18th Century New Hampshire.


It’s gone now but up in Jackson there used to be a place called Heritage New Hampshire. It was an exhibit and museum about New Hampshire at about the time of the 18th century with the arrival of the first settlers into Portsmouth and all the way to the gilded era and what would later become the destination resorts of the White Mountains. I think about 18th century New Hampshire a lot, the place I live now is directly across from an inn that used to be a stagecoach stop for the famed Concord Coaches enroute to these destination resorts like the Mount Washington Hotel, The Profile House and The Sinclair among many others.

The 18th century was a historic time, no other New England state was like this. In its day New Hampshire was the destination and the place to be. Of course time marches on and the 18th century would be replaced, and as they say the rest is history. 18th century New Hampshire belongs in a museum.

But according to the words on one NH Insider blogger, Steve MacDonald New Hampshire should return to the 18th century and the time of “freedom and liberty.” I don’t agree with his statements like this one as to his rationale. “Now you suggest that we "benefit" by getting far more than we give. Well I'm not proud of that. I'd call that theft. That's someone else income. We didn't earn it. I'd also ask what happens when there is no more to get and we have built up a system that relies so much on something that no longer exists?”

My counter argument is that New Hampshire is now in the 21st century and that we now get more from Washington, D.C. than we give. If New Hampshire had to pay for everything that it has with our own taxbase we would basically be Appalachia. Imagine paying for the construction and maintenance of I-93 or I-89 with state funds; it would never happen. But according to the words of Steve MacDonald using “someone else’s income” for projects like these is wrong, projects that enable the state to have a standard of life and economic development, in short survival.

I think the model Mr. MacDonald is using is pure isolationist. Freedom and liberty are nice ideals but even the most fervent supporter can understand that New Hampshire needs to move forward not backward. An isolationist economic model does not work. New Hampshire needs Washington, D.C. and if there are political games to be played then we need to play the game.

In the past I’ve made the argument that both the state and federal government needed to do more to prevent the closures of the historic paper industry in Coos County, an industry that has also existed since the 18th century. There were markets for the paper there was demand what was missing was leadership and most importantly, capital. I think if Groveton had added two more paper machines and increased its warehousing capacity it could have averaged its costs down to the point that not only would it have been competitive in a global marketplace but it would have survived the seasonality and spike volatility that is now common in this industry. New Hampshire and Maine could have worked together in a paper consortium and supply chains to assist an industry to survive and thrive.

But this would have required state leadership not isolationism.