Reinventing A River

Its waters drove our first Industrial Revolution—and were poisoned by it. Thoreau believed the Merrimack might not run pure again for thousands of years, but today it is a welcoming pathway through a hundred-mile-long red-brick museum of America’s rise to power.

Matters did not look promising. the path down to the canoe launch onto the Merrimack River was long and steep, thick with roots and brambles and sharply angled. Pushing, pulling, and grunting, we reached a scum-slicked spit of sand just below a wide stretch of renovated nineteenth-century mill buildings in Manchester, New Hampshire, and pushed off.

 
 
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Vermont Vs. New Hampshire

They border each other, they look alike, and most outsiders have a hard time separating the two. Yet residents know the differences are enormous.

They’re like brothers who, as only the family knows, couldn’t be more different. With a landscape of open, rolling farmland and small villages with white-steepled churches, Vermont is the most rural state in the Union, according to Census Bureau statistics. From an environmental point of view, it’s also the most politically liberal.Read more »

In Praise Of Pierce

He had all the right qualities. Only the time was wrong.

It’s been a long time since anyone put in a good word, or in fact any kind of word at all, for Franklin Pierce. I am a New Hampshire man who lives not far from the house where the fourteenth President was born and who therefore grew up, so to speak, beneath his paling shadow. From such a position I would like to take this opportunity to rearrange the perspectives now distorting or, indeed, obscuring the nature of his career. Words from Samuel Butler will serve as a text for my remarks.Read more »

Voices Of A Vanished Amoskeag

The life and death of the world’s largest textile mill, in the words of the men and women who worked there

Labor history is too often told in one of two equally unsatisfactory ways—in the icy language of economics, or in the fiery rhetoric of ideologues. Either way, the real people get overlooked. The story of the mighty Amoskeag textile mills at Manchester, New Hampshire, for example, is most often seen simply as a textbook case of industrial paternalism trying to outlive its time. The bare facts are simple enough, certainly.Read more »

Belly-my-grizzle

Of herbal medicine, a “doctor” named Samuel Thomson, and a sure cure for almost everything…

In the late 1820’s and 1830’s American physicians found themselves with a major rebellion on their hands. The rebels were their own patients, or ex-patients, and the rebel leader was a onetime New Hampshire farmer and itinerant herb-and-root doctor named Samuel Thomson, who had published, in 1822, a book called Thomson’s New Guide to Health; or, Botanic Family Physician. Read more »