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State of the United States of America

Top 10 Massachusetts related articles

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
The Bay State (official)
The Pilgrim State; The Puritan State
The Old Colony State
The Baked Bean State[1]
Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem (Latin)
By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty
Anthem: All Hail to Massachusetts
Map of the United States with Massachusetts highlighted
CountryUnited States
Before statehoodProvince of Massachusetts Bay
Admitted to the UnionFebruary 6, 1788 (6th)
(and largest city)
Largest metroGreater Boston
 • GovernorCharlie Baker (R)
 • Lieutenant GovernorKaryn Polito (R)
LegislatureGeneral Court
 • Upper houseSenate
 • Lower houseHouse of Representatives
JudiciaryMassachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
U.S. senatorsElizabeth Warren (D)
Ed Markey (D)
U.S. House delegation9 Democrats (list)
 • Total10,565[2] sq mi (27,337 km2)
 • Land7,840 sq mi (20,306 km2)
 • Water2,715 sq mi (7,032 km2)  26.1%
Area rank44th
 • Length190 mi (296 km)
 • Width115 mi (184 km)
500 ft (150 m)
Highest elevation3,489 ft (1,063.4 m)
Lowest elevation
(Atlantic Ocean)
0 ft (0 m)
 • Total6,892,503
 • Rank15th
 • Density840/sq mi (324/km2)
 • Density rank3rd
 • Median household income
 • Income rank
Demonym(s)Bay Stater (official)[6] Massachusite (traditional)[7][8]

Massachusettsan (recommended by the U.S. GPO)[9]

Masshole (derogatory[10] or affectionate[11])
 • Official languageEnglish[12]
 • Spoken language
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 codeUS-MA
Traditional abbreviationMass.
Latitude41° 14′ N to 42° 53′ N
Longitude69° 56′ W to 73° 30′ W
Massachusetts state symbols
Living insignia
BirdBlack-capped chickadee,[14] wild turkey[15][16]
MammalRight whale,[20] Morgan horse,[21] Tabby cat,[22] Boston Terrier[23]
ReptileGarter snake[16][24]
TreeAmerican elm[16][25]
Inanimate insignia
BeverageCranberry juice[16][26]
ColorsBlue, green, cranberry[16][27]
DanceSquare dance[16][28]
FoodCranberry,[29] corn muffin,[16][30] navy bean,[31] Boston cream pie,[32] chocolate chip cookie,[33] Boston cream doughnut[34]
FossilDinosaur Tracks[35]
PoemBlue Hills of Massachusetts[16][38]
RockRoxbury Puddingstone[16][39]
ShellNew England Neptune, Neptunea lyrata decemcostata[16][42]
ShipSchooner Ernestina[16]
SloganMake It Yours,
The Spirit of America[40]
State route marker
State quarter
Released in 2000[43]
Lists of United States state symbols

Massachusetts (/ˌmæsəˈsɪts/ ( listen), /-zɪts/), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts[a], is the most populous state in the New England region of the United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. It is home to the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry.[44] Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade,[45] Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution.[46] During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services.[47] Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.[48]

Plymouth was the site of the second colony in New England after Popham Colony in 1607 in what is now Maine.[49] Plymouth was founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials.[50] In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts.[51] In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention.[52] In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards.[53] In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty"[54] for the agitation there that later led to the American Revolution.

The entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts has played a powerful scientific, commercial, and cultural role in the history of the United States. Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the abolitionist, temperance,[55] and transcendentalist[56] movements.[57] In the late 19th century, the sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively.[58][59] In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.[60] Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the state, including the Adams and Kennedy families. Harvard University in Cambridge is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States,[61] with the largest financial endowment of any university,[62] and Harvard Law School has educated a contemporaneous majority of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.[63] Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called "the most innovative square mile on the planet", in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups and quality of innovation which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010.[64][65] Both Harvard and MIT, also in Cambridge, are perennially ranked as either the most or among the most highly regarded academic institutions in the world.[66] Massachusetts' public-school students place among the top tier in the world in academic performance.[67] The state has been ranked as one of the top states in the United States for citizens to live in, as well as one of the most expensive.[68]

Massachusetts Intro articles: 120


The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett, whose name likely derived from a Wôpanâak word muswachasut, segmented as mus(ây) "big" + wach8 "mountain" + -s "diminutive" + -ut "locative" (the '8' in these words refers to the 'oo' sound according to the Wôpanâak orthographic chart).[69] It has been translated as "near the great hill",[70] "by the blue hills", "at the little big hill", or "at the range of hills", referring to the Blue Hills, or in particular the Great Blue Hill, which is located on the boundary of Milton and Canton.[71][72] Alternatively, Massachusett has been represented as Moswetuset—from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock (meaning "hill shaped like an arrowhead") in Quincy, where Plymouth Colony commander Myles Standish (a hired English military officer) and Squanto (a member of the now disappeared Patuxet band of the Wampanoag peoples) met Chief Chickatawbut in 1621.[73][74]

The official name of the state is the "Commonwealth of Massachusetts".[75] While the designation "Commonwealth" forms part of the state's official name, it has no practical implications.[76] Massachusetts has the same position and powers within the United States as other states.[77] John Adams in 1779 may have chosen the word for the second draft of what became the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution because unlike the word "state", "commonwealth" at the time had the connotation of a republic, in contrast to the monarchy the former American colonies were fighting against. (The name "State of Massachusetts Bay" appeared in the first—rejected—draft.)[78]

Massachusetts Etymology articles: 21



Massachusetts was originally inhabited by tribes of the Algonquian language family such as the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc, Mahican, and Massachusett.[79][80] While cultivation of crops like squash and corn supplemented their diets, these tribes were generally dependent on hunting, gathering and fishing for most of their food.[79] Villages consisted of lodges called wigwams as well as longhouses,[80] and tribes were led by male or female elders known as sachems.[81]

Colonial period

In the early 1600s, after contact had been made with Europeans, large numbers of the indigenous peoples in the northeast of what is now the United States were killed by virgin soil epidemics such as smallpox, measles, influenza, and perhaps leptospirosis.[82][83] Between 1617 and 1619, what was possibly smallpox killed approximately 90% of the Massachusetts Bay Native Americans.[84]

The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882). The Pilgrims founded Plymouth in 1620.

The first English settlers in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, arrived on the Mayflower[85] at Plymouth in 1620, and developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag people.[86] This was the second successful permanent English colony in the part of North America that later became the United States, after the Jamestown Colony. The event is known as the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World, which lasted for three days. The Pilgrims were soon followed by other Puritans, who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at present-day Boston in 1630.[87]

The Puritans, who believed the Church of England needed to be purified and experienced harassment from English authority because of their beliefs,[88] came to Massachusetts intending to establish an ideal religious society.[89] Unlike the Plymouth colony, the bay colony was founded under a royal charter in 1629.[90] Both religious dissent and expansionism resulted in several new colonies being founded shortly after Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay elsewhere in New England. The Massachusetts Bay banished dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams due to religious and political disagreements. In 1636, Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island, and Hutchinson joined him there several years later. Religious intolerance continued. Among those who objected to this later in the century were the English Quaker preachers Alice and Thomas Curwen, who were publicly flogged and imprisoned in Boston in 1676.[91][92]

In 1641, Massachusetts expanded inland significantly, acquiring the Connecticut River Valley settlement of Springfield, which had recently disputed with, and defected from its original administrators, the Connecticut Colony.[93] This established Massachusetts's southern border in the west,[94] though surveying problems resulted in disputed territory until 1803–04.[95]

Currency was another issue in the colonies. In 1652 the Massachusetts legislature authorized John Hull to produce coinage (mintmaster). "The Hull Mint produced several denominations of silver coinage, including the pine tree shilling, for over 30 years until the political and economic situation made operating the mint no longer practical." Mostly political for Charles II of England deemed the "Hull Mint" high treason in the United Kingdom which had a punishment of Hanging, drawing and quartering. "On April 6, 1681, Randolph petitioned the king, informing him the colony was still pressing their own coins which he saw as high treason and believed it was enough to void the charter. He asked that a writ of Quo warranto (a legal action requiring the defendant to show what authority they have for exercising some right, power, or franchise they claim to hold) be issued against Massachusetts for the violations."[96]

In 1691, the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth were united (along with present-day Maine, which had previously been divided between Massachusetts and New York) into the Province of Massachusetts Bay.[97] Shortly after the arrival of the new province's first governor, William Phips, the Salem witch trials took place, where a number of men and women were hanged for alleged witchcraft.[98]

The most destructive earthquake yet known in New England occurred in 1755, causing considerable damage across Massachusetts.[99][100]

The Revolutionary War

"Percey's Rescue at Lexington", an illustration of the Battles of Lexington and Concord

Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain; colonists in Massachusetts had long uneasy relations with the British monarchy, including open rebellion under the Dominion of New England in the 1680s.[97] Protests against British attempts to tax the colonies after the French and Indian War ended in 1763 led to the Boston Massacre in 1770, and the 1773 Boston Tea Party escalated tensions.[101] In 1774, the Intolerable Acts targeted Massachusetts with punishments for the Boston Tea Party and further decreased local autonomy, increasing local dissent.[102] Anti-Parliamentary activity by men such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock, followed by reprisals by the British government, were a primary reason for the unity of the Thirteen Colonies and the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775.[103]

The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in the eponymous Massachusetts towns.[104] Future President George Washington took over what would become the Continental Army after the battle. His first victory was the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775–76, after which the British were forced to evacuate the city.[105] The event is still celebrated in Suffolk County as Evacuation Day.[106] On the coast, Salem became a center for privateering. Although the documentation is incomplete, about 1,700 letters of marque, issued on a per-voyage basis, were granted during the American Revolution. Nearly 800 vessels were commissioned as privateers and are credited with capturing or destroying about 600 British ships.[107]

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States (1797–1801)

Federal period

Bostonian John Adams, known as the "Atlas of Independence",[108] was highly involved in both separation from Britain and the Constitution of Massachusetts, which effectively (the Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker cases as interpreted by William Cushing) made Massachusetts the first state to abolish slavery. David McCullough points out that an equally important feature was its placing for the first time the courts as a co-equal branch separate from the executive.[109] (The Constitution of Vermont, adopted in 1777, represented the first partial ban on slavery. Vermont became a state in 1791 but did not fully ban slavery until 1858 with the Vermont Personal Liberty Law. The Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act of 1780[110] made Pennsylvania the first state to abolish slavery by statute.) Later, Adams was active in early American foreign affairs and succeeded Washington as the second United States President. His son John Quincy Adams, also from Massachusetts,[111] would go on to become the sixth United States President.

From 1786 to 1787, an armed uprising, known as Shays' Rebellion led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays wrought havoc throughout Massachusetts and ultimately attempted to seize the Federal armory.[52] The rebellion was one of the major factors in the decision to draft a stronger national constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation.[52] On February 6, 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the United States Constitution.[112]

19th century

In 1820, Maine separated from Massachusetts and entered the Union as the 23rd state as a result of the ratification of the Missouri Compromise.[113]

Textile mills such as the one in Lowell made Massachusetts a leader in the Industrial Revolution.

During the 19th century, Massachusetts became a national leader in the American Industrial Revolution, with factories around cities such as Lowell and Boston producing textiles and shoes, and factories around Springfield producing tools, paper, and textiles.[114][115] The economy transformed from one based primarily on agriculture to an industrial one, initially making use of water-power and later the steam engine to power factories. Canals and railroads were used for transporting raw materials and finished goods.[116] At first, the new industries drew labor from Yankees on nearby subsistence farms, and later relied upon immigrant labor from Europe and Canada.[117][118]

Although Massachusetts was the first slave-holding colony dating back to the early 1600s, in the years leading up to the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center of progressivist and abolitionist activity. Horace Mann made the state's school system a national model.[119] Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson made major contributions to American philosophy.[120] Members of the transcendentalist movement emphasized the importance of the natural world and emotion to humanity.[120]

Although significant opposition to abolitionism existed early on in Massachusetts, resulting in anti-abolitionist riots between 1835 and 1837,[121] opposition to slavery gradually increased throughout the next few decades.[122][123] Abolitionists John Brown and Sojourner Truth lived in Springfield and Northampton, respectively, while Frederick Douglass lived in Boston and Susan B. Anthony in Adams, Massachusetts. The works of such abolitionists contributed to Massachusetts's actions during the Civil War. Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train, and arm a Black regiment with White officers, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.[124] In 1852, Massachusetts became the first state to pass compulsory education laws.[125]

20th century

With the departure of several manufacturing companies, the area's industrial economy began to decline during the early 20th century. By the 1920s, competition from the South and Midwest, followed by the Great Depression, led to the collapse of the three main industries in Massachusetts: textiles, shoemaking, and precision mechanics.[126] This decline would continue into the latter half of the century; between 1950 and 1979, the number of Massachusetts residents involved in textile manufacturing declined from 264,000 to 63,000.[127] The 1969 closure of the Springfield Armory, in particular, spurred an exodus of high-paying jobs from Western Massachusetts, which suffered greatly as it de-industrialized during the last 40 years of the 20th century.[128]

Massachusetts manufactured 3.4 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking tenth among the 48 states.[129] In Eastern Massachusetts, following World War II, the economy was transformed from one based on heavy industry into a service-based economy.[130] Government contracts, private investment, and research facilities led to a new and improved industrial climate, with reduced unemployment and increased per capita income. Suburbanization flourished, and by the 1970s, the Route 128 corridor was dotted with high-technology companies who recruited graduates of the area's many elite institutions of higher education.[131]

In 1987, the state received federal funding for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Commonly known as "the Big Dig", it was, at the time, the biggest federal highway project ever approved.[132] The project included making the Central Artery a tunnel under downtown Boston, in addition to the re-routing of several other major highways.[133] Often controversial, with numerous claims of graft and mismanagement, and with its initial price tag of $2.5 billion increasing to a final tally of over $15 billion, the Big Dig nonetheless changed the face of Downtown Boston.[132] It connected areas that were once divided by elevated highway (much of the raised old Central Artery was replaced with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway), and improved traffic conditions along with several routes.[132][133]

Notable 20th century politicians

John F. Kennedy, Massachusetts native and 35th President of the United States (1961–1963)

The Kennedy family was prominent in Massachusetts politics in the 20th century. Children of businessman and ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. included John F. Kennedy, who was a senator and U.S. president before his assassination in 1963, and Ted Kennedy, a senator from 1962 until his death in 2009,[134] and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a co-founder of the Special Olympics.[135] In 1966, Massachusetts became the first state to directly elect an African American to the U.S. senate with Edward Brooke.[136] George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States (1989–1993) was born in Milton in 1924.[137] Other notable Bay State politicians on the national level included John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House in the 1960s, and Tip O'Neill, whose service as Speaker of the House from 1977 to 1987 was the longest continuous tenure in United States history.

21st century

On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage after a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in November 2003 determined that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the right to a civil marriage was unconstitutional.[60] This decision was eventually superseded by the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmation of same-sex marriage in the United States in 2015.

In 2004, Massachusetts senator John Kerry who won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States narrowly lost to incumbent George W. Bush. Eight years later, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (Republican nominee) lost to Barack Obama in 2012. Another eight years later, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was a frontrunner in the Democratic primaries for the 2020 Presidential Election, but suspended her campaign and then endorsed presumptive nominee Joe Biden.

Boston Marathon bombing

Two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, at around 2:49 pm EDT. The explosions killed three people and injured an estimated 264 others. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) later identified the suspects as brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The ensuing manhunt ended on April 19 when thousands of law enforcement officers searched a 20-block area of nearby Watertown. Dzhokhar later said he was motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs and learned to build explosive devices from Inspire, the online magazine of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voted in favor of The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Question 4.[138] It was included in the 2016 United States presidential election ballot in Massachusetts as an indirectly initiated state statute.[139]

Massachusetts History articles: 141