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History >> US Geography >> US State History

Massachusetts

State History

Native Americans

Before the arrival of Europeans, the land that is today the state of Massachusetts was inhabited by a number of Native American tribes. These tribes spoke the Algonquian language and included the Massachusett, Wampanoag, Nauset, Nipmuc, and Mohican peoples. Some of the peoples lived in dome dwellings called wigwams, while others lived in large multiple-family homes called long houses.


The city of Boston
Boston by Unknown

Europeans Arrive

Early explorers visited the coast of Massachusetts including John Cabot in 1497. The Europeans brought disease with them. Diseases like smallpox killed around 90% of the Native Americans living in Massachusetts.

Pilgrims

The English established the first permanent settlement in 1620 with the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The Pilgrims were Puritans hoping to find religious freedom in the New World. With the help of the local Indians including Squanto, the Pilgrims survived the initial harsh winter. Once Plymouth was established, more colonists arrived. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded at Boston in 1629.

Colony

As more people moved in, tensions between the Indian tribes and the colonials turned to violence. A number of battles occurred between 1675 and 1676 called King Philip's War. The majority of the Indians were defeated. In 1691, the Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony combined to form the Province of Massachusetts.

Protesting British Taxes

As the colony of Massachusetts began to grow, the people became more independent minded. In 1764, Britain passed the Stamp Act to tax the colonies in order to help pay for the military. The center for the protests against the act took place in Boston, Massachusetts. During one protest in 1770, British soldiers fired on the colonists, killing five people. This day was called the Boston Massacre. A few years later, the Bostonians once again protested by dumping tea into the Boston Harbor in what would later be called the Boston Tea Party.


Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party by Nathaniel Currier

American Revolution

It was in Massachusetts where the American Revolution began. In 1775, the British army arrived in Boston. Paul Revere rode through the night to warn the colonists. On April 19, 1775 the Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The state of Massachusetts would play an important role during the war with leaders and Founding Fathers such as Samuel Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock.


Battle of Lexington
Battle of Lexington by Unknown

Becoming a State

Massachusetts became the sixth state to join the United States on February 6, 1788. John Adams from Boston became the first Vice President and the second President of the United States.

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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