1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Exeter (New Hampshire)

28150041911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 10 — Exeter (New Hampshire)

EXETER, a town and one of the county-seats of Rockingham county, New Hampshire, U.S.A., on the Squamscott river, about 12 m. S.W. of Portsmouth and about 51 m. N. by E. of Boston, Mass. Pop. (1890) 4284; (1900) 4922 (1066 foreign-born); (1910) 4897; area, about 17 sq. m. It is served by the Western Division of the Boston & Maine railway. The town has a public library and some old houses built in the colonial period, and is the seat of Phillips Exeter Academy (incorporated in 1781 and opened in 1783). In its charter this institution is described as “an academy for the purpose of promoting piety and virtue, and for the education of youth in the English, Latin and Greek languages, in writing, arithmetic, music and the art of speaking, practical geometry, logic and geography, and such other of the liberal arts and sciences or languages, as opportunity may hereafter permit.” It was founded by Dr John Phillips (1719–1795), a graduate of Harvard College, who acquired considerable wealth as a merchant at Exeter and gave nearly all of it to the cause of education. The academy is one of the foremost secondary schools in the country, and among its alumni have been Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, Lewis Cass (born in Exeter in a house still standing), John Parker Hale, George Bancroft, Jared Sparks, John Gorham Palfrey, Richard Hildreth and Francis Bowen. The government of the academy is vested in a board of six trustees, regarding whom the founder provided that a majority should be laymen and not inhabitants of Exeter. In 1909–1910 the institution had 20 buildings, 32 acres of recreation grounds, 16 instructors and 488 students, representing 38 states and territories of the United States and 4 foreign countries. At Exeter also is the Robinson female seminary (1867), with 14 instructors and 272 students in 1906–1907. The river furnishes water-power, and among the manufactures of the town are shoes, machinery, cottons, brass, &c. The town is one of the oldest in the state; it was founded in 1638 by Rev. John Wheelwright, an Antinomian leader who with a number of followers settled here after his banishment from Massachusetts. For their government the settlers adopted (1639) a plantation covenant. There was disagreement from the first, however, with regard to the measure of loyalty to the king, and in 1643, when Massachusetts had asserted her claim to this region and the other three New Hampshire towns had submitted to her jurisdiction, the majority of the inhabitants of Exeter also yielded, while the minority, including the founder, removed from the town. In 1680 the town became a part of the newly created province of New Hampshire. During the French and Indian wars it was usually protected by a garrison, and some of the garrison houses are still standing. From 1776 to 1784 the state legislature usually met at Exeter.

See C. H. Bell, History of the Town of Exeter (Exeter, 1888).