All About Massachusetts: Our Country’s Early Roots
Massachusetts is known for a lot of early American history, but also a lot of delicious foods! Like chocolate chip cookies? They were invented in Massachusetts. So was Boston cream pie. In case you have never tried the state’s official dessert, it’s a white cake filled with custard and topped with chocolate frosting. Yummy!
Many famous people were also born in Massachusetts, including: Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Hancock, Susan B. Anthony, and even Dr. Seuss (whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel). One of Mo’s favorite books is written by Dr. Seuss… Have you ever read Green Eggs and Ham?
Massachusetts is in the northeastern part of the country. It’s bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east as well as 5 states, including: New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, and New York to the west.
The state is also one of six New England states. Can you name the remaining five states that make up New England? (If you get stuck, the answer is below, under the section “Stuff you should know”.)
What really happened
- Scientists believe that 12,000 years ago, glaciers started melting and uncovered the land we call Massachusetts. Thousands of years later, Native American tribes including the Wampanoag, Nauset, and Mohican peoples lived here.
- In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod carrying English settlers called Pilgrims. With the help of the local native people, they survived the initial harsh winter. The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving with members of the Wampanoag
- As more people moved here, tensions between the Indian tribes and the settlers (or colonists) turned violent. A number of battles occurred between 1675-1676 called King Philip’s War. The majority of the Indians were defeated.
- In 1764, Britain passed the Stamp Act to tax the colonies in order to help pay for the military. In 1770, colonists in the state’s capital city, Boston, protested the tax and five were shot to death by British troops in what was called the Boston Massacre.
- In 1773, colonists in Boston dumped crates of tea into Boston Harbor to protest high taxes from England. This event was called the Boston Tea Party.
- In 1775, the Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
British troops were ordered to destroy the military supplies of local resisters. That’s when Paul Revere, a silversmith, made his famous midnight ride, warning the colonists with his famous line: “The British are coming!”
- Britain was defeated in the Revolutionary War. John Adams was a leader in the independence movement from Britain for the 13 British colonies. On July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted in Philadelphia.
- In 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to join the United States. John Adams from Boston became the first Vice President and the second President of the United States.
- Maine, which had been part of Massachusetts, separated from Massachusetts in 1820 to become the 23rd state.
- Beginning in 1823, textile mills and factories opened in a city called Lowell. Thousands of immigrants from Canada and Europe moved here for jobs, making the state the North American center of the Industrial Revolution.
- Massachusetts was strongly against slavery and fought on the side of the Union during the American Civil War (1861-1865).
- In 1961, John F. Kennedy (who was born in Brookline, Massachusetts) became the 35th President of the United States.
Stuff you should know
- After exploring Massachusetts and the surrounding five states for London merchants in 1614, Captain John Smith named the region the New England states. In addition to Massachusetts, the remaining five are: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
- Fishing ships from Europe may have engaged in trade with Native Americans in the early 1600s. However, the sailors and fishermen brought European diseases and accidentally infected the Indian population. Between 1617 and 1619, smallpox killed 90 percent of the Native Americans in the region.
- In 1639, America’s first post office opened in Boston.
- In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the first telephone.
- In 1891, basketball was invented in the city of Springfield, which is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Likewise, volleyball was created in Holyoke, which is home to the Volleyball of Fame.
- Many high-technology companies are located in the Boston area. The state is also famous for prestigious colleges and universities, such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Funny, crazy or just plain weird
- In 1692, a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft. A special court was set up to hear the cases, later known as the Salem witchcraft trials. In the end, 19 people were put to death for witchcraft and 150 more men, women and children were found guilty of witchcraft. BUT, the court annulled their guilty verdicts, acting like it never happened.
- After moving into a renovated home in Newton, Massachusetts, a five-year-old girl began telling her family stories of her new friend, Julielle, who lived on the third floor, wore long dresses, and oh, by the way, floated in the air. All of the girl’s details matched public records of a woman by that name who lived in the home in the late 19th
- Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked. (You wouldn’t want to wake your neighbors!)
- Dogs are forbidden from riding in ambulances.
Tell me more
- In 1755, a destructive earthquake occurred in New England. Thankfully, no one was killed or seriously injured. Aftershocks continued for four days.
- John Chapman, who was nicknamed “Johnny Appleseed”, was born in 1774 in a city called Leominster. He became an American folk hero after introducing apple trees and establishing orchards in many areas in the midwestern region of the country including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
- As a teenager, Benjamin Franklin worked on one of the earliest newspapers, The New-England Courant (owned by his brother), until he ran away to Philadelphia in 1723.
- In 1826, the Granite Railway became the first commercial railroad in the nation.
- In 1836, Mary Lyon opened Mount Holyoke College, the first women’s college in America.
- Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train and arm a black regiment with white officers; it’s known as the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Do you live in or have you ever visited Massachusetts? Perhaps you’ve been to Cape Cod, Boston or Salem? Feel free to share your New England facts and stories with us by emailing your first name, age, state you live in, and unique experience to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages!