Monday, September 11, 2017

"Live Free or Die" - John Stark's signoff which became the motto for New Hampshire

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An earlier generation of Starks had been Presbyterian Covenanters, who fled to Ulster for a time for refuge. Archibald Stark arrived at Londonderry as a young boy with his family, having been born in Glasgow in 1697. Archibald married Eleanor Nichols in Ulster in 1714. Around 1720, having watched the successful migrations of 1718, Archibald and Eleanor boarded a ship and sailed for New England.

They settled in the new Ulster-Scots settlement of Nutfield (later Londonderry) where their son, and future General, John Stark was born on 28 August 1728. Eight years later in 1736 the family moved to another Ulster-Scots settlement at Derryfield (later Manchester) where John remained until he was 27 years old. When he grew up he became one of Ulsterman Robert RogersRangers, and when revolution was in the air Stark sided with Washington, becoming a military hero of some renown.

After the war he sent a message to a reunion event which famously said ‘Live free or die; Death is not the worst of evils'. New Hampshire adopted this as its official motto in 1945.

• 1949 biography by Howard Parker Moore is online here
• an earlier memoir is online here