STEPHEN MERRILL was raised in the seacoast town of Hampton, New Hampshire. In 1969 he earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of New Hampshire (UNH), where he was a Ford Foundation scholar; he was the first governor of the state to graduate from UNH. He received a law degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1972. He was in the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1976, serving as civilian aide to the secretary of the U.S. Army for the final two years. He served as the state attorney general from 1984 to 1989. He was elected governor in November 1992 and reelected in 1994.