Portal:Massachusetts

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Massachusetts Listeni/ˌmæsəˈsɨts/, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a U.S. state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is the 7th smallest, but the 14th most populous and the 3rd most densely populated of the 50 United States, and has the United States' sixth highest GDP per capita.

Massachusetts has played a significant historical, cultural, and commercial role in American history. Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims. Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Protestant First Great Awakening originated from the pulpit of Northampton, Massachusetts preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution. In 1786, a populist revolt led directly to the Constitutional Convention. Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the temperance, transcendentalist, and abolitionist movements. In the late 19th century, basketball and volleyball were invented in Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts' economy shifted from manufacturing to services. In the 21st century, Massachusetts is a leader in higher education, health care technology, high technology, and financial services.

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A 1914 painting of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony (also known as New Plymouth or Plymouth Bay Colony) was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691. The first settlement of the Plymouth Colony was at New Plimoth, a location previously surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement, which served as the capital of the colony, is today the modern town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. At its height, Plymouth Colony occupied most of the southeastern portion of the modern state of Massachusetts.

Founded by a group of Separatists and Anglicans, who together later came to be known as the Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony was, along with Jamestown, Virginia, one of the earliest successful colonies to be founded by the English in North America and the first sizable permanent English settlement in the New England region. Aided by Squanto, a Native American of the Patuxet people, the colony was able to establish a treaty with Chief Massasoit which helped to ensure the colony's success. It played a central role in King Philip's War, one of the earliest of the Indian Wars. Ultimately, the colony was merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other territories in 1691 to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

Despite the colony's relatively short history, Plymouth holds a special role in American history. Rather than being entrepreneurs like many of the settlers of Jamestown, a significant proportion of the citizens of Plymouth were fleeing religious persecution and searching for a place to worship as they saw fit. The social and legal systems of the colony became closely tied to their religious beliefs, as well as English custom. Many of the people and events surrounding Plymouth Colony have become part of American folklore, including the North American tradition known as Thanksgiving and the monument known as Plymouth Rock.

Selected biography

Henry Vane (date unknown)
Sir Henry Vane was an English politician, statesman, and colonial governor. He was briefly present in North America, serving one term as the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and supported the creation of Roger Williams' Rhode Island Colony and Harvard College. A proponent of religious tolerance, he returned to England in 1637 following the Antinomian controversy that led to the banning of Anne Hutchinson from Massachusetts, and became a leading force in English politics during the years of the English Civil War. Vane was recognized by his political peers as a competent administrator and a wily and persuasive negotiator and politician. His politics was driven by a desire for religious tolerance in an era when governments were used to establish official churches and suppress dissenting views. Although his views were in a small minority, he was able to successfully build coalitions to advance his agenda. His actions were often ultimately divisive, and contributed to both the rise and downfall of the English Commonwealth. His books and pamphlets written on political and religious subjects are still analyzed today, and Vane is remembered in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as an early champion of religious freedom.

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The Orange Line Bridge over the Mystic River
The Mystic River is a 7.0-mile-long (11.3 km) river in Massachusetts. Its name derives from the Wampanoag word "muhs-uhtuq", which translates to "big river." In an Algonquian language, "Missi-Tuk" means "a great river whose waters are driven by waves", alluding to the natural tidal nature of the Mystic. It lies to the north of and flows approximately parallel to the lower portions of the Charles River. The river flows from the Lower Mystic Lake and travels through the Boston-area communities of Arlington, Medford, Somerville, Everett, Charlestown, Chelsea, and East Boston. The river joins the Charles River to form inner Boston Harbor. Significant portions of the river's shores are within the Mystic River Reservation and are administered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The river has been the inspiration for the Lydia Child poem "Over the River and Through the Woods", and was one of the settings of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride". The river gave its name to the 2001 Dennis Lehane novel and its 2003 Academy Award winning Clint Eastwood film adaptation, Mystic River.


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State facts

Location of Massachusetts in the United States
Location of Massachusetts in the United States
Atlas showing the location of the major urban areas and roads in Massachusetts
Atlas of Massachusetts with Boston highlighted

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