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Wednesday, 13 April 2016



English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold led the first recorded European expedition in 1602 to visit Cape Cod in present-day Massachusetts.

The first English settlers in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, arrived via the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620, and developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag people. This was the second successful permanent English colony in the part of North America that later became the United States, after the Jamestown Colony.

The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882

The first ever Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the fledgling Massachusetts colony in 1621 as an acknowledgement of God's provisions during the year. When these pioneering Mayflower colonists settled in Massachusetts in December 1620, they faced starvation. However friendly Indians showed them how to grow corn and squash and to catch the local birds, fish and shellfish. One Indian in particular, Squanto had been especially helpful as he just happens to speak fluent English. He had picked up the pilgrims' language after being carried off by visiting sailors and working as a house servant in the city of London before returning to rescue the ill-equipped, confused Pilgrims.

The word Massachusetts comes from Native American language. It means "place with hills."

North America shoemaking as a craft began in 1629 when Thomas Beard, a shoemaker, arrived from London on the second voyage of The Mayflower He settled in Salem, Massachsetts to make shoes under contract for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

John Winthrop, a puritan lawyer from Suffolk in England, founded on September 7, 1630 a large settlement on a peninsula at the mouth of the River Charles in Massachusetts, which was named Boston.

John Winthrop took the oath of office on May 18, 1631 in Dorchester, Massachusetts and became the first Governor of Massachusetts.

Portrait of Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop

A state law was passed in Massachusetts in 1631 pronouncing that only church members could become citizens.

A vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636 established the first college in what would become the United States, today known as Harvard University.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony organized three militia units on December 13, 1636, an act considered to be the founding of the National Guard of the United States.

Puritan Massachusetts passed the "Old Deluder Satan Act" in 1647, a law requiring the establishing of schools in settlements containing over 50 people. It was so named, as its purpose was to defeat Satan's attempts to keep anyone away from God through an inability to read the Scriptures.

Thanks to the strict laws being passed in Puritan Massachusetts, colonists were liable to be punished for "abusing your mother-in-law, wicked speeches against a son-in-law, pulling hair, pushing their wives, sleeping in a meeting and wearing great boots or broad bone lace and ribbons."

Built in 1681, the Old Ship Church in Hingham, Massachusetts is the oldest church building in continuous ecclesiastical use in the United States.

Old Ship Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. By Timothy Valentine - Wikipedia Commons

The colony of Massachusetts issued the first paper money in America on February 3, 1690. It was a temporary experiment of banknote issue carried out by Sir William Phips as the Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay to help fund the war effort against France.

In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials. More than 150 suspected witches were put on trial and 19 hanged. On October 3, 1692 Puritan clergy in Salem, agreed there would be no more executions resulting from the witch trials.

Salem Witch Trial

The Great Awakening evangelical revival first began in 1734 among the young people in Jonathan Edwards' church at Northampton, Massachusetts, and then spread up and down the Connecticut River Valley in New England.

The Massachusetts Constitution was ratified in 1780 while the Revolutionary War was in progress. . Drafted by John Adams, the Massachusetts Constitution is currently the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world.

Massachusetts State House facing Boston Common

The first state normal school in the United States, the forerunner to today's Framingham State College, opened in Lexington, Massachusetts with three students in 1839.

Massachusetts guaranteed access to all public schools to every child in 1845, after a group of black whalers from Nantucket, accustomed to the relative equality they had on whaling ships, began a boycott and petition campaign.

According to the 1850 US Census, Massachusetts and Rhode Island were the first USA states to become urban-majority, 70 years before the U.S. as a whole.

The Massachusetts Rifle Association, "America's Oldest Active Gun Club", was founded in 1875.

Basketball was invented in 1891 by Canadian YMCA trainer James Naismith when he nailed two peach baskets on opposite ends of the YMCA International Training School (later named Springfield College) in Massachusetts.

The New England Telephone and Telegraph installed the first battery-operated telephone switchboard in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1894.

Volleyball was invented in a Holyoke, Massachusetts YMCA in 1895. Its inventor was William George Morgan. The game was first called "mintonette" and was played by hitting a basketball over a rope.

Massachusetts became the first state of the United States to set a minimum wage on May 4, 1912. The Massachusetts law was quite weak, as it only covered women and children and called for light penalties for violators.

Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket, at Auburn, Massachusetts in 1926.

The first Ryder Cup tournament took place in Worcester, Massachusetts in July 1927 with nine golfers per team. United States beat Britain 9 1/2 to 2 1/2.

Afro-American Barbara Harris became the first female Anglican bishop in 1989, when she was ordained suffragan bishop of Massachusetts.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the state's Supreme Judicial Court.


Over 80% of Massachusetts' population lives in the Greater Boston metro area, a region influential to American history and industry.

In Massachusetts, snoring is banned unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.

It is against the law to use "The Star Spangled Banner" as dance music in Massachusetts.

The Fife & Drum in Concord, Massachusetts is the only restaurant in the U.S. serving meals made by prisoners.

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