The words "Live Free or Die," written by General John Stark, July 31, 1809, shall be the official motto of the state.
It was the 1945 Legislature that gave New Hampshire its official motto and emblem, as World War II approached a successful end.
The motto became "Live Free Or Die," as once voiced by General John Stark, the state's most distinguished hero of the Revolutionary War, and the world famous Old Man of the Mountain was voted the official state emblem.
The motto was part of a volunteer toast which General Stark sent to his wartime comrades, in which he declined an invitation to head up a 32nd anniversary reunion of the 1777 Battle of Bennington in Vermont, because of poor health. The toast said in full: "Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst of Evils." The following year, a similar invitation (also declined) said: "The toast, sir, which you sent us in 1809 will continue to vibrate with unceasing pleasure in our ears, "Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst Of Evils."
The law designating the official New Hampshire state motto is found in the New Hampshire Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 3, Section 3:8.
Title I: The State and Its Government.
Chapter 3: State Emblems, Flag, Etc.
3:8 State Motto. The words "Live Free or Die," written by General John Stark, July 31, 1809, shall be the official motto of the state.
Source. 1945, 152:1, eff. May 10, 1945.
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