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Massachusetts Travel Guide

Massachusetts — History and Culture

Since the very beginning of America’s settlement, Massachusetts has been at the forefront of the country’s development. From pilgrims to patriots, Boston has led the charge to freedom, equality, and progressive thinking. Its residents reflect the state’s core role in shaping America, from legends like the Kennedys to the descendents of sea captains in Nantucket. Everyone here is proud of what Massachusetts and its people have achieved.

History

One of early America’s most famous and successful colonies was at Plymouth, which was founded by the Pilgrims who sailed from England on the Mayflower in 1620. The Puritans, another religious group seeking freedom from the crown, founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 on what is now Boston. Amazingly, Harvard University was founded just six years later in 1636, making it the oldest college in America.

Many significant events in America’s history took place in Massachusetts. The Salem witch trials happened here in 1692, reflecting the staunch religious ideology that shaped most of the state’s early settlements. Massachusetts was also at the head of the independence movement as early as the 1680’s. The 1770 Boston Massacre and 1773 Boston Tea Party were two more pivotal events that led to the American Revolution.

Key figures of the patriot movement lived in Boston, including John Adams, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The fighting between the British Redcoats and the colonists erupted at Lexington and Concord in April 1775. General George Washington’s first victory over the British came at the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775.

When John Adams wrote the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780, the area was the first state in the new nation to write a constitution. Small farmers in western Massachusetts created Shay’s Uprising in 1786, which led to the creation of America’s first national constitution.

Boston factories were leaders in the American Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, and during the Civil War the state sided with anti-slavery forces and social progession. The American Transcendentalist movement started here with Thoreau and Emerson at Walden Pond. Boston remained an industrial powerhouse right into modern times, adding high-tech and finance to its list of recent economic contributions.

Culture

The legacy of the original Pilgrims and Puritans continues to keep Massachusetts rather religious, with nearly 70 percent of the population Christian. This conservatism has been tempered by progressivism, making Massachusetts a pleasantly open-minded and diverse place to travel. The people are proud of their role in shaping America and keen to remain independent and free. This attitude seems to resonate throughout the state.

There is also a long tradition of elite higher education in Massachusetts. Several of the world’s leading universities are located here, and there is an evident atmosphere of academia and intelligence even in the rural hamlets of the Berkshires. The self-confidence of the people who have lived here for generations, translates into wise and friendly folk. They enjoy sharing their great state with all its rich history with visitors, and understand the role tourism has come to play in the regional economy.

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