Dec. 15, 1774: On the third day of unrest in Portsmouth since the warning visit of Paul Revere, Major John Sullivan of Durham rides in with another mob of defenders. Upon learning that word of the approach of British troops is a false rumor, the crowd agrees to disperse. It reneges on this promise, however, marching that night to Fort William and Mary and hauling off 16 cannons and 60 muskets.
Dec. 15, 1836: The Legislature votes to accept an $892,115 grant from Washington – but only after chiding the federal government for “degrading the states and reducing them to servile dependence.” The money will be divvied up among the towns.
Dec. 16, 2001: Spouses and children, parents and siblings gather at the former Pease Air Force base to say goodbye to 36 members of the Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing. The group ships out in the early evening, bound for a location somewhere in Europe.
Dec. 16, 1976: Gov. Mel Thomson announces he will have state troopers stationed at border liquor stores to harass out-of-state tax agents who sometimes try to catch consumers from their states buying New Hampshire’s cheap booze. The agents, he says, will be questioned, photographed and asked to produce identification.
Dec. 16, 1773: On the day of the Boston Tea Party, Portsmouth holds a town meeting and passes a resolve designed to prevent the landing of any tea.
Dec. 16, 1965: A new state report shows public libraries in New Hampshire spend an average of $2.32 per resident. Concord tops the list at $4.06 per resident. Book readership is also up statewide, to 6.71 books per resident per year.
Dec. 17, 2002: Almost two decades after a 6-week-old baby boy died, the police have charged a Georgia man with his murder, the Monitor reports. George B. Knickerbocker, 43, of Bailey Lane in Rossville, Ga., was arrested Sunday on second degree murder charges in the 1983 death of Adam Robbins.
Dec. 17, 1808: Three years after a state prison is proposed in Concord, the Legislature authorizes a committee of three to accept bids for building one. It will be nearly four years before the prison opens on North States Street at Tremont Street. It will be a three-story, 36-cell structure surrounded by granite walls three feet thick and 14 feet high. The cost: $37,000.
Dec. 18, 1805: Russell Freeman, a former speaker of the New Hampshire House, is murdered while serving in a debtor’s jail in Haverhill. His murderer will be defended by Daniel Webster but eventually hanged.
Dec. 18, 1862: Five days after his regiment marched to the slaughter at Fredericksburg, Sergeant George Gove of Raymond writes in his diary: “We have nothing to do now, for the very good reason we can do nothing. The Fifth New Hampshire Regiment is played out.”
Dec. 18, 1995: Concord’s Bob Tewksbury signs a one-year contract with the San Diego Padres for $1.5 million.
Dec. 19, 1979: In Twin Mountain, the temperature plunges to 20 below zero.
Dec. 19, 1774: The British frigate Scarborough arrives at Portsmouth Harbor, the second of two ships whose presence quells an insurrection. In two raids during the week, dissident colonists have taken light cannons, muskets and gunpowder from Fort William and Mary. The presence of the British ships is credited with keeping the dissidents from returning to seize the fort’s 45 heavy cannons.
Dec. 19, 1895: Teachers Robert Frost and Elinor White marry. They will honeymoon the following summer in Allenstown.
Dec. 20, 1979: In Washington, Gloria Steinem holds a press conference to announce Ms. Magazine’s choice of 80 women activists to watch in the 1980s. On the list: Dudley Dudley, a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council.
Dec. 20, 1774: The Portsmouth Volunteers organize, elect officers and resolve to drill twice weekly. Alarmed, royal Gov. John Wentworth writes to Lord Dartmouth that his minions “are arming and exercising Men, as if for immediate War.”
Dec. 20, 1999: The Franklin School Board votes to ease the district’s dress code for teachers. The rules, adopted one month earlier, originally required male teachers to wear a dress shirt with a tie. The changes allow the teachers to wear a vest or sweater with the dress shirt or a turtleneck under a sweater or sports coat. Female teachers are required to wear skirts, dresses or slacks.
Dec. 20, 1860: South Carolina secedes from the Union. “The earth did not quake, the sun shone on, & Nature did not mark the event with any uncommon convulsion,” New Hampshireman Benjamin Brown French writes in his diary.