Government

For much of its early history, New Hampshire was intricately linked with Massachusetts. By 1643, the colony’s four towns had willingly placed themselves under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. This arrangement continued until disputes over the land grants prompted the Crown to establish New Hampshire as a separate royal colony in 1679.

With the establishment of New Hampshire as a royal colony, John Cutt of Portsmouth was named president of the Council, which served as the colony’s executive body and was composed of nine men, six appointed by the Crown and three appointed by the king’s six appointees. A legislative body known as the Assembly was made up of delegates elected from the towns. The king retained the power to veto the Assembly’s actions. The colonial government adopted New Hampshire’s first legal code, nearly identical to Massachusetts law, in 1680. It provided for the definition and punishment of fourteen capital crimes, a court system, trial by jury, and a militia. It also defined voters as Protestant males over the age of 24 and owning a taxable estate worth 20 pounds.

In 1685, James II took over the reorganization of the New England colonies that had been begun by his brother, Charles II. Under this plan, all of the Northern colonies became the Dominion of New England and subject to a royal governor. Edmund Andros became the governor and established a central government at Boston. During this time, Andros exerted absolute authority. New taxes were imposed, and town meetings were forbidden. Churches were prohibited from collecting tithes to pay their ministers’ salaries.

Andros was removed from power in 1689, when the colonists received word that the overthrow of James II was imminent. New Hampshire returned to its earlier arrangement with Massachusetts, requesting its government and protection. That arrangement lasted until a royal charter in 1691 again recognized New Hampshire as a separate colony.

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