Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the states of New England. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and southeast, Rhode Island and Connecticut on the south, and New York on the west. North of Massachusetts lie Vermont and New Hampshire. Boston is the capital and largest city of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts entered the Union on February 6, 1788, as the sixth of the original 13 states. When still a colony, it had become an important intellectual center, known for Harvard College and the cultural institutions of Boston. Many events in Massachusetts, including the Stamp Act riots (1765), the Boston Massacre (1770), and the Boston Tea Party (1773), were precursors to the American Revolution (1775-1783). The first battles of the revolution were fought in Massachusetts, and its role in colonial history can be seen in the many well-preserved landmarks in such historic places as Plymouth, Boston, Lexington, and Concord. Once the nation’s fishing and commercial capital, Massachusetts later pioneered in the fields of education, medicine, and social welfare. By the 19th century the state developed into an important manufacturing center, producing textiles and footwear; in the mid-20th century, electronic components and other high-technology items became leading manufactures. Massachusetts is famous for its summer resorts, such as the sand beaches of Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and from its long irregular shoreline to the rolling Berkshire Hills the state offers a variety of opportunities to those seeking recreation.
The name of the state is probably derived from that of an Algonquin village. Massachusetts is called the Bay State after Massachusetts Bay, the site of the Puritans’ colony. Those early settlers from Europe provide the state with other nicknames, including the Pilgrim State and the Puritan State.
Massachusetts, the sixth smallest state in the nation, covers 27,337 sq km (10,555 sq mi), including 1,096 sq km (423 sq mi) of inland water and 2,530 sq km (977 sq mi) of coastal water over which it has jurisdiction. It is roughly rectangular in shape, except for the peninsula of Cape Cod, which extends from the southeast. The state has a maximum dimension east-to-west of 295 km (183 mi). Including the offshore island of Nantucket, the maximum distance north-to-south in the east is 182 km (113 mi), while at the western border the distance is only 77 km (48 mi). The approximate mean elevation is 150 m (500 ft).
Nearly all of Massachusetts was once covered by glaciers. These glaciers rounded off mountains, changed the course of streams, and left hundreds of ponds and lakes. Glacial deposits in the form of clay, stones, and boulders cover most of the state.
Within Massachusetts are two distinct physiographic provinces. Most of the state is dominated by the New England Appalachians, an ancient mountain system that runs on a north-south axis. In Massachusetts the New England region is subdivided into the Taconic section, the Berkshire Massif, the New England Upland, the Connecticut Valley Lowland, and the Coastal Lowland. Massachusetts’s other natural region is the Atlantic Coastal Plain, and it is divided into two coastal ecologies. Jagged, forested coastlines with coves and bays shaped by glaciers define the Northeast Coast. Meanwhile, the Middle Atlantic Coast of sandy beaches, grass-covered dunes, and marshes reaches as far north as Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
The Taconic section, sometimes called the Taconic Hills or Taconic Range, occupies the extreme western part of the state and is one of its most rugged sections. The Taconics have an average height of about 600 m (about 2,000 ft). The mountains extend generally from northeast to southwest, with narrow valleys between. The Taconic section also includes the Berkshire Valley, a narrow, generally level valley just east of the highlands. Mount Greylock, at 1,065 m (3,495 ft), is the highest peak in the state.
The Berkshire Massif extends through Massachusetts into Connecticut, and it is most commonly referred to as the Berkshire Hills. These highlands make up a small region that is about 40 km (about 25 mi) wide in the northwestern part of the state, east of the Taconic section. The mountains are heavily forested and reach a height of about 760 m (about 2,500 ft).
The New England Upland lies to the east of the Taconic section and the Berkshire Hills. The region is mostly hilly, with an average elevation of about 300 m (about 1,000 ft). The upland generally slopes downward very gradually to the east. Throughout the upland are occasional monadnocks, or isolated mountains. The Connecticut Valley Lowland cuts north and south across the west central part of the region. This river valley ranges from about 8 to 30 km (about 5 to 20 mi) wide, and in Massachusetts it is generally level. Alluvial deposits from the Connecticut River and clays from an ancient glacial lake help make this a fertile agricultural region. Occasional ridges, such as Mount Tom (366 m/1,202 ft), near Holyoke, are ancient lava flows that have been tilted and then eroded.
The Coastal Plain makes up most of the eastern third of the state. This region is a level or gently rolling section that rises gradually to a height of about 150 m (about 500 ft) in the east central part of the state. The Coastal Plain has many ponds, swamps, and small rivers. There are a few rather low monadnocks throughout this region. In addition, small hills, called drumlins, which were formed by the glaciers, are found throughout the region. Perhaps the most famous of these drumlins are Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill, where an early battle of the American Revolution took place.
The embayed section of the Coastal Plain in Massachusetts includes Cape Cod, the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the Elizabeth Islands, and other smaller islands. This section is mostly level or rolling, although some hills formed by the glaciers rise to about 90 m (about 300 ft). Sand dunes, ponds, and marshes are common in this region.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
The largest river in Massachusetts is the Connecticut, which flows for 106 km (66 mi) from north to south across the west central part of the state. The main tributaries of the Connecticut in the state are the Deerfield, Westfield, Millers, and Chicopee rivers.
The Charles River is the longest river wholly within Massachusetts. Rising near the state border with Rhode Island, the river follows a winding northeastern course of 76 km (47 mi), flowing into Boston Bay between downtown Boston and the Charlestown section. The Charles River joins the Mystic River, flowing from the north, to form inner Boston Harbor.
The Merrimack River, in the northeast, is the second largest river, crossing at least part of the state. It enters the state from New Hampshire northwest of Lowell and flows through Massachusetts before emptying into the Atlantic at Newburyport. The main tributary of the Merrimack in Massachusetts is the Concord. Other smaller but important rivers in the state are the Housatonic, Blackstone, Nashua, Ipswich, and Taunton.
There are more than 1,100 lakes and ponds in Massachusetts. By far the largest is Quabbin Reservoir, in the central part of the state, with an area of 101 sq km (39 sq mi). Other large artificial lakes include Wachusett Reservoir, East Brimfield Reservoir, and Cobble Mountain Reservoir. Assawompsett Pond, covering about 10 sq km (about 4 sq mi), is the largest natural lake. North Watuppa Pond and Long Pond are other large natural lakes. Lake Chaubunagungamaug, near Webster, is usually called Webster Lake, because the Algonquian name is difficult to pronounce and spell. The full version of the Native American name is said to be the longest place-name in North America.
The state’s coast is 309 km (192 mi) long. The coastline is very irregular, however, and if all the small bays and islands are taken into account, its total length is 2,445 km (1,519 mi). The largest bays are Massachusetts Bay, north of Boston; Cape Cod Bay; and Buzzards Bay, an inlet west of Cape Cod that is connected to Cape Cod Bay by a canal.
Many islands lie off the Massachusetts coast. The largest are Martha’s Vineyard, a triangular-shaped island 8 km (5 mi) southwest of Cape Cod and covering 280 sq km (108 sq mi), and Nantucket Island, 30 km (20 mi) south of Cape Cod and measuring 148 sq km (57 sq mi). Other islands belong to the Elizabeth Islands, also southwest of Cape Cod. Many small islands are found in Boston Bay. The coast has many fine harbors. The largest is Boston Harbor, the inner-most part of Boston Bay. Other harbors include New Bedford, Fall River, Provincetown, Salem, Gloucester, and Plymouth.
Massachusetts has a humid continental climate, with long hot summers and cold winters. Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, however, usually have cooler summer temperatures because of the moderating effects of the ocean, which also give the region somewhat warmer temperatures in winter. Most of Massachusetts has average summer temperatures from 20° to 22°C (68° to 72°F), although daytime temperatures may sometimes enter the lower 30°s C (lower 90°s F). Average January temperatures vary from about -6°C (about 22°F) in the Berkshires to about 0°C (about 32°F) along the southeastern coast.
Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year. Most parts of Massachusetts receive from 1,020 to 1,170 mm (40 to 46 in) a year, and severe droughts are uncommon. Heavy snowfalls are common throughout most of the state, especially in the western highlands. However, the snowfall is relatively light on Cape Cod and the offshore islands.
The coastal areas are prone to severe storms. Hurricanes come from the south frequently between June and November. “Northeasters,” coming from the polar regions of the Atlantic Ocean, occur year round but are the most severe in the winter. Snowstorms, blizzards, and ice storms also cause major damage each winter. Every few years a strong tornado will touch down in Massachusetts.
The growing season, or period from the last killing frost in the spring to the first killing frost in fall, is about 160 days in the eastern and central parts of the state. The longest growing season is on the coast, and just north of Boston it is about 200 days.
The soils of Massachusetts are mostly brown inceptisols. They tend to be infertile, although many of them can be made productive by the use of fertilizers. Some river valleys, especially the Connecticut River valley, have rich alluvial soils. Much of Cape Cod has sandy soils that support extensive cranberry cultivation in bogs but are otherwise poor for farming. Most of the soils in the state are generally stony because of glacial deposits.
Originally almost all of Massachusetts was covered with forests. Early colonists began clearing the land for farms and pasture as soon as they arrived. By the 1830s and 1840s only about one-fifth of the state was forested. Currently the share of the state once again covered by forest has climbed to 62 percent. Most of the forestland is privately owned. The forests of Massachusetts are in a transition zone. Broadleaf deciduous forests predominate to the south and at lower elevations, but they gradually shift into mixed forests with more coniferous evergreens as latitude or elevation increases. The most dominant trees of the deciduous forests are beech, birch, and maple, but cherry, hickory, red cedar, and oak are also common. Coniferous trees such as white pine and hemlocks are found throughout the state, and spruce are found mainly to the north and at higher elevations, but some conifers may be found scattered throughout the deciduous forest. Pitch pines and scrub oaks are found in the southeast. The American elm, which is the state tree, was formerly a common shade tree in many towns but has been decimated by Dutch elm disease.
The forest floor in Massachusetts contains ferns, such as asmundas and maidenhair spleenworts. Areas near the sea have marsh grasses, sedges, and rushes. Marshy areas have such plants as the skunk cabbage, marsh marigold, white violet, and blue violet. Flowering shrubs on the forest floor or in open areas include the dogwood, azalea, rhodora, sweet fern, mountain laurel, wild cherry, and trailing arbutus, or mayflower, which is the state flower. Wildflowers include the violet, bloodroot, troutlilly, and goldenrod.
The most common large animals found in Massachusetts are whitetail deer. Black bears are occasionally seen in the western part of the state. Foxes, beavers, raccoons, weasels, skunks, woodchucks, muskrats, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits are fairly common.
The black-capped chickadee, the state bird, and the robin are among the most common birds in Massachusetts, and overall more than 400 species of birds can be seen in Massachusetts. Of these species, 185 annually nest in the state. Massachusetts’s diverse ecologies provide sanctuary to a variety of birds. The great black-backed gull, herring gull, purple martin, night-heron, horned lark, piping plover, sparrow, four species of terns, and marsh hawks are found in the coastal dunes and marshes. Protected by federal endangered species regulations in the mid-1980s, the piping plover has recovered from 138 breeding pairs to more than 400 in the mid-1990s. Birds found in deciduous forests are the pileated woodpecker, warblers, hawks, and owls. The wild turkey is also common throughout Massachusetts after efforts since the 1970s to reintroduce the bird. The bobwhite, killdeer, bobolink, eastern meadowlark, and field sparrow live in the farmland and meadows. Loon, grebe, and duck are particularly numerous in the winter.
Fishes commonly found in the rivers and ponds of Massachusetts include such native species as brook trout, pickerel, shad, sunfish, and perch. Popular introduced species include rainbow, brown, and lake trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, black crappie, carp, pike, and tiger muskie. Saltwater fish and shellfish include pollock, flounder, haddock, cod, smelt, striped bass, bluefish, clams, scallops, and lobsters.
The various state agencies with environmental responsibilities were reorganized in 1990 into the Department of Environmental Protection. This department is responsible for water quality and resources, air quality, and solid and hazardous waste management. In 2006 Massachusetts had 31 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; during the period 1995–2000 the state reduced the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment by 46 percent.
Air quality in Massachusetts was once poor. Prior to the late 1980s, none of the state’s counties consistently met federal air quality standards. A motor-vehicle emission inspection program was begun in 1983, but by 1986 no area met the standard for ozone, and most urban areas failed to meet the standards for particulate matter (dust and soot) and carbon monoxide.
Control of toxic air pollutants has been a priority since 1986. Massachusetts has a long list of controlled pollutants, such as dioxin. In 1989 further reductions in industrial emissions of these chemicals were ordered. In the early 1990s about 6,500 metric tons of toxic material was released into the air in the state, a reduction by one-half from the amount released four years earlier. The Springfield, Lowell, and Boston metropolitan regions stand out as having the worst problems. In the mid-1990s the Boston metropolitan area had two days a year in which air pollution levels were considered unhealthy; as many as 12 days were so recorded annually in the late 1980s.
Most of the state regulations for the handling, treatment, and disposal of hazardous waste are stricter than the federal standards. In 1984 the state enacted a “right to know” law, one of the first in the nation. The law requires industries to provide lists and amounts of certain toxic chemicals that are released each year. Massachusetts is also one of the first states to address the problem of disposing of household hazardous waste, such as paint thinner and old medicines.
Massachusetts developed serious solid waste (trash) management problems in the late 1980s. By 1988, 60 percent of the state’s available landfill capacity had been used, with few new landfills being created. There was little public support for incineration, so in the late 1980s the state set recycling goals and planned reductions in the amount of solid waste generated. By the mid-1990s a majority of the state’s communities had some form of recycling program.
The state’s most notorious water problem was Boston Harbor, into which hundreds of old sewer systems spilled untreated sewage during heavy rains. Water quality improved dramatically when the state began shipping sludge that once was dumped into the harbor to its new sludge-to-fertilizer processing plant. In 1994 the first phase of the new treatment plant began operation. In addition to more treatment, the completion of an outfall tunnel for the discharge of treated effluent 14 km (9 mi) out to sea will improve the health of Boston Harbor.
Although regular water testing indicates that toxic pollutants are not a major pollution source in rivers, contaminated sediments in riverbeds warrant advisories against consumption of fish from dozens of rivers, lakes, and ponds. The number of times the state closed saltwater beaches because of coliform bacteria contamination was cut in half during the early 1990s.
Largely because of large investments in wastewater treatment, the impact of municipal and industrial discharges has been dramatically reduced. More than 99 percent of the public drinking water supplies meet the quality standards set by the federal government.
Massachusetts, which more than any other state began the Industrial Revolution in the United States, continues to be an important manufacturing state. The primary economic activities that were the underpinnings of the colonial economy are no longer of major importance to Massachusetts. Like workers elsewhere, those in Massachusetts have turned in growing numbers to jobs in the service industries, in wholesale and retail trade, in finance and insurance, and in government. A major reason for the growth in service jobs has been the increased importance of tourism.
A special feature of the state’s labor force is its high proportion of professionally trained people, including engineers, scientists, doctors, educators, and technicians. Its labor force has helped Massachusetts turn to highly technical kinds of manufacturing and computer-related technology, thereby compensating for its severe losses in textile employment. Such economic change has occurred before in the state, and the citizens of Massachusetts have traditionally adapted well, relying on their skills of innovation, the state’s extensive resources, and well-established institutions to develop new economic opportunities.
While manufacturing continued to be an important aspect of Massachusetts’s economy in the late 1990s, services were the primary contributors to both personal income and the gross state product. Services, including the important finance, insurance, and real estate sector, produced four-fifths of the gross state product in 1996, whereas manufacturing provided just one-sixth of the total.
Massachusetts had a labor force of 3,404,000 people in 2006. Some 42 percent of the workers were employed in services, performing such jobs as working in restaurants or data processing. Another 19 percent worked in wholesale or retail trade; 9 percent in manufacturing; 13 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 22 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 17 percent in transportation or public utilities; 4 percent in construction; 1 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing. Employment in mining was insignificant. In 2005, 14 percent of Massachusetts workers were members of a labor union.
Specialty crops are the hallmark of Massachusetts agriculture: horticultural products, cranberries, dairy products, apples, corn, potatoes, butternut squash, cabbage, pumpkins, beans, and tobacco. Oats and hay are widely grown in conjunction with dairying. Although dairying is found throughout the state, the highest concentrations of dairy farms are in southeastern and northwestern Massachusetts and in Worcester County. Cranberries are grown in Plymouth and Bristol counties and on Cape Cod. Horticulture—the growing of plants and shrubs for landscaping and of flowers for the wholesale market—and cranberry growing are the state’s most valuable agricultural activities.
In 2005 there were 6,100 farms in the state, although many of these farms were sidelines for operators who held other jobs. Farmland occupied 210,437 hectares (520,000 acres); 40 percent of farms were devoted to crops.
Massachusetts is a leading state in the processing of frozen fish, and its commercial fish catch was worth $327 million in 2004. Fishing crews work both the nearby coastal waters and more distant fishing banks, including the Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland and Georges Bank off Cape Cod. In recent years federal regulations have greatly restricted the catch of cod, flounder, and haddock—traditional mainstays of the fishing industry—but sea herring and whiting are still harvested in large quantities. New Bedford, which leads the state in the quantity and value of its catch, is one of the leading ports in the nation for flounder and sea scallops.
Massachusetts has one-tenth of the commercial forestland in New England and harvests less timber than Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont. Its modest forest industry cuts mainly white pines, spruces, oaks, maples, and birches. The wood is used for pulp, posts, piling, toys, furniture, and boxes.
Most of the mineral production in Massachusetts consists of sand, gravel, and crushed stone, which are extracted in most parts of the state. Some limestone and marble is quarried in the Berkshires. Clay, used mainly for brick and tile, is found in Bristol, Hampden, and Plymouth counties. Fine pottery clays exist on Martha’s Vineyard and around Andover. Peat, used largely to improve soil quality, is also found in the state, although only in Worcester County.
The state’s manufactures have been greatly diversified since the early 19th century, when shoes and textiles were dominant in the economy. During the 20th century the producers of these goods moved most of their operations to states where laborers could be recruited for lower wages. Durable goods, especially communications equipment, medical instruments, monitoring devices, industrial machinery, and electrical equipment, now occupy the place vacated by these soft goods. Defense and the space age increased research and manufacturing in the areas of electronics, instruments, and nuclear energy.
The high-technology industries became very important to the economy in the mid-1970s. By the late 1980s about two-fifths of the state’s total manufacturing labor force, or 245,000 people, were working for firms specializing in high-technology items, such as word processors and computer parts. In contrast, only about 100,000 people worked in high-technology companies in 1975. The largest concentrations of high-technology firms are found in Boston, Cambridge, and the cities of Newton, Waltham, Lincoln, Lexington, Burlington, and Woburn, which lie to the west or north of Boston along roads ringing the city.
The instrument industry is the leading source of personal income from manufacturing in the state. Its products include surgical appliances, photographic equipment and supplies, optical instruments, industrial controls, and measurement instruments. Another leading source for personal income is the manufacture of electric and electronic equipment, including semiconductors, telephones, radios, televisions, and printed circuit boards. The manufacture of industrial machinery and equipment, such as computers, rolling mill machinery, special tools and dies, turbines, generators, and specialized machinery for the printing industry, also contributes significantly to personal income in the state.
Among the older industries of the state that have continued to prosper are printing and publishing and paper manufacturing. In 1639 the first printing press in the colonies was brought by Stephen Daye to Cambridge, where he founded the Cambridge Press. Publishing is one of the leading industries in the Boston area. There is substantial commercial printing and specialty work such as bookbinding. The state also produces greeting cards and high-quality special papers. For example, the paper used in U.S. currency is manufactured in the town of Dalton. The fabricated metal industry continues to play an important role in the economy, with firms producing cutlery, a variety of hand tools, industrial valves, and small arms and ammunition.
Another major industry in the state is food processing, including candy making and the processing of fish, cranberries, gelatin, and sugar. The pharmaceuticals industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy as well. The transportation equipment industry is also important, particularly firms making aircraft engines and parts for guided missiles and space-exploration vehicles.
Although manufacturing is scattered throughout the state, it is especially prominent in certain areas. One is the large Greater Boston area, which takes in such communities as Cambridge, Quincy, Needham, Newton, Framingham, Lynn, Waltham, Norwood, Somerville, Peabody, and Salem. It has a sizable proportion of the state’s printing and publishing. Boston is also the center for food processing, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of transportation equipment and nonelectrical machinery. The area accounts for much of New England’s electronics manufacturing, which is especially concentrated along Route 128, a highway that arcs around Boston.
Inland, industry has traditionally located in the river valleys to take advantage of both waterpower and natural transportation routes. The Connecticut Valley cities of Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee make up the second most important manufacturing region. Springfield’s products include firearms, precision instruments, chemicals, hardware, and plastics. Holyoke has remained a textile and paper town but the production of electronic equipment and fabricated steel have become important. Nearby Chicopee makes sporting goods and inflatable rubber products. The industrial cities of Pittsfield and North Adams, on the Housatonic River in the northwestern part of the state, have attracted several manufacturers of electrical components and equipment.
Until the late 1970s, the Merrimack Valley cities of Lawrence and Lowell were almost exclusively engaged in manufacturing cotton and wool textiles. As the textile industry contracted, electronics and communications plants moved in. Also part of the Merrimack Valley complex is Haverhill, which has specialized in shoe manufacturing and is known for high-technology components.
The manufacturing region that ranks third in income generated by industry is Worcester. It processes metals and manufactures industrial machinery, machine tools, abrasives, and plastics. In the same vicinity are Gardner, which manufactures furniture, and Leominster, a leading plastics center.
Industrial concentration is also prominent in the southeastern part of the state in the formerly great textile manufacturing cities of Fall River and New Bedford. Among Massachusetts’s oldest cities, these textile centers experienced heavy unemployment and population losses as the textile industry declined. Labor-intensive mills lost their competitive edge and production moved south or overseas throughout the 1970s. However, the apparel industry in Fall River helped somewhat to bridge the employment gap caused by the exodus of textiles. In the late 1970s and early 1980s local textiles changed their focus to specialty niches, thereby turning around the decline in the last 15 years. Textile production is now the largest industry in the Fall River/New Bedford area, followed by needle trades, apparel, and fish processing.
Of the electricity generated in Massachusetts in 2005, 83 percent came from steam-driven power plants fueled by coal, petroleum, or natural gas. Another 12 percent came from nuclear power. The state has 1 nuclear power plant, at Plymouth.
Massachusetts has a rich history in transportation. No other state in the country can list such an array of inventions in the field of transportation, including firsts in bridge construction, steam-driven and two-cylinder engines, and subways. The unique physical terrain and shape of the state have influenced the routes of its transportation links. Roads generally curve along the coast, follow river valleys, and skirt the more gentle landforms, unlike the gridlike road patterns found in many parts of the nation. Intercity transit was developed because of suburban growth. In 1889 the first large street railway to use electricity connected Boston with Cambridge, Brookline, and other towns. Boston was also the site of the nation’s first subway system, opened on September 1, 1897. After the 1920s electric streetcars were mostly replaced with bus systems.
Today passenger rail service unites many Massachusetts cities, as well as providing connections to major urban centers in other states. The state is also served by an extensive freight line infrastructure. In 2004 there were 1,765 km (1,097 mi) of operated railroad track.
The state has a fine network of roads and highways. By 2005 the state had 57,775 km (35,900 mi) of public roads, including 922 km (573 mi) of national interstate highways.
Massachusetts had 8 airports, some of which were private airfields, in 2007. Logan International Airport in Boston is one of the leading U.S. airports. There is also commercial air service to Worcester, New Bedford, Hyannis and Provincetown on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island.
Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard are also served by ferries, which carry cars as well as passengers to and from Woods Hole. The Cape Cod Canal, a federally owned sea-level waterway, traverses the neck of Cape Cod from Sandwich to Bourne, a distance of about 13 km (about 8 mi). Part of the Intracoastal Waterway, the canal handles oceangoing ships and considerably shortens the water route between New England and the Middle Atlantic States.
Although several coastal cities are important fishing ports, Boston’s harbor is by far the most commercially important in the state and ranks as a leading Atlantic port. The city’s commerce consists mainly of inbound cargo. Major inbound cargoes are petroleum, sugar, salt, gypsum, and automobiles.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF MASSACHUSETTS|
Massachusetts had 6,349,097 inhabitants in 2000, according to the national census, placing it 13th among the states. The census showed population had increased by 5.5 percent from that of 1990. Between 1970 and 1980 the state’s population grew by only 0.8 percent, while in the decade from 1960 to 1970 it had increased by 10.5 percent.
Massachusetts lies on the northern end of a continuous urban belt that begins in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. The state’s population density of 317 persons per sq km (821 per sq mi) in 2006 was higher than that of any other state except New Jersey and Rhode Island. Urban dwellers accounted for 91 percent of its inhabitants in 2000.
Massachusetts had more urban than rural inhabitants as far back as 1850 and had become overwhelmingly urban by 1930. In the second half of the 20th century the movement from urban to suburban areas has blurred the distinction between rural and urban areas, since most of the people classified as rural dwellers do not live on farms. Such central cities as Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, once losing residents to their outlying areas, are again growing, as are such former textile cities as Fall River and New Bedford.
Massachusetts’s capital and largest city is Boston, with a population of 559,034 in 2005. The Boston metropolitan area, including parts of seven counties in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire, had 5,819,100 inhabitants in 2000.
Worcester had 175,898 residents in 2005. Springfield is another populous city, with 151,732 people. Brockton, Lowell, New Bedford, Cambridge, Fall River, and Quincy are other large urban centers in Massachusetts.
The state is noted for a rich diversity in the national background of its residents. Although the earliest settlers were English, people of many countries subsequently made their home in Massachusetts. In the 1840s the potato famine drove many Irish to Massachusetts, and they have since passed the English in numbers to become the state’s largest ethnic group. In the second half of the 19th century the mills and factory towns in central and western Massachusetts attracted many French Canadians, and around the turn of the century, Italians became a third major influx. The descendants of the English (Yankees), the Irish, the Greeks, and the Italians have dominated state politics in recent years. Many descendants of immigrants from Poland, Germany, Scotland, Sweden, Lithuania, and other countries have also retained their ethnic identities. Numerous communities in the state are strongly identified with one ethnic group or another. Although blacks have lived in the state since colonial times, the major black migration into Massachusetts took place in the second half of the 20th century.
Whites comprise the largest share of the population, representing 84.5 percent of the people. Blacks are 5.4 percent, Asians are 3.8 percent, Native Americans are 0.2 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race are 6 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 2,489 at the time of the census. Hispanics, who may be of any race, are 6.8 percent of the people.
In religious affiliation the Roman Catholics represent the largest church, with more than one-half of the state’s church members. No single Protestant church predominates; of the largest denominations the Baptists, the Episcopalians, and the Methodists each claim less than 5 percent of churchgoers. Some 3.5 percent of the people are Jews.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
Massachusetts has long been a leader in education. America’s first secondary school, Boston Latin School, was founded there in 1635. Harvard University, the oldest college in the United States, was chartered in 1636. After 1647 towns with at least 50 families had to support a schoolmaster and towns of at least 100 families had to have a school. In 1834, Mary Lyon, an advocate of higher education for women, helped organize Wheaton Female Seminary; it later became Wheaton College, in Norton. In 1837 she helped found Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, which became Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley.
One of Massachusetts’s foremost educators was Horace Mann. In 1837 he persuaded the state to organize the Massachusetts board of education and became its first secretary. Under his leadership, teacher training was started two years later at the nation’s first state normal school, at Lexington. In 1852 Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation making school attendance mandatory.
Much of the control of public education is vested in elected town and city school committees, but the state board of education has extensive powers. The ten-member board of education, appointed by the governor, determines policy. The board sets guidelines, and may, at its discretion, withhold state funds. The board appoints a commissioner of education to execute its policies. Education is compulsory for children ages 6 to 16. Of Massachusetts’s children, 14 percent attend private schools.
In the 2002–2003 school year Massachusetts spent $11,045 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 13.6 students for every teacher, compared to a national average of 15.9. Of those older than 25 years of age in the state, 88 percent had a high school diploma, compared to the national norm of 84 percent.
In 2004–2005 Massachusetts had 31 public and 91 private institutions of higher education. Several of the most highly respected institutions of higher education in the United States are found in Massachusetts, including Harvard University, in Cambridge. Among other important schools are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge; Tufts University, in Medford; Boston University, in Boston; Boston College, in Chestnut Hill; Clark University and the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester; Brandeis University, in Waltham; Smith College, in Northampton; Wellesley College, in Wellesley; Amherst College and Hampshire College, in Amherst; Williams College, in Williamstown; and the University of Massachusetts, with campuses in Amherst, Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth, as well as a medical school in Worcester.
Every Massachusetts community has free public library service. Each year the libraries circulate an average of 7.6 books for every resident. There are important collections in the Boston Public Library and the Boston Athenaeum, and at the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem. The Harvard University Library, in Cambridge, is the largest university library in the world.
Massachusetts’s leading museum is the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where an outstanding collection of Asian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, European, and American art is housed. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in Boston, houses famous paintings. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, has an important collection of European paintings, including Impressionists and Old Masters. The Worcester Art Museum and the Harvard University Art Museums are also well known.
Of particular interest to young people are the Boston Museum of Science; the maritime collections at the Peabody Essex Museum and the historical Salem Witch Museum, both in Salem; and the whaling museums in New Bedford and on Nantucket. The Boston-based Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities maintains historic homes throughout the state.
The first one-page newspaper, called a broadside, published in the English colonies was printed in Cambridge in 1689. The first multi-page newspaper, Public Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, was published in Boston by Benjamin Harris in 1690, but was suppressed after the first issue. The nation’s first regularly printed newspaper, the Boston News-Letter, was published in 1704 by John Campbell. It was followed by the Boston Gazette in 1719 and later by the New-England Courant, which was published by James Franklin, who employed his brother Benjamin as an apprentice. The Christian Science Monitor, which has an international circulation, was founded at Boston in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy. In 2002 Massachusetts had 43 daily newspapers. The leading dailies were the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the Springfield Union-News, the Quincy Patriot Ledger, the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, the Brockton Enterprise, the Lowell Sun, and the Cape Cod Times.
Among the most distinguished periodicals associated with Massachusetts are the Atlantic Monthly, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Harvard Law Review.
The nation’s first radio program was sent by Reginald Fessenden, broadcast from an antenna in Marshfield in 1906. The first radio station licensed in the state was WBZ in Springfield, which went on the air in 1921 and was the second licensed commercial station in the country to begin broadcasting. WBZ-TV in Boston, which was Massachusetts’s first full-time commercial television station, commenced operations in 1948. The state had 49 AM and 102 FM radio stations and 17 television stations in 2002.
A number of firsts in telegraph and telephone technologies took place in Massachusetts, including the first telegraph system, invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, and the advent of Morse Code.
|E||Music and Theater|
The Handel and Haydn Society, one of the nation’s oldest continually performing musical groups, was formed in Boston in 1815 by Gottlieb Graupner. In 1867 the noted New England Conservatory of Music opened in Boston. The philanthropist Henry Lee Higginson founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra 14 years later and remained its sole benefactor for many years. It gives summer concerts at Tanglewood in the Berkshires. In the spring a division of the orchestra, the Boston Pops, presents concerts of popular and light classical music. The Boston Lyric Opera has a fall-spring season and performs in the Shubert Theatre. The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival is held every summer in Becket, in the Berkshires.
The Puritan traditions of Massachusetts retarded the development of the theater, and from 1750 to about 1790 all plays were banned. Boston’s few theaters were not very successful, but fortunately the little-theater movement caught on. In 1915 the Provincetown Players was organized by a group of actors, authors, and artists. They gave the first performance of many of the plays of Eugene O’Neill, and their success was followed by the birth of little theaters throughout the state. Shakespeare and Company performs a summer series in Lenox, and there are summer theaters in leading resorts, among them the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater; the Cape Playhouse, in Dennis; the Berkshire Theatre Festival, in Stockbridge; and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
The distinguished architectural heritage of Massachusetts ranges across virtually all architectural eras and styles. Bostonian Charles Bulfinch, who developed the Federal style, is famous for the State House building completed in 1798. Landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, credited with helping to create the landscape architecture profession, designed more than 250 parks in Massachusetts in the second half of the 19th century, including the greenbelt known as the Emerald Necklace in Boston.
Typical of some of Massachusetts’s earliest homes are the John Whipple House, in Ipswich; the Parson Barnard House, in North Andover; the Fairbanks House, in Dedham; and the Reverend Lothrop house in Barnstable, where the Sturgis Library is located. Boston’s Harrison Gray Otis House and Salem’s Peirce-Nichols House reflect the affluence of the late 18th century. The standards of the period were set by Samuel McIntire, a Salem architect and woodcarver. A famous architect of 19th-century Boston was Henry Hobson Richardson; Trinity Church is considered his masterpiece. The noted architect Walter Gropius headed Harvard’s school of architecture for 15 years before his retirement in 1952.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
Massachusetts offers a wide variety of attractions for tourists. The Berkshire Hills provide good skiing and hiking. The Mohawk Trail, originally traveled by Native Americans and connecting the people in the Connecticut River valley with those in the west, today is the popular name for Route 2 as it winds along the Deerfield River and over the Berkshire Mountains between Greenfield and North Adams. On its way it passes through some of the most beautiful sections of northwestern Massachusetts. Deerfield, in the Connecticut River valley, was the site of a Native American raid during Queen Anne’s War in the early 18th century.
The main attraction in central Massachusetts is Old Sturbridge Village. A representation of a farming settlement of the early 19th century, the village contains homes and craftsmen’s shops. Massachusetts’s North Shore presents a panorama of its maritime history in the picturesque old fishing town of Gloucester. Another old port is Salem, where tourists visit a number of historic buildings, including the House of the Seven Gables, built in 1688 and made famous in a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The country’s first ironworks has been restored at Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.
North of Boston are Lexington and Concord, famous for their role at the outset of the American Revolution. Among the many attractions of Boston is the Freedom Trail, which includes Faneuil Hall, the Old South Meeting House, and the Old North Church, where lanterns were hung to signal the beginning of the ride of Paul Revere. The Bunker Hill Monument (see Bunker Hill, Battle of) and the U.S.S. Constitution are across the Charles River in Charlestown.
Plymouth, on Massachusetts’s South Shore, is the site of the Pilgrim’s Plymouth Colony. A reconstruction of the original Mayflower can be seen there, as well as Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims are supposed to have landed. Also there is Plimoth Plantation, a reconstruction of the early village. All along Cape Cod fine sandy beaches and sheltered coves invite swimming, fishing, and sailing. At the tip of the cape is Provincetown, long an artist’s colony. The resort island of Martha’s Vineyard is known for the beautifully colored clay cliffs found at Gay Head. Farther offshore lies Nantucket Island, once a whaling center and now a summer colony and resort of much charm.
The National Park Service maintains 13 sites in Massachusetts, most of which preserve fine structures related to the nation’s history. Among them is the Boston African-American National Historic Site in the heart of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The site includes 15 pre-Civil War structures relating to the history of Boston’s 19th-century black community, including the African Meeting House, the oldest standing black church in the United States. Boston National Historical Park contains 16 sites connected by the Freedom Trail, which runs through downtown Boston and Charlestown. The trail is marked by a line in the pavement either in red paint or brick.
The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, in Brookline, is the birthplace and early boyhood home of the 35th president. The Adams National Historical Park, in Quincy, commemorates the American family that includes two United States presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Two more parks explore the lives of other noted Massachusetts residents. Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, also in Brookline, commemorates the great conservationist, landscape architect, and founder of city planning. An archival collection of drawings and plans is housed at the site. Likewise, the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow National Historic Site, in Cambridge, celebrates the poet’s work created while teaching at Harvard from 1837 to 1882. George Washington used the house at the Longfellow site as his headquarters during the siege of Boston (1775-1776).
The history of America’s Industrial Revolution is preserved at Lowell National Historical Park, which includes the Boott Cotton Mills Museum with a weave room with 88 operating looms, “mill girl” boarding houses, the Suffolk Mill turbine, and 19th-century commercial buildings. The Springfield Armory National Historic Site contains a weapons museum in the building that for 175 years was the center of manufacturing for United States military small arms.
Structures preserved at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site date from the era when Salem ships opened trade with ports of East Asia. Buildings of maritime significance include the Custom House where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked, Derby Wharf, the Bonded Warehouse, the West India Goods Store, and the 17th-century Narbonne-Hale house.
The Minute Man National Historical Park, in Lexington and Concord, preserves the scene of the fighting between the colonial militia and British troops on April 19, 1775, the day that launched the American War of Independence. At the North Bridge, the first ordered firing upon British troops resulted in “the shot heard ‘round the world.” Along the Battle Road, colonials fired at the retreating British (see Concord, Battle of).
Cape Cod National Seashore comprises 17,628 hectares (43,557 acres) of shoreline and upland landscapes. A variety of historic structures are within the boundary of the seashore, including lighthouses and houses in the Cape Cod architectural style. A portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail also passes through the state.
|B||State Forests and Parks|
While Massachusetts is often thought of as an urban state, forests in the 1990s covered almost triple the area they did in the early 1800s. The largest area under state control is October Mountain State Forest, near Lee, with more than 6,500 hectares (16,000 acres). State regions of particular interest are Mount Greylock, the state’s tallest mountain, with panoramic views of the Berkshire Hills; Purgatory Chasm State Reservation, with geologic formations that offer rugged rock walls and hiking paths along the floor of the chasm; and Holyoke Heritage State Park, where visitors can learn about the first “planned” industrial city. The state boasts 97 state parks, including Nickerson State Park, on Cape Cod; Skinner State Park, in Hadley, famous for painter Thomas Cole’s 1836 “The Oxbow,” which fixed the public’s image of New England landscape for decades; and Walden Pond, near Concord, which attracts admirers of writer Henry David Thoreau.
The nation’s oldest public park is the 20-hectare (50-acre) Boston Common, located in the center of Boston. It was set aside in 1634 as a cow pasture and parade ground.
The evacuation of Boston by the British is commemorated each year in the city with a parade on March 17. Patriot’s Day, the third Monday in April, is marked by a reenactment of Paul Revere’s ride and by ceremonies at Lexington and Concord. On the same day athletes from around the world compete in the Boston Marathon. On June 17, the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, a parade is held in Charlestown. During August, the Gloucester Waterfront Festival is celebrated with entertainment and whale-watching. More than 100 events are part of the September Harwich Cranberry Harvest Festival. One of the largest single-day rowing events in the world is the Head of the Charles Regatta in October, including championship and youth events. Patriots gather at a town meeting in Boston each December, then march to the harbor to dump tea into the sea to reenact the Boston Tea Party. The Pilgrim landing is recalled every year during the Forefathers’ Day ceremonies on December 21 in Plymouth. Numerous horticultural and agricultural fairs are held throughout the state every year, including the Eastern States Exposition, in Springfield during September. Many cities and towns celebrate their diverse ethnic heritage by holding special events throughout the year. Saint Patrick’s Day parades in Boston and Holyoke are among the largest in the nation for that celebration. Other major festivals include the Italian Street festivals in Boston’s North End, on weekends in July and August; the Polish Kielbasa Festival in Chicopee, in September; and the Portuguese Blessing of the Fleet in New Bedford, in August.
Massachusetts has a rich history in the development of sports. Invented in the state were basketball, in Springfield in 1891, and volleyball, in Holyoke in 1895. American football developed in a large part on the playing fields of the state’s universities. Many sporting firsts were recorded in Massachusetts, including the first professional golf tournament (at Hamilton in 1901), first World Series baseball game (in Boston in 1903), and the first National Basketball Association All-Star game (in Boston in 1951).
Professional sports teams in Massachusetts include the Boston Red Sox baseball team, the Boston Celtics basketball team, the Boston Bruins ice-hockey team, and the New England Patriots football team, which plays in Foxboro.
Massachusetts still operates under its original constitution, although this document has frequently been amended. It was drawn up for the new state by John Adams and was ratified in 1780. The document bears many similarities to the federal Constitution, providing for individual liberties and a definite separation of powers among the different divisions of government.
The governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of the commonwealth, treasurer, auditor, and attorney general are each elected for a four-year term. An unusual feature of the state’s government is the governor’s executive council, which consists of the lieutenant governor and eight elected councilors. It must give its consent to judicial appointments made by the governor. It also considers pardons for criminals.
The Massachusetts legislature, known as the General Court, consists of a 40-member Senate and a 160-member House of Representatives. All members of the General Court are elected every two years. The General Court meets every year.
The state’s highest court is the supreme judicial court, consisting of a chief justice and six associate justices. It handles appeals from lower courts and has original jurisdiction in some equity matters. Other tribunals are the appeals courts, with 14 judges, and the trial courts. Lower courts include municipal and probate courts. The land court of Massachusetts rules on all real estate matters. Judges of the three courts are appointed by the governor with the consent of the executive council and serve until the age of 70.
Massachusetts has 14 counties. Some have county governments that are administered by elected commissioners, while the remainder rely on state and local or regional agencies to provide the functions of a county government. The counties cannot levy taxes.
Of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts, 39 are cities and 312 are towns. The freedom to choose to be either a city or a town has led to some anomalies. Two cities with populations under 20,000 inhabitants in 1990 are North Adams and Newbury Port, while the two largest towns are Framingham (64,989) and Weymouth (54,063).
Cities are administered by mayors and councils, councils and city managers, or commissions. Many small towns use the town meeting form of government. In the town meeting, every voter may express his or her views and vote on town matters. Some larger towns use the representative town meeting. Under this procedure, 200 to 300 citizens elected to represent precincts within the town meet and vote in town meeting fashion. Most towns are administered by elected selectmen.
Massachusetts elects two U.S. senators and ten members of the House of Representatives. The state casts 12 electoral votes.
The earliest human inhabitants of the Massachusetts area lived about 10,000 bc, after the glaciers had retreated. Archaeological sites indicate several other cultures developed in the millennia that followed. For centuries before Europeans arrived in the area it was inhabited by Algonquian-speaking groups of Native Americans. When European colonization began in the early 1600s, seven major groups lived in the area. The Wampanoag and the Nauset were on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island; the Massachuset had settlements along Massachusetts Bay; the Nipmuc were in central Massachusetts; the Pocomtuck lived in the northwest; the Pennacook were near the New Hampshire border; and the Mahican were in the Berkshire area. The native peoples lived largely by hunting deer, catching fish and shellfish, and growing corn, beans, and squash, migrating from forest to coastal areas to take advantage of seasonal resources. Approximately 30,000 native people inhabited Massachusetts in 1614, but epidemics of disease brought by whites soon greatly reduced the population.
Norsemen may have visited Massachusetts about the year 1000. However, the first recorded exploration took place nearly 500 years later, when Italian navigator and explorer John Cabot sailed along the Massachusetts coast in 1498 while searching for a route to Asia. Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, sailing under the French flag in 1524, also traced the Massachusetts coast. In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold, an English captain, named Cape Cod for the schools of codfish he found there. Later explorers included Martin Pring in 1603, George Waymouth in 1605, Samuel de Champlain in 1605 and 1606, Henry Hudson in 1609, and Adriaen Block and John Smith in 1614. Smith, one of the founders of Jamestown, Virginia, the first English settlement in America, mapped Massachusetts Bay and gave the area many of its names.
In 1606 the territory of present-day Massachusetts was included in the vast North American coastal tract granted by the English king to the Plymouth Company, which was reorganized in 1620 as the Council for New England. The company had trade and colonization rights but was unable to promote settlement within its domain. This task fell by chance to a group of religious dissenters, known as Pilgrims, who had faced persecution in England after breaking from the Church of England, the official church there. With the hope of starting a new life, the Pilgrims turned to North America in 1620, sailing on the ship Mayflower, destined for Virginia. They were blown off course, landed instead at Provincetown Bay in November, and finally settled at Plymouth in mid-December. Because they were outside the jurisdiction of Virginia and had no grant to settle in the region controlled by the Plymouth Company, the Pilgrims drew up the Mayflower Compact. Under this informal agreement or covenant, government was based on consent of the governed, an important precedent for the development of American democracy. John Carver was elected governor of the settlement, the Plymouth Colony.
The Pilgrims’ first winter was difficult, and almost half the colonists perished. In the spring some friendly Native Americans taught the settlers about their new land, showing them how to raise corn and catch fish. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit and the colonists signed a peace treaty, each promising to live in peace and to support the other if attacked by an aggressor. In the fall of 1621 the bountiful harvest of corn and beans, along with fish and game, was shared between the settlers and Native Americans in the first American Thanksgiving celebration. From then the Plymouth Colony prospered on its own until it merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.
|D||Massachusetts Bay Colony|
In 1623 the Council for New England issued a patent to the Dorchester Company, a group of English businessmen interested in trade. The company founded a settlement at Cape Ann, but it failed in 1625, and the survivors, under Roger Conant, founded Naumkeag (later Salem) in 1626. Also in the mid-1620s English business interests set up other colonies in Massachusetts, including those at Mount Wollaston (now Quincy), Wessagusset (now Weymouth), and Nantasket.
In 1628 a major colonization effort began. A group of men led by John Endecott received a patent from the Council for New England that entitled them to a territory from just north of the Merrimack River to just south of the Charles River and extending from sea to sea. This group, interested in establishing a trading business in North America, soon became dominated by Puritans, who were also dissenters from the Church of England. These businessmen hoped to establish a religious colony as a refuge from persecution. The company sent Endecott to take over the settlement at Salem and pressed for a royal charter. In 1629 the king granted the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company.
Under this charter the company was self-governing. Its stockholders, called freemen, met as an assembly called the General Court. The assembly then chose a governor, a deputy governor, and 18 assistants to administer the colony. The first government was established in England. In 1629 the company decided to move the government to Massachusetts, and chose John Winthrop as governor of the colony. Winthrop arrived the following year, bringing more than 700 settlers and the royal charter with him. Several hundred more colonists arrived soon after.
The government of the trading company then became that of the colony. Absolute control was exercised by Winthrop, clergyman John Cotton, and other Puritan leaders, reflecting the religious purpose for which the colony was founded. Religious leaders soon solidified their power by ruling that only members of the Puritan church could be freemen and have a vote in the colony’s government.
The purpose of the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay was to establish a “Godly” society as a model for all Christians, based on a church purified in membership, worship, and structure from what they considered corruption in the Church of England. Free of the church hierarchy in England, they built their colony around independent church congregations, and their religion became known as Congregationalism.
Life in the colony was demanding. The necessities of life as well as the Puritans’ belief in hard work required everyone to labor from sunrise to sunset. Attendance at Sunday religious services was compulsory, and there was little leisure time. Amusements and dancing were frowned upon, and there was no theater. There were laws against stylish dress, but fashions changed as the colony became more prosperous. Wedding celebrations and such events as house-raisings, town meetings, and militia training sessions provided occasions for gathering with friends and enjoying refreshments. Punishments for crimes were very harsh. When the Society of Friends, or Quakers, attempted to preach against this way of life in the mid-1650s, the General Court persecuted them unmercifully. Quakers were banished from the colony and threatened with death if they returned. One Quaker who did so, Mary Dyer, was hanged in 1660.
This strict control of life and religious beliefs led some people to leave the colony. In 1635 clergyman Thomas Hooker and his congregation migrated for economic reasons to found Hartford and other towns of what later became Connecticut. Others, such as Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, questioned the religious purity of the colony. Williams preached the separation of church and government and questioned the colony’s right to take Native American lands without compensation. In 1636 Williams was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and, after taking refuge among the Wampanoag, established Providence, the first permanent white settlement in what would become Rhode Island. Two years later Hutchinson was banished for her religious dissent, and she and some followers also went south to found Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Her brother-in-law John Wheelwright fled Massachusetts to found Exeter, New Hampshire. While these and other people emigrated from the colony to escape the restrictions of church government, immigration to Massachusetts Bay brought rapid growth.
The Puritan belief that communities were formed by covenants produced America’s first democratic institution, the town meeting. At the town meeting every church member had the right to speak, and decisions were made by majority rule. In some towns, property-holding men who were not church members also had voting rights. At first the meetings dealt only with local problems, but in 1634 representatives of the towns forced the Puritan leaders to allow each town to send two deputies to the General Court. These deputies were chosen at the town meeting and represented its interests. In 1644 the General Court was divided into a bicameral assembly, with the governor and the assistants sitting in one chamber and the deputies in the other. The democratic atmosphere of the town meeting influenced the deputies, who over the ensuing decades sought to influence the assistants to lessen restrictions on religious and personal freedoms in the colony.
|D3||Struggle Against English Control|
From 1629 to 1660, Massachusetts Bay was virtually independent of control from England, which was caught up in a struggle between Parliament and the king that culminated in the English Revolution (1640-1660). During the 1630s, most of the Puritans who fled from religious persecution in England settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony’s elders used its large population and financial strength to influence adjacent settlements, attempting to extend control over areas claimed by the Plymouth Colony and Connecticut in the early 1640s. Massachusetts also began to claim southern New Hampshire, whose towns joined the colony after failing to establish a strong central government of their own. In 1643 the colony joined Connecticut, New Haven, and Plymouth to form a military alliance called the New England Confederation, to help meet threatened attacks by Native Americans and Dutch settlers. During the 40 years of the confederation, the Massachusetts Bay Colony dominated its proceedings. In the early 1650s, Massachusetts incorrectly interpreted its charter as granting it the existing settlements in Maine, and by 1658 the entire Maine region had been annexed.
After the English monarchy was restored in 1660, King Charles II tried to reestablish royal control over the American colonies, especially Massachusetts Bay, which claimed it had sovereign powers and was not responsible to the king. In 1664 and 1665 the king’s agents attempted to separate Maine and New Hampshire from Massachusetts, but within three years these regions were again dominated by the colony. For 15 years the General Court steadfastly resisted any royal attempts to subjugate the colony.
As the colonies expanded, whites came to outnumber the Native Americans and encroach further onto native lands. Cultural differences and land disputes created conflicts that resulted in King Philip’s War, an uprising led by the Wampanoag chief Philip. The son of Massasoit, who had befriended the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Philip formed an alliance of native groups to drive out the settlers in 1675. Many settlements in central Massachusetts and the Connecticut River valley were destroyed. In retaliation for attacks by Philip’s forces, Massachusetts and its partners in the New England Confederation also declared war on the neutral Narragansett people, killing hundreds of Narragansett in an attack on their main village in Rhode Island. The Narragansett then joined Philip, but the Native Americans were defeated in 1676. Philip was killed, many of his followers were executed or sold into slavery, and their lands were taken over by the colonies. The defeat ended the resistance of southern New England native peoples to white settlement there.
|D4||Revocation of Charter|
After 1674 England began new attempts to subdue the rebellious Massachusetts Bay Colony. The principal charges leveled against the colony were continuing violations of the trade restrictions of the Navigation Acts; severe religious intolerance, specifically against Anglicans, which led to English citizens being persecuted and even killed; and the colony’s assumption of virtual independence. In 1677 the Puritan leaders sent agents to England to answer these charges, but they did little to satisfy the royal government, and added to past offenses by purchasing the grant governing Maine from the heirs of the original owner, Ferdinando Gorges. In the face of this defiance England separated New Hampshire from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1677, and in 1684 England revoked the latter’s charter.
|E||Dominion of New England|
After taking the English throne in 1685, James II decided to consolidate the New England colonies as the Dominion of New England. In December 1686 Sir Edmund Andros arrived in Boston as royal governor of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. By 1688 the dominion included all of New England, New York, New Jersey, and Nova Scotia.
The dominion government made Andros a virtual dictator. Under his harsh rule the colonists were not allowed to have a representative assembly, town meetings were permitted only once a year, and taxation was imposed by the provincial governments without the consent of the colonists. The governor also supported the Church of England against the interests of the Puritans. All these moves greatly angered the people of Massachusetts. In 1689, when it was learned that James II had been overthrown and fled England, Andros was seized in Boston and the dominion collapsed. For the next two years the colony was governed under a temporary government of Puritan leaders with a popular assembly.
In 1691 a new royal charter was granted for the colony of Massachusetts, which incorporated the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Island, Maine, and Nova Scotia. Under the charter a popular assembly was established to aid the royal governor, and the right to elect representatives to the assembly was based on property qualifications, rather than on church membership. The royal charter ended control of Massachusetts government by Puritan religious leaders. Their influence was further weakened after an outbreak of hysteria in 1692 in Salem, in which hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft (see Salem Witch Trials). The accusations, mostly made by young girls, came at a time of religious, political, and social divisions. After a series of trials, 19 people were executed as witches, and one man who refused to enter a plea to the charge was also put to death, before leading ministers helped end the scare. Although Puritan influence declined, the Congregational Church retained a privileged position in Massachusetts until the 19th century.
The relationship between the colonists and the royal governor was strained from the outset, simply because the governor represented the king and had veto power over the General Court. However, the court was able to exercise some control over the governor because it paid his salary.
During this period, Massachusetts was extensively involved in Britain’s wars with France over domination of North America and Europe (see King George’s War, King William’s War, Queen Anne’s War, French and Indian War). The fighting in North America took place intermittently between 1689 and 1760, with each side using Native American allies and attacking each other’s settlements. In Massachusetts many towns were destroyed, such as Deerfield, where 40 people were killed and many more taken captive in 1704. Many merchant ships were captured or sunk by the French, and Massachusetts raised taxes and mustered thousands of soldiers to support the war effort. French forces were finally defeated in 1760, and a treaty in 1763 left Britain in control of North America.
The early Puritan economy was primarily agricultural, although some manufacturing was done by the farmers, who produced most of the goods and tools they needed. In the second half of the 17th century a class of merchants gradually developed, supported by the steady growth of Massachusetts shipping. Good harbors and the long coastline, together with abundant timber and fish, fostered the shipbuilding industry.
During the wars with France, Massachusetts enjoyed a period of general prosperity. Great Britain, preoccupied with the French, was again unable to exercise its authority. Massachusetts merchants engaged in a highly profitable but illegal trade with the French West Indies and with other foreign ports. A triangular trade developed, in which Massachusetts merchants brought in sugar and molasses from the West Indies, converted it into rum, sent the rum to Africa in exchange for slaves, and sold the slaves to West Indian sugar plantations.
In addition to the prosperity from sea commerce, the colony developed manufacturing industries, such as ironworks, brickyards, stone quarries, leather tanneries, and distilleries. Town life spread into central and western Massachusetts. Boston grew steadily and by the 1770s was one of America’s few large cities.
In 1763, after Great Britain had made peace with France, Parliament made a new attempt to reorganize the governing structure of the empire. To pay Britain’s war debts and the cost of maintaining troops in America, Parliament sought to tax the colonies and enforce trade regulations that had been ignored. Massachusetts became the center for agitation against Parliament’s efforts, and most of the events leading to the American Revolution (1775-1783) took place there. The Sugar Act of 1764, the Stamp Act of 1765, and the Townshend Acts of 1767 created widespread opposition. Boston rioted, and its merchants initiated a boycott among the colonies against British goods. The royal governor dissolved the General Court, and for eight months British troops occupied Boston. In 1770 British soldiers fired into a crowd of 60 jeering citizens, killing five and wounding six of them, in an incident called the Boston Massacre.
Repeal of the Townshend Acts that year brought a period of relative calm, although Parliament retained a tax on tea to assert its right to tax the colonies. In 1773 Parliament passed the Tea Act, allowing the financially troubled East India Company a monopoly on selling tea in America. The colonists, however, refused to accept the tea, rejecting Parliament’s authority to tax them and fearing the East India Company would hurt colonial merchants’ business. On December 16, 1773, a group of Boston residents, many of them disguised as Native Americans, dumped the first shipment of British tea into Boston Harbor in the Boston Tea Party. To punish Boston for its defiance, Parliament passed laws closing Boston Harbor, requiring residents to provide quarters for British troops, and revoking Massachusetts’s charter. These measures, which colonists labeled the Intolerable Acts, united American colonies in support of Massachusetts and led to the meeting of the First Continental Congress in the fall of 1774, which organized a trade boycott and sent a declaration of grievances to the king.
The royal governor of Massachusetts dissolved the General Court while it was electing delegates to the Continental Congress. Led by the radical independence advocate, Samuel Adams, the General Court refused to disband. Instead, it elected radical delegates to the congress, reconstituted itself as the government of Massachusetts, and moved into the countryside. This provincial assembly governed Massachusetts through most of the revolutionary period.
The first battles of the American Revolution took place outside of Boston in 1775. On April 18 General Thomas Gage, the governor of Massachusetts, sent troops to seize ammunition and military supplies at Concord, some 29 km (about 18 mi) from Boston. Local patriots, including Paul Revere, set out to warn colonial militia that the troops were coming, and a group of militia met the British forces the next morning in Lexington. Shots were fired, and eight Americans were killed. The British went on to Concord, where they met more militiamen and turned back to Boston. Thousands of colonists rallied from the countryside to attack the British, who suffered nearly 300 casualties before reaching safety in Boston (see Lexington, Battle of, and Concord, Battle of). The war for American independence had begun.
The militia that followed British troops from Concord laid siege to Boston. The next battle occurred June 17 for control of Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill, the heights that dominated Boston Harbor. American forces occupied Breed’s Hill and held off two British assaults in the Battle of Bunker Hill, but they then ran out of ammunition and were forced to withdraw. Although the Americans failed to force the British to evacuate Boston, their performance against trained British troops strengthened the colonies’ resolve to fight.
Boston remained in British hands until March 1776, when General George Washington, leading the Continental Army, fortified Dorchester Heights and forced the British to evacuate the city. The only other battle of the revolution that took place in Massachusetts occurred in September 1778, when the British burned New Bedford, a port from which American ships attacked British vessels. Massachusetts residents, especially lawyer and statesman John Adams, continued to play major roles in the national movement to form an independent nation.
In 1778, under pressure from farmers and towns in western Massachusetts, the provincial assembly submitted a constitution to the people. But the document was rejected because the legislature, rather than a special convention, drew up the document, and a popularly elected constitutional convention was called. John Adams dominated the gathering, and the finished document was largely his creation. It included a bill of rights, a system of checks and balances, and other provisions that would later be incorporated into the Constitution of the United States. The state constitution was accepted by the people in June 1780.
|J||Shays’ Rebellion and Federal Government|
After the war, Massachusetts shared in the general economic depression that settled over the country. Merchant interests controlled the state legislature at the outset, and they passed high land taxes in an effort to pay off the war debts. The depression and the taxes hit the state’s western farmers hardest. In 1786 a war veteran named Daniel Shays led an unsuccessful armed rebellion, mainly of poor farmers who faced the possibility of losing their property and being imprisoned for debt. The rebels were defeated by the state militia, and most were eventually pardoned.
Shays’ Rebellion prompted tax reforms within the state, and along with other similar protests it stimulated support throughout the United States for a federal government strong enough to deal with such unrest. In 1787 a convention drafted the Constitution of the United States. Massachusetts initially refused to ratify the Constitution unless a bill of rights similar to the state constitution’s was added, protecting the rights of individuals against government interference. But on February 6, 1788, Massachusetts ratified the constitution and became the sixth state to join the Union. The Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1791.
During the early years of the United States, Massachusetts supported the Federalist Party, which advocated a strong central government. Federalist John Adams was the nation’s first vice president and in 1797 became the second president of the United States. From 1807 to 1834 the governorship was split between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson. Adams’s son, John Quincy Adams, served in the Massachusetts Senate and the U.S. Senate before becoming the nation’s sixth president in 1825.
Despite the postwar depression, Massachusetts’s maritime activities recovered rapidly. Boston became the nation’s leading overseas trader, and by 1784, Boston ships had opened trade with China. Salem, New Bedford, and Newburyport also developed strong commercial interests, while Nantucket, New Bedford, Marblehead, and Provincetown expanded their whaling and shipping operations.
Commerce was sharply curtailed, however, when war between France and Britain led Congress to pass the Embargo Act of 1807, forbidding U.S. vessels from trading with European nations. The purpose of the measure was to force the warring nations, particularly Britain and France, to recognize the rights of neutral countries. It failed to achieve that goal, but it damaged the American economy, especially in New England states such as Massachusetts that relied heavily on trade. Continued conflict over British aggression against neutral U.S. ships led to the War of 1812 (1812-1815), which angry Massachusetts merchants bitterly opposed. At the Hartford Convention, held late in 1814, Massachusetts and other New England states sought to address their declining role in national affairs, proposing limits on the presidency and on federal power to impose embargoes or regulate foreign commerce. Despite opposition to the war, the state took pride in the naval victories of the frigate Constitution, which had been launched in Boston in 1797. After the war, Massachusetts regained its position of maritime supremacy and maintained it until after the middle of the century.
|L||Growth of Manufacturing|
In the period after the revolution, the United States began to produce its own manufactured goods when the British market was periodically closed because of European wars, the embargo, and the War of 1812. Many of the new industries were established in Massachusetts. The state had many streams for waterpower and a ready labor market drawn from its farmers and artisans. In 1816 the U.S. government passed a protective tariff to aid the nation’s young industries. Massachusetts’s manufacturing flourished, and many merchants channeled capital into the state’s expanding textile industry.
After New York’s Erie Canal was opened in 1825, allowing quick transportation of goods between the eastern and western parts of the country, Massachusetts’s agriculture declined. Competition from the fertile western farms drove many of the small Massachusetts farmers to abandon their land. Many of them sought land in the West or moved to the state’s rapidly growing industrial centers.
|M||Social and Cultural Climate|
In the first half of the 19th century, Massachusetts underwent a period of internal reform and cultural achievement. In 1820, as a part of the Missouri Compromise, Maine was separated from Massachusetts and became a state. A year later several important amendments to the state constitution were adopted, including those that abolished property qualifications for voting and religious tests for officeholders. In 1833 a constitutional amendment separated the Congregational Church from state government, ending its privileged position. At the same time Unitarianism, a liberal religion quite different from early Congregationalism, took strong hold in the state under the guidance of clergyman William Ellery Channing.
In the early 1830s the antislavery movement won many followers in the state, and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison first published his influential weekly The Liberator in Boston in 1831. In 1843 Dorothea Lynde Dix presented her “Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts,” an account of conditions in the state’s prisons and asylums. The report led to immediate reforms in Massachusetts and initiated a national crusade for the humane treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill. Educational reforms were introduced by such leaders as Horace Mann, who helped create the first state board of education in the United States, and Bronson Alcott, who in 1834 established a school in Boston that used Alcott’s then-revolutionary method of teaching young children by means of conversation. As secretary of Massachusetts’s board of education, Mann influenced the educational system of the entire United States, working to improve the pay and training of teachers.
Massachusetts also became the center of an American cultural renaissance, especially in literature. Writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow gained international fame.
The Whig Party dominated Massachusetts politics from the 1830s until the 1850s. In 1855 the American Party, also known as Know-Nothings, secured the governor’s seat for one term, as well as control of the legislature. This party was an anti-Catholic and antiforeign group that arose in response to massive immigration of the 1840s and 1850s, especially of Irish Catholics trying to escape a devastating potato famine in their homeland. The Know-Nothings, given the name because of their secrecy, discriminated against foreign-born citizens, trying to prevent them from holding political office or gaining influence. But the Know-Nothings collapsed when the national controversy over slavery in the 1850s led to the rise of the Republican Party, which then dominated the governor’s office in Massachusetts until 1931.
Massachusetts was a center of abolitionist sentiment in the years before the Civil War (1861-1865). The Underground Railroad, a network of antislavery northerners, brought many fugitive slaves through Massachusetts on their way to Canada. In 1854 Massachusetts business leaders formed the New England Emigrant Aid Society to help men from the antislavery Northeast travel to the Kansas Territory, which was at the center of controversy over extending slavery beyond the South. Antislavery advocates hoped that the votes of these settlers would keep Kansas from becoming a slave state.
When the Civil War began, Massachusetts was the first state to send troops to support the federal government, and when secessionists in Maryland killed several of these men in riots, Massachusetts soldiers became the first to die for the Union. Massachusetts also was the first Northern state to establish a black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. More than 146,000 Massachusetts men served in the Union Army during the war.
|O||Growth of Industry|
The war completed Massachusetts’s transition from an agricultural and maritime economy to one based on industry. Shipping declined after the war, as did whaling when substitutes such as kerosene were found for whale products. By the end of the century, the leading industries were leather and textile manufacturing.
Industrial labor was supplied by masses of immigrants. The Irish, who had begun arriving in large numbers in the 1840s, were joined by French Canadians, Italians, Portuguese, Greeks, and Poles. With these new residents, the Roman Catholic church came to have the largest membership in the state founded as a refuge for Puritans. The Irish began to gain the economic and political power that would make them a major force in the state’s later development.
Industrial growth led to the formation of labor unions as workers struggled to change the long hours, low wages, and unsafe working conditions of the factories. Business owners refused to accept the unions, and from 1881 to 1900 there were more than 1,800 strikes. State legislation forced management to make some reforms, but labor unrest increased in the early 20th century. In 1912 textile workers in Lawrence went on strike when mill owners lowered wages and increased the speed of looms in the factories. The strike, organized by the radical Industrial Workers of the World union, involved 23,000 workers, including many women and children. When some of them were assaulted by state troops and police sent in to keep order, the public was outraged, and mill owners gave in, giving wage increases to thousands of New England workers.
|Q||World War I and Ensuing Decades|
Massachusetts played an important role in World War I (1914-1918). Its 26th, or Yankee, Division fought in major battles in Europe. The Boston and Quincy shipyards worked at full capacity, and state industries manufactured a wide variety of war supplies. The economic boom produced by the war continued into the 1920s, although wages for many workers remained low and strikes were still common. However, the mill cities suffered as the textile industry began to relocate to the South.
In 1919 the Boston police force went on strike for higher wages and the right to form a union. Governor Calvin Coolidge gained national fame when he suppressed the strike, calling out 5,000 militia to patrol the city and refusing to reinstate the strikers. The attention led to his nomination for vice president of the United States in 1920. Elected on a ticket with President Warren G. Harding, Coolidge became president when Harding died in 1923.
By 1920 the state’s population had grown to 3.8 million. Two-thirds of Massachusetts’s residents were foreign-born or the children of immigrant parents.
During the 1920s, international controversy resulted when two anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were tried and executed for murder in Massachusetts (see Sacco-Vanzetti Case). The two Italian immigrants were accused of killing two men during the robbery of a shoe factory. They were convicted on what many people regarded as inadequate evidence and contradictory testimony. Supporters of the two men argued they had been condemned because of political and ethnic prejudice. In 1977, 50 years after their execution, Governor Michael Dukakis signed a proclamation that in effect cleared Sacco and Vanzetti.
|R||World War II|
After the economic hardships of the Great Depression during the 1930s, Massachusetts’s economy recovered during World War II (1939-1945). The state’s outstanding contribution to the war effort was in research and technological development. Numerous university and private scientific research centers opened in the 1940s. This trend continued after the war and helped make Massachusetts a leader in the electronics and aerospace industries, as its traditional textile and leather industries continued to decline.
The Republican Party, born out of opposition to slavery before the Civil War, dominated Massachusetts politics until 1931. The economic Depression of the 1930s brought Democrats into power nationally, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), and in Massachusetts. Democratic governors were elected until 1939, and after that the governor’s office alternated between the two major parties. The Republicans controlled the state legislature from the Civil War until 1958, when for the first time the state elected both a Democratic governor and legislature.
The 1950s saw the rise of one of America’s most famous and influential political families, the Kennedys of Massachusetts. This rise was engineered by the patriarch of the family, businessman Joseph P. Kennedy. In 1960 his son John F. Kennedy, a Democratic senator and former representative from Massachusetts, was elected president of the United States and was assassinated three years later. His brother Robert F. Kennedy served as U.S. attorney general and U.S. senator from New York before he was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for the presidency. In 1962 their younger brother, Edward M. Kennedy, was elected a Democratic senator from Massachusetts. A leader among liberal Democrats, Edward Kennedy unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination for the presidency in 1976 but continued to serve in the Senate. In the 1980s and 1990s a second generation of Kennedys entered Congress, including Joseph P. Kennedy II from Massachusetts, and Patrick J. Kennedy from Rhode Island.
Massachusetts was a leader in civil rights beginning with the abolition movement in the 1830s. It produced such leaders as W. E. B. Du Bois, a native of Great Barrington, who helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910. Senator Edward Brooke, a liberal Republican, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1966, becoming the first black senator since the Civil War era.
In the 1970s interracial conflict broke out in Massachusetts, centered around school desegregation in Boston. In 1974 a federal court ruled that Boston school officials had deliberately kept public schools segregated, and it ordered busing of students to achieve more racial balance. Many whites violently opposed the busing program, and racial incidents, including beatings and firebombings, brought Boston national attention.
|V||The Massachusetts Miracle|
For most of the 1980s, the Massachusetts economy enjoyed a major boom, fueled by the continued growth of the high-technology industry and defense spending. Unemployment remained well below the national average, and the number of people on public welfare declined sharply. Governor Dukakis termed this boom the “Massachusetts Miracle” in his presidential campaign of 1988. By the end of the decade, however, economic growth began to slow, partly as a result of federal cuts in defense spending.
Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize gay marriage after the state’s highest court ruled that same-sex marriages were permitted under the state constitution. On May 17, 2004, authorities in Massachusetts performed the first legal same-sex marriages in the United States. However, opponents of gay marriage promised to try to amend the state constitution to ban such marriages.
|X||First Black Governor|
In 2006 Massachusetts elected its first black governor, Deval Patrick, a Democrat and former civil rights attorney. Patrick’s election ended a 20-year stretch in which Republicans dominated the Massachusetts statehouse.
The history section of this article was contributed by John William Ifkovic. The remainder of the article was contributed by Richard W. Wilkie.