New Hampshire Constitution

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New Hampshire Constitution
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Part First
Part Second
County Treasurer
The New Hampshire Constitution is the primary governing document of the state of New Hampshire.


The New Hampshire Constitution is divided into two parts: the "Bill of Rights" and "Form of Government." The subsections of each part is known as an "article." For example, the constitutional provision dealing with free speech and liberty of the press is referenced as "Part I, Article 22" or "Pt. I, Art. 22."

Part I – Bill of Rights

Part First of the constitution is made up of 39 articles, containing many of the same type of the protections found in the Bill of Rights, United States Constitution Bill of Rights from the U.S. Constitution]], including: double jeopardy, free speech, freedom of the press, jury trials, natural rights, quartering of soldiers, religious freedom, right to bear arms and unreasonable searches and seizures. In most cases the state constitution affords more protection than the U.S. Constitution. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, New Hampshire's Bill of Rights has been amended regularly since its adoption.[1]

Part II – Form of Government

Part Second contains 101 articles of how the government of the state will function. Article 1, when first enacted established The State of New Hampshire as the official name of the sovereign and independent state, formerly known as the province of New Hampshire. The remainder of Part II is subdivided in the following sections:[1]

The General Court

Article 2 through Article 8 establish the frame work for the General Court and its authority to establish courts, enact state laws affecting the Government of New Hampshire, provide for the State's emergency powers and gather funding and use collected monies.

House of Representatives

Article 9 through Article 24 establish the authority and makeup of the House of Representatives, the lower house of the General Court. This section of the constitution establishes how representatives are elected, their responsibilities and their privileges. These articles make clear that all state level budgetary legislation must originate from the House, much like the British House of Commons and the United States House of Representatives.

Articles 10 and 13 have been repealed.


Article 25 through Article 40, excluding 28, which was repealed in 1976, define the role and makeup of the Senate, the upper house of the General Court. This section is similar to the section regarding the House of Representatives, with the largest difference that the Senate is the ultimate arbiter of all elections.

Executive Power - Governor

Article 41 through Article 59 define the roles and selection of the executive branch. The Governor of the State of New Hampshire is the supreme executive magistrate and is titled "His Excellency." The governor also is given the sole authority to command the New Hampshire National Guard, has sole right to sign or veto bills and resolutions passed by the General Court and is charged with the "faithful execution of the laws." The governor must be 30 years-old and have been a resident of the state for seven years at the time of election. The governor is elected to a two-year term during the November biennial elections.


The Council part of the New Hampshire Constitution consists of seven articles.

Secretary, Treasurer, etc.

Article 67 through Article 70 discuss the duties and selection of the state's treasurer, secretaries and other such officials.

County Treasurer, etc.

Article 71 details the responsibilities and powers of county level officials, such as the county sheriffs, county attorneys, county treasurers, registrars of probate and registrars of deeds. Article 72 details the selection of registrars of deeds, which usually is a countywide position.

Judiciary Power

Article 72-a. through Article 81 dictate the rights and responsibilities of the Supreme and Superior Courts as well as other state sanctioned court officers.

Clerks of Courts

Article 82 gives judges of the courts (except probate) the sole authority to appoint clerks to serve office during the pleasure of the judge. Clerks are prohibited from acting as attorneys in the court of which they are a clerk and from drawing any writ originating a civil action.

Encouragement of Literature, Trade, etc.

Article 83 states the importance of education and associated endeavors to the citizens of New Hampshire. It also gives the General Court the power to safeguard them from hostile forces and encourages forces which help advance the general knowledge of the state's citizens.

Oaths and Subscriptions Exclusion from Offices, etc.

Article 84 through Article 101 (excluding Articles 97 and 99) regard the installment of appointed and elected state officials. It also discusses the method for the constitution taking effect, it being enrolled and methods for proposing amendments.

Method of Amendment

See also: Article 100 of the New Hampshire Constitution

Part II, Article 100 of the constitution provides for the following two methods of proposing amendments to the constitution:

General Court

A 3/5 vote of each house of the New Hampshire General Court is required to send a proposed constitutional amendment to the people at the next biennial November election. A 2/3 vote of the qualified voters participating in an election is required to adopt a new amendment.

Constitutional convention

See also: Constitutional convention

A majority vote of both houses of the General Court is required to place the following question on the ballot: "Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution?" If such question has not been submitted to the people in ten years, the Secretary of State is required by Part II, Article 100 to place the question on the ballot. A majority of qualified voters participating in an election is required to convene a convention. At the next election the delegates are elected by the people, or earlier as provided by the General Court. A 3/5 vote of the number of delegates is required to send a proposed constitutional amendment to the people at the next biennial November election. A 2/3 vote of the qualified voters participating in an election is required to adopt a new amendment.


The constitution became effective June 2, 1784, when it replaced the state's constitution of 1776.[2]

New Hampshire was the first American colony to enact a constitution of its own, formally replacing British rule on January 5, 1776. This decision was taken six months prior to the American Declaration of Independence. The formation of a new government in New Hampshire signaled an important shift in the expression of colonial claims, from protest and resistance to the actual separation of sovereignty.[3][4]

New Hampshire’s first constitution contained just 911 words.[4]

See also

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