The state of New Hampshire has held two seals since it declared its independence from Great Britain on January 5, 1776. While both seals have been retained, most people are only familiar with the Great Seal Of New Hampshire due to its corporate use. New Hampshire’s first seal, created by the First Provincial Congress in 1775, displayed a bundle of five arrows with an upright fish on one side and a pine tree on the other. The arrows represented the five counties at the time suggesting strength in unity. The fish and pine tree represented the state’s major economic resources.
In 1784, when the state’s new constitution became effective, the legislature decided to change the Seal Of New Hampshire to keep up with the times. The coastal town of Portsmouth had become a thriving shipbuilding center and the legislature wanted to herald this important industry. So, with a rising sun in the background, the new design would feature a ship on stocks. However, as time went on, this 1784 design became a victim of artists’ whims and fancies. The scene continually changed. People appeared on docks, and barrels of rum materialized. In 1931, the legislature voted to regain control of the Seal Of New Hampshire design.
Today, the Seal Of New Hampshire is unchanging. The frigate Raleigh, one of the first ships that the Constitutional Congress authorized for the nation’s navy, graces the center of the Seal Of New Hampshire. The date on the bottom of the seal now reads 1776, in celebration of the Declaration of Independence. The rum barrels are gone, the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean, and a wreath of laurel frames the entire scene. Nine stars, throughout the laurel, signify New Hampshire’s deciding vote ratifying the Constitution of the United States.