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Nathaniel Folsom (1726–1790) was a merchant and statesman from Exeter, New Hampshire. He was a delegate for New Hampshire in the Continental Congress in 1774 and 1777 to 1780, as well as the Major General of New Hampshire's militia.
Nathaniel was born into a large family in Exeter on September 28, 1726. His father, Jonathan (c 1685-1740) married twice. Jonathan's first wife was Ann Ladd (1691-1742), and she gave birth to Anna, Sarah, Lydia, Elizabeth, Abigail, John and Mary. Shortly after her death Jonathan married Deborah Hall who gave birth to Nathaniel, Samuel, and Trueworthy.
When Nathaniel's father died, in January of 1740, the thirteen year old went to work for a merchant. He invested in timber and opened a saw-mill. Then in 1761, he went into business with some distant cousins, Joseph and Josiah Gilman. They became Folsom, Gilman & Gilman and opened a general store, built ships, and carried on an import/export business. The firm operated in Exeter and Portsmouth. Though the partners went their separate ways in 1768, Nathaniel continued in foreign commerce, timber, and lumber operations for the rest of his life.
Like his father, Nathaniel married twice, first to Dorothy Smith (1726-1776). Their children included: Nathaniel, Jonathan, Dorothy, and Mary (1751-1812) who married John Taylor Gilman.
Folsom joined the militia as did most young men. During the French and Indian War he was Captain of a company in the Crown Point expedition led by Sir Wolliam Johnson in 1755. At Fort Edward, his company, supported by Artillery from Massachusetts surprised and captured Baron Diesksau, the French commander-in-chief. Besides capturing the Baron, they dispersed the French troops, took the fort and seized a critical mass of supplies, with the loss of only six men.
Nathaniel went on to become a Colonel in the militia. His formal commission was revoked by Governor Wentworth after the raid on Fort William and Mary in December of 1774. Disregarding this, Colonel Folsom marched his regiment to Portsmouth, and escorted the captured cannons safely back to Durham.
On May 29, 1775, the Provincial Congress named him a Brigadier General in command of New Hampshire's forces. This created some confusion, as the Massachusetts provisional government had name John Stark to the same position. At the time, Colonel Stark was the senior commander of the New Hampshire men who had marched to the Siege of Boston. The confusion was resolved in June, when the Continental Congress named John Sullivan General of those New Hampshire forces in service with the Continental Army. Folsom was the senior officer for militia forces within the state. He was later named a Major General, and continued recruiting, training, and supply efforts throughout the war.
Nathaniel had served several years as moderator of the town meetings at Exeter. When a revolutionary Assembly, the Provincial Congress, first met on July 21, 1774 he was a delegate. The Provincial Congress, in turn named him their delegate to the first Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In 1775, Nathaniel continued his service in the provincial congress, as he would do until 1783. He became a close political ally of Meshech Weare and Josiah Bartlett, as he was named to the New Hampshire "Committee of Safety". In January of 1776, he also became a justice in the Rockingham County court of common pleas. In 1777 and 1779 he was also returned to his old post as a delegate to the Continental Congress.
In 1783 he became the chief judge in the common pleas court. That same year he went to, and presided over the state's constitutional convention. When a constitution was adopted, as president of the convention, he wrote a cover letter that forwarded it to the tows for ratification. Ironically, one problem addressed by the constitution was to limit the number of offices held by one man. Folsom resigned from the Assembly, and as head of the militia, and from the Governor's Council. He held the job of chief judge in Rockingham County until his death in Exeter on May 26, 1790. He is buried the Winter Strret Cemetery there.
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