Massachusetts - The Bay State

  • Boston skyline in 2012
  • Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
  • Monomoy Island Lighthouse
  • Salem Customs House National Historic Site
Court Square in downtown Boston

Massachusetts got its name from a tribe of Native Americans by the same name. However, not too long after the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the Massachusetts tribe was fighting for their lives: smallpox was a disease they'd never encountered before. Within maybe 50 years of the Pilgrims arrival, about 90% of all the indigenous people in New England had been wiped out by smallpox alone, then there was cholera and a whole host of other European diseases...

Boston was founded as the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. The first colonists came to the New World seeking religious freedom, but once they arrived they had little-to-no tolerance for folks who didn't believe as they did. It was religious dissenter Roger Williams who left in 1636 and founded Rhode Island. And religious dissenter Thomas Hooker who also left in 1636 and founded Connecticut.

The best agricultural land in Massachusetts is in the Connecticut River Valley and the Puritans were settling there by 1636, too. The next 140 years saw increasing settlement everywhere in the countryside claimed by the Massachusetts colony. The labor market was built on a huge influx of indentured servants from England (actually convicts were "sold" to wealthy property owners in New England who would transport the convicts to the New World and then keep them busy while they finished out their 20 year sentences - so "slavery" as such was never a local issue in Massachusetts).

Massachusetts was a leader in the Industrial Revolution, and many of the colony's early factories were built next to rivers at the "fall line" (most New England rivers regularly flow over series of waterfalls on their journeys to the ocean and the force of water running over those waterfalls was harnessed to run the machinery in the factories). Massachusetts was at the forefront of the American Revolution and at the forefront of the abolitionist movement that led to the American Civil War. These days, Massachusetts is at the forefront of higher education, health sciences, hi-tech and the finance/insurance world.

Fast Facts about Massachusetts
Capital: Boston
Largest City: Boston
Admitted to the Union: February 6, 1788: 6th
Area: 10,555 square miles : 44th
Highest Point: Mount Greylock : 3,492'
Lowest Point: Atlantic Ocean : 0'
2010 Massachusetts Population Demographics
Total Population 6,547,629
Males 3,166,628
Females 3,381,001
Population by Age
Under 18 1,418,923
18 & over 5,128,706
20-24 475,668
25-34 845,141
35-49 1,402,583
50-64 1,300,370
65 & over 902,724
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino 627,654
Non Hispanic or Latino 5,919,975
Population by Race
White 5,265,236
African-American 434,398
Asian 349,768
Native American 18,850
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 2,223
Other 305,151
Two or more 172,003
Map of Massachusetts