Commemorative issue State flags - American Bicentennial
The flag of the state of New Hampshire consists of the state seal centered on a blue background. The Great seal depicts the frigate USS Raleigh and is surrounded by a laurel wreath with nine stars. The Raleigh is one of the first 13 warships sponsored by the Continental Congress for a new American navy, built in 1776, at Portsmouth. The seal is surrounded by a laurel wreath. The wreath is an ancient symbol of fame, honor, and victory. The nine stars within the wreath show that New Hampshire was the ninth state to join the Union. The water stands for the harbor of Portsmouth, and in the yellow-colored spit of land is granite, a strong igneous rock, representing both New Hampshire's rugged landscape and the sturdy character of her people.
In 1784, when the present state constitution became effective, the legislature revised the seal to depict a ship on stocks, with a rising sun in the background, to reflect Portsmouth having become a major shipbuilding center during the war years. Over the years, various items for shipment were also shown on the frontal dock in the seal.
In 1919, New Hampshire Historical Society Director Otis G. Hammond, on the order of the Governor and Executive Council of New Hampshire, wrote a history of the state seal and flag. Hammond described how because the law governing the design of the seal was not very specific, when the dies wore down and had to be redesigned, the artists and sketchers had injected surprising details into the seal, such as rum barrels on the dock, sometimes including people standing beside them. In 1931, after Governor John G. Winant began his second term, he named a committee to produce a seal devoid of controversy. The General Court approved the committee's recommendations, later enacting a law codifying the official design of the state seal.