stater involved with the U.S. space program. In 1985, a high school teacher from Concord named Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe
was chosen to go on the space shuttle Challenger as the first teacher in space. More than 11,000 teachers had applied for that opportunity! McAuliffe planned to conduct experiments and teach lessons from space.

Sadly, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after it launched, and all the crew members onboard were killed, including McAuliffe. Today, there are many things named in honor of Christa McAuliffe, including a museum, the McAuliffe–Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. This science museum is named after both of New Hampshire’s astronauts.
Christa McAuliffe in Parade in Front of State House
How has New Hampshire responded to social change in the postwar years?

In the years after World War II, American society changed a lot, particularly for women, for Black people, and for people from other diverse backgrounds. People from all of these groups became more determined to be treated equally by the government and by society.

In the 1950s, this fight for equality focused on the civil rights of Black people, who at that time were often treated unfairly. In most places in the United States, Black people could not eat in the same restaurants that white people could, or stay in the same hotels, or sit in the same section of the movie theater, or go to the same schools, or use the same bathrooms. This practice was called segregation. Black people were often segregated, or separated, from white people. There was more segregation in the southern states than in the northern states, but it existed all over America.
Housing Segregation
March on Washington
Many people believed segregation was wrong and decided that it must stop. They fought to change segregation laws and change people’s minds about segregation. They also fought to change laws that kept Black people from voting. In the mid-1960s, the U.S. Congress passed two laws that helped end segregation and protect everyone’s right to vote.

In New Hampshire, the state government created a commission in 1965 to support these goals. The members of this commission worked with local businesses and civic groups to educate the public about civil rights and end segregation in any New Hampshire businesses that still practiced it.
A few years later, in 1969, the state government also set up a commission to protect the rights of women. Women’s role in society had changed a lot in the 20th century. In 1920, they got the right to vote. And throughout the 20th century, women got greater rights to hold the jobs they wanted, attend the schools that men did, and be treated more fairly, but women still weren’t treated the same as men.

In 1972, New Hampshire supported a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution called the Equal Rights Amendment, which stated that men and women should be treated the same in all things. New Hampshire was the second state to vote in favor of the new amendment. But not enough of the other states voted to support the Equal Rights Amendment, so it was never ratified as part of the U.S. Constitution.
ERA is for Everyone
What features define New Hampshire’s attitude towards politics and government in the post-war period?

In the late 20th century, New Hampshire became known throughout the United States for two things related to politics and the government: electing presidents and low taxes.
State House Primary Campaign Board
Meeting with Voters

Mason Explains: How a Primary Works

Mason Explains: How a Primary Works

New Hampshire Presidential Primary

In the post-war years, New Hampshire began to play an important role in electing the president of the United States, which happens every four years in America.

There are two major political parties in the United States: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Each party elects its nominee for president through elections held in each state, which is called a primary. New Hampshire holds its primary election before the other states.
Beginning in 1952, New Hampshire’s primary election started to get a lot of attention from the rest of the country, especially from the media. Every four years, candidates from all over the country come to New Hampshire and explain why they think they should be president. Candidates use a style of campaigning known as retail politics, which means they talk to individual New Hampshire voters to find out what voters are happy about or worried about. Candidates travel around the state visiting voters in places like restaurants, town hall meetings, community festivals, and anywhere else people get together. By talking directly to the people, candidates show that every vote matters.

New Hampshire voters sometimes surprise everyone with who they pick in the presidential primary. Instead of choosing the candidate everyone expects them to pick, who is called the front-runner, voters sometimes pick a candidate who didn’t seem to have much of a chance to win the nomination, who is called an underdog.

To learn more about the New Hampshire presidential primary, visit Unit 16: New Hampshire Primary.
Campaign Event in 1952

The First New Hampshire Primary

Mason Presents: The First New Hampshire Primary


During the 20th century, many state governments grew much bigger and started offering more services to the people who lived there. New Hampshire’s state government grew during these years too, but not as much as other state governments did.

Part of the reason that Granite Staters wanted to keep the state government small is because they are very concerned about taxes. Taxes are the way states pay for the services that governments offer to people.
There are two kinds of taxes in particular that Granite Staters are against: sales tax and income tax.

A sales tax is an extra charge that gets added onto the price of the things people buy. For example, if a candy bar costs $1, you would have to pay $1.05 to buy it. The extra charge of five cents is the sales tax, and it goes to the state government.

An income tax is an extra charge based on how much money people earn. For example, if you earn $10,000 a year, you might have to pay the state a tax of 2%, or $200.

Some states have an income tax, and some states have a sales tax. Many states have both kinds of taxes, but New Hampshire doesn’t have either kind of tax. In fact, since 1972, political leaders in the state government have promised voters that they won’t support these kinds of taxes if anyone suggests them for New Hampshire. That promise is known as the Pledge.
Keep Thomson Governor

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Booming Tourist Industry

NH's tourist industry flourished after World War II as more people had the time and money to take vacations. Winter tourism became just as popular as summer tourism in the state.

New Factories and Old Farms

Granite Staters found new industries to occupy the old factory buildings, which brought jobs to the state. Light industries and defense industries became important to NH's economy. The state's farmers continued to struggle, though, and many people left farming.

U.S. Space Program

Two astronauts came from New Hampshire. Alan Shepard was the first American in space in 1961 and later walked on the moon. Christa McAuliffe was chosen to be the first teacher in space, but she died when her spaceship exploded.

Presidents and Taxes

In the late 20th century, NH became well known for hosting the first presidential primary every four years, which was an important early step in electing America's president. The state also became known for low taxes because Granite Staters were opposed to both sales taxes and income taxes.
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Yankee Culture

How did New Hampshire’s Yankee character develop in the 20th century?

Almost everything about American life changed during the 20th century—the way people lived, the kinds of jobs people held, the clothes they wore, the music they listened to, and the way they spent their time.

In 1900, many Americans did not have electricity in their homes. They might not even have indoor plumbing and flushing toilets. There was no radio or television or computers. People usually only heard music at live performances. Most people still got around with horses or walked where they wanted to go, although if they were traveling a long way, they could go by train. Women wore long dresses every day, and most of them lived at home until they got married. Very few women went to college or held jobs. In many places, Black people were segregated from white people and did not have the same opportunities for jobs or education that white people did.
Andover in the Early 1900s
Elm Street at Night, Manchester
By 1970, a lot of that had changed. Everyone had electricity in their homes to run things like lamps, refrigerators, and washing machines. Everyone had hot and cold water in their homes too, as well as toilets.

Almost all homes had both radios and television sets, and in the evenings, people relaxed with entertainment like tv shows or music played on records or the radio.

Most people owned cars, and if you were traveling a long distance, you might even take an airplane, which allowed you to cross the North American continent in less than a day.

Women and Black people had far more rights. Many of them went to college and had professional careers.
Although all this change brought many good things for people, it was also upsetting for some who thought American life was changing too fast. There were lots of disagreements about how fast society should change, the role the government should play, the way the economy should work, and even what kinds of things people should read or watch or listen to.

Many Americans began to wish for a simpler life, when people got along better and there weren’t so many disagreements. A lot of people thought that New England was a place where that simpler life still existed.
Chippa Granite and NH Natural Beauty
Battle of Bunker Hill
Since New England was one of the first places in America to be settled by Europeans, many Americans also saw New England’s history as the same thing as America’s history.

Many important moments from the country’s settlement and founding happened in New England, such as the Puritans who came to New England in the 1600s to set up their own independent communities. New England also promoted its role in the American Revolution, focusing on a history where patriots left their farms to fight against the British for the country’s independence.
Over time, many Americans began to think of New England as a place where the people were independent, hardworking, and responsible. These qualities became part of what was called Yankee culture. Yankees were also known for inventing things and being thrifty, or very careful with money.

Yankee culture was not just about the people who lived in New England. It was also about New England towns. A lot of Americans thought a New England town was the perfect place to live. It was small, clean, and safe. Everyone knew each other and treated each other with respect. New England towns were democratic, where people came together at town meeting to discuss town matters and make decisions for the common good.

There wasn’t a real New England town that had all of these traits, of course, but people wanted to believe such a town existed.
Main Street, Tilton
Yankee Magazine Offices
This idea of a perfect New England town became very popular in the United States in the middle of the 20th century. Mass media like books, movies, and tv shows often promoted this perfect image of life in New England.

Yankee Magazine. In 1935, a magazine was published to promote this view of New England. It was called Yankee, and it was originally published in a red barn in the town of Dublin, New Hampshire. The magazine focused on all six New England states and featured stories, articles, cartoons, and recipes that captured the spirit of New England. The editor of the magazine once said that it was “for Yankee readers, by Yankee writers, and about Yankeedom.” But the magazine proved popular outside of New England too, with people subscribing from all over the country. Yankee magazine helped spread the idea that New England has its own special culture. It is still published today.

Fall Tourism

New Hampshire’s tourist industry promoted Americans’ interest in Yankee culture too. The state government knew that the idea of a perfect New England community would bring more people to visit New Hampshire. By the middle of the 20th century, there were already thousands of tourists coming to the Granite State in the winter and the summer. By promoting Yankee culture, the state convinced tourists to start visiting in the fall too.

New Hampshire’s brilliant fall colors, when the leaves on the trees change to red, orange, and yellow, brought lots of people to the state. Tourists visited small New England towns, attended pumpkin festivals and other fairs, picked apples and pumpkins, and drove to see covered bridges and stone walls. All of these things made people think of New Hampshire. The tourists who came in the fall became known as “leaf-peepers” because they mainly wanted to see the beautiful scenery when the leaves change colors.
Autumn in New Hampshire
Tasha Tudor Drawing


The idea of Yankee culture was also made popular by many well-known writers who lived in New Hampshire or wrote about it in the 20th century.

Some of these writers wrote children’s books, like Donald Hall
Donald Hall
’s Ox-Cart Man, which tells the story of a New Hampshire farmer taking his goods to sell at a market in Portsmouth.

Another example is Tasha Tudor
Tasha Tudor
, who wrote books like Pumpkin Moonshine about a little girl who struggles to get her big, perfect pumpkin home so she can make a jack-o’-lantern.

Through words and drawings, these authors created a vision of New Hampshire that was rural and charming.
Other writers were poets like Robert Frost
Robert Frost
, who had farms in Derry and Franconia. Robert Frost was one of the most famous poets in the United States in the 20th century. One of his early books of poetry was called New Hampshire, which he published in 1923. The poems were all about life in small New Hampshire towns and on New Hampshire farms.
Robert Frost
Our Town
Some writers wrote plays, including one of the most popular plays in American history, which is called Our Town. It was written by Thornton Wilder
Thornton Wilder
, who lived in California but set his play in a fictional town in New Hampshire because he thought a small New Hampshire town best represented life in America.