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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Derived from the name of the Massachusett Native American tribe that lived on Massachusetts Bay; the name is thought to mean "at or about the Great Hill."

NICKNAME: The Bay State.

CAPITAL: Boston.

ENTERED UNION: 6 February 1788 (6th).

SONG: "All Hail to Massachusetts;" "Massachusetts" (folksong).

MOTTO: Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem (By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty).

COAT OF ARMS: On a blue shield, a Native American depicted in gold holds in his right hand a bow, in his left an arrow pointing downward. Above the bow is a five-pointed silver star. The crest shows a bent right arm holding a broadsword. Around the shield beneath the crest is a banner with the state motto in green.

FLAG: The coat of arms on a white field.

OFFICIAL SEAL: Same as the coat of arms, with the inscription Sigillum Reipublicœ Massachusettensis (Seal of the Republic of Massachusetts).

BIRD: Chickadee.

FISH: Cod.

FLOWER: Mayflower (ground laurel).

TREE: American elm.

GEM: Rhodonite.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Patriots' Day, 3rd Monday in April; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, appointed by the governor, customarily the 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December. Legal holidays in Suffolk County include Evacuation Day, 17 March; and Bunker Hill Day, 17 June.

TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.


Located in the northeastern United States, Massachusetts is the fourth-largest of the six New England states and ranks 45th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Massachusetts is 8,284 sq mi (21,456 sq km), of which land comprises 7,824 sq mi (20,265 sq km) and inland water occupies 460 sq mi (1,191 sq km). Massachusetts extends about 190 mi (306 k) e-w; the maximum n-s extension is about 110 mi (177 km). Massachusetts is bordered on the n by Vermont and New Hampshire; on the e by the Atlantic Ocean; on the s by the Atlantic Ocean and by Rhode Island and Connecticut; and on the w by New York.

Two important islands lie south of the state's fishhook-shaped Cape Cod peninsula: Martha's Vineyard (108 sq mi or 280 sq km) and Nantucket (57 sq mi or 148 sq km). The Elizabeth Islands, sw of Cape Cod and nw of Martha's Vineyard, consist of 16 small islands separating Buzzards Bay from Vineyard Sound. The total boundary length of Massachusetts is 515 mi (829 km), including a general coastline of 192 mi (309 km); the tidal shoreline, encompassing numerous inlets and islands, is 1,519 mi (2,444 km). The state's geographic center is located in Worcester County, in the northern section of the city of Worcester.


Massachusetts is divided into four topographical regions: coastal lowlands, interior lowlands, dissected uplands, and residuals of ancient mountains. The coastal lowlands, located on the state's eastern edge, extend from the Atlantic Ocean 30-50 mi (48-80 km) inland and include Cape Cod and the offshore islands. The northern shoreline of the state is characterized by rugged high slopes, but at the southern end, along Cape Cod, the ground is flatter and covered with grassy heaths.

The Connecticut River Valley, characterized by red sandstone, curved ridges, meadows, and good soil, is the main feature of west-central Massachusetts. The Berkshire Valley to the west is filled with streams in its northern end, including the two streams that join below Pittsfield to form the Housatonic River.

East of the Connecticut River Valley are the eastern uplands, an extension of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. From elevations of 1,100 ft (335 m) in midstate, this ridge of heavily forested hills slopes down gradually toward the rocky northern coast.

In western Massachusetts, the Taconic Range and Berkshire Hills (which extend southward from the Green Mountains of Vermont) are characterized by numerous hills and valleys. Mt. Greylock, close to the New York border, is the highest point in the state, at 3,487 ft (1,064 m). Northeast of the Berkshires is the Hoosac Range, an area of plateau land. Its high point is Spruce Hill, at 1,974 ft (602 m). The mean elevation of the state is approximately 500 ft (153 m). The lowest point is at sea level on the Atlantic Ocean.

There are more than 4,230 mi (6,808 km) of rivers in the state. The Connecticut River, the longest, runs southward through west-central Massachusetts; the Deerfield, Westfield, Chicopee, and Millers rivers flow into it. Other rivers of note include the Charles and the Mystic, which flow into Boston harbor; the Taunton, which empties into Mount Hope Bay at Fall River; the Blackstone, passing through Worcester on its way to Rhode Island; the Housatonic, winding through the Berkshires; and the Merrimack, flowing from New Hampshire to the Atlantic Ocean via the state's northeast corner. Over 1,100 lakes dot the state; the largest, the artificial Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts, covers 24,704 acres (9,997 hectares). The largest natural lake is Assawompset Pond in southern Massachusetts, occupying 2,656 acres (1,075 hectares).

Hilly Martha's Vineyard is roughly triangular in shape, as is Nantucket Island to the east. The Elizabeth Islands are characterized by broad, grassy plains.

Millions of years ago, three mountainous masses of granite rock extended northeastward across the state. The creation of the Appalachian Mountains transformed limestone into marble, mud, and gravel into slate and schist, and sandstone into quartzite. The new surfaces were worn down several times. Then, during the last Ice Age, retreating glaciers left behind the shape of Cape Cod as well as a layer of soil, rock, and boulders.


Although Massachusetts is a relatively small state, there are significant climatic differences between its eastern and western sections. The entire state has cold winters and moderately warm summers, but the Berkshires in the west have both the coldest winters and the coolest summers. The normal January temperature in Pittsfield in the Berkshires is 21°f (5°c), while the normal July temperature is 67°f (19°c). The interior lowlands are several degrees warmer in both winter and summer; the normal July temperature is 71°f (22°c). The coastal sections are the warmest areas of the state; the normal January temperature for Boston is 30°f (1°c), and the normal July temperature is 74°f (23°c). The record high temperature in the state is 107°f (42°c), established at Chester and New Bedford on 2 August 1975; the record low is 35°f (37°c), registered at Chester on 12 January 1981.

Precipitation ranges from 39 to 46 in (99 to 117 cm) annually, with an average for Boston of 42.9 in (108 cm). The average snowfall for Boston is 40.9 in (103 cm), with the range in the Berkshires considerably higher. Boston's average wind speed is 13 mph (21 km/hr).


Maple, birch, beech, oak, pine, hemlock, and larch cover the Massachusetts uplands. Common shrubs include rhodora, mountain laurel, and shadbush. Various ferns, maidenhair and osmund among them, grow throughout the state. Typical wildflowers include the Maryland meadow beauty and false loosestrife, as well as several varieties of orchid, lily, goldenrod, and aster. In April 2006, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the northeastern bulrush, sandplain gerardia, and small whorled pogonia as threatened and endangered plant species within the state.

As many as 76 species of mammals, 74 of them native species, have been counted in Massachusetts. Common native mammals include the white-tailed deer, bobcat, river otter, striped skunk, mink, ermine, fisher, raccoon, black bear, gray fox, muskrat, porcupine, beaver, red and gray squirrels, snowshoe hare, little brown bat, and masked shrew. Among the Bay State's 336 resident bird species are the mallard, ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant, herring gull, great horned and screech owls, downy woodpecker, blue jay, mockingbird, cardinal, and song sparrow. Native inland fish include brook trout, chain pickerel, brown bullhead, and yellow perch; brown trout, carp, and smallmouth and largemouth bass have been introduced. Native amphibians include the Jefferson salamander, red-spotted newt, eastern American toad, gray tree frog, and bullfrog. Common reptiles are the snapping turtle, stinkpot, spotted turtle, northern water snake, and northern black racer. The venomous timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead are found mainly in Norfolk, Hampshire, and Hampden counties. The Cape Cod coasts are rich in a variety of shellfish, including clams, mussels, shrimps, and oysters. Twenty Massachusetts animal species (vertebrates and invertebrates) were classified as threatened or endangered in 2006. Among them were the American burying beetle, the bald eagle, puma, short-nose sturgeon, five species of whale, and four species of turtle.


All environmentally related programs are administered by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) and its five agencies: the Department of Environmental Management (DEM); the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement (DFWELE); the Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA); and the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC).

EOEA agencies protect the state's more than 3,100 lakes and ponds covering about 150,000 acres (61,000 hectares); some 2,000 rivers and streams flowing 10,700 mi (17,200 km); 810,000 acres (about 328,000 hectares) of medium- and high-yield aquifers underlying about a sixth of the state; over a half-million acres (about 200,000 hectares) of wetlands covering about a 12% of the state; and 1,500 mi (2,400 km) of coastal capes, coves, and estuaries.

With disposal of treated sewage sludge in Boston Harbor halted in 1991 and with improved sewage treatment, the harbor as of 2005 was markedly cleaner. In 1988, 10% of the flounder caught in Boston Harbor had liver tumors caused by toxic chemicals; as of 1993, no flounder tested had tumors. In 1994, the state opened a new primary water treatment plant, and in 1996, a second new treatment facility also began operation.

Between 1978 and 1985, Massachusetts averaged 24 air pollution (i.e., ozone) violation days per year; between 1985 and 1993, the average dropped to 14. Since 1990, the state has averaged 7 violation days per year. With the adoption of Massachusetts acid rain legislation in 1985, sulfur dioxide output from Massachusetts sources has been cut by 17%. Additional decreases, particularly from out-of-state power plants, are expected to further cut sulfur dioxide emissions in half by 2000. In response to the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Program and certain federal requirements, toxic air emissions were reduced by about a third between 1989 and 1996. In 2003, 9 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state.

The state's solid waste recycling and composting rate stood at 28% in 1994; its goal for 2000 was 46%. In the mid-1990s, 341 of the state's 351 communities had some type of recycling program, and about 49% of solid waste was incinerated. In 2003, Massachusetts had 411 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 31 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including Materials Technology Laboratory (US Army), Otis Air National Guard Base, and South Weymouth Naval Air Station. In 2005, the EPA spent over $47.5 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $29.6 million for the drinking water state revolving fund program. A $771,279 grant was awarded to implement coastal beach monitoring projects and a $74,000 grant was awarded for a project to encourage food waste composting in the supermarket industry.

Since about 1900, the Commonwealth has protected 528,400 acres (208,730 hectares) through acquisitions or restrictions, an area equal to 10% of the total land mass of the state. In 1993/94, the state added 8,930 acres (3,614 hectares) to its stock of protected land, expending $41 million in the effort. Federal, county, local, and private nonprofit agencies and organizations provide another 375,680 acres (152,038 hectares) of open space.


As New England's most populous state, Massachusetts has seen its population grow steadily since colonial times. However, since the early 1800s, its growth rate has often lagged behind that of the rest of the nation. Massachusetts's population, according to the 1990 federal census, was 6,016,425 (13th in the nation), an increase of 4.9% over 1980, and much better than the 0.8% growth rate of the 1970s. Reasons behind the population lag include a birthrate well below the US average, and a net out-migration of 301,000 people between 1970 and 1983, the largest drop of all New England states.

Massachusetts ranked 13th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 6,398,743 in 2005, an increase of 0.8% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Massachusetts's population grew from 6,016,425 to 6,349,097, an increase of 5.5%. The population is projected to reach 6.7 million by 2015 and 6.9 million by 2025. The population density in 2004 was 818.2 persons per sq mi, the third highest in the nation. In 2004 the median age was 38.1. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 22.8% of the population while 13.3% was age 65 or older.

The state's biggest city is Boston, which ranked 24th among the largest US cities with a population of 569,165 in 2004, up from an estimated 547,725 in 1994. Other large cities (with their 2004 estimated populations) are Worcester, 175,966, and Springfield, 152,091. The Greater Boston area had an estimated metropolitan population of 4,424,649.


Early industrialization helped make Massachusetts a mecca for many European migrants, particularly the Irish. As late as 1990 more than half of the population identified with at least one single ancestry group. As of 2000 the largest were the Irish (22.5% of the population), Italian (13.5%), English (11.4%), French (8%), Polish (5.1%), and Portuguese (4.4%). In that year, the foreign born numbered 772,983, or 12.2% of the state's population.

Massachusetts has always had a black population, and has contributed such distinguished figures as poet Phillis Wheatley and NAACP founder W.E.B. DuBois (the first black Ph.D. from Harvard) to US cultural and public life. A sizable class of black professionals has developed, and the 20th century has seen an influx of working-class blacks from southern states. In 2000 there were 343,454 black Americans in Massachusetts, 5.4% of the population. Blacks constituted more than 25% of Boston's population. In 2004, 6.8% of Massachusetts' population was black. The state also had 428,729 Hispanics and Latinos in 2000, predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican. In 2004, 7.7% of the population was of Hispanic or Latino origin.

Greater Boston has a small, well-organized Chinatown; in the suburbs reside many Chinese professionals and businesspeople, as well as those connected with the region's numerous educational institutions. Statewide, there were 84,392 Chinese in 2000 (up from 47,245 in 1990), 33,962 Vietnamese (up from 13,101 in 1990), 19,696 Cambodians, 17,369 Koreans, and 10,539 Japanese. In 2000, the total Asian population was estimated at 238,124, and the Native American population (including Eskimos and Aleuts) totaled an estimated 15,015. Pacific Islanders numbered 2,489. In 2004, 4.6% of the population was Asian, 0.3% American Indian or Alaskan Native, and 0.1% of Pacific Island origin. That year, 1.3% of the population reported origin of two or more races. Cape Cod has settlements of Portuguese fishermen, as has New Bedford.


Some general Algonkian loanwords and a few place-namessuch as Massachusetts itself, Chicopee, Quebbin, and Naukeagare the language echoes of the Massachuset, Pennacook, and Mahican Indians so historically important in the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony and Old Colony, now Plymouth.

On the whole, Massachusetts English is classed as Northern, but early migration up the Connecticut River left that waterway a sometimes sharp, sometimes vague boundary, setting off special variations within the eastern half of the state. Two conspicuous but now receding features long held prestige because of the cultural eminence of Boston: the absence of /r/ after a vowel, as in fear and port, and the use of a vowel halfway between the short /a/ of cat and /ah/ in half and past as well as in car and park. Eastern Massachusetts speakers are likely to have /ah/ in orange and to pronounce on and fog with the same vowel as in form. In the east, a sycamore is a buttonwood, a tied and filled quilt is a comforter, a creek is a saltwater inlet, and pancakes may be called fritters.

Around Boston are heard the intrusive /r/ as in "the lawr of the land," the /oo/ vowel in butcher, tonic for soft drink, submarine for a large sandwich, and milkshake for a concoction lacking ice cream. West of the Connecticut River are heard the /aw/ sound in orange, /ah/ in on and fog, and the short /a/ of cat in half and bass;buttonball is a sycamore, and comfortable is a tied quilt.

In 2000, 81.3% of the population five years of age or older (down from 84.8% in 1990) spoke only English at home.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over.

Population 5 years and over 5,954,249 100.0
  Speak only English 4,838,679 81.3
  Speak a language other than English 1,115,570 18.7
Speak a language other than English 1,115,570 18.7
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 370,011 6.2
  Portuguese or Portuguese Creole 159,809 2.7
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 84,484 1.4
  Chinese 71,412 1.2
  Italian 59,811 1.0
  French Creole 43,519 0.7
  Russian 32,580 0.5
  Vietnamese 30,400 0.5
  Greek 28,819 0.5
  Polish 27,631 0.5
  Mon-Khmer, Cambodian 21,549 0.4
  German 20,029 0.3
  Arabic 18,742 0.3


While Protestant sects have contributed greatly to the state's history and development, more than half the state's population is Roman Catholic, a fact that has had a profound effect on Massachusetts politics and policies.

Both the Pilgrims, who landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620, and the Puritans, who formed the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629, came to the land to escape harassment by the Church of England. These early communities were based on strict religious principles and forbade the practice of differing religions. Religious tolerance was included in the Charter of 1692, to protect the Baptists, Anglicans, and Catholics who had by then arrived in the colony.

The major influx of Roman Catholics came in the 1840s with the arrival of the Irish in Boston. By the 1850s, they had migrated to other towns and cities and formed the backbone of the state's industrial workforce. Later migration by Italian Catholics, German Catholics, and Eastern European Jews turned the state, by 1900, into a melting pot of religions and nationalities, although many of these minorities did not win substantial acceptance from the Protestant elite until the World War II era.

As of 2004, there were 3,033,367 Roman Catholics in Massachusetts, representing nearly half of the total population; the archdiocese of Boston held 2,077,487 members that year. The largest Protestant denominations in 2000 were: the Episcopal Church, 98,963; the United Methodist Church, 64,028; and the American Baptists (USA), 52,716. In 2005, the United Church of Christ reported a statewide membership of 89,264. The second largest religious affiliation is Judaism, with about 275,000 adherents in 2000. The Muslim population the same year was about 41,497 people. Though membership numbers were not available, reports noted that there were about 57 Buddhist congregations and 20 Hindu congregations throughout the state. About 35% of the population did not specify a religious affiliation.

Although small, the Church of Christ, Scientist, is significant to Massachusetts's history. Its first house of worship was founded in 1879 in Boston by Mary Baker Eddy, who four years earlier had published the Christian Science textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In Boston, the church continues to publish an influential newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor. Membership numbers are not published, but the church claims about 2,000 branch churches and societies in over 80 countries. Administrative and special group offices for the Unitarian Universalist Association are also located in Boston.


The first rail line in the United States, a 3-mi (5-km) stretch from the Neponset River to the granite quarries in Quincy, was built in 1826. The first steam railroad in New England, connecting Boston and Lowell, was completed seven years later. By the late 1830s, tracks were laid from Boston to Worcester and to Providence, Rhode Island, and during the next two decades, additional railroad lines opened up new cities for industrial expansion.

As of 2003, 10 railroads transported freight through Massachusetts: CSX Transportation, the state's sole Class I railroad; the Providence & Worcester and Guilford Rail, the state's regional railroads; and seven other local and switching and terminal railroads. In that same year, the state had 1,255 rail mi (2,020 km) of railroad. As of 2006, Boston was the northern terminus of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor route, linking New England with Washington, DC, via New York City and Philadelphia. East-west service from Boston to Chicago was also provided by Amtrak.

Commuter service is coordinated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), formed in 1964 to consolidate bus, commuter rail, high-speed trolley, and subway services to the 79 cities and towns in the Greater Boston area. The Boston subway, which began operation in 1897, is the oldest subway system in the United States. Boston also is one of the few cities in the United States with an operating trolley system. About 40% of all Bostonians commute to work by public transportation, the second-highest percentage in the nation, following New York City.

In 2004, there were 35,783 mi (57,610 km) of public roadways crisscrossing the state. The major highways, which extend from and through Boston like the spokes of a wheel, include I-95, which runs north-south; the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), which runs west to the New York State border; I-93, which leads north to New Hampshire; State Highway 3 to Cape Cod; and State Highway 24 to Fall River. The other major road in the state is I-91, which runs north-south through the Connecticut River Valley. More than $3 billion was spent by all units of government for highways in 1997. In 2004, some 5.532 million motor vehicles registered in the state, of which about 3.486 were automobiles, approximately 1.898 million were trucks of all types, and around 11,000 were buses. There were also around 137,000 motorcycles registered with the state in that same year. There were 4,645,857 licensed driver's licenses in the state for 2004.

Because it is the major American city closest to Europe, Boston is an important shipping center for both domestic and foreign cargo. In 2004, a total of 25.796 million tons of cargo passed through the Port of Boston. All port activity is under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which also operates Logan International Airport and Hanscom Field in Bedford. Fall River was another important port with a cargo total of 3.161 million tons that same year. In 2004, Massachusetts had 90 mi (144 km) of navigable inland waterways. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 30.655 million tons.

In 2005, Massachusetts had a total of 232 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 76 airports, 137 heliports, 1 STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing), and 18 seaplane bases. Logan International, near Boston, is the busiest airport in the state. In 2004, the airport had 12,758,020 enplanements, making it the 18th-busiest airport in the United States.


Some 15,000 years ago, when the last of the glaciers receded form the land we call Massachusetts, what remained was a rocky surface scoured of most of its topsoil. In time, however, forests grew to support a rich variety of wildlife. When the first Indians arrived from the south, game abounded and fish were plentiful in streams and along the coast. These first Indians were hunter-gatherers; their successors not only foraged for food but also cleared fields for planting corn (maize) and squash. Periodically they burned away the woodland underbrush, a technique of forest management that stimulated the vegetation that supported game. When English settlers arrived, they encountered five main Algonkian tribes: the Nauset, a fishing people on Cape Cod; the Wampanoag in the southeast; the Massachusetts in the northeast; the Nipmuc in the central hills; and the Pocumtuc in the west.

The earliest European explorersincluding the Norsemen, who may have reached Cape Codmade no apparent impact on these Algonkian groups, but in the wake of John and Sebastian Cabot's voyages (1497 and following), fishermen from England, France, Portugal, and Spain began fishing off the Massachusetts coast. By the mid-16th century, they were regularly going ashore to process and pack their catch. Within 50 years, fur trading with the Indians was established.

Permanent English settlement, which would ultimately destroy the Algonkian peoples, began in 1620 when a small band of Puritans left their haven at Leiden in the Netherlands to start a colony in the northern part of Virginia lands, near the Hudson River. Their ship, the Mayflower, was blown off course by an Atlantic storm, and they landed on Cape Cod before settling in an abandoned Wampanoag village they called Plymouth. Ten years later, a much larger Puritan group settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony, some miles to the north in Salem. Between 1630 and 1640, about 20,000 English people, chiefly Puritans, settled in Massachusetts with offshoots moving to Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The leaders of the Massachusetts settlement, most notably John Winthrop, a country gentleman with some legal training, intended to make their colony an exemplary Christian society. Though church and state were legally separate, they were mutually reinforcing agencies; thus, when Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were separately found guilty of heresy in the 1630s, they were banished by the state. All male church members had a voice in both church and state leadership, though both institutions were led by college-educated men. In order to provide for future leaders, Harvard College (now Harvard University) was founded in 1636.

After the beginning of the English revolution in 1640, migration to Massachusetts declined abruptly. Farming soon overtook fishing and fur trading in economic importance; after the trade in beaver skins was exhausted, the remaining Indian tribes were decimated in King Philip's War (167576). Shipbuilding and Atlantic commerce also brought prosperity to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was granted a new charter by King William and Queen Mary in 1692, merging Massachusetts and the colony of Plymouth. In that year, 19 people were executed for witchcraft on the gallows at Salem before Massachusetts authorities put a stop to the proceedings.

During the 18th century, settlement spread across the entire colony. Boston, the capital, had attained a population of 15,000 by 1730; it was an urbane community of brick as well as wooden buildings, with nearly a dozen church spires distinguishing its skyline by the 1750s. Religious revivals, also occurring elsewhere in America, swept Massachusetts in the 1730s and 1740s, rekindling piety and dividing the inhabitants into competing camps. Although the conflicts had ebbed by the 1750s, Massachusetts did not achieve unity again until the resistance to British imperial actions during the next two decades.

Up to this time, imperial government had rested lightly on Massachusetts, providing more advantages than drawbacks for commerce. The colony had actively supported British expeditions against French Canada, and supply contracts during the French and Indian War had enriched the economy. But the postwar recession after 1763 was accompanied by a new imperial policy that put pressure on Massachusetts as well as other colonies. None of the crown's three objectivestight regulation of trade, the raising of revenue, and elimination of key areas of colonial political autonomywere popular among the merchants, tradespeople, and farmers of Massachusetts. From 1765, when Bostonians violently protested the Stamp Act, Massachusetts was in the vanguard of the resistance.

At first, opposition was largely confined to Boston and surrounding towns, although the legislature, representing the entire colony, was active in opposing British measures. By December 1773, when East India Company tea was dumped into Boston harbor to prevent its taxation, most of the colony was committed to resistance. Newspaper polemics composed by Samuel Adams and his cousin John, among others, combined with the persuasive activities of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, helped convince a majority of Massachusetts residents that the slogan "no taxation without representation" stood for the preservation of their communities. When Parliament retaliated for the Tea Party by closing the port of Boston in 1774, rescinding the colony's 1692 charter, and remaking the government to put it under London's control, Massachusetts was ready to rebel. Military preparations began immediately on both sides. After almost a year of confrontation, battle began at Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775. By this time, Massachusetts had the backing of the Continental Congress.

For Massachusetts, the battlefield experience of the Revolution was largely confined to 1775, the climaxes being the Battle of Bunker Hill and the British evacuation of Boston the following year. Thereafter, Massachusetts soldiers were active throughout the colonies, but the theater of action shifted southward. A new republican constitution, adopted in 1780, was the first state constitution to be submitted to the electorate for ratification.

Social and economic conditions in post-Revolutionary Massachusetts were much like those of the colonial era. Although the Shays Rebellion, an uprising of central and western farmers led by Daniel Shays in 178687, challenged the political hegemony of commercially oriented eastern leaders, the latter succeeded in maintaining their hold on the state. Massachusetts, which entered the Union on 6 February 1788, was the center of Federalism from 1790 until the mid-1820s. Although Jeffersonian Republicans and Jacksonian Democrats achieved substantial followings, Federalist policies, embodied in the Whigs in the 1830s and the Republicans from the late 1850s, were dominant. This political continuity was based on the importance of national commercial and industrial development to the state.

Even before 1800, it was clear that Massachusetts could not sustain growth in agriculture. Its soil had never been excellent, and the best lands were tired, having been worked for generations with little regard for conservation. Much of the state's population departed for New York, Ohio, and beyond during the first decades of the 19th century. Those who stayed maintained productive agriculture, concentrating more and more on fruits and dairying, but they also developed commerce and industry. At Waltham, Lowell, and Lawrence the first large-scale factories in the United States were erected, and smaller textile mills throughout the state helped to make Massachusetts a leader in the cloth industry. At Spring-field and Watertown, US armories led the way in metalworking, while shoes and leather goods brought prosperity to Lynn, and whale products and shipbuilding to New Bedford. By the 1850s, steam engines and clipper ships were both Bay State products.

The industrial development of Massachusetts was accompanied by a literary and intellectual flowering that was partly in reaction to the materialism and worldliness associated with urban and industrial growth. Concord, the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and a cluster of others, became the center of the transcendentalist movement in philosophy. Social reform also represented an assertion of moral values, whether in the field of education, health care, temperance, or penology. Abolitionism, the greatest of the moral reform efforts, found some of its chief leaders in Massachusetts, among them William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, as well as a host of supporters.

In the years following the Civil War, Massachusetts emerged as an urban industrial state. Its population, fed by immigrants from England, Scotland, Germany, and especially Ireland, grew rapidly in the middle decades of the century. Later, between 1880 and 1920, another wave of immigrants came from French Canada, Italy, Russia, Poland, Scandinavia, Portugal, Greece, and Syria. Still later, between 1950 and 1970, black southerners and Puerto Ricans settled in the cities.

From the election of Lincoln in 1860 through the 1920s, Massachusetts was led by Protestant Yankee Republicans; most Democrats were Catholics. Class, ethnic, and religious tensions were endemic, occasionally erupting into open conflict. Three such episodes gained national attention. In 1912, immigrant textile workers in Lawrence were pitted against Yankee capitalists. A highly publicized strike of 1919 had the largely Irish-American police force rebelling against Yankees in city and state government, and brought Governor Calvin Coolidgewho suppressed the strike and refused to reinstate the striking policemento national prominence. In 1921, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian immigrant anarchists, were convicted for a payroll robbery and murder, though there was bitter controversy regarding the quality of the evidence against them. Before they were executed in 1927, their case and the issues it raised polarized political opinion throughout the United States. Subsequently, electoral competition between Democrats and Republicans emerged as a less divisive outlet for class and ethnic tensions. Since 1959, the Democrats have enjoyed ascendance statewide, and Republicans have won only when their candidates stood close to the Democrats on the issues. Party loyalties as such have waned, however.

The Massachusetts economy, relatively stagnant between 1920 and 1950, revived in the second half of the 20th century through a combination of an educated and skilled workforce, capital resources, and political clout. As the old industries and the mill cities declined, new high-technology manufacturing developed in Boston's suburban perimeter, centering on start-up manufacturing firms along Route 128 outside Boston. Electronics, computers, and defense-oriented industries led the way, stimulating a general prosperity in which service activities such as banking, insurance, health care, and higher education were especially prominent. As a result, white-collar employment and middle-class suburbs flourished, though run-down mill towns and Yankee dairy farms and orchards still dotted the landscape.

In this respect, as in its politics, Massachusetts resembled many other areas of the Northeast. It was a multiracial state in which the general welfare was defined by shifting coalitions of ethnic groups and special interests. From a national perspective, Massachusetts voters appeared liberal; the Bay State was the only one to choose Democrat George McGovern over President Richard M. Nixon in 1972, and, since the 1970s, has been a perennially secure base for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Yet Boston was also the site of some of the most extreme anti-integration tension during the same era; Massachusetts was simultaneously a center of efforts in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and against abortion.

Massachusetts's defiance of political categories continued into the 1990s. In 1990, blaming the current governor, Democrat Michael Dukakis, for the economy's decline, Massachusetts voters elected a Republican, William Weld, as governor. Yet Weld in fact espoused a blend of liberal and conservative positions. A fiscal conservative who called for cutting taxes and reducing programs such as Medicaid and state employee pension plans, Weld took a liberal stance on social issues, supporting gay rights, abortion rights, and strict protection of the environment. In August 1997, Weld resigned as governor to pursue an appointment as ambassador to Mexico.

Beginning in 1989, the Massachusetts economy declined dramatically, losing 14% of its total jobs in three years. Like other parts of New England, Massachusetts was hit hard by the recession of the early 1990s, and the state's economic woes were aggravated by the collapse in the late 1980s of speculative real estate ventures. The saturation of the real estate market forced retrenchments not only of that industry but of construction as well. By 1992, a number of indications suggested that a recovery had begun to take hold, aided in part by the privatization of highway maintenance, prison health care, and some other state-run operations.

By the mid-1990s, the Massachusetts economy was in the midst of a vigorous upturn, credited largely to the strength of its leading local industries, including software and mutual funds, and the health of the US economy as a whole. In 1996 the state's unemployment level fell to 4%, the lowest it had been since 1989. By 1999 the unemployment rate had dropped further, to 3.2%. Its 1998 per capita income of $32,902 was the third highest in the nation and had grown at the second-fastest rate (second only to that of Wyoming). Massachusetts' per capital personal income was $41,801 in 2004, second highest in the nation, behind Connecticut.

Despite that record, the thriving economy came to an abrupt halt in 2001, as the United States entered a recession marked by a large increase in job losses. In 2003, Massachusetts had a $3 billion budget deficit. Issues facing the legislature that year included Medicaid spending and a prescription drug program for senior citizens. The state Senate had approved a measure calling for a ban on smoking in the workplace, which was being considered by the House of Representatives. (This ban on smoking in the workplace, including in bars and restaurantsprivate clubs and cigar bars exceptedcame into effect in July 2004.) In addition, the state was considering the legality of same-sex marriages. Republican governor Mitt Romney, a business executive and fiscal conservative elected in 2002, took a liberal stand on some social issues, such as supporting abortion choice and gay rights, but he also advocated reinstatement of the death penalty. Romney recommended a 0.3% reduction in the personal income tax for his 2006 budget, from 5.3% to 5.0%.

Balancing development with environmental conservation was among the issues the state grappled with at the dawn of the 21st century. In 2000 the legislature approved a statewide initiative to preserve open space through local land-acquisition funds. The funds were to come from a $20 surcharge on all transactions at the Registry of Deeds and Land Court; communities would also be given the option to allow voters to approve a property tax increase of up to 3% to support the measure.

The state was the setting of a national controversy in April 2000: in a report condemning lax oversight of the largest public works project in US history, a federal task force charged that managers of Boston's multibillion-dollar highway project intentionally concealed cost overruns. Known as "Big Dig," the massive project includes building a 10-lane expressway under Boston and extending the Massachusetts Turnpike beneath Boston Harbor to Logan International Airport. State officials had revealed in February that the project, which began in 1991, was $1.4 billion over its $10.8 billion budget, making it more expensive than the Boston Harbor cleanup. The project to restore the harbor, considered the nation's filthiest in 1990, was drawing to a successful close in 2000, in spite of cost overruns. Portions of the highway project, including the extension of I-90 through the Ted Williams Tunnel to Logan Airport were completed in January 2003. During 2004, the old elevated Central Artery (formerly I-93) came down, creating 27 acres for a new tree-lined boulevard and cross streets, sidewalks, parks, and other refurbished open space. As of October 2005, 97% of the construction on the Big Dig project was complete.

Massachusetts was at the center of the sexual abuse scandals plaguing the Catholic Church in the early 2000s. Cardinal Bernard F. Law stepped down as Archbishop of Boston in December 2002 after widespread criticism of his handling of charges that priests sexually abused children, and of allegations of cover-ups. The Vatican replaced Law with Sean Patrick O'Malley as Archbishop of Boston in 2003.

In November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court became the first state supreme court in the nation to rule that same-sex marriages were legal. The court ruled that denying individuals from the "protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts constitution." Massachusetts became the first state to legally allow gay marriages to take place on 17 May 2004. In September 2005, the Massachusetts state legislature rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage but allowed civil unions.


The first state constitution, drawn up soon after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was rejected by the electorate. A revised draft was not approved by the state voters until 15 June 1780, following two constitutional conventions. This constitution, as amended (120 times by January 2005), governs Massachusetts and is, according to the state, the oldest written constitution in the world still in effect.

The legislature of Massachusetts, known as the General Court, is composed of a 40-member Senate and 160-member House of Representatives, all of whom are elected every two years in even-numbered years. Annual legislative sessions begin the first Wednesday in January and must conclude by November 15 one year and by July 31 the following year. Additionally, legislators may petition to convene special sessions. Members of the Senate must have resided in Massachusetts for at least five years and must be residents of their districts; representatives must have lived in their districts for at least one year prior to election. The minimum age for all legislators is 18, and they must be qualified voters. The legislative salary was $53,379.93 in 2004.

The governor and lieutenant governor are elected jointly every four years. The governor appoints all state and local judges, as well as the heads of the executive offices. Both the governor and lieutenant governor must have resided in the state for at least seven years; there is no minimum age specified for the offices. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $135,000 (Gov. Mitt Romney waives his salary). Other elected officials include the attorney general, secretary of the commonwealth, treasurer and receiver-general, and auditor of the commonwealth. All serve four-year terms.

Any Massachusetts citizen may file a bill through a state legislator, or a bill may be filed directly by a legislator or by the governor. To win passage, a bill must gain a majority vote of both houses of the legislature. After a bill is passed, the governor has 10 days in which to sign it, return it for reconsideration (usually with amendments), veto it, or hold onto it until after the legislature adjourns ("pocket veto"). A veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the members present in both houses.

An amendment to the constitution may be introduced by any house or Senate member (legislative amendment); if it is approved by two successive sessions of the legislature, the amendment is then submitted to the voters at the next general election. An amendment may also be introduced by a petition signed by 3% of the total votes cast for governor in the last state election, which must be at least 25,000 qualified voters, and that is presented in a joint session of the General Court. No more than one-fourth of the signatures may come from any one county. The majority vote on the amendment must be 30% of the total ballots cast at the election.

To vote in a Massachusetts district, a person must be a US citizen, at least 18 years old, and a state resident. Convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court may not vote.


The Federalist Party, represented nationally by John Adams, dominated Massachusetts in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The state turned to the Whig Party in the second quarter of the 19th century. Predominantly Yankee in character, the Whigs supported business growth, promoted protective tariffs, and favored such enterprises as railroads and factories. The new Republican Party, to which most Massachusetts Whigs gravitated when their party split in the 1850s, was a prime mover of abolitionism and played an important role in the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860. Republicans held most of the major state elective offices, as well as most US congressional seats, until the early 1900s.

The Democratic Party's rise starting in the 1870s was tied directly to massive Irish immigration. Other immigrant groups also gravitated toward the Democrats, and in 1876, the state's first Democratic congressman was elected. In 1928, the state voted for Democratic presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith, a Roman Catholic, the first time the Democrats won a majority in a Massachusetts presidential election. Democrats have subsequently, for the most part, dominated state politics. In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been a popular US senator from Massachusetts, became the first Roman Catholic president in US history. Since then the state has voted for all Democratic presidential candidates except Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984; in 1972, it was the only state carried by Democrat George McGovern. Massachusetts chose its native son, Democratic governor Michael Dukakis, for president in 1988 and voted again for a Democrat in the next three elections, giving Al Gore 60% of the vote, Republican George W. Bush 33%, and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader 6% in 2000. In 2004, state voters gave native son, Democrat John Kerry, 53.4% of the vote to incumbent George W. Bush's 44.6%. In 2004 there were 3,973,000 registered voters. In 1998, 37% of registered voters were Democratic, 13% Republican, and 50% unaffiliated or members of other parties. The state had 12 electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.

From 1990 to 1997, the governorship was held by a Republican, William Weld. Weld resigned in 1997 to pursue an appointment as ambassador to Mexico, at which time he was succeeded by lieutenant governor and fellow Republican Argeo Paul Cellucci. Cellucci was elected in his own right in November 1998. In 2002, Republican Mitt Romney was elected governor. Following the 2004 election, the US Senate seats for Massachusetts were held by Democrats Edward Kennedy (last elected in 2000) and John Kerry (last elected in 2002). In 2003, Kerry launched an unsuccessful campaign for the presidency. The 10-member US House delegation following the 2004 elections again consisted entirely of Democrats. In December 2005 the Massachusetts state Senate had 34 Democrats and 6 Republicans, while the state House of Representatives, known as the General Court, had 139 Democrats, 20 Republicans, with 1 Independent.

Massachusetts Presidential Vote by Political Party, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
1948 16 *Truman (D) 1,151,788 909,370 5,535 38,157
1952 16 *Eisenhower (R) 1,083,525 1,292,197 1,957 4,636
1956 16 *Eisenhower (R) 948,190 1,393,197 5,573
1960 16 *Kennedy (D) 1,487,174 976,750 3,892
1964 14 *Johnson 1,786,422 549,727 4,755
1968 14 Humphrey (D) 1,469,218 766,844 6,180 87,088
1972 14 McGovern (D) 1,332,540 1,112,178 10,600 2,877
1976 14 *Carter (D) 1,429,475 1,030,276 8,138 7,55
1980 14 *Reagan (R) 1,048,562 1,054,213 21,311
1984 13 *Reagan (R) 1,239,600 1,310,936
1988 13 Dukakis (D) 1,401,415 1,194,635 24,251 9,561
IND. (Perot)
1992 12 *Clinton (D) 1,318,639 805,039 9,021 630,731
1996 12 *Clinton (D) 1,571,763 718,107 20,426 227,217
2000 12 Gore (D) 1,616,487 878,502 16,366 173,564
2004 12 Kerry (D) 1,803,800 1,071,109 15,022 10,623


As of 2005, Massachusetts had 14 counties, 45 municipal governments, 349 school districts, and 403 special districts. In 2002 there were also 306 townships.

In most counties, which mostly serve judicial purposes, executive authority is vested in commissioners elected to four-year terms. Other county officials include the register of probate and family court, sheriff, clerk of courts, county treasurer, and register of deeds.

All Massachusetts cities are governed by mayors and city councils. Towns are governed by selectmen, who are usually elected to either one- or two-year terms. Town meetingsa carryover from the colonial period, when every taxpayer had an equal voice in town governmentstill take place. By state law, to be designated as a city, a place must have at least 12,000 residents. Towns with more than 6,000 inhabitants may hold representative town meetings limited to elected officials.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 233,729 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Massachusetts operates under the authority of state statute; activities are overseen by the public safety director.

State services are provided through the 14 executive offices and major departments that constitute the governor's cabinet. The heads of these departments are appointed by the governor. The Ethics in Massachusetts State Government organization distributes information on state government scandals.

Educational services are administered by the Department of Education. Included under its jurisdiction are the State Board of Education and Board of Higher Education, the Massachusetts community college and state college systems, the University of Massachusetts, the Council of the Arts and Humanities, and the State Library.

The Executive Office of Transportation supervises the Department of Public Works and has responsibility for the planning and development of transportation systems within the state, including the Massachusetts Port Authority, the Massachusetts Highway Department, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission.

All public health, mental health, youth, and veterans' programs are administered by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Also under its jurisdiction is the Department of Public Health. The Executive Office of Public Safety includes the Department of Correction, Emergency Management Agency, National Guard, and State Police.

The Executive Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation regulates state standards and registers professional workers. The departments of telecommunications and energy are also part of this office, as are the divisions regulating banks and insurance. Housing services are provided through the Department of Housing and Community Development.

The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs protects the state's marine and wildlife, and monitors the quality of its air, water, and food. Labor and industrial relations are monitored through the Department of Labor, which administers the minimum wage law, occupational safety laws, and child labor laws, among others. The Executive Office of Economic Development helps to improve the economic climate in the state and promotes exports and tourism.


All statewide judicial offices are filled by the governor, with the advice and consent of the executive council.

The Supreme Judicial Court, composed of a chief justice and six other justices, is the highest court in the state. It has appellate jurisdiction in matters of law and also advises the governor and legislature on legal questions. The superior courts, actually the highest level of trial court, have a chief justice and 79 other justices; these courts hear law, equity, civil, and criminal cases, and make the final determination in matters of fact. The appeals court, consisting of a chief justice and 13 other justices, hears appeals of decisions by district and municipal courts. There are also district and municipal courts and trial court judges. Other court systems in the state include the land court, probate and family court, housing court (with divisions in Boston and Hampden counties), and juvenile court (with divisions in Boston, Springfield, Worcester, and Bristol counties).

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 10,144 prisoners were held in Massachusetts' state and federal prisons, a decrease from 10,232 of 0.9% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 741 inmates were female, up from 708 or 4.7% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Massachusetts had an incarceration rate of 232 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Massachusetts in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 458.8 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 29,437 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 157,825 reported incidents or 2,459.7 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Massachusetts has no death penalty.

Under Massachusetts' gun control laws, all guns must be registered, and there is a mandatory one-year jail sentence for possession without a permit.

In 2003, Massachusetts spent $299,944,420 on homeland security, an average of $48 per state resident.


The military installations located in Massachusetts in 2004 had 4,382 active-duty military personnel, 7,315 National Guard and Reserve, and 3,049 civilian personnel. The largest installation in the state is the Laurence G. Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford. Other installations include the Army reserve and development center at Natick, Westover Air Reserve Base, one of 11 Air Force Reserve host bases, home to the 439th Airlift Wing, and, the Navy's South Weymouth Naval Air Station closed in 1997 and redeveloped for multiple uses including parks and recreation. Defense contracts awarded in 2004 totaled $6.96 billion, eighth-highest in the United States for that year. In addition, Massachusetts received another $1.1 billion in defense payroll spending, including retired military pay.

There were 490,882 military veterans living in the state in 2003, of which 90,933 served in World War II; 65,672 during the Korean conflict; 142,892 during the Vietnam era; and 51,292 during the Persian Gulf War. In 2004, expenditures on veterans exceeded $1.3 billion.

As of 31 October 2004, the Massachusetts State Police employed 2,199 full-time sworn officers.


Massachusetts was founded by the migration of English religious groups to its shores, and for over a century their descendants dominated all activity in the state. The first non-English to enter Massachusetts in significant numbers were the Irish, who migrated in vast numbers during the 1840s and 1850s. By 1860, one-third of Boston's population was Irish, while nearly one-fourth of Middlesex and Norfolk counties and one-fifth of the inhabitants of Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, and Hampden counties were Irish-born. Other ethnic groupssuch as the Scottish, Welsh, Germans, and Poleswere also entering the state at this time, but their numbers were small by comparison. During the late 1880s and 1890s, another wave of immigrantsfrom Portugal, Spain, Italy, Russia, and Greecearrived. Irish and Italians continued to enter the state during the 20th century.

A slow but steady migration from Massachusetts farm communities began during the mid-l700s and continued well into the 1800s. The first wave of farmers resettled in northern Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Later farmers moved to New York's Mohawk Valley, Ohio, and points farther west. Out-migration has continued into recent times: from 1970 to 1990, Massachusetts lost nearly 400,000 residents in net migration to other states but experienced an overall net increase from migration of 59,000 due to migration from abroad. Between 1990 and 1998, the state had a net loss of 237,000 in domestic migration and a net gain of 135,000 in international migration. In 1996, Massachusetts's foreign-born population numbered 591,000, or nearly 10% of the state's total population. In 1998, 15,869 foreign immi-grants arrived in Massachusetts, the 8th-highest total of any state for that year. Between 1990 and 1998, the state's overall population increased 2.2%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 162,674 and net internal migration was 236,415, for a net loss of 73,741 people.

The only significant migration from other areas of the United States to Massachusetts has been the influx of southern blacks since World War II. According to census estimates, Massachusetts gained 84,000 blacks between 1940 and 1975; between 1990 and 1998, the black population grew from 300,000 to 395,000 persons, mostly in the Boston area.


Massachusetts participates in numerous regional agreements, including the New England Interstate Corrections, Police, Board of Higher Education, Radiological Health Protection, and Interstate Water Pollution Control compacts. The state is also a party to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact, the Connecticut River Valley Flood Control Compact, the Bay State-Ocean State Compact with Rhode Island, the Merrimack River Basin Flood Control Compact, the Thames River Flood Control Compact, and the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Compact.

Border agreements include the Connecticut-Massachusetts Boundary Compact (ratified by Massachusetts in 1908), the Massachusetts-New York Compact of 1853, and the Massachusetts-Rhode Island Compact of 1859. During fiscal year 2001, the state received over $9.7 billion in federal grants. Following a national trend, that amount was decreased significantly to $8.589 billion in fiscal year 2005, an estimated $8.892 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $8.217 billion in fiscal year 2007.


From its beginnings as a farming and seafaring colony, Massachusetts became one of the most industrialized states in the country in the late 19th century and, more recently, a leader in the manufacture of high-technology products.

During the colonial and early national periods, the towns of Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and Boston, among others, gave the state strong fishing and shipbuilding industries. Boston was also an important commercial port and a leading center of foreign commerce. Agriculture was important, but productivity of the rocky soil was limited, and by the mid-1800s, farming could not sustain the expanding population. The opening of the Erie Canal, and subsequent competition with cheaper produce grown in the West, hastened agriculture's decline in the Bay State.

Massachusetts's rise as a center of manufacturing began in the early 1800s, when cottage industries developed in small farming communities. Large factories were then built in towns with water power. The country's first "company town," Lowell, was built in the early 1820s to accommodate the state's growing textile industry. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, the state supplied the nation with most of its shoes and woven goods.

Underbid by cheap labor in the south and in other countries, the shoe and textile industries died a slow and painful death. Manufacturing remained central to Massachusetts's economy, however. Fueled in part by a dramatic increase in the Pentagon's budget during the Reagan administration which focused on high-technology weaponry, as well as by significant advances in information technology, high-tech companies sprung up around the periphery of Boston in the 1970s and early 1980s. Wholesale and retail trade, transportation and public utilities also prospered. In the late 1980s, the boom ended. The minicomputer industry failed to innovate at the same pace as its competitors elsewhere at the same time that the market became increasingly crowded, and defense contractors suffered from cuts in military spending. Between 1988 and 1991, jobs in both high-tech and non-high tech manufacturing declined by 17%. The early 1980s also saw the rise of speculative real estate ventures which collapsed at the end of the decade when the market became saturated. Employment in construction dropped 44% between 1988 and 1991, and real estate jobs declined 23.8%. Wholesale and retail trade lost 100,000 jobs. Hurt by unsound loans, banks were forced to retrench. Unemployment rose to 9% in 1991.

The economy recovered in the 1990s, as evidenced by several banks' announcement of new lending programs as well as a reduction in the unemployment rate to 4% by 1997. Annual growth rates soared to 7.8% in 1998,6.8% in 1999 and 9.8% in 2000 as Massachusetts benefited from information technology (IT) and stock market booms of the late 1990s. However, in the collapse of the bubble in the national recession of 2001, Massachusetts was the hardest hit among the New England economies, as growth abruptly plummeted to 1.7% in 2001. Continued weakness in national business investment and in equity markets continued to impede economic growth in Massachusetts in 2002.

Massachusetts's gross state product (GSP) in 2004 totaled $317.798 billion, of which real estate accounted for the largest portion at $43.439 billion or 13.6% of GSP, followed by manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) at $34.912 billion (10.9% of GSP), and healthcare and social assistance at $26.353 billion (8.2% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 599,389 small businesses in Massachusetts. Of the 178,752 businesses that had employees, a total of 175,217 or 98% were small companies. An estimated 18,822 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, down 0.9% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 20,270, down 7.3% from 2003. There were 315 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 20.5% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 278 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Massachusetts as the 50th highest in the nation.


In 2005 Massachusetts had a gross state product (GSP) of $329 billion which accounted for 2.6% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 13 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Massachusetts had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $42,176. This ranked third in the United States and was 128% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.8%. Massachusetts had a total personal income (TPI) of $270,235,901,000, which ranked 11th in the United States and reflected an increase of 5.8% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.4%. Earnings of persons employed in Massachusetts increased from $204,746,728,000 in 2003 to $218,451,912,000 in 2004, an increase of 6.7%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 2002 to 2004 in 2004 dollars was $52,354 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 9.8% of the population was below the poverty line as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Massachusetts numbered 3,338,600, with approximately 163,900 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 4.9%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 3,218,000. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Massachusetts was 10.9% in January 1976. The historical low was 2.7% in December 2000. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 4.4% of the labor force was employed in construction; 9.4% in manufacturing; 17.7% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 6.9% in financial activities; 14.5% in professional and business services; 18.4% in education and health services; 9.1% in leisure and hospitality services; and 12.7% in government.

Some of the earliest unionization efforts took place in Massachusetts in the early 1880s, particularly in the shipbuilding and construction trades. However, the most important trade unions to evolve were those in the state's textile and shoe industries. The workers had numerous grievances: shoebinders' salaries of $1.60-$2.40 a week during the 1840s, workdays of 14 to 17 hours, wages paid in scrip that could be cashed only at company stores (which charged exorbitantly high prices), and children working at dangerous machinery. In 1867, a seven-week-long shoemakers' strike at Lynn, the center of the shoe business, was at that time the longest strike in US history.

After the turn of the century, the state suffered a severe decline in manufacturing, and employers sought to cut wages to make up for lost profits. This resulted in a number of strikes by both the United Textile Workers and the Boot and Shoe Workers Union. The largest strike of the era was at Lawrence in 1912, when textile workers (led by a radical labor group, the Industrial Workers of the World) closed the mills, and the mayor called in troops in an attempt to reopen them. Although the textile and shoe businesses are no longer major employers in the state, the United Shoe Workers of America, the Brotherhood of Shoe and Allied Craftsmen, the United Textile Workers, and the Leather Workers International Union of America have their headquarters in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to enact child labor laws. In 1842, it established the 10-hour day for children under 12. In 1867, it forbade employment for children under 10. The nation's first Uniform Child Labor Law, establishing an 8-hour day for children ages 14 to 16, was enacted by Massachusetts in 1913. Massachusetts was also the first state to enact minimum wage guidelines (1912).

The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, a total of 402,000 of Massachusetts' 2,886,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 13.9% of those so employed, up from 13.5% in 2004, and above the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 431,000 workers (14.9%) in Massachusetts were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Massachusetts is one of 28 states that does not have a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Massachusetts had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $6.75 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 48.3% of the employed civilian labor force.


As of 2004, there were 6,100 farms in Massachusetts, covering 520,000 acres (210,000 hectares). Farming was mostly limited to the western Massachusetts counties of Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire, and southern Bristol County. Total agricultural income for 2005 was estimated at $390 million (47th of the 50 states), of which crops provided 76%. Although the state is not a major farming area, it is the second-largest producer of cranberries in the United States; production for 2004 was 180,400,000 lb, about 28% of the US total. Output totals for other crops in 2004 were as follows: corn for silage, 374,000 tons; hay, 181,000 tons; and tobacco, 989,000 lb. While of local economic importance, these figures are tiny fractions of US totals.


Massachusetts is not a major producer of livestock. The state had 48,000 cattle and calves worth around $52.8 million in 2005, and an estimated 12,000 hogs and pigs worth $1.3 million in 2004. Also during 2003, poultry farmers sold 863,000 lb (392,000 kg) of chickens, and the state produced an estimated 73 million eggs, worth around $4.8 million. An estimated 19,000 milk cows produced 332 million lb (151 million kg) of milk in 2003. During 2003, the state produced around 1.8 million lb (0.8 million kg) of turkeys worth $2.7 million.


The early settlers earned much of their income from the sea. The first shipyard in Massachusetts opened at Salem Neck in 1637 and, during the years before independence, the towns of Salem, Newburyport, Plymouth, and Boston were among the colonies' leading ports. By 1807, Massachusetts's fishing fleet made up 88% of the US total. For much of the 19th century, Nantucket and, later, New Bedford were the leading US whaling centers. But with the decline of the whaling industry came a sharp drop in the importance of fishing to the livelihood of the state. By 1978, the fishing industry ranked 13th in importance of the 15 industries monitored by the state. However, the fishing ports of New Bedford and Gloucester were still among the busiest in the United States in 2004. New Bedford ranked first in the nation in catch value at $206.5 million and seventh in the nation for catch volume at 175.1 million lb (79.6 million kg). Gloucester was 12th in the nation in catch value ($42.7 million) and tenth in volume (113.3 million lb/51.5 million kg).

In 2004, Massachusetts ranked second in the nation for total commercial catch value at $326.1 million. The total catch volume that year was 336.9 million lb (153.1 million kg). The quahog catch of 14.1 million lb (6.4 million kg) was the second largest in the nation. The lobster catch was also the second largest with 11.3 million lb (5.1 million kg) valued at $51.5 million. Massachusetts was the leading producer of sea scallops with 28.1 million lb (12.8 million kg). In 2003, there were 232 fish processing and wholesale plants with an annual average of 4,504 employees in the state. The commercial fleet in 2001 had about 5,235 boats and vessels.

The state's long shoreline and many rivers make sport fishing a popular pastime for both deepsea and freshwater fishermen. The fishing season runs from mid-April through late October, with the season extended through February for bass, pickerel, panfish, and trout. In 2004, there were 203,139 fishing license holders.


Forestry is a minor industry in the state. Forested lands cover about 3,126,000 acres (1,265,000 hectares), 76% of which are private lands. Wooded areas lost to urbanization in recent years have been offset by the conversion of inactive agricultural areas into forests. Red oak and white ash are found in the west; specialty products include maple syrup and Christmas trees. The wood and paper products industries require more pulp than the state currently produces. Lumber production in 2004 totaled 60 million board ft, 60% hardwood.

Massachusetts has the sixth-largest state park system in the nation, with 38 state parks and 74 state forests totaling some 273,000 acres (110,000 hectares). There are no national forests in Massachusetts.


According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated value of nonfuel mineral production by Massachusetts in 2003 was $186 million, a decrease from 2002 of about 4%.

By value, crushed stone, construction sand and gravel, and lime were the state's top three nonfuel mineral commodities in 2003, according to USGS data. Collectively, these commodities accounted for around 94% of the state's nonfuel mineral output, by value. According to preliminary figures for 2003, a total of 13.2 million metric tons of crushed stone, valued at $104 million, were produced, while 11.4 million metric tons of sand and gravel, worth $70.7 million, were produced. Massachusetts in 2003 was also a producer of dimension stone and common clays. Dimension stone output that year totaled 81,000 metric tons and was valued at $10.5 million, while output of common clays totaled 36,000 metric tons and was valued at $321,000, according to the preliminary data. Nationally, the state ranked fifth in dimension stone in 2003.


As of 2003, Massachusetts had 69 electrical power service providers, of which 41 were publicly owned, 7 were investor owned, 4 were owners of independent generators that sold directly to customers, 9 were generation-only suppliers, and 8 were delivery-only providers. As of that same year there were 2,927,308 retail customers. Of that total, 2,456,890 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Publically owned providers had 382,808 customers, while 132 were independent generator or "facility" customers. Generation-only suppliers had 87,478 customers. There was no data on the number of delivery-only service customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 13.877 million kW, with total production that same year at 48.385 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, only 4.2% came from electric utilities, with the remaining 95.8% coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 22.423 billion kWh (46.3%), came from natural gas fired plants, with coal-fired plants in second place at 10.896 billion kWh (22.5%) and petroleum fueled plants in third at 7.459 billion kWh (15.4%). Nuclear power accounted for 10.3% of all power generated followed by other renewable power sources and hydroelectric sources.

In 2006, the Pilgrim power plant in Plymouth was Massachusetts' only operating nuclear power plant.

Boston Edison supplies electricity to the city of Boston; the rest of the state is served by 13 other companies, although a few municipalities do generate their own power. Power companies are regulated by the Department of Public Utilities, which establishes rates and monitors complaints from customers.

As of 2004, Massachusetts had no proven reserves of crude oil or coal, although oil exploration off the coast of Cape Cod did take place 1979 following a lengthy court battle. Environmentalists and fishermen had sought to prevent development of an oil industry in the region, which is one of the richest fishing grounds in the country. The state has no refineries.

The state consumes but does not produce natural gas. In 2004 about 373 billion cu ft (10.5 billion cu m) of natural gas were delivered. Slightly more than 30% of the gas sold was for residential use, 54% for industries and electricity generation, and 15% for commercial use.

The state encourages energy conservation and the development of alternative energy systems by granting tax credits to qualifying industries. Private researchers and the state have established demonstration projects for solar energy systems and other alternatives to fossil fuels.


Massachusetts was the nation's first major industrial state, and during the later part of the 19th century, it was the US leader in shoemaking and textile production. By 1860, the state was a major producer of machinery and milled nearly one-fourth of the country's paper.

Massachusetts remains an important manufacturing center. Nearly all the major manufacturing sectors had plants in Massachusetts's eastern counties. Significant concentrations of industrial machinery employment are in Attleboro, Wilmington, Worcester, and the Springfield area. Much of the manufacturing industry is located along Route 128, a superhighway that circles Boston from Gloucester in the north to Quincy in the south and is unique in its concentration of high-technology enterprises. Massachusetts's future as a manufacturing center depends on its continued preeminence in the production of computers, optical equipment, and other sophisticated instruments.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Massachusetts' manufacturing sector covered some 20 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $76.538 billion. Of that total, computer and electronic product manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $20.757 billion. It was followed by chemical manufacturing at $9.254 billion; miscellaneous manufacturing at $6.437 billion; food manufacturing at $6.053 billion; and fabricated metal product manufacturing at $5.823 billion.

In 2004, a total of 302,263 people in Massachusetts were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 179,747 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 58,806, with 25,353 actual production workers. It was followed by fabricated metal product manufacturing at 34,054 employees (24,028 actual production workers); miscellaneous manufacturing at 31,425 employees (19,006 actual production workers); machinery manufacturing at 23,887 employees (13,294 actual production workers); chemical manufacturing at 23,305 employees (10,354 actual production workers); and food manufacturing with 21,120 employees (13,743 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Massachusetts' manufacturing sector paid $14.895 billion in wages. Of that amount, the computer and electronic product manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $3.766 billion. It was followed by fabricated metal product manufacturing at $1.528 billion; chemical manufacturing at $1.501 billion; miscellaneous manufacturing at $1.354 billion; and machinery manufacturing at $1.327 billion.


Massachusetts's machinery and electrical goods industries are important components of the state's wholesale trade, along with motor vehicle and automotive equipment, and paper and paper products. According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Massachusetts' wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $127.1 billion from 9,333 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 5,546 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 2,826 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 961 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $52.1 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $55.1 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $19.8 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Massachusetts was listed as having 25,761 retail establishments with sales of $73.9 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: food and beverage stores (4,529); clothing and clothing accessories stores (3,764); miscellaneous store retailers (2,979); and gasoline stations (2,333). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $17.6 billion, followed by food and beverage stores at $13.7 billion; general merchandise stores at $7.1 billion; and building material/garden equipment and supplies dealers $6.1 billion. A total of 359,149 people were employed by the retail sector in Massachusetts that year.

Exporters located in Massachusetts exported $22.04 billion in merchandise during 2005, ranking 10th in the nation.


Consumer protection in Massachusetts is handled by two state entities: the Executive Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which serves as an information and referral center for consumer complaints and oversees the activities of many of the state's regulatory agencies; and the Office of the Attorney General which has a Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division that handles consumer complaints either through litigation or nine face-to-face mediation programs. The Massachusetts Consumer Council also advises the governor and legislature and there are many local consumer councils.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil and criminal proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; handle formal consumer complaints; and exercise broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; initiate criminal proceedings; and represent counties, cities and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

The Executive Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Attorney General Office's Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division are both located in Boston. The Attorney General's Office also has regional offices in New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester. County government consumer affairs offices are located in Greenfield, Northampton, Pittsfield, Quincy, Worcester, Boston, Cambridge, Fall River, Haverhill, Hyannis, Lawrence, Lowell, Medford, Natick, Newton, North Weymouth, Plymouth, Revere, Springfield and Waltham.


By the mid-1800s, Boston had developed into a major banking center whose capital financed the state's burgeoning industries. As of 2005 banking remained an important sector of the state's economy.

As of June 2005, Massachusetts had 195 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 103 state-chartered and 149 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy market area accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 154 institutions and $141.035 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 8.8% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $22.128 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 91.2% or $230.670 billion in assets held.

State chartered savings banks, trust companies, co-operative banks, credit unions, and other financial service providers, including mortgage lenders and brokers, debt collection agencies, foreign transmittal agencies, check cashers, and credit grantors, are regulated by the state's Division of Banks, within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. The division administers the state's banking laws and oversees bank and financial institution practices and policies.

In 2004, the median percentage of past-due/nonaccrual loans to total loans stood at 0.60%, down from 0.70% in 2003. In that same year, the median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) for the state's insured institutions stood at 3.50%, down from 3.54% in 2003. Around 82% of insured institutions headquartered in Massachusetts are savings institutions, and residential real estate loans make up some 65% of the average loan portfolio.


Insurance is an important business in Massachusetts, and some of the largest life and property and casualty insurance companies in the nation have their headquarters in Boston.

In 2004 there were over 3.1 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of over $349 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was about $571 billion. The average coverage amount is $111,700 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled at over $1.2 billion.

As of 2003, there were 55 property and casualty and 19 life and health insurance companies domiciled in the state. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $11.8 billion. That year, there were 40,473 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $7.1 billion. About $39 billion of coverage was held through FAIR plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high risk areas.

On 4 April 2006, the Massachusetts legislature approved a bill designed to make the purchase of health insurance a requirement for all state residents by 1 July 2007. The governor accepted most of the bill into law on 13 April. Under the terms of the bill, government subsidies will be available to assist low-income residents and employers with 11 employees or more may be required to either provide coverage for their workers or to pay an annual per employee fee to the government. Beginning in January 2008, residents could be required to report information concerning their health insurance policy on their state income tax return. Those who do not provide such proof of coverage may lose their personal state tax exemption and face penalties of up to half the cost of the lowest priced insurance policy. This bill, the first such legislation in the United States, is designed to address the issue of paying for the health care for over 500,000 of uninsured and underinsured residents.

In 2004, 60% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 4% held individual policies, and 25% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 11% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 20% for single coverage and 24% for family coverage. The state offers an 18-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 4.1 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $20,000 per individual and $40,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $5,000. Personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage are also mandatory. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $1,051.60, which ranked as the fourth-highest average in the nation (after New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia).

New England Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Boston was the first mutual company to be chartered in the United States and remains one of the largest firms in the business. John Hancock Mutual Life, also of Boston, is one of the largest life insurance companies in the United States.

All aspects of the insurance business in Massachusetts, including the licensing of agents, and brokers and the examination of all insurance companies doing business in the state, are controlled by the Division of Insurance, under the Executive Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.


The Boston Stock Exchange, founded in 1834, is the only stock exchange in Massachusetts. The BSE has approximately 200 members, handles over 2,000 stocks, and is the fastest-growing stock exchange in the United States (increasing trade volume tenfold during the 1990s). In 2005, there were 7,070 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents employed in the state. In 2004, there were over 468 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 235 NASDAQ companies, 101 NYSE listings, and 64 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had nine Fortune 500 companies; Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance (based in Springfield) ranked first in the state and 92nd in the nation with revenues of over $22.7 billion, followed by Raytheon (Waltham), Liberty Mutual Insurance Group (Boston), Staples (Framingham), and TJX Companies (Framingham). Staples is listed on NASDAQ while the other four companies are on the NYSE.

The Securities Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth is responsible for licensing and monitoring all brokerage firms in the state.


The Massachusetts budget is prepared by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and is presented by the governor to the legislature for revision and approval. The fiscal year (FY) runs from 1 July to 30 June.

Fiscal year 2006 general funds were estimated at $28.1 billion for resources and $25.5 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Massachusetts were $13.8 billion.

In 5 January 2006 the Bush administration released $100 million in emergency contingency funds targeted to the areas with the greatest need, including $4.7 million for Massachusetts.


In 2005, Massachusetts collected $18,015 million in tax revenues or $2,815 per capita, which placed it seventh among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Sales taxes accounted for 21.6% of the total, selective sales taxes 10.5%, individual income taxes 53.8%, corporate income taxes 7.4%, and other taxes 6.7%.

As of 1 January 2006, Massachusetts had a single individual income tax bracket of 5.3%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 9.5%.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $9,814,315,000 or $1,532 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state seventh-highest nationally. Local governments collected $9,814,264,000 of the total and the state government $51,000.

Massachusetts taxes retail sales at a rate of 5%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is tax exempt. The tax on cigarettes is 151 cents per pack, which ranks eighth among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Massachusetts taxes gasoline at 21 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Massachusetts citizens received $0.77 in federal spending.


The Executive Office of Economic Development is responsible for setting economic policy, promoting Massachusetts as a place to do business, increasing the job base, and generating economic activity in the Commonwealth.

The following agencies are within the Executive Office of Economic Development: Department of Business and Technology; Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation; Department of Labor; and Department of Workforce Development. Other agencies addressing issues of economic development are: the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency (Mass Development); the Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development; the Workforce Training Fund; the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment; the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Technology Development Corp., and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Throughout most of the 1990's and up to 2002, the state economic development plan was guided by the 1993 report entitled "Choosing to Compete: A Statewide Strategy for Economic Growth and Job Creation." The Massachusetts Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP), launched in 1993, was a series of initiatives geared to stimulate job creation, attract new businesses, and help firms expand. There were 34 Economic Target Areas (ETAs) throughout the state. Cities and towns, in partnership with the Commonwealth and private enterprises, also developed economic programs to attract new business. In 2002, building on what was seen as the success of the Choosing to Compete campaign, the former Department of Economic Development issued a new framework entitled "Toward a New Prosperity: Building Regional Competitiveness Across the Commonwealth." The approach divides the state economy into seven regional clusters, each with unique developmental needs and potentials. Six overall goals were stated: to improve the business climate for all business clusters; to support entrepreneurship and innovation; to prepare the workforce for the future; to build an information infrastructure for the 21st century; to ensure that economic growth is compatible with communities and the environment, and to the improve the outcome from government actions.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 5 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 12.5 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 21.4 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 90% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 89% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 8.8 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 229.3; cancer, 216.5; cerebrovascular diseases, 55.4; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 42.7; and diabetes, 22.1. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 3.6 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 8.8 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 51.3% of the population was considered overweight or obese, representing the lowest percentage among the 50 states. As of 2004, about 18.4% of state residents were smokers.

MassachusettsState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols:zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 41,615,765 6,495.36
  General revenue 32,979,924 5,147.48
    Intergovernmental revenue 8,997,317 1,404.29
    Taxes 16,839,243 2,628.26
      General sales 3,743,204 584.24
      Selective sales 1,859,410 290.22
      License taxes 664,556 103.72
      Individual income tax 8,830,334 1,378.23
      Corporate income tax 1,301,076 203.07
      Other taxes 440,663 68.78
    Current charges 2,594,314 404.92
    Miscellaneous general revenue 4,549,050 710.01
  Utility revenue 130,376 20.35
  Liquor store revenue - -
  Insurance trust revenue 8,505,465 1,327.53
Total expenditure 38,405,514 5,994.31
  Intergovernmental expenditure 6,202,583 968.09
  Direc expenditure 32,202,931 5,026.21
    Current operation 20,238,600 3,158.83
    Capital outlay 4,317,975 673.95
    Insurance benefits and repayments 4,318,252 673.99
    Assistance and subsidies 702,842 109.70
    Interest on debt 2,625,262 409.75
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 4,117,062 642.59
Total expenditure 38,405,514 5,994.31
  General expenditure 33,646,572 5,251.53
    Intergovernmental expenditure 6,202,583 968.09
    Direct expenditure 27,443,989 4,283.44
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 7,580,759 1,183.20
    Public welfare 10,552,819 1,647.08
    Hospitals 414,685 64.72
    Health 686,758 107.19
    Highways 3,015,459 470.65
    Police protection 407,951 63.67
    Correction 972,276 151.75
    Natural resources 272,138 42.48
    Parks and recreation 305,471 47.68
    Government administration 1,389,776 216.92
    Interest on general debt 2,566,137 400.52
    Other and unallocable 5,482,343 855.68
  Utility expenditure 440,690 68.78
  Liquor store expenditure - -
  Insurance trust expenditure 4,318,252 673.99
Debt at end of fiscal year 50,981,152 7,957.10
Cash and security holdings 65,110,609 10,162.42

Programs for treatment and rehabilitation of alcoholics are administered by the Division of Alcoholism of the Department of Health, under the Executive Office of Human Services. The Division of Communicable Disease Control operates venereal disease clinics throughout the state and provides educational material to schools and other groups. The Division of Drug Rehabilitation administers drug treatment from a statewide network of hospital agencies and self-help groups. The state also runs a lead-poisoning prevention program. In Massachusetts, all health-care facilities are registered by the Department of Public Health. The Division of Health Care Quality inspects and licenses hospitals, clinics, school infirmaries, and blood banks every two years. Licensing of nursing homes is also under its control.

In 2003, Massachusetts had 79 community hospitals with about 16,000 beds. There were about 785,000 patient admissions that year and 19.6 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 11,900 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,631. Also in 2003, there were about 478 certified nursing facilities in the state with 52,323 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 89.8%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 79.5% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year; this was the third-highest dental care percentage in country (after Connecticut and Minnesota). Massachusetts had 451 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 1,201 nurses per 100,000 in 2005; these rates some of the highest healthcare worker-population rates in the nation. In 2004, there were a total of 5,143 dentists in the state.

Four prominent medical schools are located in the state: Harvard Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, and the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine. In 2005, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston ranked third on the Honor Roll of Best Hospitals 2005 by U.S. News & World Report. In the same report, it ranked fifth in the nation for care of heart disease and heart surgery and twelfth for care of cancer. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston ranked twelfth on the Honor Roll and sixth for best care in heart disease and heart surgery. The Children's Hospital Boston was ranked as second in the nation for best pediatric care. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston was ranked fourth in the nation for cancer care.

About 25% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 11% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $7.7 million.


In 2004, about 239,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $351. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 368,122 persons (176,121 households); the average monthly benefit was about $82.18 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $363 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. The Massachusetts TANF cash assistance program is called Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), and the work program is called the Employment Services Program (ESP). In 2004, the state program had 108,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $355 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 1,066,620 Massachusetts residents. This number included 692,260 retired workers, 96,030 widows and widowers, 146,990 disabled workers, 47,430 spouses, and 83,910 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 16.6% of the total state population and 90.7% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $961; widows and widowers, $933; disabled workers, $883; and spouses, $483. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $480 per month; children of deceased workers, $677; and children of disabled workers, $266. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 169,205 Massachusetts residents, averaging $438 a month.


Massachusetts's housing stock, much older than the US average, reflects the state's colonial heritage and its ties to English architectural traditions. Two major styles are common: colonial, typified by a wood frame, two stories, center hall entry, and center chimney; and Cape Cod, one-story houses built by fishermen, typified by shallow basements, shingled roofs, clapboard fronts, and unpainted shingled sides weathered gray by the salt air. Many new houses are also built in these styles.

As of 2004, there were an estimated 2,672,061 housing units in the state, of which 2,435,421 were occupied; 64.6% were owner-occupied. About 52.5% of all housing units were single-family, detached homes. About 37.1% of all units were built before or during 1939. Nearly 42% of all units rely on utility gas for heating and 33.6% use fuel oil or kerosene. It was estimated that 50,724 units lacked telephone service, 7,775 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 10,402 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.55 members.

In 2004, 22,500 new housing units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $331,200, the fourth highest in the United States. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,645. Renters paid a median of $852 per month. In 2006, the state received over $34.3 million in community development block grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city of Boston received over $20.9 million in community development block grants.

The Executive Office of Communities and Development administers federal housing programs for the state. The Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency finances the construction and rehabilitation of housing by private and community groups.


Massachusetts has a long history of support for education. The Boston Latin School opened in 1635 as the first public school in the colonies. Harvard Collegethe first college in the United Stateswas founded the following year. In 1647, for the first time, towns with more than 50 people were required by law to establish tax-supported school systems. More firsts followed: the country's first board of education, compulsory school attendance law, train-ing school for teachers, state school for the retarded, and school for the blind. The drive for quality public education in the state was intensified through the efforts of educator Horace Mann, who during the 1830s and 1840s was also a leading force for the improvement of school systems throughout the United States.

In 2004, 86.9% of state residents age 25 or older were high school graduates, and 36.7% had completed four or more years of college. Total public school enrollment for fall 2002 stood at 983,000. Of these, 701,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 282,000 attended high school. Approximately 74.6% of the students were white, 8.8% were black, 11.5% were Hispanic, 4.7% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.3% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 978,000 in fall 2003 and was expected to be 919,000 by fall 2014, a decline of 6.5% during the period 2002 to 2014. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $11.7 billion or $10,693 per student, the sixth-highest among the 50 states. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005 eighth graders in Massachusetts scored 292 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

The early years of statehood saw the development of private academies, where the students could learn more than the basic reading and writing skills that were taught in the town schools at the time. Some of these private preparatory schools remain, including such prestigious institutions as Andover, Deerfield, and Groton. In fall 2003 there were 134,708 students enrolled in 688 private schools.

As of fall 2002, there were 431,224 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 20.4% of total postsecondary enrollment. In 2005 Massachusetts had 122 degree-granting institutions. The major public university system is the University of Massachusetts, with campuses at Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell, and a medical school at Worcester. The Amherst campus was established in 1863, and the Boston campus in 1965. The state has a total of 15 public colleges and universities, while the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges has 16 campuses.

Harvard University, which was established in Cambridge originally as a college for clergymen and magistrates, has grown to become one of the country's premier institutions. Also located in Cambridge are Radcliffe College (whose enrollment is included in Harvard's), founded in 1879, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT (1861). Mount Holyoke College, the first US college for women, was founded in 1837. Other prominent private schools and their dates of origin are Amherst College (1821); Boston College (1863); Boston University (1869); Brandeis University (1947); Clark University (1887); Hampshire College (1965); the New England Conservatory of Music (1867); Northeastern University (1898); Smith College (1871); Tufts University (1852); Wellesley College (1875); and Williams College (1793).

Among the tuition assistance programs available to state residents are the Massachusetts General Scholarships, awarded to thousands of college students annually, and Massachusetts Honor Scholarships, for outstanding performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The State Board of Education establishes standards and policies for the public schools throughout the state; its programs are administered by the Department of Education. Higher education planning and programs are under the control of the Higher Education Coordinating Council.

The landmark Education Reform Act of 1993 established new systems of financial support for public elementary and secondary schools and instituted major reforms in governance, professional development, student educational goals, curricula, and assessments.


Boston is the center of artistic activity in Massachusetts, and Cape Cod and the Berkshires are areas of significant seasonal artistic activity. In 1979, Massachusetts became the first state to establish a lottery solely for funding the arts. Boston is the home of several small theaters, some of which offer previews of shows bound for Broadway. Well-known local theater companies include the American Repertory Theatre and the Huntington Theatre. The 2006/07 season marked the Huntington Theatre's 25th anniversary; productions that season included the pre-Broadway, Radio Golf and the world premiere, Mauritius. Of the regional theaters scattered throughout the state, the Williamstown Theater in the Berkshires and the Provincetown Theater on Cape Cod are especially noteworthy.

The Boston Symphony, one of the major orchestras in the United States, was founded in 1881, and its principal conductors have included Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Munch, Erich Leinsdorf, and Seiji Ozawa. Emmanuel Church in Boston's Back Bay is known for its early music concerts, and chamber music by first-rate local and internationally known performers is presented at the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall and other venues throughout the city. During the summer, the Boston Symphony is the main attraction of the Berkshire Music Festival at Tangle-wood in Lenox. An offshoot of the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops Orchestra, gained fame under the conductorship of Arthur Fiedler. Its mixture of popular, jazz, and light symphonic music continued under the direction of Fiedler's successors, John Williams and Keith Lockhart. As of the 2006, Lockhart still presided over the Boston Pops as director and opened the season with a performance featuring Elvis Costello. Boston is also the headquarters of the Boston Lyric Opera. Prominent in the world of dance are the Boston Ballet Company and the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires. Ploughshares, a literary journal published through Emerson College in Boston, has become well known nationally as a showplace for new writers.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council provides grants and services to support public programs in the arts, sciences, and the humanities. Grants are made to organizations, schools, communities and artists. In 2005, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and other arts organizations received 87 grants totaling $4,587,600 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities was founded in 1974. The foundation offers unique traveling seminars; the 2005 "Saudades de Portugal" seminar provided the opportunity to travel to Portugal. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $7,502,287 to 79 state programs.


The first public library in the United States was established in Boston in 1653. Massachusetts has one of the most important university libraries in the country, and numerous museums and historical sites commemorate the state's rich colonial history. For the fiscal year ending in June 2001, Massachusetts had 371 public library systems, with a total of 490 libraries, of which 119 were branches. The system served 351 towns and cities, and had 30,465,000 volumes of books and serial publications on its shelves, with a total circulation of 45,803,000 in that same year. The system also had 858,000 audio and 742,000 video items, 39,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and 10 bookmobiles. The major city libraries are in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. In fiscal year 2001, operating income for the state's public libraries was $220,510,000 including $1,107,000 in federal grants and $20,725,000 in state grants.

The Boston Athenaeum, with 650,000 volumes, is the most noteworthy private library in the state. The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester has a 690,000-volume research library of original source material dating from colonial times to 1876.

Harvard University's library system is one of the largest in the world, with 14,311,152 volumes in 1999. Other major academic libraries are those of Boston University, the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), Smith College, and Boston College.

Boston houses a number of important museums, among them the Museum of Fine Arts with vast holdings of artwork including extensive Far East and French impressionists collections and American art and furniture, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Science, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Children's Museum. Harvard University's museums include the Fogg Art Museum, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the Botanical Museum. Other museums of note are the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, the Essex Institute in Salem, the Worcester Art Museum, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, the Bunker Hill Museum near Boston, and the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. In addition, many towns have their own historical societies and museums, including Historic Deerfield, Framingham Historical and Natural History Society, Ipswich Historical Society, Lexington Historical Society, and Marblehead Historical Society. Plymouth Plantation in Plymouth is a recreation of life in the 17th century, and Old Sturbridge Village, a working historical farm, displays 18th- and 19th-century artifacts. The state had over 344 museums in 2000.


The first American post office was established in Boston in 1639. Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrated the telephone in 1876 in Boston. As of 2004, 93.4% of the state's occupied housing units had telephones. In addition, by June of that same year there were 3,919,139 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 64.1% of Massachusetts households had a computer and 58.1% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 1,235,672 high-speed lines in Massachusetts, 1,123,606 residential and 112,066 for business.

The state had 32 major AM stations and 64 major FM stations in 2005, when 10 major television stations were also in operation. In Boston, WGBH is a major producer of programming for the Public Broadcasting Service. In 1999, the Boston metropolitan area had 2,210,580 television-owning households, 80% of which received cable (the second-highest penetration rate for any city).

In 2000, Massachusetts had 239,358 Internet domain name registrations, ranking seventh among all the states.


Milestones in US publishing history that occurred in the state include the first book printed in the English colonies (Cambridge, 1640), the first regularly issued American newspaper, the Boston News-Letter (1704), and the first published American novel, William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy (Worcester, 1789). During the mid-1840s, two noted literary publications made their debut, the North American Review and the Dial, the latter under the editorial direction of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller. The Atlantic, which began publishing in 1857, Harvard Law Review, Harvard Business Review, and New England Journal of Medicine are other influential publications.

As of 2005 there were 32 daily newspapers in the state (including 14 morning, 18 evening) and 16 papers with Sunday editions. The Boston Globe, the most widely read newspaper in the state, has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence on the local and national levels. The Christian Science Monitor is highly respected for its coverage of national and international news.

Major daily newspapers and their average circulations in 2005 were:

Boston Christian Science Monitor (m) 60,723
Globe (m,S) 451,471 707,813
Herald (m,S) 240,759 152,813
Hyannis Cape Cod Times (m,S) 50,896 60,004
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (m,S) 103,113 121,437

Massachusetts is also a center of book publishing, with more than 100 publishing houses. Among them are Little, Brown and Co.; Houghton Mifflin; Merriam-Webster; and Harvard University Press.


In 2006, there were over 10,485 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 7,701 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations.

Headquartered in Massachusetts are the National Association of Independent Schools, the National Commission for Cooperative Education, both in Boston, and the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge. The Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in Bostonrecipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prizeare major public affairs associations based in the state.

Academic and scientific organizations headquartered in Boston include the American Meteorological Society, American Society of Law and Medicine, American Surgical Association, the Visiting Nurse Associations of America and Optometric Research Institute. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is located in Cambridge. Other education and research organizations with national scope and membership include the Albert Einstein Institution, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, the Bostonian Society, the Plymouth Rock Foundation, the Thoreau Society, and the Titan-ic Historical Society. There are numerous municipal and regional historical, preservations, and arts organizations.

Among the many professional, business, and consumer organizations based in Massachusetts are the American Institute of Management and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers in Quincy; the Wood Products Manufacturers Association in Gardner; and the National Consumer Law Center, Northern Textile Association, and Wool Manufacturers Council in Boston.

The national Organic Trade Association is based in Greenfield and the Cranberry Institute is in East Wareham. Local environmental groups include the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, the Boston Harbor Association, the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, a few chapters of Trout Unlimited.

Oxfam-America, the US affiliate of the international humanitarian relief agency, is located in Boston. Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) is based in Marlborough. The Christian Science Publishing Society, which publishes the Christian Science Monitor, is located in Boston. The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, a major body of the Unitarian Church, is also based in Boston.

Major sports associations in the state are the Eastern College Athletic Conference in Centerville and the American Hockey League in Springfield.


In 2004, there were over 31.2 million travelers to and within the state. There were 1.4 million international visitors to the state, with Canada and the United Kingdom being the largest markets. About 20% of all tourist activity involves residents traveling within the state. The travel industry supports over 125,300 jobs with a payroll of $3.2 billion.

A trip to Boston might include visits to such old landmarks as the Old North Church, the USS Constitution, and Paul Revere's House, and such newer attractions as the John Hancock Observatory, the skywalk above the Prudential Tower, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and Copley Place. Boston Common, one of the oldest public parks in the country, is the most noteworthy municipal park. The well-marked Freedom Trail takes visitors on a walking and driving tour of historical sites, including the cities of Lexington and Concord.

About 19% of all trips are made to Cape Cod (Barnstable County). Among its many attractions are beaches, fishing, good dining spots, several artists' colonies with arts and crafts fairs, antique shops, and summer theaters. Beaches, fishing, and quaint villages are also the charms of Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard.

The Berkshires are the summer home of the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood and the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Lee, and during the winter also provide recreation for cross-country and downhill skiers. Essex County on the North Shore of Massachusetts Bay offers many seaside towns and the art colony of Rockport. Its main city, Salem, contains the Witch House and Museum as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables. Middlesex County, to the west of Boston, holds the university city of Cambridge as well as the battlegrounds of Lexington and Concord. In Concord are the homes of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott. Norfolk County, south of Boston, has the homes of three US presidents: John Adams and John Quincy Adams in Quincy and John F. Kennedy in Brookline. The seaport town and former whaling center of New Bedford and the industrial town of Fall River are in Bristol County. Plymouth County offers Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Plantation, and a steam-train ride through some cranberry bogs. The town of Springfield, birthplace of basketball, hosts the Basketball Hall of Fame; in June 1985 it opened in its present location, which welcomed its one-millionth visitor in July 1988. Springfield also has the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts. Plum Island has a nature preserve and a natural barrier reef. Many visitors visit Massachusetts in the fall to travel the Mohawk Trail to view the fall foliage. The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library is in Boston.

Massachusetts has 79 operational state parks.


There are five major professional sports teams in Massachusetts: the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball, the New England Patriots of the National Football League, the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association, the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League, and the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer.

The Red Sox won the World Series in 2005 by defeating their rivals, the New York Yankees. The Patriots have won nine division championships, five conference championships, and the Super Bowl in 2001, 2003, and 2004. The Celtics are the winningest team in NBA history; they have won the championship 16 times, including the seemingly unbeatable record of 8 consecutive titles from 1959 to 1966. They last won an NBA championship in 1986. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, and 1972. Additionally, there are minor league hockey teams in Springfield, Worcester, and Lowell.

Suffolk Downs in East Boston features thoroughbred horse racing and harness racing takes place at the New England Harness Raceway in Foxboro. Dog racing can be seen at Raynham Park in Raynham, Taunton Dog Track in North Dighton, and Wonderland Park in Revere.

Probably the most famous amateur athletic event in the state is the Boston Marathon, a race of more than 26 mi (42 km) held every Patriots' Day (third Monday in April). It attracts many of the world's top long-distance runners. During the summer, a number of boat races are held. Rowing is also popular. Each October the traditional sport is celebrated at the Head of the Charles, a regatta held on the Charles River between collegiate rowing teams.

In collegiate sports, the University of Massachusetts has become a nationally ranked basketball powerhouse, reaching the Final Four in 1996; Boston College has appeared in 12 bowl games, highlighted by a victory in the Cotton Bowl in 1985; and the annual Harvard-Yale football game is one of the traditional rites of autumn.


Massachusetts has produced an extraordinary collection of public figures. Its four US presidents were John Adams (17351826), a signer of the Declaration of Independence; his son John Quincy Adams (17671848); John Fitzgerald Kennedy (191763), and George Herbert Walker Bush (b.Milton, 12 June 1924). All four served in Congress. John Adams was also the first US vice president; John Quincy Adams served as secretary of state under James Monroe, Calvin Coolidge (b.Vermont, 18721933) was governor of Massachusetts before his election to the vice-presidency in 1920 and his elevation to the presidency in 1923. George Bush was elected vice president on the Republican ticket in 1980 and reelected in 1984. Bush was elected president in 1988. Two others who held the office of vice president were another signer of the Declaration of Independence, Elbridge Gerry (17441814), for whom the political practice of gerrymandering is named, and Henry Wilson (b.New Hampshire, 181275), a US senator from Massachusetts before his election with Ulysses S. Grant.

Massachusetts's great jurists include US Supreme Court Justices Joseph Story (17791845), Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (18411935), Louis D. Brandeis (b.Kentucky, 18561941), and Felix Frankfurter (b.Austria, 18821965). David Souter (b.1939), a Supreme Court justice appointed during the Bush administration, was born in Melrose. Stephen Breyer (b.California, 1939), another Supreme Court justice, was a Circuit Court of Appeals judge in Boston before his appointment. Important federal officeholders at the cabinet level were Henry Knox (17501806), the first secretary of war; Timothy Pickering (17451820), the first postmaster general and later secretary of war and secretary of state under George Washington and John Adams; Levi Lincoln (17491820), attorney general under Jefferson; William Eustis (17531825), secretary of war under Madison; Jacob Crowninshield (17701808), secretary of the navy under Jefferson, and his brother Benjamin (17721851), who held the same office under Madison; Daniel Webster (b.New Hampshire, 17821852), US senator from Massachusetts who served as secretary of state under William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore; Edward Everett (17941865), a governor and ambassador who served as secretary of state under Fillmore; George Bancroft (180091), a historian who became secretary of the Navy under James K. Polk; Caleb Cushing (180079), attorney general under Franklin Pierce; Charles Devens (182091), attorney general under Rutherford B. Hayes; Christian Herter (18951966), secretary of state under Dwight Eisenhower; Elliot L. Richardson (192099), secretary of health, education and welfare, secretary of defense, and attorney general under Richard Nixon; Henry Kissinger (b.Germany, 1923), secretary of state under Nixon and Gerald Ford and a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1973; and Robert F. Kennedy (192568), attorney general under his brother John and later US senator from New York.

Other federal officeholders include some of the most important figures in American politics. Samuel Adams (17221803), the Boston Revolutionary leader, served extensively in the Continental Congress and was later governor of the Bay State. John Hancock (173793), a Boston merchant and Revolutionary, was the Continental Congress's first president and later became the first elected governor of the state. In the 19th century, Massachusetts sent abolitionist Charles Sumner (181174) to the Senate. As ambassador to England during the Civil War, John Quincy Adams's son Charles Francis Adams (180786) played a key role in preserving US-British amity. At the end of the century, Henry Cabot Lodge (18501924) emerged as a leading Republican in the US Senate, where he supported regulatory legislation, protectionist tariffs, and restrictive immigration laws, and opposed women's suffrage and the League of Nations; his grandson, also Henry Cabot Lodge (190285), was an internationalist who held numerous federal posts and was a US senator. Massachusetts has provided two US House speakers: John W. McCormack (18911980) and Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. (191294). Other well-known legislators include Edward W. Brooke (b.1919), the first black US senator since Reconstruction, and Edward M. Kennedy (b.1932), President Kennedy's youngest brother and a leading Senate liberal. Paul Tsongas (194197), a senator and presidential candidate during the 1992 election, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. Michael S. Dukakis (b.1933), a former governor of the state and the 1988 Democratic nominee for president, was born in Brookline.

Among other historic colonial and state leaders were John Winthrop (b.England, 15881649), a founder of Massachusetts and longtime governor; William Bradford (b.England, 15901657), a founder of Plymouth, its governor, and author of its classic history; Thomas Hutchinson (171180), colonial lieutenant governor and governor during the 1760s and 1770s; and Paul Revere (17351818), the Patriot silversmith-courier, who was later an industrial pioneer.

Literary genius has flourished in Massachusetts. In the 17th century, the colony was the home of poets Anne Bradstreet (161272) and Edward Taylor (16451729) and of the prolific historian, scientist, theologian, and essayist Cotton Mather (16631728). Notables of the 18th century include the theologian Jonathan Edwards (b.Connecticut, 170358), poet Phillis Wheatley (b.Senegal, 175384), and numerous political essayists and historians. During the 1800s, Massachusetts was the home of novelists Nathaniel Hawthorne (180464), Louisa May Alcott (b.Pennsylvania, 183288), Horatio Alger (183299), and Henry James (b.New York, 18431916); essayists Ralph Waldo Emerson (180382) and Henry David Thoreau (181762); and such poets as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (b.Maine, 180782), John Greenleaf Whittier (180792), Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (180994), James Russell Lowell (181991), and Emily Dickinson (183086). Classic historical writings include the works of George Bancroft, William Hickling Prescott (17961859), John Lothrop Motley (181477), Francis Parkman (182393), and Henry B. Adams (18381918). Among 20th-century notables are novelists John P. Marquand (b.Delaware, 18931960) and John Cheever (191282); poets Elizabeth Bishop (191179), Robert Lowell (191777), Anne Sexton (192874), and Sylvia Plath (193263); and historian Samuel Eliot Morison (18871976). In philosophy, Charles Sanders Peirce (18391914) was one of the founders of pragmatism; Henry James's elder brother, William (b.New York, 18421910), was a pioneer in the field of psychology; and George Santayana (b.Spain, 18631952), philosopher and author, grew up in Boston. Mary Baker Eddy (b.New Hampshire, 18211910) founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, during the 1870s.

Reformers have abounded in Massachusetts, especially in the 19th century. William Lloyd Garrison (180579), Wendell Phillips (181184), and Lydia Maria Child (180280) were outstanding abolitionists. Lucretia Coffin Mott (17931880), Lucy Stone (181893), Abigail Kelley Foster (181087), Margaret Fuller (181050), and Susan Brownell Anthony (18201906) were leading advocates of women's rights. Horace Mann (17961859), the state secretary of education, led the fight for public education; and Mary Lyon (17971849) founded Mount Holyoke, the first women's college.

Efforts to improve the care and treatment of the sick, wounded, and handicapped were led by Samuel Gridley Howe (180176), Dorothea Lynde Dix (180287), and Clara Barton (18211912), founder of the American Red Cross. The 20th-century reformer and NAACP leader William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (18681963) was born in Great Barrington.

Leonard Bernstein (191890) was a composer and conductor of worldwide fame. Arthur Fiedler (189479) was the celebrated conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. Composers include William Billings (17461800), Carl Ruggles (18761971), and Alan Hovhaness (19112000). Charles Bulfinch (17631844), Henry H. Richardson (b.Louisiana, 183886), and Louis Henri Sullivan (18561924) have been among the nation's important architects. Painters include John Singleton Copley (17381815), James Whistler (18341903), Winslow Homer (18361910), and Frank Stella (b.1936); Horatio Greenough (180552) was a prominent sculptor.

Among the notable scientists associated with Massachusetts are Nathaniel Bowditch (17731838), a mathematician and navigator; Samuel F. B. Morse (17911872), inventor of the telegraph; and Robert Hutchins Goddard (18821945), a physicist and rocketry pioneer.

Two professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, have won the Nobel Prize in economicsPaul A. Samuelson (b.Indiana, 1915), in 1970, and Franco Modigliani (b.Italy, 19182003), in 1985. Other winners of the Nobel Prize include: Merton Miller (19232000), in economics; William Sharpe (b.1934), in economics; Douglass C. North (b.1920), 1993 co-recipient in economics; Elias James Carey (b.1928); Henry Kendall (192699), 1990 co-recipient in physics; and Joseph E. Murray (b.1919), the 1990 winner in medicine or physiology.

Massachusetts's most famous journalist has been Isaiah Thomas (17501831). Its great industrialists include textile entrepreneurs Francis Lowell (17751817) and Abbott Lawrence (17921855). Elias Howe (181967) invented the sewing machine.

Massachusetts was the birthplace of television journalists Mike Wallace (b.1918) and Barbara Walters (b.1931). Massachusetts-born show business luminaries include director Cecil B. DeMille (18811959); actors Walter Brennan (18941974), Jack Haley (190179), Ray Bolger (190484), Bette Davis (190884), and Jack Lemmon (19252001); and singers Donna Summer (b.1948) and James Taylor (b.1948). Outstanding among Massachusetts-born athletes was world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano (Rocco Francis Marchegiano, 192569), who retired undefeated in 1956.


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Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

Mandell, Daniel R. Behind the Frontier: Indians in Eighteenth-Century Eastern Massachusetts. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

Pletcher, Larry. It Happened in Massachusetts. Helena, Mont.: TwoDot, 1999.

Pollak, Vivian R. (ed.). A Historical Guide to Emily Dickinson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Porter, Susan L. (ed.). Women of the Commonwealth: Work, Family, and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996.

Rothenberg, Winifred Barr. From Market-Places to a Market Economy: The Transformation of Rural Massachusetts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Taymor, Betty. Running Against the Wind: the Struggle of Women in Massachusetts Politics. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000.

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MASSACHUSETTS. One of the oldest settlements in British North America, Massachusetts was the site of the outbreak of the American Revolution (1775–1783), and later the state most closely associated with the movements to promote public education, to reform the care of the mentally ill, to abolish slavery, and to restrict immigration. Massachusetts's people refer to it either as "the state" or "the Commonwealth." At the close of the twentieth century, Massachusetts continued to be a national leader in business, politics, higher education, medicine, high technology, environmental protection, and the arts and sciences.


Massachusetts is the center of New England, as it is the only state that shares a border with four of the other states in the region. It is south of New Hampshire and Vermont, east of New York, and north of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Maine, which was part of the Commonwealth until it achieved its independence in 1820, is separated from Massachusetts by less than twenty miles of New Hampshire's Atlantic coast. The state's land area is 7,840 square miles, and it ranks forty-fifth among the states. Its highest point is Mount Greylock, 3,491 feet, which is in the northwest corner of the state, near Williamstown. Significant on the Atlantic coast is the state's highest drumlin, the Great Blue Hill, south of Boston, used for hiking, skiing, and as a nature preserve.

The Atlantic coastline is nearly 1,500 miles long, and includes Cape Ann, north of Boston; Cape Cod, south of Plymouth; and Buzzard's Bay, which washes the shores of New Bedford and Fall River, two venerable former textile mill towns, whose fame is derived from their participation in the whaling industry. In the Atlantic, south of Cape Cod, are the islands Martha's Vineyard (106 square miles) and Nantucket (46 square miles.)

The Connecticut River flows from north to south across the west central portion of the state and passes the industrial cities of Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield. The Taunton River in the southeastern corner of the state flows into an arm of Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay. The Merrimack, which flows from north to south within New Hampshire, flows from west to east after it enters Massachusetts. In this northeast corner of the state, the border with New Hampshire was set ten miles north of the Merrimack so that the communities situated along its banks could tend to their river without the complication of two separate state governments. The urban and suburban Charles River is eighty miles long, flows from south to north through some of the western suburbs, and empties into Boston Harbor. During the 1990s. the Metropolitan District Commission, a state agency, began reclaiming the banks of the Charles River—once abandoned public lands upon which adjacent residential and industrial property owners had encroached—by restoring the natural river banks and building a set of park-like pedestrian and bicycle pathways.

Perhaps equal in importance to the state's natural waterways is the system of manmade reservoirs and aqueducts that bring fresh water from the rural west to the state's urban east. During the 1930s, a dam on the Swift River near Ware created the Quabbin reservoir, under which four rural towns were submerged. The Quabbin water joins the older Wachusett water system. On its way to Boston the aqueduct crosses the Charles River on the high Echo Bridge at the river's spectacular Hemlock Gorge.


The state's population at the turn of the twenty-first century continued to grow, but at a rate much lower than the nation as a whole. The population reached 6,349,097 in 2000 and the state ranked thirteenth (in size) among all the states. It ranked third in population living in urban areas and third in per capita income. The state ranked third in population density, and second in the percentage of foreign-born residents. It ranked eighth in the number of undocumented (illegal) immigrants. African Americans constituted 5.4 percent of the state's population and included large numbers from the Carribean, including

French-speaking Haitians. Hispanics made up 6.8 percent, Asians 3.8 percent, and people of mixed race 2.3 percent of the state's population.

With a highly concentrated population, Massachusetts nonetheless developed an awkward division between a predominantly white, financially comfortable, highly educated population in urban and suburban areas, and a poor and less educated population in the older neighborhoods and in manufacturing cities and former mill towns. The continuation of this division may be one of the state's most significant social problems. Massachusetts has in effect two separate and unequal societies, one marked by people with excellent housing, schools, libraries, and hospitals, with modern office buildings and laboratories; and other communities plagued by poor housing, modest schools, and many of the economic and social problems that stem from poverty. The state ranks first in the percentage of the population possessing college degrees, first in attracting out-of-state students to its colleges and universities, second in state spending for the arts, and third in per capita library holdings. But it is fiftieth in per capita state spending for public higher education, thirty-seventh in state aid per pupil for elementary and secondary schools, and among youths joining the military, the state ranked thirty-fourth on scores in the Armed Forces Qualification Test.


The history of the Commonwealth can be divided into four periods: colonial, federal, industrial, and the present era, high technology and services.

The first successful English settlement north of Virginia was that of the Pilgrim Separatists, who had been religious refugees in Holland. Their party, consisting of 101 passengers, which included hired (non-Separatist) workmen, arrived at the site of Plymouth in late December 1620. The group was quartered on the anchored Mayflower during a hard winter in which half of their number died. In the spring they were joined by Squanto, an English-speaking Native American who had been a victim of Spanish slavers but was able to return to the site of his youth, where he found that his tribe had been wiped out by a plague. He joined the Pilgrims and taught them how to hunt, fish, and farm. He helped in the construction of Plymouth Plantation but died two years after joining the colony. After a supply ship arrived at Plymouth in 1621, the Pilgrims were able to trade with the Native Americans one hundred miles along the coastline.

The success of the Pilgrims encouraged other English settlers to visit, trade, and establish towns, and early trading posts and settlements were established at Salem, Weymouth, Wollaston, and Gloucester. The most important settlement came with the chartered Massachusetts Bay Company. Its first wave included 800 settlers together with livestock and building materials. These Puritans initially chose Charlestown as the site of their capital, but before a year passed they moved to the Shawmut peninsula, where a spring was found. If the Puritans had remained in Charlestown, situated at the junction of two rivers, with plenty of space and good overland routes to the interior, they would have engaged in agriculture, fishing, and timber harvesting, as well as trade. But the move to Boston on the small peninsula forced their colony to grow as a seaport and trading center.

This early Boston was a theocracy in which the ministers instructed the civil officers. Those like Anne Hutchinson, whose orthodoxy was questioned, were exiled, while troublesome Quakers like Anne Dyer were put to death. Literacy was important and a printing press was set up. Primary schools were followed by the founding of the Boston Latin School, and Harvard College one year later. Located at the midpoint of British North America, Boston became the region's largest city and chief transshipment point. The Congregational churches were self-governing and merchants overtook ministers as the leaders of the colony, yet church and state were unified until 1833, and in most towns the same buildings were used both for worship and for town meetings.

The cultural achievement of the Bay Colony was significant. Boston became a center of fine furniture production. John Singleton Copley and Gilbert Stuart painted great portraits, and Paul Revere's silver bowls are widely admired. The Old State House, the Old North Church, the Old South Meeting House, the King's Chapel, Harvard's Massachusetts Hall, and Christ Church, Cambridge are exemplary and surviving works of architecture. Also important were the newspapers and pamphlets, which together with discussions in taverns, led to the coming of the American Revolution.

The Federal period was a time of great population growth and achievements in many fields. Shays' Rebellion (1786) was a result of a post–Revolutionary War recession. Many of the farmers in the Connecticut Valley were in debt and faced foreclosures of their properties. Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran, led an unsuccessful raid on the United States arsenal in Springfield in an attempt to arm the threatened farmers so that they could shut down the courthouses where foreclosures would take place, before the legislature could meet and enact a moratorium on foreclosures. The rebellion and the threat of a mortgage moratorium frightened well-to-do citizens throughout the nation; historians connect this rebellion with the calling of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, which wrote the second (present) U.S. Constitution, which created a stronger central government and forbids the states from enacting laws impairing the obligations of contracts.

The land area of Boston grew through the filling-in of the peninsula's tidal basins. The top sixty feet of rock and soil of the steep Beacon Hill was leveled to create a site for the nation's oldest prestige neighborhood. The debris from this project was dumped into the millpond to create the West End. Later the South End, and still later the Back Bay, were graceful neighborhoods built on filled land.

Charles Bullfinch was the outstanding architect and developer of this period. His Tontine Crescent combined town houses with a public library. His New State House (1797), Massachusetts General Hospital (1823), the First Harrison Gray Otis House (1796), and his North Hanover Street Church (1804) are all on the National Registry of historic Places. Alexander Parris's Cathedral of Saint Paul (1820), Quincy Marketplace adjacent to Faneuil Hall (1826), and the Unitarian Church of the Presidents in Quincy are all noteworthy. Also important are the African Meeting House (1806), the first church and social center in the nation that a black community built for its own use, and the Abiel Smith School (1835), the first publicly supported school for black children. In 1855, the Legislature outlawed racial segregation in the public schools of the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts leadership in the antislavery movement was crucial. William Lloyd Garrison of Newbury-port founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. Amos Adams Lawrence financed members of the anti-slavery movement who moved to Kansas in an attempt to bring that territory into the Union as a free state. Lawrence also financed John Brown, a Springfield woolen merchant, in his trips to Kansas, where five slavery advocates were put to death, and to Harpers Ferry, Virginia, where a United States arsenal was attacked in 1859.

The creation of the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1837, with Horace Mann as its leader, provided for publicly supported schools throughout the state, and two years later the nation's first public teachers' college was founded here. Mount Holyoke College, the nation's first women's college, was founded in 1837.

From 1845 to 1945 the United States became the greatest industrial, financial, and military power in the world, and in the first half of that period, New England, and especially Massachusetts, was the chief focus of these developments.

In 1813, in Waltham, the Boston Manufacturing Company built the first factory where raw cotton was processed into finished cloth in a single building. Four decades later, the Waltham Watch Company began the manufacture of machine-made watches, which prospered there for nine decades. The textile industry took a major step with the formation of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company and the establishment of Lowell as a company-owned, cotton-weaving town in 1822. Downstream, in 1845, Boston financiers founded Lawrence, which quickly became the nation's most important worsted (woolen) weaving center. The great Lawrence strike of 1912 was widely recognized as a major victory for the American working man. Brockton was the leading center for shoe manufacturing before the Civil War (1861–1865), and the site of an experimental electric streetcar line. Lynn was also a leading shoe-producing city, and it had General Electric's major engine facility. Worcester could boast of a variety of wire-making, metal machine tool, and shoe factories. The United States Armory at Springfield produced small arms for the military services for nearly eighteen decades until its closing in 1968. Its existence provided work for scores of metalworking and machine shops in Springfield and adjacent towns.

By the 1860s, two hundred mills, most situated at waterpower sites within a hundred miles of Boston, made Massachusetts the most important industrial state in the union. In the early decades of the twentieth century, General Electric was the state's largest industrial employer. Raytheon was the leader of the state's large electronics industry. This entry could be filled with a listing of American industries that had their beginnings or early expansion in the Commonwealth.

The decades following the Civil War were an era of accomplishment for the fine arts. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts built its first home at Copley Square, which opened to the public in 1876. The Worcester Art Museum dates from 1896. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, house magnificent personal art collections. Important art museums are found on the campuses of Harvard, Williams, Smith, and other colleges and universities in the state. The Boston Symphony was endowed in 1881 and its magnificent hall was opened in 1900. The Boston Public Library was the first of the large city libraries in the nation. Its McKim building, named for its architect, was opened in 1895 and remains one of the great treasure houses of the nation.

The first digital computer was built at Harvard University in 1944. Massachusetts is second only to California in the high-technology industry. More than 30,000 scientists and engineers, all with advanced degrees, live and work in the Boston region. Their efforts are matched by perhaps 60,000 technically trained blue-collar workers.


Immigration, emigration, and social mobility have changed what was once called the tribal nature of the Common-wealth's social system. The historic enmity between wealthy Protestants of English ancestry and working-class Irish Catholics that existed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is difficult to detect today. Relations among and between other immigrant groups are friendly and respectful. In 1975, the controversy over the busing of students to remedy racial segregation in the Boston public schools caused violence to occur in several blue-collar Irish-identified older neighborhoods and heightened tensions throughout the region. But the city and the state entered the twenty-first century with these tensions much reduced, if not entirely eliminated. The only evidence of racial negativism in the political sphere may be detected in the failure of the black and Hispanic populations to win citywide elections in Boston and Democratic Party nominations to county and statewide offices. Immigration during the last quarter of the twentieth century brought many new people from nations not previously settled here to the state and its cities and towns. The number of foreign-born residents rose from 573,733 in 1990 to 756,165 in 2000. (The economic prosperity of the 1990s may have played an important role here.)


Economic trends that began in the decades prior to World War II continued in the closing decades of the century. There was the almost complete displacement of the textile, garment, shoe, machinery, and food-processing industries. Over fishing is a major threat to the state's ocean fishing fleet. High costs associated with cold winters, lack of fossil fuels, failure to develop sustainable power sources, and a location distant from national markets and raw materials, together with unionized workers and a relatively high state minimum wage scale, made competition in manufacturing with Sunbelt states and the less industrialized nations difficult. The state's prosperity rests on its high-technology, electronics, investment (finance), higher education, medical research, and service industries, which replaced the older manufacturing industries.

During the recessions of the early 1970s and the late 1980s, state government was plagued by unbalanced budgets, high unemployment, and increases in public assistance spending. The recovery of the 1980s was called the "Massachusetts miracle." High technology took root in the 1960s and, supported by military research and breakthroughs in electronics and miniaturization, produced the economic turnaround. Expansion of architecture and engineering firms, centers for medical treatment and research, and graduate and professional education also were important. Within the post-1960 economic revival, unemployment soared to 11.2 percent in 1975 but dropped to 3.2 percent in 1987. During the 1990s, unemployment ranged from 9.6 percent in 1991 to 2.5 percent in 2000.

Important to the economic revival was the scientific and technologic excellence of the state's research universities, especially the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard. Government-sponsored research conducted here during World War II and the Cold War decades produced many military breakthroughs, some with civilian applications. Another factor was the region's skilled manpower, especially in machine tools, which provided an abundance of trained technicians. Massachusetts has entered the twenty-first century with several other strong and large research universities moving into positions of national prominence. Included here are Boston University and Boston College, whose assets exceed $1 billion each. Northeastern University has pioneered in placing its students in a vast array of work experiences. Important smaller research universities include Tufts in Medford and Somerville, Brandeis in Waltham, and Clark and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester. Also significant is the five-campus University of massachusetts system that includes a large graduate school in Amherst and a medical school in Worcester.

Office and hotel construction in Boston and elsewhere in the state was meager in the decades between 1920 and 1960, but in response to the business revival after 1960 many office, apartment, and hotel towers were built in Boston, and were matched by numerous office buildings, factories, laboratories, warehouses, hotels, and shopping malls erected at almost every interchange of the Boston region's pioneering circumferential highway, Route 128. The area adjacent to this highway, west of the research universities in Cambridge, contains one of the nation's most important concentrations of high-technology industries. Within the city of Boston, Mayor John Collins (1960–1968) and redevelopment director Edward Logue pursued one of the largest and boldest redevelopment programs in the nation, which focused on both the city's business and government office building centers and a cross-section of older neighborhoods.


Prior to the 1970s the state government may have been antiquated, burdened by patronage, and unable to plan and coordinate continued economic development, but in the last three decades of the twentieth century there were several notable achievements. The Massachusetts Port Authority expanded and modernized Boston's Logan Airport, the eighth largest in the nation in terms of the number of passengers served. In 1970 Governor Francis Sargent, in a prophetic move, declared a moratorium on highway construction within the Route 128 perimeter. Two years later, the Boston Transportation Planning Review proposed major extensions and improvements of the region's rail-oriented Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, including both the rapid transit system serving Boston and its immediate suburbs, and the region's commuter rail system. Entering the twenty-first century, the rapid transit system's four major lines carried 250,000 passengers on the average workday. The bus system carried 170,000 passengers, commuter rail lines carried 33,000 passengers, and commuter boats carried 2,000. (These figures assume that passengers take two trips each day.)

The decade of the 1990s witnessed the restoration of the Old Colony commuter rail line serving suburban communities south of Boston. The region's first "busway" (highway lanes and paved transit tunnels built to accommodate certain types of buses) will serve a corridor in one of Boston's oldest residential neighborhoods, the new U.S. courthouse, and a planned business, hotel, and convention area in the South Boston waterfront, and is scheduled for completion in 2003. Planning is under way for a circumferential transit ring, approximately two miles from the business core, which will connect several low-income neighborhoods to two major medical centers, the airport, and declining warehouse and industrial areas. This wealth of public transportation facilities serves to preserve the historic and business areas of Boston as perhaps the most walk-friendly city center in the nation.

Boston's Central Artery and Tunnel project, a ghost of the 1950s automobile-oriented highway mind-set, is scheduled for completion in 2005, and is expected to cost nearly $15 billion, making it the nation's most expensive highway project. Called "The Big Dig," it includes replacing an elevated expressway with an eight-lane underground roadway, the world's widest bridge to carry traffic across the Charles River, a four-lane harbor tunnel connecting the downtown with the airport, and a vast amount of highway spaghetti providing links to all the downtown area's highways and expressways. A significant failure of this project is the lack of a one-mile rail link between the city's two major rail terminals. This causes passengers from Maine and the New Hampshire coastal towns to have to take a taxi or a complicated transit trip If they intend to proceed by rail south or west of Boston.


Massachusetts voters may be the most liberal in the nation. Democratic presidential candidates carry the state by the widest margins, or lose it by the narrowest margins, in the nation. The state's delegation in Congress is entirely composed of liberal Democrats. Democrats control both houses of the legislature with overwhelming majorities. Michael Dukakis, a Democrat, was the only governor to serve more than seven years. He served three full four-year terms. Democrats also have had success in winning election to the state's four lesser constitutional offices (attorney general, treasurer, auditor, and secretary of state). But Republicans and conservative Democrats had remarkable success in winning the governorship during the last quarter of the century. In 1978 a conservative Democrat, Edward J. King, was elected governor, and in 1990 a moderate Republican, William Weld, was elected over a conservative Democrat, John Silber. Weld was reelected in 1994, but chose not to serve his full second term. In 1998, his successor, Lieutenant Governor Paul Cellucci, was elected to a full term, but when nominated to be ambassador to Canada, he vacated the governorship to his lieutenant governor, Jane Swift, who assumed office at age thirty-six, making her the youngest woman ever to serve as one of the nation's governors. Upon leaving office, both King and Weld have pursued their careers out-side of the state.

Massachusetts's political party organizations may be among the weakest in the nation. On even-numbered years the use of the office block form, which scatters party nominees almost at random across the ballot, weakens party awareness. Nonpartisan local elections deprive party organizations of needed exercise during odd-numbered years, when local officials are elected. In 2000, 36 percent of voters were enrolled Democrats, 14 percent were enrolled Republicans, and 50 percent chose not to enroll in either party. Almost all candidates in both partisan and nonpartisan elections must build personal political organizations for raising campaign funds and for getting out the vote on Election Day. In a referendum in 1998 the voters, by a two-thirds margin, enacted a system of state-financed election campaigns, but the legislature has failed to provide funds for the system, and the issue is being argued in the state courts.

Culture and the Arts

Massachusetts is the home of an unrivaled array of cultural and educational institutions. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is admired around the world. In addition to its traditional season of concerts in Symphony Hall, its summer activities include the Boston Pops, free concerts on the Esplanade, and Tanglewood, its vacation home in the Berkshires. The state has other magnificent music halls and conservatories. Down the street from the Symphony is Berklee, the only four-year college in the nation devoted solely to jazz and contemporary popular music. In the field of the visual arts, the collections and galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts rival the world's greatest museums, but the state also has major collections of art displayed in magnificent buildings in Worcester, Williams-town, Salem, North Adams, and at several sites on the Harvard campus in Cambridge. Smith and Wellesley Colleges have important fine arts museums on their campuses. Boston's outstanding Children's Museum shares a former warehouse with the Computer Museum. Brookline is the host to a museum of transportation, and New Bedford has its whaling museum. The large and popular Museum of Science is located adjacent to a dam on the Charles River. Harvard has several important science museums and is most famous for its collection of glass flowers.

Land and Conservation

From the Berkshires to Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a place of natural beauty, and the need to safeguard this resource for healthy environments and spiritual delights is well understood. Boston's historic Common may be the nation's oldest public park. All levels of government and a variety of citizens' organizations share in protecting the Commonwealth's lands and waters. The National Park Service maintains fourteen parks and historical sites in Massachusetts, including the Cape Cod National Seashore. The state system of parks and forests consists of 170 properties (298,000 acres). The Boston Metropolitan Park System, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles Eliot, is known as the Emerald Necklace and comprises 20,000 acres of parks, woodlands, wetlands, and beaches, and 162 miles of landscaped parkways, all located within fifteen miles of the statehouse in Boston.

The Trustees of Reservations was organized by private parties to protect the Massachusetts landscape in 1891. It owns 91 reservations (22,545 acres) that are open to the public, and it protects 202 additional properties (13,314 acres) with conservation restrictions. Massachusetts Audubon (independent of the national organization) owns 60 sanctuaries (25,794 acres). The Charles River Watershed Association, supported by membership contributions of 5,200 individuals and organizations, serves as a guardian of this valued resource. No other citizens' group focused on a river valley has attracted and held the support of so many dues-paying people. Massachusetts is first among the states in the number of local and regional conservation land trusts. These include 143 trusts, which own and protect 210,000 scenic acres.


Bluestone, Barry, and Mary Huff Stevenson. The Boston Renaissance: Race, Space, and Economic Change in an American Metropolis. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2000.

Dukakis, Michael S., and Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Creating theFuture: The Massachusetts Comeback and Its Promise for America. New York: Summit Books, 1988.

Encyclopedia of Massachusetts, Biographical—Genealogical. New York: The American Historical Society, 1984.

Hovey, Kendra A., and Howard A. Hovey. CQ's State Fact Finder2000: Rankings Across America Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Books, 2000.

Keating, Raymond J., and Thomas Keating. US by the Numbers: Figuring What's Left, Right, and Wrong with America State by State. Sterling, Va.: Capital Books, 2000.

Kennedy, Lawrence W. Planning the City Upon a Hill: Boston Since1630. Amherst: University of massachusetts Press, 1992.

Lampe, David, ed. The Massachusetts Miracle: High Technology andEconomic Revitalization. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988.

Lukas, J. Anthony. Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in theLives of Three American Families. New York: Knopf, 1985.

Rand, Christopher. Cambridge, USA: Hub of a New World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.


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Massachusetts (măsəchōō´sĬts), most populous of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by New York (W), Vermont and New Hampshire (N), the Atlantic Ocean (E, SE), and Rhode Island and Connecticut (S).

Facts and Figures

Area, 8,257 sq mi (21,386 sq km). Pop. (2010) 6,547,629, a 3.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Boston. Statehood, Feb. 6, 1788 (6th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution). Highest pt., Mt. Greylock, 3,491 ft (1,065 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Bay State. Motto,Ense Petit Placidam Sub Libertate Quietem [By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only under Liberty]. State bird, chickadee. State flower, mayflower. State tree, American elm. Abbr., Mass.; MA


The eastern part of the commonwealth (its official designation), including the Cape Cod peninsula and the islands lying off it to the south—the Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket—is a low coastal plain. In this area short, swift rivers such as the Merrimack have long supplied industry with power, and an indented coastline provides many good natural harbors, with Boston a major U.S. port. In the interior rise uplands separated by the rich Connecticut River valley, and farther west lies the Berkshire valley, surrounded by the Berkshire Hills, part of the Taconic Mts. The western streams feed both the Hudson and the Housatonic rivers. The state has a mean altitude of c.500 ft (150 m), and Mt. Greylock in the Berkshires is the highest point (3,491 ft/1,064 m). The climate is variable.

Boston is the capital and largest city. Other important cities include Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, New Bedford, Cambridge, Brockton, Fall River, and Quincy. The state is famed for its historic points of interest, among them being those at Concord and Lexington; at three national historical parks—Boston, Lowell, and Minute Man; and at eight national historic sites—Adams, Boston African American, Frederick Law Olmsted, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Longfellow, Salem Maritime, Saugus Iron Works, and Springfield Armory (see National Parks and Monuments, table). Cultural attractions include the noted Tanglewood Music Festival and the many educational facilities of the state.

As a recreation and vacation land, Massachusetts has great stretches of seashore in the east and many lakes and streams in the wooded Berkshire Hills in the west. There are numerous state parks, forests, and beaches, and Cape Cod is the site of a national seashore. Provincetown, on Cape Cod, and Rockport, on Cape Ann, are artist colonies; Marblehead is a noted yachting center.


Massachusetts is traditionally industrial, and, with its predominantly urban population, is one of the most densely settled states in the nation. Its many, diverse manufactures include electrical and electronic equipment, industrial equipment, technical instruments, plastic products, paper and paper products, machinery, tools, and metal and rubber products. Shipping, printing, and publishing are also important, and the jewelry industry dates from before the American Revolution.

Leading agricultural products include cranberries, greenhouse and nursery items, apples, and milk and other dairy goods. Commercial fishing, chiefly from Gloucester and New Bedford, and shellfishing have declined in recent years. Lime, clay, sand, gravel, and stone dominate the state's small mineral output.

High-technology research and development, finance, and trade are all prominent in the commonwealth's economy. The service sector, in which tourism is primary, now employs over one third of Massachusetts workers.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

The governor of Massachusetts is elected for a four-year term. The legislature (the General Court) has a senate of 40 members and a house of representatives with 160 members, all of whom serve two-year terms. Massachusetts sends 9 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 11 electoral votes. The state is predominantly Democratic, but from 1991 it had only Republican governors—William Weld (1991–97), Paul Cellucci (1997–2001), Jane Swift (2001–3), and Mitt Romney (2003–7)—until Democrat Deval Patrick, the first African American to be elected governor of Massachusetts, won the post in 2006. Patrick was reelected in 2010. In 2014 Republican Charles Baker was elected governor.

Massachusetts is historically the capital of American higher education. Besides Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at Cambridge, noted institutions include Amherst College, at Amherst; the Univ. of Massachusetts, at Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester; Boston College, at Chestnut Hill; Boston Univ., Simmons College, and Northeastern Univ., at Boston; Brandeis Univ., at Waltham; Clark Univ., College of the Holy Cross, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, at Worcester; Mount Holyoke College, at South Hadley; Smith College, at Northampton; Tufts Univ., at Medford; Wellesley College, at Wellesley; Wheaton College, at Norton; Williams College, at Williamstown; and the nine institutions of the Massachusetts State Colleges. The state is also renowned for its private secondary schools, such as Phillips Academy (Andover) and for research centers such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, at Falmouth.


Early European Exploration and Colonization

The coast of what is now Massachusetts was probably skirted by Norsemen in the 11th cent., and Europeans of various nationalities (but mostly English) sailed offshore in the late 16th and early 17th cent. Settlement began when the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and landed (1620) at a point they named Plymouth (for their port of embarkation in England). Their first governor, John Carver, died the next year, but under his successor, William Bradford, the Plymouth Colony took firm hold. Weathering early difficulties, the colony eventually prospered.

Other Englishmen soon established fishing and trading posts nearby—Andrew Weston (1622) at Wessagusset (now Weymouth) and Thomas Wollaston (1625) at Mt. Wollaston, which was renamed Merry Mount (now Quincy) when Thomas Morton took charge. The fishing post established (1623) on Cape Ann by Roger Conant failed, but in 1626 he founded Naumkeag (Salem), which in 1628 became the nucleus of a Puritan colony led by John Endecott of the New England Company and chartered by the private Council for New England.

The Puritan Colonies

In 1629 the New England Company was reorganized as the Massachusetts Bay Company after receiving a more secure patent from the crown. In 1630 John Winthrop led the first large Puritan migration from England (900 settlers on 11 ships). Boston supplanted Salem as capital of the colony, and Winthrop replaced Endecott as governor. After some initial adjustments to allow greater popular participation and the representation of outlying settlements in the General Court (consisting of a governor, deputy governor, assistants, and deputies), the "Bay Colony" continued to be governed as a private company for the next 50 years. It was also a thoroughgoing Puritan theocracy (see Puritanism), in which clergymen such as John Cotton enjoyed great political influence. The status of freeman was restricted (until 1664) to church members, and the state was regarded as an agency of God's will on earth. Due to a steady stream of newcomers from England, the South Shore (i.e., S of Boston), the North Shore, and the interior were soon dotted with firmly rooted communities.

The early Puritans were primarily agricultural people, although a merchant class soon formed. Most of the inhabitants lived in villages, beyond which lay their privately owned fields. The typical village was composed of houses (also individually owned) grouped around the common—a plot of land held in common by the community. The dominant structure on the common was the meetinghouse, where the pastor, the most important figure in the community, held long Sabbath services. The meetinghouse of the chief village of a town (in New England a town corresponds to what is usually called a township elsewhere in the United States) was also the site of the town meeting, traditionally regarded as a foundation of American democracy. In practice the town meeting served less to advance democracy than to enforce unanimity and conformity, and participation was as a rule restricted to male property holders who were also church members.

Because they were eager for everyone to have the ability to study scripture and always insisted on a learned ministry, the Puritans zealously promoted the development of educational facilities. The Boston Latin School was founded in 1635, one year before Harvard was established, and in 1647 a law was passed requiring elementary schools in towns of 50 or more families. These were not free schools, but they were open to all and are considered the beginning of popular education in the United States.

Native American resentment of the Puritan presence resulted in the Pequot War (see Pequot) of 1637, after which the four Puritan colonies (Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven) formed the New England Confederation, the first voluntary union of American colonies. In 1675–76, the confederation broke the power of the Native Americans of southern New England in King Philip's War. In the course of the French and Indian Wars, however, frontier settlements such as Deerfield were devastated.

The population of the Massachusetts Bay Colony naturally rejoiced at the triumph of the Puritan Revolution in England, but with the restoration of Charles II in 1660 the colony's happy prospects faded. Its recently extended jurisdiction over Maine was for a time discounted by royal authority, and, worse still, its charter was revoked in 1684. The withdrawal of the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had long been expected because the colony had consistently violated the terms of the charter and repeatedly evaded or ignored royal orders by operating an illegal mint, establishing religious rather than property qualifications for suffrage, and discriminating against Anglicans.

A New Royal Colony

In 1691 a new charter united Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Maine into the single royal colony of Massachusetts. This charter abolished church membership as a test for voting, although Congregationalism remained the established religion. Widespread anxiety over loss of the original charter contributed to the witchcraft panic that reached its climax in Salem in the summer of 1692. Nineteen persons were hanged and one crushed to death for refusing to confess to the practice of witchcraft. The Salem trials ended abruptly when colonial authorities, led by Cotton Mather, became alarmed at their excesses.

By the mid-18th cent. the Massachusetts colony had come a long way from its humble agricultural beginnings. Fish, lumber, and farm products were exported in a lively trade carried by ships built in Massachusetts and manned by local seamen. That the menace of French Canada was removed by 1763 was due in no small measure to the unstinting efforts of England, but the increasing British tendency to regulate colonial affairs, especially trade (see Navigation Acts), without colonial advice, was most unwelcome. Because of the colony's extensive shipping interests, e.g., the traffic in molasses, rum, and slaves (the "triangular trade" ), it sorely felt these restrictions.

Discontent and Revolution

In 1761 James Otis opposed a Massachusetts superior court's issuance of writs of assistance (general search warrants to aid customs officers in enforcing collection of duties on imported sugar), arguing that this action violated the natural rights of Englishmen and was therefore void. He thus helped set the stage for the political controversy which, coupled with economic grievances, culminated in the American Revolution. In Massachusetts a bitter struggle developed between the governor, Thomas Hutchinson, and the anti-British party in the legislature led by Samuel Adams, John Adams, James Otis, and John Hancock. The Stamp Act (1765) and the Townshend Acts (1767) preceded the Boston Massacre (1770), and the Tea Act (1773) brought on the Boston Tea Party. The rebellious colonials were punished for this with the Intolerable Acts (1774), which troops under Gen. Thomas Gage were sent to enforce.

Through committees of correspondence Massachusetts and the other colonies had been sharing their grievances, and in 1774 they called the First Continental Congress at Philadelphia for united action. The mounting tension in Massachusetts exploded in Apr., 1775, when General Gage decided to make a show of force. Warned by Paul Revere and William Dawes, the Massachusetts militia engaged the British force at Lexington and Concord (see Lexington and Concord, battles of). Patriot militia from other colonies hurried to Massachusetts, where, after the battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775), George Washington took command of the patriot forces.

The British remained in Boston until Mar. 17, 1776, when Gen. William Howe evacuated the town, taking with him a considerable number of Tories. British troops never returned, but Massachusetts soldiers were kept busy elsewhere fighting for the independence of the colonies. In 1780 a new constitution, drafted by a constitutional convention under the leadership of John Adams, was ratified by direct vote of the citizenry.

The New Nation

Victorious in the Revolution, the colonies faced depressing economic conditions. Nowhere were those conditions worse than in W Massachusetts, where discontented Berkshire farmers erupted in Shays's Rebellion in 1786. The uprising was promptly quelled, but it frightened conservatives into support of a new national constitution that would displace the weak government created under the Articles of Confederation; this constitution was ratified by Massachusetts in 1788.

Independence had closed the old trade routes within the British Empire, but new ones were soon created, and trade with China became especially lucrative. Boston and lesser ports boomed, and the prosperous times were reflected politically in the commonwealth's unwavering adherence to the Federalist party, the party of the dominant commercial class. European wars at the beginning of the 19th cent. at first further stimulated maritime trade but then led to interference with American shipping. To avoid war Congress resorted to Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, but its provisions dealt a severe blow to the economy of Massachusetts and the rest of the nation.

War with Great Britain came anyway in 1812, and it was extremely unpopular in New England. There was talk of secession at the abortive Hartford Convention of New England Federalists, over which George Cabot presided. As it happened, however, the embargo and the War of 1812 had an unexpectedly favorable effect on the economy of Massachusetts. With English manufactured goods shut out, the United States had to begin manufacturing on its own, and the infant industries that sprang up after 1807 tended to concentrate in New England, and especially in Massachusetts. These industries, financed by money made in shipping and shielded from foreign competition by protective tariffs after 1816, grew rapidly, transforming the character of the commonwealth and its people.

Labor was plentiful and often ruthlessly exploited. The power loom, perfected by Francis Cabot Lowell, as well as English techniques for textile manufacturing (based on plans smuggled out of England) made Massachusetts an early center of the American textile industry. The water power of the Merrimack River became the basis for Lowell's cotton textile industry in the 1820s. The manufacture of shoes and leather goods also became important in the state. Agriculture, on the other hand, went into a sharp decline because Massachusetts could not compete with the new agricultural states of the West, a region more readily accessible after the opening of the Erie Canal (1825). Farms were abandoned by the score; some farmers turned to work in the new factories, others moved to the West.

In 1820 Maine was separated from Massachusetts and admitted to the Union as a separate state under the terms of the Missouri Compromise. In the same year the Massachusetts constitution was considerably liberalized by the adoption of amendments that abolished all property qualifications for voting, provided for the incorporation of cities, and removed religious tests for officeholders. (Massachusetts is the only one of the original 13 states that is still governed under its original constitution, the one of 1780, although this was extensively amended by the constitutional convention of 1917–19.)

Reform Movements and Civil War

In the 1830s and 40s the state became the center of religious and social reform movements, such as Unitarianism and transcendentalism. Of the transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau were quick to perceive and decry the evils of industrialization, while Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emerson had some association with Brook Farm, an outgrowth of Utopian ideals. Horace Mann set about establishing an enduring system of public education in the 1830s. During this period Massachusetts gave to the nation the architect Charles Bulfinch; such writers and poets as Richard Henry Dana, Emily Dickinson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and John Greenleaf Whittier; the historians George Bancroft, John Lothrop Motley, Francis Parkman, and William Hickling Prescott; and the scientist Louis Agassiz.

In the 1830s reformers began to devote energy to the antislavery crusade (see abolitionists). This was regarded with great displeasure by the mill tycoons, who feared that an offended South would cut off their cotton supply. The Whig party split on the slavery issue, and Massachusetts turned to the new Republican party, voting for John C. Frémont in 1856 and Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Massachusetts was the first state to answer Lincoln's call for troops after the firing on Fort Sumter. Massachusetts soldiers were the first to die for the Union cause when the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was fired on by a secessionist mob in Baltimore. In the course of the war over 130,000 men from the state served in the Union forces.

Industrialization and Immigration

After the Civil War Massachusetts, with other northern states, experienced rapid industrial expansion. Massachusetts capital financed many of the nation's new railroads, especially in the West. Although people continued to leave the state for the West, labor remained cheap and plentiful as European immigrants streamed into the state. The Irish, oppressed by both nature and the British, began arriving in droves even before the Civil War (beginning in the 1840s), and they continued to land in Boston for years to come. After them came French Canadians, arriving later in the 19th cent., and, in the early 20th cent., Portuguese, Italians, Poles, Slavs, Russian Jews, and Scandinavians. Also from the British Isles came the English, the Scots, and the Welsh. Of all the immigrant groups, English-speaking and non-English-speaking, the Irish came to be the most influential, especially in politics. Their religion (Roman Catholic) and their political faith (Democratic) definitely set them apart from the old native Yankee stock.

Practically all the immigrants went to work in the factories. The halcyon days of shipping were over. The maritime trade had bounded back triumphantly after the War of 1812, but the supplanting of sail by steam, the growth of railroads, and the destruction caused by Confederate cruisers in the Civil War helped reduce shipping to its present negligible state—a far cry from the colorful era of the clipper ships, which were perfected by Donald McKay of Boston. Whaling, once the glory of New Bedford and Nantucket, faded quickly with the introduction of petroleum.

The Growth of the Cities and the Labor Movement

The rise of industrialism was accompanied by a growth of cities, although the small mill town, where the factory hands lived in company houses and traded in the company store, remained important. Labor unions struggled for recognition in a long, weary battle marked by strikes, sometimes violent, as was the case in the Lawrence textile strike of 1912.

World War I, which caused a vast increase in industrial production, improved the lot of workers, but not of Boston policemen, who staged and lost their famous strike in 1919. For his part in breaking the strike, Gov. Calvin Coolidge won national fame and went on to become vice president and then president, the third Massachusetts citizen (after John Adams and John Quincy Adams) to hold the highest office in the land. The Sacco-Vanzetti Case, following the police strike, attracted international attention, as liberals raged over the seeming lack of regard for the spirit of the law in a state that had given the nation such an eminent jurist as Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841–1935). Labor unions finally came into their own in the 1930s under the New Deal.

World War II to the Present

Industry spurted forward again during World War II, and in the postwar era the state continued to develop. Politically, the state again assumed national importance with the 1960 election of Senator John F. Kennedy as the nation's 35th President. In 1974, Michael S. Dukakis, a Democrat, was elected governor. He lost to Edward King in 1978, but won again in 1982 and was reelected in 1986. In 1988 he ran for president, losing to George H. W. Bush. Dukakis decided not to run again for governor.

During the postwar period the decline of textile manufacturing was offset as the electronics industry, attracted by the skilled technicians available in the Boston area, boomed along Route 128. Growth in the computer and electronics sectors, much of it spurred by defense spending, helped Massachusetts prosper during much of the 1980s. At the end of the decade effects of a nationwide recession and the burden of a huge state budget hit Massachusetts hard, but in the 1990s there was a substantial economic recovery, spearheaded by growth in small high-tech companies.


See A. B. Hart, ed., Commonwealth History of Massachusetts (5 vol., 1927–30, repr. 1966); C. Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem (1969); G. Lewis, The Encyclopedia of Massachusetts (1984); M. Kaufman et al., A Guide to the History of Massachusetts (1988); G. Orcutt, Massachusetts (2 vol., 1988); R. Wilkie and J. Tager, ed., Historical Atlas of Massachusetts (1991).

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Boston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127

Lowell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143

Springfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

Worcester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167

The State in Brief

Nickname: Bay State, Old Colony

Motto: Ense Petit Placidam Sub Libertate Quietem (By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty)

Flower: Mayflower

Bird: Chickadee

Area: 10,554 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 44th)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 3,487 feet

Climate: Temperate, with a colder, drier climate in the western portion of the state

Admitted to Union: February 6, 1788

Capital: Boston

Head Official: Governor Mitt Romney (R) (until 2007)


1980: 5,737,000

1990: 6,016,425

2000: 6,349,097

2004 estimate: 6,416,505

Percent change, 19902000: 5.5%

U.S. rank in 2004: 13th

Percent of residents born in state: 66.1% (2000)

Density: 809.8 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 198,890

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 5,367,287

Black or African American: 343,454

American Indian and Alaska Native: 15,015

Asian: 238,124

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 2,489

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 428,729

Other: 236,724

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 397,268

Population 5 to 19 years old: 1,277,845

Percent of population 65 years and over: 13.5%

Median age: 36.5 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 80,345

Total number of deaths (2003): 55,836 (infant deaths, 425)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 8,397


Major industries: Services, trade, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism

Unemployment rate: 4.7% (April 2005)

Per capita income: $39,408 (2003; U.S. rank: 4th)

Median household income: $52,084 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 9.7% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Income tax rate: 5.3%

Sales tax rate: 5% on most items (does not include food and clothing)

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Massachusetts State in New England, on the Atlantic Ocean, ne USA; the capital and largest city is Boston. Other major cities are Worcester, Springfield, Cambridge, and New Bedford. The Pilgrim Fathers formed the first settlement, Plymouth Colony, on Massachusetts Bay in 1620. In 1630 English Puritans founded Boston, and it became the centre of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The area played a leading role in events leading up to the American Revolution, and was the scene of the first battle. Massachusetts prospered after achieving statehood in 1788. In the e of the state is a low-lying coastal plain. The Connecticut River valley and the Berkshire valley divided the uplands of the interior. The principal rivers are the Housatonic, Merrimack, and Connecticut. A highly industrialized region, Massachusetts is one of the most densely populated states in the nation. Agricultural produce includes cranberries, tobacco, hay, vegetables, and market garden and dairy products. Industries: electronic equipment, plastics, footwear, paper, machinery, metal and rubber goods, printing and publishing, fishing. Area: 20,300sq km (7838sq mi). Pop. (2000) 6,349,097.

Statehood :

February 6, 1788

Nickname :

Bay State

State bird :


State flower :


State tree :

American elm

State motto :

By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty

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The first Europeans to exploit resources in the state of Massachusetts were fishermen who came from England, France, Portugal, and Spain in the mid-sixteenth century. They went ashore to process their catch; soon a flourishing fur trade was established with Native Americans. Religious persecution later drove a group of English Puritans who wished to separate from the Church of England to the New World in 1620. They settled in a Massachusetts village, which they named Plymouth. In 1630 a non-Separatist Puritan group settled to the north in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The group was headed by patriarch John Winthrop (15881649). Winthrop believed strongly that the material success of the new colony would be a visible sign of God's blessing. Between 1630 and 1640 around 20,000 English people settled in Massachusetts.

Migration of the English to Massachusetts slowed around 1640, because in that year a civil war brought Puritans to power in the mother country and removed religious persecution as a reason for immigration. Towns like Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, and Boston, however, afterward remained important centers of the fishing industry; but as time went by, fishing and fur trading began to decline. As the supply of valuable beaver skins was being exhausted, the settlers turned to farming the rocky soil as means of sustenance. In the face of white encroachment upon the land, Native American tribes steadily declined, and many were wiped out in King Philip's War (16751676). As a sign of European dominance, Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Colony were merged in 1692 by royal decree.

Settlements spread across the colony in the eighteenth century. By 1730 Boston reached a population of 15,000. The city soon became a center of shipping and commerce. It also evolved into a hotspot of political unrest, since colonists were becoming more and more dissatisfied with tight political and economic controls imposed by the British. The cry of "taxation without representation" accompanied resentment caused by British control of trade and political rights. In 1773 the citizens of Boston expressed their frustration by dumping tea into the harbor. By 1775 the time was ripe for the beginnings of the American Revolution (17751783) in Lexington and Concord.

Massachusetts required some adjustments after the defeat of the British. The Shays' Rebellion (17861787) occurred when central and western farmers challenged the power of eastern commercial leaders; but the rebellion ultimately failed to change the status quo. Massachusetts went on to become the sixth state of the Union in 1788. The Federalist Party soon became dominant in Massachusetts. They represented the governing commercial interests.

By 1800 it became evident that an agricultural economy was not viable in Massachusetts. In addition to inhospitable, rocky soil, land was depleted of its resources. For years farmers had paid little attention to conservation. More and more farmers moved westward to find better land and better opportunities. The Erie Canal made it easier for western farmers to find markets in the East. Massachusetts began to look toward other economic horizons. For a time the whaling industry in Nantucket and New Bedford was the most profitable in the nation. With the decline of the whaling and fishing industries the state also became a center for the textile industry. That was especially true in the mill towns of Waltham, Lowell, and Lawrence. The mills were originally built because of the unavailability of British textiles during the War of 1812 (18121814). Mills flourished since there was ample waterpower available on Massachusetts rivers.

The best-known of the mills was at Lowell. The "Lowell system" included a large capital investment and the concentration of all processes in one plant under a unified management. It specialized in a kind of coarse cloth easily worked by unskilled workers. Most of the workers were young women from surrounding farms who came to supplement their families' meager incomes. They worked from sunup to sunset for very low wages. The well-designed Lowell community provided supervised housing and activities for the girls. Other mill towns copied this paternalistic system. Yet by 1840 Lowell mirrored other mill towns in its over-crowded, dirty conditions.

One positive development in the 1840s was that Massachusetts enacted the nation's first child labor law. It allowed a maximum 10-hour day for children under 10. While this law may seem inadequate by today's standards, it was quite progressive in an era when children were routinely exploited in the workplace.

Other industries that sprouted up in Massachusetts during that period included the manufacture of metal products, leather goods, whale products, and shipbuilding. Shoe factories were particularly prominent. Although most of the shoe factories fled to other states Massachusetts remained the center of shoe workers' unions for a long time to come. By 1850 steam engines were produced in Massachusetts. A network of railroads that was begun in 1826 helped open new areas for industrial expansion. The American Civil War (18611865) spurred industrial growth, which was also helped by the many immigrants who flocked to Massachusetts from northern and southern Europe and from French Canada.

As one of Massachusetts' major urban areas, Boston faced a major challenge in the mid-1840s, when a potato famine precipitated a mass migration from Ireland. These desperately poor immigrants were willing to take any menial job in order to survive, but they were greeted in their new country with a widespread disdain that was based upon ethnic and religious bigotry. After 1865, however, the Irish became politically powerful as mainstays of the Democratic Party and economically successful throughout the state. They helped Massachusetts become one of the most industrialized states in the nation by the end of the nineteenth century. The family history of President John F. Kennedy (19171963) is a good example of the rags-toriches stories of some Irish immigrants.

Conflicts between immigrants and their descendants, and the entrenched Republican Yankee conservatives in Massachusetts continued to plague the state into the new century. Class conflicts were largely responsible for a devastating strike of immigrant textile workers in Lawrence in 1912. The various factions eventually learned to accommodate one another. According to historian Richard D. Brown, there was a "pragmatic willingness" to accept diversity and, "haltingly, people adjusted to the multiethnic, urban, industrial character of Massachusetts."

The Great Depression of the 1930s nearly devastated Massachusetts. Unemployment in some localities reached as high as 40 percent. Massachusetts embraced Franklin D. Roosevelt's (18821945) efforts to stimulate the economy, but only World War II (19391945) brought any real increase in employment. The state's economy began to revive around 1950. While many of the old industries and mill towns were in decline, high-technology businesses began to develop in the suburbs of Boston. Industries oriented toward electronics, computers, and defense systems sprang up. That led to an increase in service sector businesses like banking, insurance, health care, and higher education. White-collar employment in the middle-class suburbs was on the rise.

By 1989 Massachusetts was again in a serious economic decline. It lost 14 percent of its jobs in three years. The general recession of the early 1990s was aggravated by a collapse in the real estate market in the late 1980s. Employment in construction dropped 44 percent between 1988 and 1991. Wholesale and retail trade lost 100,000 jobs. Voters blamed then current governor Michael Dukakis for the state's economic woes. In 1990 they elected Republican William Weld as the new governor. Weld then privatized a number of state operations in an effort to economize. By the mid-1990s the state's economy was improving greatly. Per capita income reached third place in the nation by 1995. Local industries like software and mutual funds led the upturn in the economy. The fishing industry was still the eighth largest in the nation in 1995 though not as important to the state's economy as it once was. Tourism was also important to the state, bringing in well over $8 million annually. Boston, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and the Berkshire Mountains were popular vacation spots.

At the state level the Department of Economic Development continued making attempts to promote business, increase employment, and generate economic activity. In 1993 the Massachusetts Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) was launched to aid existing and new businesses. It provided 34 Economic Target Areas (ETAs) in the state. The Target Areas, along with local initiatives, provided attractive incentives to prospective businesses.

See also: Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Francis Cabot Lowell, Lowell System of Labor, Shays' Rebellion, Samuel Slater, Spinning Mills, Whaling Industry


Bedford, Henry F., ed. Their Lives and Numbers: The Condition of Working People in Massachusetts, 18701900. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995.

Brown, Richard D. Massachusetts: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1978.

Handlin, Oscar. Boston's Immigrants. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979.

Haskell, John D., Jr., ed. Massachusetts: A Biography of Its History. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1976.

Rothenberg, Winifred Barr. From Market-Places to a Market Economy: The Transformation of Rural Massachusetts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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