- Valerie Cunningham
New Hampshire's African American communities became clearly defined in the twentieth century. During the colonial era, as few as one to three enslaved African or black Americans were living in nearly all the towns and villages in the state, with larger clusters in and near the Atlantic trade and shipbuilding center of Portsmouth. As the former slaves gained their freedom after the Revolutionary War—not by legal statute but through individually negotiated emancipation—employers gave preference to white workers, displacing blacks from the labor force. The black population as a percentage of the total for the state had peaked in 1767 with 633 slaves representing 1.2 percent of the total population. Throughout the nineteenth century, while the white population multiplied, the number of black people, now free, declined; 494 blacks, at .15 percent of the total population in 1860 was the lowest number reported in the federal census during the period ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.