• Meshech Weare, Father of New Hampshire, Its First President, Signs Colonial Document

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    MESHECH WEARE was a Colonial New Hampshire Jurist, Chief Justice of New Hampshire and First President of New Hampshire from 1776-1784 at a time before governors existed.  Weare is often regarded as “The Father of New Hampshire.”  He was also a Colonel in the Third Regiment of provincial militia, but he abandoned his allegiance to the Crown to support the American Revolution.

    In September 1772, Weare was one of four judges in the trial of the participants in the Pine Tree Riot, an early act of rebellion against British authority.  The defendants were accused of assaulting a sheriff who was enforcing laws against harvesting white pine reserved for the Crown.  They were found guilty, but light fines were assessed by the court, which may have set the stage for the Boston Tea Party as courts’ light penalties were seen as support for those who violated British rule. 

    New Hampshire became the first state to adopt a formal constitution on January 5, 1776, and Weare was a leader in drafting the document, which served as the instrument of government for eight years until a more permanent constitution was adopted in 1784.  Under the first constitution, executive power was delegated to a Committee of Safety consisting of eight or ten legislative leaders.  Weare was elected chairman of the Committee and served in this capacity throughout the Revolution. The Committee of Safety was essentially a law unto itself when the legislature was not in session. Its duties included supervising and coordinating military affairs, raising of recruits and supplies, regulating the state militia, custody of prisoners of war, supervising the entrance and clearance of vessels from Portsmouth Harbor, regulating privateers and captured prizes, surveilling loyalists and regulating trade and currency.

    One page, 4 ½ x 7 ½, printed DS by Weare, c. 1760. Officials frequently signed many blank documents at once, making it convenient for the issuance of legal documents, such as judgments, outside their immediate presence. Weare has signed this subpoena as Justice of the Peace.

    Toning, soiling with some staining. A couple of tears reinforced with archival tape.

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