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New Hampshire

Long after sailors, fishermen and agricultural colonists had domesticated the entire coastline of New England, the glacier-marked interior of NEW HAMPSHIRE, with its dense forests and forbidding mountains, remained the exclusive preserve of the Abenaki. Only the few miles of seashore held sizeable seventeenth-century communities of European settlers, such as the one at Portsmouth.

Even when the Native Americans were driven back, the settlers could make little agricultural impact on the rocky terrain of this “granite state”, and it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution made possible the development of water-powered textile mills that the economy took off. For a while, timber companies looked set to strip all northern New Hampshire bare, but they were brought under control when the state recognized that the pristine landscape of the White Mountains might turn out to be its greatest asset. Large-scale tourism began towards the end of nineteenth century; at one time fifty trains daily brought travelers up to Mount Washington.

Ever since becoming the first American state to declare independence, in January 1776, New Hampshire has been proud to go its own idiosyncratic way. The absence of a sales tax, or even a personal income tax, is seen as a fulfilment of the state motto, “Live Free or Die”. The state has long gained inordinate political clout as the venue of the first primary election of each presidential campaign, with its villages well used to playing host to would-be world leaders.

Beyond the charming coastal town of Portsmouth, the major destinations are Lake Winnipesaukee, Conway, Lincoln and Franconia Notch in the White Mountains. To see the bucolic rural scenery more usually associated with New England, take a detour off the main roads up the Merrimack Valley, to Canterbury Shaker Village near Concord or the Robert Frost Farm close to Nashua.

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