New HampshireLive Free or Die

With a skill that knows no measure,
    From the golden store of Fate,
        God, in His great love and wisdom,
            Made the rugged Granite State;

                                                From "Old New Hampshire" by Dr. John F. Holmes

Josiah Bartlett
Matthew Thornton
William Whipple
Dartmouth Charter


    New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V. 

Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.


     For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

  I Peter 2:15-16


Institution of Higher Learning

1769  Dartmouth founded by New Hampshire Congregationalists unhappy with Harvard.  "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness"

    Musical groups such as the Dartmouth Handel Society, 1807, were formed to sing sacred music. The Handel Society of Dartmouth College is America’s oldest town-gown choral society. The Harvard College Orchestra, the first orchestra in the United States, began in 1809.  Most printed music at that time was religious in nature. Asbury
    Dr. Booker T. Washington was granted an honorary degree from Harvard University in 1896 and also from Dartmouth College.


Dartmouth College:  Ninth oldest college and the last institution of higher learning established under Colonial rule.

     Dartmouth College was founded by the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, a Congregational minister from Connecticut.  In order to expand his school, Wheelock moved it from Connecticut to New Hampshire where one of his first Indian students, Samson Occom, helped secure funds for the college.  John Wentworth, Royal Governor of New Hampshire, conveyed the charter from King George III to establish the college in 1769.  He also provided the land upon which Dartmouth would be built.

     The charter showed the college "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others."  The Reverend had previously established Moor's Charity School in Connecticut, principally for the education of Native Americans.

     In 1815, the New Hampshire legislature claimed that Dartmouth's 1769 charter was invalid, and they established a separate governing body for the College.  The existing Trustees insisted on the validity of the charter and demanded that the private institution of Dartmouth continue without state interference.

    The case was taken to the United States Supreme Court in 1819 and argued for by Daniel Webster who won the case as Chief Justice John Marshall affirmed the validity of the original charter.  The case has become the standard for private chartered institutions in America to operate free from state interference.    Copyright © 2003 Dartmouth College   08 Jan 2002   


        Daniel Webster, "Defender of the Constitution," was born 1782 in New Hampshire.  He graduated from Dartmouth College to become a successful attorney, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and then member of the U.S. Senate.  In 1841, he accepted the post of Secretary of State in the cabinet of General Harrison and Vice President Tyler, who became President upon Harrison's death.  In 1844, he aspired to the presidency but the nomination went to Henry Clay to whom he gave his support.  Webster was chosen senator for Massachusetts. 

        In 1850, he was again Secretary of State in the cabinet of President Fillmore.  He died two years later after a brief illness at his residence in Massachusetts.

        He did agree that religion was important to the nation.  "Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment.  Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted."  Plymouth Rock speech of 1820.

        Before the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, Webster believes it is well, though not essential, for states' rights to establish qualifications for their elected officials.  Since Massachusetts has "respect and attachment to Christianity," they are allowed to require through constitutional provision a profession of belief in the Christian religion as a qualification for holding public office.

  ..........      "I believe I have stated the substance of the reasons which appeared to have weight with the committee. For my own part, finding this declaration in the constitution and hearing of no practical evil resulting from it, I should have been willing to retain it unless considerable objection had been expressed to it. If others were satisfied with it, I should be. I do not consider it, however, essential to retain it as there is another part of the constitution which recognizes, in the fullest manner, the benefits which civil society derives from those Christian institutions which cherish piety, morality, and religion. I am clearly of opinion that we should not strike out of the constitution all recognition of the Christian religion. I am desirous, in so solemn a transaction as the establishment of a constitution, that we should keep in it an expression of our respect and attachment to Christianity - not, indeed, to any of its peculiar forms but to its general principles."  Daniel Webster, The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster, (Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1903), Vol. III, pp. 3-7.) 

Letter from Reverend John Wesley To the Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies

HAVERFORDWEST, August 23, 1775.

        MY LORD,--A letter which I received from Mr. Lowland yesterday occasions my giving you this trouble. You told him the Administration have been assured from every part of the kingdom that trade was as plentiful and flourishing as ever and the people as well employed and as well satisfied.

        Sir, I aver from my own personal knowledge, from the testimony of my own eyes and ears, that there cannot be a more notorious falsehood than has been palmed upon them for truth. I aver that in every part of England where I have been (and I have been east, west, north, and south within these two years) trade in general is exceedingly decayed and thousands of people are quite unemployed. Some I know to have perished for want of bread; others I have seen creeping up and down like walking shadows. I except three or four manufacturing towns, which have suffered less than others.

        I aver (2) that the people in general all over the nation are so far from being well satisfied that they are far more deeply dis­satisfied than they appear to have been even a year or two before the Great Rebellion, and far more dangerously dis­satisfied. The bulk of the people in every city, town, and village where I have been do not so much aim at the Ministry, as they usually did in the last century, but at the King himself. He is the object of their anger, contempt, and malice. They heartily despise His Majesty and hate him with a perfect hatred. They wish to imbue their hands in his blood; they are full of the spirit of murder and rebellion; and I am persuaded, should any occasion offer, thousands would be ready to act what they now speak. It is as much as ever I can do, and sometimes more than I can do, to keep this plague from infect­ing my own friends. And nineteen or twenty to whom I speak in defense of the King seem never to have heard a word spoken for him before. I marvel what wretches they are who abuse the credulity of the Ministry by those florid accounts.

        Even where I was last, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, a tenant of Lord Dartmouth was telling me, ' Sir, our tradesmen are breaking all round me, so that I know not what the end will be.' Even in Leeds I had appointed to dine at a mer­chant's; but before I came the bailiffs were in possession of the house. Upon my saying, 'I thought Mr.---- had been in good circumstances,' I was answered, 'He was so; but the American war has ruined him.'

From early governing documents:

  "Article III. When men enter into a State of society they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others...

  Article IV. Among the natural rights, some are in their very nature unalienable, because no equivalent can be given or received for them. Of this kind are the RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE...

  Article V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship GOD according to the dictates of his own conscience and reason; and no person shall be hurt, molested, or restrained in is person, liberty, or estate for worshipping God in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession, sentiments, or persuasion; provided he doth not disturb the public peace or disturb others in their religious worship.

  Senate. Provided, nevertheless, That no person shall be capable of being elected a senator who is not of the Protestant religion...

  House of Representatives. Every member of the house of representatives... shall be of the Protestant religion...

  President. [H]e shall be of the Protestant religion."  New Hampshire Constitution, 1784

  "And be it further enacted, that each religious sect or denomination of Christians in this State may associate and form societies, may admit members, may establish rules and bylaws for their regulation and government, and shall have all the corporate powers which may be necessary to assess and raise money by taxes upon the polls and ratable estate of the members of such associations, and to collect and appropriate the same for the purpose of building and repairing houses of public worship, and for the support of the ministry; and the assessors and collectors of such associations shall have the same powers in assessing and collecting, and shall be liable to the same penalties as similar town officers have and are liable to--Provided that no person shall be compelled to join or support, or be classed with, or associated to any congregation, church or religious society without his express consent first had and obtain--Provided also, if any person shall choose to separate himself from such society, or association to which he may belong, and shall leave a written notice thereof with the clerk of such society or association, he shall thereupon be no longer liable for any future expenses which may be incurred by said society or association--Provided also, that no association or society shall exercise the powers herein granted until it shall have assumed a name and stile by which such society may be known and distinguished in law, and shall have recorded the same in a book of records to be kept by the clerk of said Society, and shall have published the same in some newspaper in the County where such society may be formed if any be printed therein, and if not then in some paper published in some adjoining County." The Toleration Act, Section 3D, 1819

        The early settlers developed colonial charters that were decidedly evangelical in their purpose, often expressing a goal for their colony to advance the Christian religion.  As the country progressed up to the revolutionary war period, state constitutions evolved from the charters.  Those state constitutions served to maintain the order already established by the original charters, the charters based on Christianity.