Massachusetts History - the history of Massachusetts
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Vacation 2 USA   >   Massachusetts   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   Massachusetts History


Massachusetts History

Before the arrival of Europeans, the area that is today the state of Massachusetts was inhabited by various Algonquian-speaking Native American peoples including the Massachusett, the Pennacook, the Wampanoag, the Nauset, the Nipmuc, the Pocomtuc, the Mahican, the Narragansett and Mohegan. Sadly however, all these peoples were soon decimated by smallpox when Europeans first arrived in North America.

In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived from England on the Mayflower, establishing a colony at Plymouth. Like the Native Americans, the Pilgrims suffered from smallpox. They were however helped by the Wampanoags, and celebrated their first Thanksgiving with the Native Americans in 1621. The English settlers were known to the Native Americans, as Yengeeze (their pronunciation of "English"). This is the origin of the word "Yankee".

In the following decades, the Pilgrims were followed by Puritans, who established a colony at Boston, as well as Anglicans and Quakers. However there were religious tensions, with Quakerism banned, and four Quakers hanged on Boston Colony. The English colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island were founded at this time by dissenters fleeing the lack of religious tolerance in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

In the reign of King James II of England, who was an outspoken Catholic, the Massachusetts Bay Colony's charter was annulled. A short-lived Dominion of New England was formed, but the Royal Governor was overthrown by the colonials. After James' overthrow, the Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony (Boston) were merged, and a new royal charter was granted in 1692.

1692 was also signalled the Salem witch trials. The trials lasted until May 1693, and resulted in the deaths of 20 people (14 women and 6 men), and the imprisonment of more than 150.

Massachusetts was an important location in the run-up to, and during the the American Revolution (1775 to 1783). Samuel Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock all came from the state, and Boston was the site of the Boston Massacre (1770) and the Boston Tea Party (1773). Additionally, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill both took place within the state.

In the early 19th century, Massachusetts became a leader in industrialization. Textiles mills were established in Boston, and the United States' first commercial railroad, the Granite Railway, was established in 1826.

Immediately, following the American Revolution, Massachusetts had been the first state to assert that slavery was no longer permitted. In the first half of the 19th century, abolitionist sentiment and activity continued to grow within the state. As a result, Massachusetts was one of the first states to respond to President Lincoln's call for troops, and also was the first state to recruit a black regiment, the 54th Massachustts Volunteer Infantry.

In the early years of the 20th century, Massachusetts had a strong industrial economy, with Boston serving as the the second most important port in the country. The economy however began to falter during the 1920s, and the state was hit hard by the Great Depression that began in 1929.

After World War II, and a difficult transition period, Massachusetts gradually transitioned to a largely service and technology based economy. The state is also an important educational center, containing many nationally and internationally reknown colleges and universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

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Massachusetts: A Concise History

By Richard D. Brown

Brand: Univ of Massachusetts Pr
Paperback (400 pages)

Massachusetts: A Concise History
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From the moment the first English colonists landed on the shores of Plymouth Bay, the experiences of the people of Massachusetts have been emblematic of larger themes in American history. The story of the first Pilgrim thanksgiving is commemorated as a national holiday, while the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere's ride have passed into the national mythology. Even the grimmer aspects of the American experience―Indian warfare and the conquest of an ever expanding frontier―were part of the early history of Massachusetts. In this book, Richard D. Brown and Jack Tager survey the rich heritage of this distinctive, and distinctly American, place, showing how it has long exerted an influence disproportionate to its size. A seedbed of revolt against British colonial rule, Massachusetts has supplied the nation with a long line of political leaders―from Samuel and John Adams to William Lloyd Garrison and Lucy Stone to John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy. Its early textile mills helped shape the industrial revolution, while its experiences with urbanization, immigration, ethnic conflict, and labor strife reflected the growth of the national economy. In the twentieth century, the state continued to lead the country through a series of wrenching economic changes as it moved from the production of goods to the provision of services, eventually becoming a center of the high-tech revolution in telecommunications. If there is one common theme in the Bay State's history, Brown and Tager make clear, it is the capacity to adapt to change. In part this trait can be attributed to the state's unique blend of resources, including its many distinguished colleges and universities. But it can also be credited to the people themselves, who have created a singular sense of place by reconciling claims of tradition with the possibilities of innovation. This book tells their story.

Boston in the American Revolution: A Town versus an Empire (History & Guide)

By Brooke Barbier

The History Press
Released: 2017-03-06
Paperback (160 pages)

Boston in the American Revolution: A Town versus an Empire (History & Guide)
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In 1764, a small town in the British colony of Massachusetts ignited a bold rebellion. When Great Britain levied the Sugar Act on its American colonies, Parliament was not prepared for Boston's backlash. For the next decade, Loyalists and rebels harried one another as both sides revolted and betrayed, punished and murdered. But the rebel leaders were not quite the heroes we consider them today. Samuel Adams and John Hancock were reluctant allies. Paul Revere couldn't recognize a traitor in his own inner circle. And George Washington dismissed the efforts of the Massachusetts rebels as unimportant. With a helpful guide to the very sites where the events unfolded, historian Brooke Barbier seeks the truth behind the myths. Barbier tells the story of how a city radicalized itself against the world's most powerful empire and helped found the United States of America.

Lost Springfield, Massachusetts

By Derek Strahan

The History Press
Released: 2017-02-06
Paperback (160 pages)

Lost Springfield, Massachusetts
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At the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S. Armory opened in Springfield, spurring rapid growth. With that golden age of progress came iconic buildings and landmarks that are now lost to time. Railroads brought workers eager to fill Springfield's factories and enterprises like Smith & Wesson, Merriam Webster and Indian Motorcycles. The Massasoit House Hotel, the Church of the Unity and the Daniel B. Wesson mansion once served as symbols of the city's grandeur. Forest Park grew into an upscale residential neighborhood of Victorian mansions. Join local historian Derek Strahan as he returns Springfield to its former glory, examining the people, events and--most importantly--places that helped shape the City of Firsts.

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

By Michael Finkel

Released: 2017-03-07
Kindle Edition (226 pages)

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Product Description:
Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality—not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own. 

New York Times bestseller

In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.

Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT (The MIT Press)

By Institute Historian T. F. Peterson

The MIT Press
Released: 2011-03-11
Paperback (248 pages)

Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT (The MIT Press)
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A lively introduction to MIT hacks, from the police car on the Great Dome to the abduction of the Caltech cannon.

An MIT "hack" is an ingenious, benign, and anonymous prank or practical joke, often requiring engineering or scientific expertise and often pulled off under cover of darkness―instances of campus mischief sometimes coinciding with April Fool's Day, final exams, or commencement. (It should not be confused with the sometimes non-benign phenomenon of computer hacking.) Noteworthy MIT hacks over the years include the legendary Harvard–Yale Football Game Hack (when a weather balloon emblazoned “MIT” popped out of the ground near the 50-yard line), the campus police car found perched on the Great Dome, the apparent disappearance of the Institute president's office, and a faux cathedral (complete with stained glass windows, organ, and wedding ceremony) in a lobby. Hacks are by their nature ephemeral, although they live on in the memory of both perpetrators and spectators. Nightwork, drawing on the MIT Museum's unique collection of hack-related photographs and other materials, describes and documents the best of MIT's hacks and hacking culture. This generously illustrated updated edition has added coverage of such recent hacks as the cross-country abduction of rival Caltech's cannon (a prank requiring months of planning, intricate choreography, and last-minute improvisation), a fire truck on the Dome that marked the fifth anniversary of 9/11, and numerous pokes at the celebrated Frank Gehry-designed Stata Center, and even a working solar-powered Red Line subway car on the Great Dome. Hacks have been said to express the essence of MIT, providing, as alumnus Andre DeHon observes, "an opportunity to demonstrate creativity and know-how in mastering the physical world." What better way to mark the 150th anniversary of MIT's founding than to commemorate its native ingenuity with this new edition of Nightwork?

The Natural History of Eastern Massachusetts - Second Edition

By Stan Freeman

Hampshire House Publishing
Paperback (124 pages)

The Natural History of Eastern Massachusetts - Second Edition
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First published in 1998, "The Natural History of Eastern Massachusetts" is a comprehensive guide to the nature of the state east of Quabbin Reservoir. This more sophisticated second edition brings all the original material up to date and adds many new articles. It contains more than 400 full-color photographs, maps and illustrations. Everything from bears and beavers to snakes and spiders is covered. Learn about the region's geology, its rivers and mountains. Find out how it was formed by the ice age and volcanic activity. Learn about the first human residents. There are charts showing when wildflowers bloom and when butterflies are on the wing. There are checklists of common birds, trees, wildflowers and butterflies. There is also a calendar showing when events in nature happen through the months.

Reviews for the first edition

"A wonderful introduction to the history and features of Massachusetts east of Quabbin Reservoir ... Chock full of gorgeous photographs ... It's also lots of fun." -- North Andover Citizen

"If you buy a copy for your kids, you'll have a hard time putting it down yourself. The text by Stan Freeman is clear but does not oversimplify the science, and the illustrations by Mike Nasuti are outstanding." -- The Quincy Patriot Ledger

"A fascinating, richly illustrated guide ... A delight for naturalists of all ages." -- New England Wild Flower Society, online book guide

Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

By George Francis Dow

Dover Publications
Released: 1988-02-01
Paperback (416 pages)

Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
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The New York Times called this book a "valuable addition to the too-small list of books that give reliable accounts of the daily lives of the early Colonists … beautifully made and interestingly illustrated." With the republication of Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the incidents, anecdotes, and events surrounding the first inhabitants of colonial New England are brought vividly to life.
Drawing extensively on contemporary records, author and antiquarian George Dow provides graphically accurate descriptions of early shelters and dwellings, interior furnishings, colonial wardrobes, sports and games, shipping, trade, medicinal aids, medicinal practice, crimes, punishment, and much more. The text dispenses a wealth of intimate details on manners and customs — including intriguing tidbits of information on peculiar mealtime apparel, eating habits, and personal cleanliness. Detailed appendixes contain shop inventories, records of the contents of private homes, copies of building agreements, and other matters.
Supplementing the text are more than 100 historically valuable photographs and illustrations, including rare pictures of early kitchens and parlors, furniture, clapboard houses, farmyard scenes, a variety of workers at their crafts, gravestones, and an execution by hanging.
Here is a book that will delight students and teachers of history, researchers, and anyone fascinated by the day-to-day activities of this country's earliest settlers.

Cape Cod: An Environmental History of a Fragile Ecosystem (Environmental History of the Northeast)

By John T. Cumbler

University of Massachusetts Press
Released: 2014-11-05
Paperback (292 pages)

Cape Cod: An Environmental History of a Fragile Ecosystem (Environmental History of the Northeast)
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To many, Cape Cod represents the classic setting for an American summer vacation. Attracting seasonal tourists with picturesque beaches and abundant seafood, the Cape has held a place in our national imagination for almost two hundred years. People have been drawn to its beauty and resources since Native Americans wandered up its long sandy peninsula some 12,000 years ago, while writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Norman Mailer have celebrated its mystery and allure. But, despite its idealized image, Cape Cod has a long history of scarcity and an increasingly evident fragility.

John T. Cumbler's book offers an environmental, social, and economic history of Cape Cod told through the experiences of residents as well as visitors. He notes that over the past four hundred years the Cape has experienced three regimes of resource utilization. The first regime of Native Americans who lived relatively lightly on the land was supplanted by European settlers who focused on production and extraction. This second regime began in the age of sail but declined through the age of steam as the soil and seas failed to yield the resources necessary to sustain continuing growth. Environmental and then economic crises during the second half of the nineteenth century eventually gave way to the third regime of tourism and recreation. But this regime has its own environmental costs, as residents have learned over the last half century.

Although the Cape remains a special place, its history of resource scarcity and its attempts to deal with that scarcity offer useful lessons for anyone addressing similar issues around the globe.

The Maritime History Of Massachusetts, 1783-1860

By Samuel Eliot Morison

Alpha Editions
Paperback (536 pages)

The Maritime History Of Massachusetts, 1783-1860
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This book has been considered by academicians and scholars of great significance and value to literature. This forms a part of the knowledge base for future generations. We have represented this book in the same form as it was first published. Hence any marks seen are left intentionally to preserve its true nature.

Massachusetts (A True Book: My United States)

By Cody Crane

Children's Press
Released: 2017-09-01
Paperback (48 pages)

Massachusetts (A True Book: My United States)
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One of the 13 original United States, Massachusetts has a long, rich history.

A True Book: My United States series allows readers to experience what makes each of the fifty state distinctive and exceptional. Readers will get to know each states' history, geography, wildlife and future outlook. This series includes an age appropriate (grades 3-5) introduction to curriculum-relevant subjects and a robust resource section that encourages independent study.

Readers will learn about the state's role in the founding of the United States and find out what life is like in Massachusetts today. They will also discover how the state is governed, which animals and plants can be found there, what people do for fun, what kinds of jobs they have, and more.

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