New Hampshire’s flag is the state seal, on a solid background of deep blue.
Although reportedly the design of the flag has been in use since 1784, this version of the official New Hampshire state flag was adopted in 1909 by our state legislature.
In 1931 changes were made to “more precisely describe the State Seal,” including the one used on the flag, at the request and prompting of the New Hampshire Historical Society.
Today, the seal symbols include the 32-gun frigate, “Raleigh,” sailing near a large gray granite rock, in front of a yellow sun rising over blue water. The “Raleigh” was a ship built at Portsmouth in 1776, as one of the first 13 warships sponsored by the Continental Congress to fight the British during the Revolutionary War. It was also the first to carry the American flag into sea battle.
The scene is surrounded by the words, “SEAL OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE 1776,” and yellow laurel leaves are interpersed between nine yellow stars, to symbolize that New Hampshire is the ninth state to become part of the United States.
–New Hampshire State Flag & State Seal Tidbits–
1. In preparation of the 1776 state constitution, the First Provincial Congress designed a seal comprised an upright fish and pine tree on each side of a bundle of five arrows. (The five arrows symbolizing the then 5 counties of New Hampshire). It bore the inscription: COLONY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE * VIS UNITA FORTUNA, the latin part translates as “Strength United is Stronger.” The seal was never officially proclaimed, but it was used during the American Revolution until 1784.
2. In 1784 the New Hampshire State Seal, depicted a ship on stocks, (the Raleigh) with a rising sun in the background, to reflect Portsmouth as a major shipbuilding center during the war years, with items ready for shipment on a dock in the front.
3. In 1919 New Hampshire Historical Society director, Otis G. Hammond, urged improvements to the official seal, which over time had been altered by various artists to include rum barrels on the dock, and sometimes human beings beside them.
4. In 1931, in a response to the above, the state legislature deemed that any future replicas of the seal would not include ANYTHING in the water other than the ship already mentioned, and the granite boulder also mentioned. And the The old Latin phrase “Neo Hantoniensis 1784 Sigillum Republica” around the circular seal was replaced with the English words, “Seal of the state of New Hampshire 1776.”
–New Hampshire Seals of the Past–
History of the seal and flag of the state of New Hampshire, by Otis G. Hammond, 1916. [includes examples of the seals].
1850 Version of the Seal of New Hampshire [see Photographs > Misc for a larger version]