Massachusetts ( (listen), ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern 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 state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.
Plymouth was the site of the second colony in New England after Popham Colony in 1607 in what is now Maine . 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. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts. In 1786, Shays' Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic World, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution.
The Siege of Boston
(April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776) was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War
, in which New England
militiamen—who later became part of the Continental Army
—surrounded the town of Boston, Massachusetts
, to prevent movement by the British Army garrisoned
within. After eleven months of siege, the American colonists, led by George Washington
, forced the British to withdraw by sea.
The siege began on April 19 after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, when the militia from many Massachusetts communities surrounded Boston and blocked land access to the then-peninsular town, limiting British resupply to naval operations. The Continental Congress chose to adopt the militia and form the Continental Army, and unanimously elected George Washington as its Commander in Chief. In June 1775, the British seized Bunker and Breed's Hills, but the casualties they suffered were heavy and their gains were insufficient to break the siege. For the rest of the siege, there was little action other than occasional raids, minor skirmishes, and sniper fire. Both sides had to deal with resource supply and personnel issues over the course of the siege, and engaged in naval operations in the contest for resources.
In November 1775, Washington sent a 25 year-old bookseller-turned-soldier named Henry Knox to bring heavy artillery that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. In a technically complex and demanding operation, Knox brought many cannons to the Boston area in January 1776. In March 1776, these artillery pieces were used to fortify Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston and its harbor and threatening the British naval supply lifeline. The British commander William Howe, realizing he could no longer hold the town, chose to evacuate it. He withdrew the British forces, departing on March 17 (celebrated today as Evacuation Day) for Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Sir Henry Vane
was an English politician, statesman, and colonial governor. He was briefly present in North America, serving one term as the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
, and supported the creation of Roger Williams' Rhode Island Colony
and Harvard College
. A proponent of religious tolerance
, he returned to England in 1637 following the Antinomian
controversy that led to the banning of Anne Hutchinson
from Massachusetts, and became a leading force in English politics during the years of the English Civil War
. Vane was recognized by his political peers as a competent administrator and a wily and persuasive negotiator and politician. His politics was driven by a desire for religious tolerance in an era when governments were used to establish official churches and suppress dissenting views. Although his views were in a small minority, he was able to successfully build coalitions to advance his agenda. His actions were often ultimately divisive, and contributed to both the rise and downfall of the English Commonwealth
. His books and pamphlets written on political and religious subjects are still analyzed today, and Vane is remembered in Massachusetts
and Rhode Island
as an early champion of religious freedom.
is the most populous city in Western New England
, and is the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts
. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River
near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River
, the eastern Chicopee River
, and the eastern Mill River
. It is the urban, economic, and cultural capital of Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley
The city of Springfield has played an important role throughout American history, due largely to its geography. It is located midway between Boston and Albany, is only slightly farther from New York City, and is the closest major New England city to Montreal. In 1777, Springfield's location led George Washington and Henry Knox to found the fledgling United States' National Armory at Springfield, which produced the first American musket in 1794, and later the famous Springfield rifle. Springfielders produced many significant innovations, including the first American-English dictionary, vulcanized rubber, and the sport of basketball, which was started by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield in 1891.
Location of Massachusetts in the United States
- Capital: Boston
- Governor: Charlie Baker (R)
- Lieutenant Governor: Karyn Polito (R)
- Secretary of the Commonwealth: William F. Galvin (D)
- Attorney General: Maura Healey (D)
- Treasurer: Deb Goldberg (D)
- Auditor: Suzanne M. Bump (D)
- U.S. Senators: Elizabeth Warren (D), Ed Markey (D)
- U.S Representatives: Richard Neal (D), Jim McGovern (D), Niki Tsongas (D), Joseph Kennedy III (D), Katherine Clark (D), Seth Moulton (D), Mike Capuano (D), Stephen Lynch (D), William Keating (D)
- Area: Ranked 44th in the US
- Total: 10,555 sq miles (27,336 km²)
- Width: 183 miles (295 km)
- Length: 113 miles (182 km)
- % Water: 25.7
- Latitude: 41° 14′ N to 42° 53′ N
- Longitude: 69° 56′ W to 73° 30′ W
- Total: 6,349,097 (13th in U.S.)
- Population Density: 809.8/sq miles (312.7/km²) (3rd in U.S.)
- Median income: $ 46,721 (3rd, 2006)
- Ratification of Constitution: February 6, 1788 (6th)
Atlas of Massachusetts with Greater Boston highlighted
Did you know
In this month
- May 4, 1886 – The Lawrence Textile Strike (pictured), a protest over reduced wages that lasted for two months and had over 20,000 participants, begins.
- May 7, 1846 – The Cambridge Chronicle, the oldest surviving weekly newspaper in the United States, is first published.
- May 14, 1692 – The charter for the Province of Massachusetts Bay goes into effect, combining Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and what is now Maine and parts of Canada into a single crown colony.
- May 17, 2004 – Following a Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruling, Massachusetts issues its first same-sex marriage licenses and becomes the first state to allow legal same-sex marriage.
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