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.

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.

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

History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877, Volume 1

By Lucius R. Paige

Jazzybee Verlag
Paperback (376 pages)

History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877, Volume 1
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The "History of Cambridge" was originally published in 1877. Besides the historical narrative in this volume, the second volume contains a very full and carefully compiled "Genealogical Register" of the early settlers and their descendants. These volumes are, in the most essential respects, models of what a town history should be. They contain the most important information obtainable from the sources then open to the author, and this is presented in a clear and concise narrative. In the estimation of those most competent to pass judgment, these volumes are authorities. But they are something more than authorities. They not only instruct; they inspire. Nobody deserves the privilege of growing up in this city who does not make himself familiar with these books. They are epitomes of the history, not only of this town, but of a good many other Puritan towns. It fills this place with memories of by-gone scenes and deeds which were precious to the people of those times, and are precious still to us, their descendants or successors.

The Hidden History of Massachusetts

By Tingba Apidta

Reclamation Project
Paperback (176 pages)

The Hidden History of Massachusetts
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Now for the first time, the fascinating historical threads of the Pilgrims, Puritans, Indians, and Black Africans have been woven into a gripping narrative in a new and informative book. Readers will learn the true account of the First Thanksgiving and find out about the Black Africans of colonial times who helped the Founding Fathers, the Abolitionists who held slaves and believed in the inferiority of the Black race, and the Black history behind many famous tourist attractions, monuments, and statues. This book includes photos, illustrations, and the largest list of Massachusetts slave owners ever compiled.

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.

Salem (Images of America: Massachusetts)

By Kenneth C. Turino

Arcadia Publishing
Released: 1996-07-01
Paperback (128 pages)

Salem (Images of America: Massachusetts)
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Salem, Massachusetts, is one of the most historic settlements in the United States. Most commonly associated with the seventeenth-century witchcraft hysteria of Salem Village―an area that now falls within the bounds of neighboring Danvers―the city of Salem actually boasts a rich and textured history with a variety of economic, religious, and cultural highlights. This new and exciting visual history reveals Salem’s comprehensive heritage from the 1860s to the 1950s. Salem’s early strengths as a colonial community were drawn from the waters around it: fishing was a staple industry in the beginning, and shipbuilding and ocean trade bolstered the settlement economically for many years. In the nineteenth century, after war with Britain caused Salem’s maritime trade to decline, the city developed into a modern commercial center. Prominent settlers fostered the development of luxurious architecture and interior design, along with the founding of the city’s well-known resort and amusement center, the Willows.

Harvard's Civil War: The History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

By Richard F. Miller

Hardcover (554 pages)

Harvard s Civil War: The History of the Twentieth  Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
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The Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was one of the most influential northern units in the Army of the Potomac. Its nickname, the Harvard Regiment, was derived from the preponderance of Crimson-connected officers on its roster. The fortunes of war placed this unit at the lethal crossroads of nearly every major battle of the Army of the Potomac from Ball's Bluff (1861) through Grant's Overland Campaign. After going through its baptismal fire at the debacle of Ball's Bluff, the Harvard Regiment was the first to plant its colors on the Confederate works at Yorktown; fought McClellan's rear guard actions during the Seven Days' Campaign; was mauled in Antietam's West Woods, on Fredericksburg's streets, and on Marye's Heights; faced Pickett's charge at Gettysburg; and was at the deadly intersection of the Orange and Plank Roads at the Battle of the Wilderness.

But the regiment's influence far transcended its battle itinerary. Its officers were drawn from elite circles of New England politics, literature, and commerce. This was the regiment of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.; of his cousins, William Lowell Putnam and James Jackson Lowell, both nephews of James Russell Lowell; of Paul Joseph Revere and his brother Edward H. R. Revere, both grandsons of Paul Revere; and of Sumner Paine, great-grandson of Declaration of Independence signer Robert Treat Paine.

Because its officers were highly educated, many of the Harvard Regiment left copious collections of diaries, memoirs, and letters, many published. Yet the history of the Twentieth Massachusetts comprises a social document beyond the evocative and tragic recollections of its highly literate leadership. Although the Boston elite dominated the regiment's officer corps, half of its recruits were immigrants, mostly German and Irish. The ethnic tension that dogged the regiment during its existence reflected an uneasy mix. The regiment included Copperhead and abolitionist gentlemen, radical German emigres from the failed Revolution of 1848, the sons of prominent Republicans, and the sons of Lincoln-haters. Miller adroitly weaves a social history of the period into his narrative, offering readers a fascinating backdrop that enriches vivid descriptions of battlefield triumphs and catastrophes.

The influence of the Harvard regiment continued to reverberate long after the war. Commemorated in poems, speeches and histories by such distinguished figures as Herman Melville and John Greenleaf Whittier, and by alumni such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and William Francis Bartlett, the experiences of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry would define how later generations of Americans understood the Civil War.

A History of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company (Harvard Studies in Business History)

By Gerald T. White

Harvard University Press
Hardcover (252 pages)

A History of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company (Harvard Studies in Business History)
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