Massachusetts State Flag
Massachusetts State Seal
is a state of the United States of America, part of the New England
region. Its U.S. postal abbreviation is MA and its traditional abbreviation
is Mass. It is properly called the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts, although there is no legal distinction between
states and commonwealths.
Several ships have
been named USS Massachusetts in honor of this state.
- % water
- Total (2000)
Ranked 3rd 312.68 /km˛
February 6, 1788
41°10'N to 42°53'N
Hail to Massachusetts" (Arthur J. Marsh)
Massachusetts, Because of You Our Land is Free" (Bernard Davidson)
The colony was named
after a local Indian tribe whose name means "a large hill place". The
Pilgrims established their settlement at Plymouth
in 1620, arriving on the Mayflower. They were soon followed by the Puritans,
who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Massachusetts
was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule
in the American Revolution. Although the Puritans came to Massachusetts
for religious freedom, they were not tolerant of any other religion
than theirs. People such as Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, and Thomas
Hooker left Massachusetts
and went South because of the Puritans' lack of religious tolerance.
Williams ended up founding the colony of Rhode Island
and Hooker founded Connecticut.
On February 9, 1775
the British Parliament declared Massachusetts
to be in rebellion and sent additional troops to restore order.
named Crispus Attucks was one of the first Americans killed during the
American Revolution, in Boston on March 5,
1770, at an event that has come to be called the Boston Massacre.
On February 6, 1788
Massachusetts became the
sixth state to ratify the United States Constitution.
On March 15, 1820
the area of Maine was separated from Massachusetts,
of which it had been a non-contiguous part, and entered the Union as
a State in its own right.
contains many historic houses.
The capital of Massachusetts
is Boston and the governor of the state is
Mitt Romney. The state does not maintain an official governor's residence.
Massachusetts's two U.S. senators are Edward Kennedy (Democrat) and
John Kerry (Democrat); as of the 2001 redistricting, Massachusetts
has ten seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The state legislature
is formally styled the "Great and General Court of the Commonwealth";
the highest court is the "Supreme Judicial Court".
maintains a distinction between "cities" and "towns"; the largest town
in population is Framingham. Politically,
the only difference between a town and a city is that a town is governed
under the Town Meeting or Representative Town Meeting form of government,
whereas a city has a city council (and may or may not have a mayor,
a city manager, or both). This distinction dates to the 1820s; prior
to that, all municipalities were governed by Town Meeting. There are
now a number of municipalities which are legally cities and thus have
city councils, but retained the word "town" in their names, including
and Westfield. These cities are legally
styled "the city called the Town of X". Massachusetts
has a very limited home rule mechanism; in order to exercise jurisdiction
outside of these bounds, a municipality must petition the General Court
for special legislation giving it that authority.
municipalities are subject to a budgetary law known as "Proposition
2˝", by which they may not increase expenditures by more than 2˝% per
annum without the approval of the voters in a plebiscite.
Following a November
2003 decision of the state's Supreme Court, Massachusetts
became the first state to issue same-sex marriage licences on May 17,
is bordered on the north by New Hampshire and Vermont,
on the west by New York, on the south by Connecticut
and Rhode Island, and on the east by the Atlantic
Ocean. The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket lie off the southeast
coast. Boston is the largest city; however,
most of the population of the Boston metropolitan area (approximately
4,000,000) does not live in the city.
total gross state product for 1999 was $262 billion, placing it 11th
in the nation. As of 2002, its Per Capita Personal Income was $39,244
or third in the nation.
outputs are seafood, nursery stock, dairy products, cranberries, and
vegetables. Its industrial outputs are machinery, electric equipment,
scientific instruments, printing and publishing, and tourism. Other
sectors vital to the Massachusetts
economy include higher education, health care, and financial services.
All numbers from
the 2000 census
Black or African American: 5.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.2%
Other Race: 3.8%
Two or more races: 3.7%
Important Cities and Towns
of Massachusetts has a total of 50 cities and 301 towns, grouped
into 14 counties. Massachusetts cities and towns of historical or cultural
Massachusetts towns and
shares with the six New England states and New York
a governmental structure known as the "New England town."
In most states,
a town is a compact incorporated area. Between the towns are unincorporated
areas, usually quite large, which do not belong to any town. In contrast,
the state is completely apportioned into counties: every square inch
of land belongs to some county. County governments have significant
importance, particularly to those living outside towns, and often perform
major functions such as operating airports.
In contrast, the
cities and towns of Massachusetts
divide up all of the land between them; every square inch of Massachusetts
belongs to some "town" (or city) and there are no "unincorporated" areas
or population centers. This complicates comparisons with other states,
as most residents identify strongly with the town or city in which they
reside, and not with the "populated places" as defined and used in the
U.S. Census Bureau, which in most data products considers towns to be
equivalent to (much weaker) townships in other states. However, many
residents also identify with neighborhoods, villages, or other districts
of their towns.
By the 1990s, most
functions of county governments (including operation of courts and road
maintenance) had been taken over by the state, and most county governments
were seen as inefficient and outmoded. The government of Suffolk County
was substantially integrated with the city government of Boston
more than one hundred years ago, to the extent that the members of the
Boston city council are ex officio the Suffolk County Commissioners,
and Boston's treasurer and auditor fulfill the same offices for the
county. Thus, residents of the other three Suffolk County communities
do not have a voice on the county commission, but all the county expenses
are paid by the city of Boston.
The government of
Nantucket County, which is geographically coterminous with the Town
of Nantucket, is operated along similar lines- the town selectman
(executive branch) act as the county commissioners.
Middlesex County's public hospital in the mid 1990s left that county
on the brink of insolvency, and in 1997 the legislature stepped in by
assuming all assets and obligations of the county. The government of
Middlesex County was officially abolished on July 11, 1997. Later that
year, the Franklin County Commission voted itself out of existence.
The law abolishing Middlesex County also provided for the elimination
of Hampden County and Worcester County on July 1, 1998. This law was
later amended to abolish Hampshire County on January 1, 1999; Essex
County on July 1 of that same year; and Berkshire County on July 1,
2000. Chapter 34B of the Massachusetts General Laws provides that other
counties may also vote to abolish themselves, or to reorganize as a
"regional council of governments", as Hampshire and Franklin Counties
have done. The governments of Bristol, Plymouth, and Norfolk Counties
remain substantially unchanged. Barnstable and Dukes Counties have adopted
modern county charters, enabling them to act as efficient regional governments.
Colleges and Universities
contains only 2.5% of the U.S. population, but 4.5% of its four-year
colleges and universities. Eight Boston-area institutions (Boston College,
Boston University, Brandeis, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, and
UMass/Boston) call themselves "research universities;" they became,
according to them, "engines of economic growth" following World War
II, and currently contribute $7 billion annually to the local economy.
The population of metropolitan Boston surges
noticeably during the school year due to the concentration of colleges
and universities in the area.
is home to one Ivy League university, Harvard; and three of the Seven
Sisters: Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley. Technology-oriented universities
include MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and University of Massachusetts
Lowell, which includes the former Lowell Institute of Technology ("Lowell
Tech"). Notable Massachusetts colleges that are outside the eastern
Massachusetts area include
the Five Colleges of the Pioneer Valley (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Amherst,
Hampshire and the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts)
and Williams, along with Worcester State College. Music schools include
Berklee and the New England Conservatory. Massachusetts
also is home to well-known independent research institutions, including
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory.
Famous politicians and public
figures from Massachusetts
- John Adams, 2nd
president of the US
- John Quincy Adams,
6th president of the US
- Samuel Adams
- Susan B. Anthony
- George H. W.
Bush, 41st president of the US
- Michael Dukakis
- Benjamin Franklin
- John Hancock
- Oliver Wendell
Holmes, justice of the Supreme Court
- Edward M. Kennedy
- John F. Kennedy,
35th president of the US
- John F. Kerry
- Paul Revere
Professional Sports Teams
- Major League Baseball
- National Football League
- National Hockey League
- American Hockey League
- National Basketball Association
- Major League Soccer
- Major League Lacrosse
- Minor League Baseball
- Lowell Spinners
- North Shore Spirit
- Brockton Rox
Aside from obvious
national holidays, Massachusetts
also has several state holidays, viz.:
only in Suffolk County
||While not a
legal holiday, some school systems give the day off.
Battle of Lexington and Concord.
only in Suffolk County
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