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See also: National Parks and Monuments (table)National Parks and Monuments

National Parks
Name Type1 Location Year authorized Size
acres (hectares)
Acadia NP SE Maine 1919 49,075 (19,868) Mountain and coast scenery.
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(măsəcho͞o`sĭts), most populous of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by New York (W), Vermont and New Hampshire (N), the Atlantic Ocean (E, SE), and Rhode Island and Connecticut (S).

Facts and Figures

Area, 8,257 sq mi (21,386 sq km). Pop. (2010) 6,547,629, a 3.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Boston. Statehood, Feb. 6, 1788 (6th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution). Highest pt., Mt. Greylock, 3,491 ft (1,065 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Bay State. Motto, Ense Petit Placidam Sub Libertate Quietem [By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only under Liberty]. State bird, chickadee. State flower, mayflower. State tree, American elm. Abbr., Mass.; MA


The eastern part of the commonwealth (its official designation), including the Cape CodCape Cod,
narrow peninsula of glacial origin, 399 sq mi (1,033 sq km), SE Mass., extending 65 mi (105 km) E and N into the Atlantic Ocean. It is generally flat, with sand dunes, low hills, and numerous lakes.
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 peninsula and the islands lying off it to the south—the Elizabeth IslandsElizabeth Islands,
chain of small islands off Cape Cod that form the southern boundary of Buzzards Bay; SE Mass. Naushon is the largest island. Cuttyhunk Island was settled in 1641 and has a U.S. Coast Guard station. Most of the islands are privately owned.
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, Martha's VineyardMartha's Vineyard
, island (1990 est. pop. 8,900), c.100 sq mi (260 sq km), SE Mass., separated from the Elizabeth Islands and Cape Cod by Vineyard and Nantucket sounds.
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, and NantucketNantucket
, island, c.14 mi (23 km) long, from 3 to 6 mi (4.8–9.6 km) wide, SE Mass., lying c.25 mi (40 km) S of Cape Cod, from which it is separated by Nantucket Sound. Muskeget Channel is located between Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard to the west.
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—is a low coastal plain. In this area short, swift rivers such as the Merrimack have long supplied industry with power, and an indented coastline provides many good natural harbors, with Boston a major U.S. port. In the interior rise uplands separated by the rich Connecticut River valley, and farther west lies the Berkshire valley, surrounded by the Berkshire Hills, part of the Taconic Mts. The western streams feed both the Hudson and the Housatonic rivers. The state has a mean altitude of c.500 ft (150 m), and Mt. Greylock in the Berkshires is the highest point (3,491 ft/1,064 m). The climate is variable.

city (1990 pop. 574,283), state capital and seat of Suffolk co., E Mass., on Boston Bay, an arm of Massachusetts Bay; inc. 1822. The city includes former neighboring towns—Roxbury, West Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown, Brighton, and Hyde Park—annexed in the
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 is the capital and largest city. Other important cities include WorcesterWorcester,
industrial city (1990 pop. 169,759), seat of Worcester co., central Mass., on the Blackstone River; inc. 1722. The canalization (1828) of the Blackstone River marked the beginning of Worcester's rapid industrial development.
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, SpringfieldSpringfield.
1 City (1990 pop. 105,227), state capital and seat of Sangamon co., central Ill., on the Sangamon River; settled 1818, inc. as a city 1840. In a rich agricultural region (sorghum, corn, cattle, and dairying), it is a wholesale trade, retail, and distribution
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, LowellLowell,
city (1990 pop. 103,439), a seat of Middlesex co., NE Mass., at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord rivers; settled 1653, set off from Chelmsford 1826, inc. as a city 1836.
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, New BedfordNew Bedford,
city (1990 pop. 99,922), seat of Bristol co., SE Mass., at the mouth of the Acushnet River on Buzzard's Bay; settled 1640, set off from Dartmouth 1787, inc. as a city 1847.
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, CambridgeCambridge.
1 City (1990 pop. 11,514), seat of Dorchester co., E Md., Eastern Shore, a port of entry on the Choptank River at its mouth on Chesapeake Bay; founded 1684, inc. as a city 1884. It is a fishing and yachting center.
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, BrocktonBrockton,
industrial city (1990 pop. 92,788), Plymouth co., E Mass.; settled c.1700, set off from Bridgewater 1821, inc. as a city 1881. It formerly had a large shoe and leather products industry.
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, Fall RiverFall River,
industrial city (1990 pop. 92,703), Bristol co., SE Mass., a port of entry on Mt. Hope Bay, at the mouth of the Taunton River; settled 1656, set off from Freetown 1803, inc. as a city 1854.
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, and QuincyQuincy.
1 City (1990 pop. 39,681), seat of Adams co., W Ill., on a bluff above the Mississippi; inc. 1839. It is a trade, industrial (steel parts), and distribution center in a grain and livestock area. The city and county were named for John Quincy Adams.
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. The state is famed for its historic points of interest, among them being those at Concord and Lexington; at three national historical parks—Boston, Lowell, and Minute Man; and at eight national historic sites—Adams, Boston African American, Frederick Law Olmsted, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Longfellow, Salem Maritime, Saugus Iron Works, and Springfield Armory (see National Parks and MonumentsNational Parks and Monuments

National Parks
Name Type1 Location Year authorized Size
acres (hectares)
Acadia NP SE Maine 1919 49,075 (19,868) Mountain and coast scenery.
..... Click the link for more information.
, table). Cultural attractions include the noted Tanglewood Music FestivalTanglewood Music Festival,
formerly the Berkshire Festival (until 1984), summer music festival held since 1937 at "Tanglewood," a former estate in the adjoining towns of Stockbridge and Lenox, Mass. The Berkshire Festival was begun in 1934 at a farm in Stockbridge.
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 and the many educational facilities of the state.

As a recreation and vacation land, Massachusetts has great stretches of seashore in the east and many lakes and streams in the wooded Berkshire Hills in the west. There are numerous state parks, forests, and beaches, and Cape Cod is the site of a national seashore. Provincetown, on Cape Cod, and Rockport, on Cape Ann, are artist colonies; Marblehead is a noted yachting center.


Massachusetts is traditionally industrial, and, with its predominantly urban population, is one of the most densely settled states in the nation. Its many, diverse manufactures include electrical and electronic equipment, industrial equipment, technical instruments, plastic products, paper and paper products, machinery, tools, and metal and rubber products. Shipping, printing, and publishing are also important, and the jewelry industry dates from before the American Revolution.

Leading agricultural products include cranberries, greenhouse and nursery items, apples, and milk and other dairy goods. Commercial fishing, chiefly from Gloucester and New Bedford, and shellfishing have declined in recent years. Lime, clay, sand, gravel, and stone dominate the state's small mineral output.

High-technology research and development, finance, and trade are all prominent in the commonwealth's economy. The service sector, in which tourism is primary, now employs over one third of Massachusetts workers.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

The governor of Massachusetts is elected for a four-year term. The legislature (the General Court) has a senate of 40 members and a house of representatives with 160 members, all of whom serve two-year terms. Massachusetts sends 9 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 11 electoral votes. The state is predominantly Democratic, but from 1991 it had only Republican governors—William Weld (1991–97), Paul Cellucci (1997–2001), Jane Swift (2001–3), and Mitt RomneyRomney, Mitt
(Willard Mitt Romney) , 1947–, American politician and business executive, b. Detroit, Mich., grad. Brigham Young Univ. (B.A., 1971), Harvard (M.B.A., 1975, J.D., 1975). Son of George W. Romney, he worked for Bain and Co.
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 (2003–7)—until Democrat Deval PatrickPatrick, Deval Laurdine,
1956–, African-American politician and government official, b. Chicago, grad. Harvard 1978, Harvard Law School 1982. A lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund from 1983 to 1986, he was then in private practice until 1994, when he was appointed
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, the first African American to be elected governor of Massachusetts, won the post in 2006. Patrick was reelected in 2010. Republican Charles Baker was elected governor in 2014 and reelected in 2018.

Massachusetts is historically the capital of American higher education. Besides Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at Cambridge, noted institutions include Amherst College, at Amherst; the Univ. of Massachusetts, at Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester; Boston College, at Chestnut Hill; Boston Univ., Simmons College, and Northeastern Univ., at Boston; Brandeis Univ., at Waltham; Clark Univ., College of the Holy Cross, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, at Worcester; Mount Holyoke College, at South Hadley; Smith College, at Northampton; Tufts Univ., at Medford; Wellesley College, at Wellesley; Wheaton College, at Norton; Williams College, at Williamstown; and the institutions of the Massachusetts State Colleges and Universities. The state is also renowned for its private secondary schools, such as Phillips Academy (Andover) and for research centers such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, at Falmouth.


Early European Exploration and Colonization

The coast of what is now Massachusetts was probably skirted by Norsemen in the 11th cent., and Europeans of various nationalities (but mostly English) sailed offshore in the late 16th and early 17th cent. Settlement began when the PilgrimsPilgrims,
in American history, the group of separatists and other individuals who were the founders of Plymouth Colony. The name Pilgrim Fathers is given to those members who made the first crossing on the Mayflower.
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 arrived on the Mayflower and landed (1620) at a point they named PlymouthPlymouth.
1 Uninc. town (1990 pop. 45,608), seat of Plymouth co., SE Mass., on Plymouth Bay; founded 1620. Diverse light manufacturing is important to the economy. The town, with summer resort facilities and major historic attractions, has a large tourist industry.
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 (for their port of embarkation in England). Their first governor, John Carver, died the next year, but under his successor, William Bradford, the Plymouth ColonyPlymouth Colony,
settlement made by the Pilgrims on the coast of Massachusetts in 1620. Founding

Previous attempts at colonization in America (1606, 1607–8) by the Plymouth Company, chartered in 1606 along with the London Company (see Virginia Company), were
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 took firm hold. Weathering early difficulties, the colony eventually prospered.

Other Englishmen soon established fishing and trading posts nearby—Andrew Weston (1622) at Wessagusset (now Weymouth) and Thomas Wollaston (1625) at Mt. Wollaston, which was renamed Merry Mount (now QuincyQuincy.
1 City (1990 pop. 39,681), seat of Adams co., W Ill., on a bluff above the Mississippi; inc. 1839. It is a trade, industrial (steel parts), and distribution center in a grain and livestock area. The city and county were named for John Quincy Adams.
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) when Thomas Morton took charge. The fishing post established (1623) on Cape Ann by Roger Conant failed, but in 1626 he founded Naumkeag (SalemSalem.
1 City (1990 pop. 38,091), seat of Essex co., NE Mass., on an inlet of Massachusetts Bay; inc. 1629. Its once famous harbor has silted up. Salem has electronic, leather, and machinery industries, and tourists are drawn to its many historical landmarks.
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), which in 1628 became the nucleus of a Puritan colony led by John Endecott of the New England Company and chartered by the private Council for New England.

The Puritan Colonies

In 1629 the New England Company was reorganized as the Massachusetts Bay CompanyMassachusetts Bay Company,
English chartered company that established the Massachusetts Bay colony in New England. Organized (1628) as the New England Company, it took over the Dorchester Company, which had established a short-lived fishing colony on Cape Ann in 1623.
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 after receiving a more secure patent from the crown. In 1630 John Winthrop led the first large Puritan migration from England (900 settlers on 11 ships). Boston supplanted Salem as capital of the colony, and Winthrop replaced Endecott as governor. After some initial adjustments to allow greater popular participation and the representation of outlying settlements in the General Court (consisting of a governor, deputy governor, assistants, and deputies), the "Bay Colony" continued to be governed as a private company for the next 50 years. It was also a thoroughgoing Puritan theocracy (see PuritanismPuritanism,
in the 16th and 17th cent., a movement for reform in the Church of England that had a profound influence on the social, political, ethical, and theological ideas of England and America. Origins

Historically Puritanism began early (c.
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), in which clergymen such as John Cotton enjoyed great political influence. The status of freeman was restricted (until 1664) to church members, and the state was regarded as an agency of God's will on earth. Due to a steady stream of newcomers from England, the South Shore (i.e., S of Boston), the North Shore, and the interior were soon dotted with firmly rooted communities.

The early Puritans were primarily agricultural people, although a merchant class soon formed. Most of the inhabitants lived in villages, beyond which lay their privately owned fields. The typical village was composed of houses (also individually owned) grouped around the common—a plot of land held in common by the community. The dominant structure on the common was the meetinghouse, where the pastor, the most important figure in the community, held long Sabbath services. The meetinghouse of the chief village of a town (in New England a town corresponds to what is usually called a township elsewhere in the United States) was also the site of the town meeting, traditionally regarded as a foundation of American democracy. In practice the town meeting served less to advance democracy than to enforce unanimity and conformity, and participation was as a rule restricted to male property holders who were also church members.

Because they were eager for everyone to have the ability to study scripture and always insisted on a learned ministry, the Puritans zealously promoted the development of educational facilities. The Boston Latin SchoolBoston Latin School,
at Boston; opened 1635 as a school for boys; one of the oldest free public schools in the United States. Many famous men attended the school, including five signers of the Declaration of Independence and four presidents of Harvard.
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 was founded in 1635, one year before HarvardHarvard University,
mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College

Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
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 was established, and in 1647 a law was passed requiring elementary schools in towns of 50 or more families. These were not free schools, but they were open to all and are considered the beginning of popular education in the United States.

Native American resentment of the Puritan presence resulted in the Pequot War (see PequotPequot
, Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). The Pequot are of the Eastern Woodlands cultural area (see under Natives, North American).
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) of 1637, after which the four Puritan colonies (Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven) formed the New England ConfederationNew England Confederation,
union for "mutual safety and welfare" formed in 1643 by representatives of the colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven.
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, the first voluntary union of American colonies. In 1675–76, the confederation broke the power of the Native Americans of southern New England in King Philip's WarKing Philip's War,
1675–76, the most devastating war between the colonists and the Native Americans in New England. The war is named for King Philip, the son of Massasoit and chief of the Wampanoag. His Wampanoag name was Pumetacom, Metacom, or Metacomet.
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. In the course of the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
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, however, frontier settlements such as DeerfieldDeerfield.
1 Village (1990 pop. 17,327), Cook and Lake counties, NE Ill., a residential suburb of Chicago; inc. 1903. The huge Sara Lee Bakery is its major industry, and there is other light manufacturing. 2 Town (1990 pop. 5,018), NW Mass.
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 were devastated.

The population of the Massachusetts Bay Colony naturally rejoiced at the triumph of the Puritan Revolution in England, but with the restoration of Charles II in 1660 the colony's happy prospects faded. Its recently extended jurisdiction over Maine was for a time discounted by royal authority, and, worse still, its charter was revoked in 1684. The withdrawal of the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had long been expected because the colony had consistently violated the terms of the charter and repeatedly evaded or ignored royal orders by operating an illegal mint, establishing religious rather than property qualifications for suffrage, and discriminating against Anglicans.

A New Royal Colony

In 1691 a new charter united Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Maine into the single royal colony of Massachusetts. This charter abolished church membership as a test for voting, although CongregationalismCongregationalism,
type of Protestant church organization in which each congregation, or local church, has free control of its own affairs. The underlying principle is that each local congregation has as its head Jesus alone and that the relations of the various congregations
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 remained the established religion. Widespread anxiety over loss of the original charter contributed to the witchcraft panic that reached its climax in Salem in the summer of 1692. Nineteen persons were hanged and one crushed to death for refusing to confess to the practice of witchcraft. The Salem trials ended abruptly when colonial authorities, led by Cotton MatherMather, Cotton
, 1663–1728, American Puritan clergyman and writer, b. Boston, grad. Harvard (B.A., 1678; M.A., 1681); son of Increase Mather and grandson of Richard Mather and of John Cotton.
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, became alarmed at their excesses.

By the mid-18th cent. the Massachusetts colony had come a long way from its humble agricultural beginnings. Fish, lumber, and farm products were exported in a lively trade carried by ships built in Massachusetts and manned by local seamen. That the menace of French Canada was removed by 1763 was due in no small measure to the unstinting efforts of England, but the increasing British tendency to regulate colonial affairs, especially trade (see Navigation ActsNavigation Acts,
in English history, name given to certain parliamentary legislation, more properly called the British Acts of Trade. The acts were an outgrowth of mercantilism, and followed principles laid down by Tudor and early Stuart trade regulations.
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), without colonial advice, was most unwelcome. Because of the colony's extensive shipping interests, e.g., the traffic in molasses, rum, and slaves (the "triangular trade"), it sorely felt these restrictions.

Discontent and Revolution

In 1761 James OtisOtis, James,
1725–83, American colonial political leader, b. Barnstable co., Mass. A lawyer first in Plymouth and then in Boston, he won great distinction and served (1756–61) as advocate general of the vice admiralty court.
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 opposed a Massachusetts superior court's issuance of writs of assistance (general search warrants to aid customs officers in enforcing collection of duties on imported sugar), arguing that this action violated the natural rights of Englishmen and was therefore void. He thus helped set the stage for the political controversy which, coupled with economic grievances, culminated in the American RevolutionAmerican Revolution,
1775–83, struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. It is also called the American War of Independence.
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. In Massachusetts a bitter struggle developed between the governor, Thomas Hutchinson, and the anti-British party in the legislature led by Samuel Adams, John Adams, James Otis, and John Hancock. The Stamp ActStamp Act,
1765, revenue law passed by the British Parliament during the ministry of George Grenville. The first direct tax to be levied on the American colonies, it required that all newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, commercial bills, advertisements, and other papers
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 (1765) and the Townshend ActsTownshend Acts,
1767, originated by Charles Townshend and passed by the English Parliament shortly after the repeal of the Stamp Act. They were designed to collect revenue from the colonists in America by putting customs duties on imports of glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea.
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 (1767) preceded the Boston MassacreBoston Massacre,
1770, pre-Revolutionary incident growing out of the resentment against the British troops sent to Boston to maintain order and to enforce the Townshend Acts. The troops, constantly tormented by irresponsible gangs, finally (Mar.
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 (1770), and the Tea Act (1773) brought on the Boston Tea PartyBoston Tea Party,
1773. In the contest between British Parliament and the American colonists before the Revolution, Parliament, when repealing the Townshend Acts, had retained the tea tax, partly as a symbol of its right to tax the colonies, partly to aid the financially
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. The rebellious colonials were punished for this with the Intolerable ActsIntolerable Acts,
name given by American patriots to five laws (including the Quebec Act) adopted by Parliament in 1774, which limited the political and geographical freedom of the colonists.
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 (1774), which troops under Gen. Thomas Gage were sent to enforce.

Through committees of correspondence Massachusetts and the other colonies had been sharing their grievances, and in 1774 they called the First Continental CongressContinental Congress,
1774–89, federal legislature of the Thirteen Colonies and later of the United States in the American Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation (see Confederation, Articles of).
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 at Philadelphia for united action. The mounting tension in Massachusetts exploded in Apr., 1775, when General Gage decided to make a show of force. Warned by Paul Revere and William Dawes, the Massachusetts militia engaged the British force at Lexington and Concord (see Lexington and Concord, battles ofLexington and Concord, battles of,
opening engagements of the American Revolution, Apr. 19, 1775. After the passage (1774) of the Intolerable Acts by the British Parliament, unrest in the colonies increased. The British commander at Boston, Gen.
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). Patriot militia from other colonies hurried to Massachusetts, where, after the battle of Bunker HillBunker Hill, battle of,
in the American Revolution, June 17, 1775. Detachments of colonial militia under Artemas Ward, Nathanael Greene, John Stark, and Israel Putnam laid siege to Boston shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord.
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 (June 17, 1775), George Washington took command of the patriot forces.

The British remained in Boston until Mar. 17, 1776, when Gen. William Howe evacuated the town, taking with him a considerable number of Tories. British troops never returned, but Massachusetts soldiers were kept busy elsewhere fighting for the independence of the colonies. In 1780 a new constitution, drafted by a constitutional convention under the leadership of John Adams, was ratified by direct vote of the citizenry.

The New Nation

Victorious in the Revolution, the colonies faced depressing economic conditions. Nowhere were those conditions worse than in W Massachusetts, where discontented Berkshire farmers erupted in Shays's RebellionShays's Rebellion,
1786–87, armed insurrection by farmers in W Massachusetts against the state government. Debt-ridden farmers, struck by the economic depression that followed the American Revolution, petitioned the state senate to issue paper money and to halt foreclosure
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 in 1786. The uprising was promptly quelled, but it frightened conservatives into support of a new national constitution that would displace the weak government created under the Articles of Confederation; this constitution was ratified by Massachusetts in 1788.

Independence had closed the old trade routes within the British Empire, but new ones were soon created, and trade with China became especially lucrative. Boston and lesser ports boomed, and the prosperous times were reflected politically in the commonwealth's unwavering adherence to the Federalist party, the party of the dominant commercial class. European wars at the beginning of the 19th cent. at first further stimulated maritime trade but then led to interference with American shipping. To avoid war Congress resorted to Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807Embargo Act of 1807,
passed Dec. 22, 1807, by the U.S. Congress in answer to the British orders in council restricting neutral shipping and to Napoleon's restrictive Continental System. The U.S.
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, but its provisions dealt a severe blow to the economy of Massachusetts and the rest of the nation.

War with Great Britain came anyway in 1812, and it was extremely unpopular in New England. There was talk of secession at the abortive Hartford ConventionHartford Convention,
Dec. 15, 1814–Jan. 4, 1815, meeting to consider the problems of New England in the War of 1812; held at Hartford, Conn. Prior to the war, New England Federalists (see Federalist party) had opposed the Embargo Act of 1807 and other government measures;
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 of New England Federalists, over which George CabotCabot, George
, 1752–1823, American merchant and politician, b. Salem, Mass. He went to sea and became captain of one of the ships owned by his brothers John and Andrew Cabot of Beverly, who in 1777 took him into their firm.
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 presided. As it happened, however, the embargo and the War of 1812 had an unexpectedly favorable effect on the economy of Massachusetts. With English manufactured goods shut out, the United States had to begin manufacturing on its own, and the infant industries that sprang up after 1807 tended to concentrate in New England, and especially in Massachusetts. These industries, financed by money made in shipping and shielded from foreign competition by protective tariffs after 1816, grew rapidly, transforming the character of the commonwealth and its people.

Labor was plentiful and often ruthlessly exploited. The power loom, perfected by Francis Cabot LowellLowell, Francis Cabot,
1775–1817, pioneer American cotton manufacturer, b. Newburyport, Mass.; son of John Lowell (1743–1802). A merchant in Boston, he traveled (1810) to England, where he studied closely the new machinery used in the textile industry of Lancashire.
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, as well as English techniques for textile manufacturing (based on plans smuggled out of England) made Massachusetts an early center of the American textile industry. The water power of the Merrimack River became the basis for Lowell's cotton textile industry in the 1820s. The manufacture of shoes and leather goods also became important in the state. Agriculture, on the other hand, went into a sharp decline because Massachusetts could not compete with the new agricultural states of the West, a region more readily accessible after the opening of the Erie CanalErie Canal,
artificial waterway, c.360 mi (580 km) long; connecting New York City with the Great Lakes via the Hudson River. Locks were built to overcome the 571-ft (174-m) difference between the level of the river and that of Lake Erie.
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 (1825). Farms were abandoned by the score; some farmers turned to work in the new factories, others moved to the West.

In 1820 Maine was separated from Massachusetts and admitted to the Union as a separate state under the terms of the Missouri CompromiseMissouri Compromise,
1820–21, measures passed by the U.S. Congress to end the first of a series of crises concerning the extension of slavery.

By 1818, Missouri Territory had gained sufficient population to warrant its admission into the Union as a state.
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. In the same year the Massachusetts constitution was considerably liberalized by the adoption of amendments that abolished all property qualifications for voting, provided for the incorporation of cities, and removed religious tests for officeholders. (Massachusetts is the only one of the original 13 states that is still governed under its original constitution, the one of 1780, although this was extensively amended by the constitutional convention of 1917–19.)

Reform Movements and Civil War

In the 1830s and 40s the state became the center of religious and social reform movements, such as UnitarianismUnitarianism,
in general, the form of Christianity that denies the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that God exists only in one person. While there were previous antitrinitarian movements in the early Christian Church, like Arianism and Monarchianism, modern Unitarianism
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 and transcendentalismtranscendentalism
[Lat.,=overpassing], in literature, philosophical and literary movement that flourished in New England from about 1836 to 1860. It originated among a small group of intellectuals who were reacting against the orthodoxy of Calvinism and the rationalism of the
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. Of the transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau were quick to perceive and decry the evils of industrialization, while Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emerson had some association with Brook FarmBrook Farm,
1841–47, an experimental farm at West Roxbury, Mass., based on cooperative living. Founded by George Ripley, a Unitarian minister, the farm was initially financed by a joint-stock company with 24 shares of stock at $500 per share.
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, an outgrowth of Utopian ideals. Horace Mann set about establishing an enduring system of public education in the 1830s. During this period Massachusetts gave to the nation the architect Charles Bulfinch; such writers and poets as Richard Henry Dana, Emily Dickinson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and John Greenleaf Whittier; the historians George Bancroft, John Lothrop Motley, Francis Parkman, and William Hickling Prescott; and the scientist Louis Agassiz.

In the 1830s reformers began to devote energy to the antislavery crusade (see abolitionistsabolitionists,
in U.S. history, particularly in the three decades before the Civil War, members of the movement that agitated for the compulsory emancipation of the slaves.
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). This was regarded with great displeasure by the mill tycoons, who feared that an offended South would cut off their cotton supply. The Whig party split on the slavery issue, and Massachusetts turned to the new Republican party, voting for John C. Frémont in 1856 and Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Massachusetts was the first state to answer Lincoln's call for troops after the firing on Fort Sumter. Massachusetts soldiers were the first to die for the Union cause when the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was fired on by a secessionist mob in Baltimore. In the course of the war over 130,000 men from the state served in the Union forces.

Industrialization and Immigration

After the Civil War Massachusetts, with other northern states, experienced rapid industrial expansion. Massachusetts capital financed many of the nation's new railroads, especially in the West. Although people continued to leave the state for the West, labor remained cheap and plentiful as European immigrants streamed into the state. The Irish, oppressed by both nature and the British, began arriving in droves even before the Civil War (beginning in the 1840s), and they continued to land in Boston for years to come. After them came French Canadians, arriving later in the 19th cent., and, in the early 20th cent., Portuguese, Italians, Poles, Slavs, Russian Jews, and Scandinavians. Also from the British Isles came the English, the Scots, and the Welsh. Of all the immigrant groups, English-speaking and non-English-speaking, the Irish came to be the most influential, especially in politics. Their religion (Roman Catholic) and their political faith (Democratic) definitely set them apart from the old native Yankee stock.

Practically all the immigrants went to work in the factories. The halcyon days of shipping were over. The maritime trade had bounded back triumphantly after the War of 1812, but the supplanting of sail by steam, the growth of railroads, and the destruction caused by Confederate cruisers in the Civil War helped reduce shipping to its present negligible state—a far cry from the colorful era of the clipper ships, which were perfected by Donald McKay of Boston. Whaling, once the glory of New Bedford and Nantucket, faded quickly with the introduction of petroleum.

The Growth of the Cities and the Labor Movement

The rise of industrialism was accompanied by a growth of cities, although the small mill town, where the factory hands lived in company houses and traded in the company store, remained important. Labor unions struggled for recognition in a long, weary battle marked by strikes, sometimes violent, as was the case in the Lawrence textile strike of 1912.

World War I, which caused a vast increase in industrial production, improved the lot of workers, but not of Boston policemen, who staged and lost their famous strike in 1919. For his part in breaking the strike, Gov. Calvin Coolidge won national fame and went on to become vice president and then president, the third Massachusetts citizen (after John Adams and John Quincy Adams) to hold the highest office in the land. The Sacco-Vanzetti CaseSacco-Vanzetti Case
. On Apr. 15, 1920, a paymaster for a shoe company in South Braintree, Mass., and his guard were shot and killed by two men who escaped with over $15,000. It was thought from reports of witnesses that the murderers were Italians.
..... Click the link for more information.
, following the police strike, attracted international attention, as liberals raged over the seeming lack of regard for the spirit of the law in a state that had given the nation such an eminent jurist as Oliver Wendell HolmesHolmes, Oliver Wendell,
1841–1935, American jurist, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1902–32), b. Boston; son of the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (1841–1935). Labor unions finally came into their own in the 1930s under the New Deal.

World War II to the Present

Industry spurted forward again during World War II, and in the postwar era the state continued to develop. Politically, the state again assumed national importance with the 1960 election of Senator John F. Kennedy as the nation's 35th President. In 1974, Michael S. Dukakis, a Democrat, was elected governor. He lost to Edward King in 1978, but won again in 1982 and was reelected in 1986. In 1988 he ran for president, losing to George H. W. Bush. Dukakis decided not to run again for governor.

During the postwar period the decline of textile manufacturing was offset as the electronics industry, attracted by the skilled technicians available in the Boston area, boomed along Route 128. Growth in the computer and electronics sectors, much of it spurred by defense spending, helped Massachusetts prosper during much of the 1980s. At the end of the decade effects of a nationwide recession and the burden of a huge state budget hit Massachusetts hard, but in the 1990s there was a substantial economic recovery, spearheaded by growth in small high-tech companies.


See A. B. Hart, ed., Commonwealth History of Massachusetts (5 vol., 1927–30, repr. 1966); C. Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem (1969); G. Lewis, The Encyclopedia of Massachusetts (1984); M. Kaufman et al., A Guide to the History of Massachusetts (1988); G. Orcutt, Massachusetts (2 vol., 1988); R. Wilkie and J. Tager, ed., Historical Atlas of Massachusetts (1991).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Massachusetts State Information

Phone: (866) 888-2808

Area (sq mi):: 10554.57 (land 7840.02; water 2714.55) Population per square mile: 816.20
Population 2005: 6,398,743 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 0.80%; 1990-2000 5.50% Population 2000: 6,349,097 (White 81.90%; Black or African American 5.40%; Hispanic or Latino 6.80%; Asian 3.80%; Other 6.20%). Foreign born: 12.20%. Median age: 36.50
Income 2000: per capita $25,952; median household $50,502; Population below poverty level: 9.30% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $37,756-$39,504
Unemployment (2004): 5.20% Unemployment change (from 2000): 2.50% Median travel time to work: 27.00 minutes Working outside county of residence: 33.40%

List of Massachusetts counties:

  • Barnstable County
  • Berkshire County
  • Bristol County
  • Dukes County
  • Essex County
  • Franklin County
  • Hampden County
  • Hampshire County
  • Middlesex County
  • Nantucket County
  • Norfolk County
  • Plymouth County
  • Suffolk County
  • Worcester County
  • Counties USA: A Directory of United States Counties, 3rd Edition. © 2006 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

    Massachusetts Parks

    Parks Directory of the United States, 5th Edition. © 2007 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
    The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



    a state on the northern Atlantic coast of the USA, in New England. Area, 21,400 sq km; population, 5.7 million, of which 85 percent is urban (1970). The capital, largest city, and economic and cultural center is Boston.

    Eastern Massachusetts is a rolling Atlantic lowland. The central part of the state is a plateau cut by the valley of the Connecticut River. Spurs of the Appalachians (elevations to 1,064 m) cover the western part of the state. The climate is moderately oceanic. Precipitation exceeds 1,000 mm a year. Approximately two-thirds of the state, mainly in the mountains, is covered by coniferous and deciduous forests.

    Massachusetts is one of the most thickly populated and economically developed states (approximately 270 persons per sq km). In 1969 the work force of 2.3 million was distributed in industry (30 percent), trade and services (40 percent), finance (5 percent), state service (13 percent), and agriculture (about 1.5 percent). Manufacturing, particularly machine building, and light industry are of great importance. In 1950 radioelectronics, closely associated with defense production, began to be intensively developed. Other highly developed sectors are electrical engineering, the production of diverse industrial equipment (such as machine tools and textile and footwear machinery), shipbuilding, textiles (mainly wool), leather footwear, chemicals, rubber, paper, and printing. The total capacity of the electric power stations (1970) is 6.4 million kilowatts. Nuclear power is being developed. Agriculture is of the truck farming variety, specializing in the production of whole-milk products, eggs, vegetables, and berries. Livestock raising provides over half of the agricultural commodity output (53 percent in 1970). There is fishing along the coast (the main centers are Gloucester, New Bedford, and Boston) and fish processing. Universities in Massachusetts include Harvard in Cambridge and Clark in Worcester. There is considerable tourism.




    a bay of the Atlantic Ocean along the eastern coast of North America (state of Massachusetts, USA), part of the Gulf of Maine. Length, 55 km; maximum depth, 93 m. Tides are semidiurnal with a magnitude of up to 1.8 m. The port of Boston is located on the bay.

    The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


    Sixth state; adopted the U.S. Constitution on February 6, 1788

    State capital: Boston

    Nicknames: The (Old) Bay State; The Old Colony State; The Puritan State; The Baked Bean State; The Pilgrim State

    State motto: Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem (Latin “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liber­ty”)

    Ode of the Commonwealth: “Ode to Massachusetts” State artist: Norman Rockwell State author and illustrator: Theodor Geisel State bean: Baked navy bean

    State berry: Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

    State beverage: Cranberry juice

    State bird: Black-capped chickadee (Penthestes atricapillus)

    State blues artist: Taj Mahal (Henry St. Clair Fredericks)

    State building and monument stone: Granite

    State cat: Tabby cat (Felis familiaris)

    State ceremonial march: “The Road to Boston”

    State children’s book: Make Way For Ducklings

    State citizenry: Bay Staters

    State colors: Blue, green and cranberry

    State cookie: Chocolate chip

    State designation of citizens: Bay Staters

    State dessert: Boston cream pie

    State dog: Boston terrier (Canis familiaris bostenensis)

    State donut: Boston creme doughnut

    State explorer rock: Dighton Rock

    State fish: Cod (Gadus morrhua)

    State flower: Mayflower (also called ground laurel or trail­ing arbutus, Epigaea regens)

    State folk dance: Square dance

    State folk hero: Johnny Appleseed

    State folk song: “Massachusetts”

    State fossil: Theropod dinosaur tracks

    State game bird: Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

    State gem: Rhodonite

    State glee club song: “The Great State of Massachusetts”

    State heroine: Deborah Sampson (1760-1827; while dis­guised as a man under the name of Robert Shurtleff, she fought with the Continental Army against the British)

    State historical rock: Plymouth Rock

    State horse: Morgan horse (Equus cabullus morganensis)

    State insect: Ladybug (Hippodamia convergens)

    State inventor: Benjamin Franklin

    State Korean war memorial: Korean War Memorial (in Shipyard Park)

    State marine mammal: Right whale (Eubabalena glacialis)

    State MIA/POW memorial: MIA/POW Memorial (Bourne)

    State mineral: Babingtonite

    State muffin: Corn muffin

    State patriotic song: “Massachusetts (Because of You Our Land Is Free)”

    State peace statue: Orange Peace Statue

    State poem: “Blue Hills of Massachusetts”

    State polka song: “Say Hello to Someone from Massachu­setts”

    State reptile: Garter snake

    State rock: Roxbury pudding stone (Roxbury conglomer­ate)

    State shell: New England neptune (Neptuna lyrata decem­costata)

    State soil: Paxton soil series

    State song: “All Hail to Massachusetts”

    State sport: Basketball

    State Southwest Asia war memorial: Southwest Asia War Memorial

    State tartan: Bay State Tartan

    State tree: American elm (Ulmus americana)

    State vessel: Schooner Ernestina

    State Vietnam War memorial: Vietnam War Memorial

    More about state symbols at:


    AmerBkDays-2000, p. 121 AnnivHol-2000, p. 23


    State web site:

    Office of the Governor
    State House
    Executive Office Rm 360
    Boston, MA 02133
    fax: 617-727-9725

    Secretary of the Commonwealth
    State House
    Rm 337
    Boston, MA 02133
    fax: 617-742-4722

    Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
    98 N Washington St
    Boston, MA 02114
    fax: 617-421-9833

    Legal Holidays:

    Patriots' DayApr 18, 2011; Apr 16, 2012; Apr 15, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 20, 2015; Apr 18, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 16, 2018; Apr 15, 2019; Apr 20, 2020; Apr 19, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 17, 2023
    Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


    a state of the northeastern US, on the Atlantic: a centre of resistance to English colonial policy during the War of American Independence; consists of a coastal plain rising to mountains in the west. Capital: Boston. Pop.: 6 433 422 (2003 est.). Area: 20 269 sq. km (7826 sq. miles)
    Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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